Wednesday, 26 June 2013

Golden Years

This week a real treat for you with a sort of guest Blog

With just a little help from me, Mrs B put together and delivered the following speech for her parents 50th wedding anniversary, I was equaly impressed and immensly proud. 

Mrs B holds the audiance in the palm of her hand.

I think they were afraid what other details might come out 
of her little red book.... 
Thank you all very much for being here today.  I know it means a lot to Mum and Dad.  As we are here to celebrate your Golden Wedding Anniversary it seems fitting and a tribute to your 50 years together as a couple to say:
“Mike and Vera, Mum and Dad - This is your married life!” [Present red file]*
*  For those of you not familiar this is a homage to the famous "This is your life" TV program where generally famous people were ambushed by Eamonn Andrews /Michael Aspel in the UK and     
Ralph Edwards/Joseph Campanella a program from the golden age of TV i.e. wholesome family entertainment guaranteed to bore the life out of anyone under the age of 70..... 

Obviously we have undertaken a lot of arduous research, seeking out facts and memories from family and friends – well, we asked Uncle John, who said (and I quote) “Blimey Nicola, I’m 76 years old – I can hardly remember what I had for breakfast, let alone what happened 50 years ago!” So apologies in advance for the errors and omissions.       

Johnny Beeling suffering from long and short term memory
loss for the record he had toast and jam for breakfast and was
in black& white in the 1950's.....
Let me take you all back to a time when everything was in black and white (Don’t try and claim otherwise, I’ve seen the photo’s) and much simpler. There was no WiFi (mum I’ll leave you explain what that is to dad), broadband was what large people held their trousers up with and phones were as mobile as the telephone cable allowed.
You met (we think!) in 1959 at the St George’s Youth Club in Deal.  Was it love at first sight???

Lots of dates between the young couple followed.  I have it on very good authority that Dad’s Vespa scooter may have come under close scrutiny from an anxious father - Ray, Grandad Beerling.  I can certainly relate to that level of fatherly scrutiny over a boyfriend’s mode of transport………. when Niel arrived for our first date in a beaten up old mini, Dad walked round it kicking all four tyres before sucking in his breath, tutting a few times, while rubbing his chin (Who says men can’t multitask?) He then asked, rather imperiously, if it was safe for me to go in!.  It probably would have been before Dad ruined the tracking with all that unnecessary kicking.
Clearly though, Grandad Beerling didn’t put Dad off too much because he eventually decided to propose.  Dad – did you propose on bended knee?  Mum - were there tears?  Did you actually say “yes”?  I only ask because that’s more than I certainly ever did!
Very curiously and some would say somewhat suspiciously there is absolutely no information (public or private) about the respective stag and hen do’s.  I can only assume therefore that they were so debauched and drunken that all involved are sworn to life-long secrecy!
And so the big day came on Saturday 1 June 1963 and we are thrilled to have at least some of the wedding party here today.  In preparation, Mum had made her own wedding dress and the wedding cake – a strong indicator of two of the hobbies that have been a constant presence throughout her married life. 

If you make your own cake for your own
 event is it an auto-cake-ography?

Yet another spectatular
cake from Mrs B's Mum ....

Yes those are real sugar flowers....
Dad probably cleaned and polished his car – LuLu, an Austin 7 – the first of the, very many (perhaps near 50) cars to take them slowly though life. I Don’t know where Jacqueline gets her taste for speed from – it certainly wasn’t from dad.

You honeymooned in Seefeld in Austria before returning home to start your married life together in your first house in Wingham, which you bought for the princely sum of £1,750!  Oh, yes – that was the all-in price…….how times have changed.  You moved in with Kim, your black Labrador – the first of your family pets.  By now, Dad was working in the Canterbury branch of the Westminster Bank, at the beginning of his long and distinguished career in banking.
And it was while living in Wingham that I was born in  1966 and the two Clarkes became three.
In 1967, we went on our first static caravan holiday.  Caravanning, another thread that has run quite constantly through much of your married life. Oh Yes, many family holidays have been spent in caravans in wet and cold England – and no, Jacqueline and I have not been traumatised by that in any way……honestly!
In 1968, following Dad’s transfer to Sevenoaks branch, you moved to your second home, in Borough Green.  I am reliably informed that this house was bitterly cold.  And so it should be no surprise to learn that, nine months after a particularly long cuddle (to keep warm, obviously!) Jacqueline was born in 1969 and the three Clarkes became four.
Borough Green, we moved to a brand new house in Iwade in 1970, when Dad transferred to Sittingbourne branch.  We said goodbye to Kim and hello to a tragically short-lived spaniel, Megan, and then to the infamous Bess, a beautiful Dalmatian.

Did you know that Iwade was the centre of the “swinging” scene of North Kent?  No?  Neither did Mum and Dad, apparently, and as soon as they found out, Dad had just enough time to change cars before they scarpered!  All the way to Clacton-on-Sea in Essex in 1973.  It was just as well Dad had transferred to the Clacton branch, otherwise it would have been a long old commute ……………
In 1974 the family grew again when we acquired our first cat – Porgy.  Now, Dad is not a cat lover but even he seemed taken with that big bundle of ginger and white fluff in the pet shop.  Porgy soon ruled the house and Bess carried many scars on her snout to prove it.  Porgy's favourite mode of transport being to attach himself to Bess's snout and hanging on with all four claws....  
It was from Clacton in 1975 that Dad first decided that towing a caravan was the way forward for our family holidays.  He hired a caravan using that as an excuse to purchase the trusty Vauxhall Viva that was tasked with towing us slowly to Yorkshire?  In motoring circles this became known as Black Friday, with long traffic delays reported up the entire East coast….
Clacton was a great place to grow up as kids – we had Butlins and the seaside on our doorstep and much use was made of both. 
1976 and Dad’s career moved on again, which meant the inevitable new car and a new home.  Dad’s job was now in the Brighton Area Office of the Natwest Bank.  Our house move was eventful though because apparently in the Natwest staff manual, at that time, there was a rule that stated that an employee could not buy a house that was bigger (or was perhaps more expensive) than their manager’s and so Dad was not allowed to buy his original choice of house in Brighton.
 Just as well Dads boss wasn’t a Yorkshire man, living in a shoebox, otherwise we might have found ourselves living in a paper bag inside a septic tank  ………..
As it was we ended up moving to Lindfield in West Sussex.  But family life here was great – we lived in a cul-de-sac with a wood at the end of it and Jacqueline and I have lots of very happy memories from this time. 

We reach 1979 and Yes, you’ve guessed it – Dad’s career progressed again!  This time, to the Natwest branch in Dorking and so we moved to Tadworth in Surrey.  It was here that Mum and Dad had enough space to accommodate the first touring caravan that they owned.
 It was during this time that Mum first became involved with the Girl Guides, volunteering to help when my sister and I joined the Tadworth troop (I’m guessing Dad was turned down because they could not find a uniform big enough to fit him).
 It is testament to mums generosity of spirit that she continued to support the movement long after Jacqueline and I had left. There being no volunteers, willing to take up the baton and without her continued backing the group would have folded.

Vera and her amazing clever hands
This was also the home of the terrible twins, Bunter and Misty, two highly strung and very energetic Springer Spaniels, after Bess departed this world, having broken her last, highly charged and very fragrant round of wind!  Jacqueline and I have very special memories of this home as it was our last before we flew the nest in 1990 and 1993 respectively. 
I remember Tadworth particularly as a home that Mum and Dad entertained from.  They are consummate hosts and for me, the best example of that, was when they hosted our wedding reception there in 1994 (oh yes, 19 years ago!)  True to form Mum made and decorated our wedding cake while dad went out and changed their car. Most people would have been content with just washing the old one…

still surviving after 19 years - but since Mrs B just burst
into tears when I asked her to marry me and 
didn't actually say yes,  are we
actually legally  married? 
Mum and Dad lived in Tadworth for 25 years, having decided that the family needed to stay in one place to allow Jacqueline and me to finish our school exams.  While here, Dad moved to specialise in internal audit and fraud, (I wonder if anyone ever thought to investigate where the money came from for all those new cars?).
Mrs B's Dad fears the game is finally up and asks for
49 other cars to be taken into account....
1995 This was a career move, which, when combined with raising two teenage daughters was no doubt, a challenge.  He returned to Dorking branch as Senior Manager, from where he retired in 1995, replacing his passion for banking, with golf and no doubt a perfect excuse for yet another new car.

In 1997, Mum and Dad became Grandparents to James. There may even have been a cake in celebration!  Mum and Dad were a massive source of support to Jacqueline during this time in her life.  I know I am biased, but I have to say that they are the proudest Grandparents (and rightly so) who do a wonderful job. 

Yet another house move in 2004 to Bucks Green.  This was very much Dad’s venture, post retirement, and he had to work pretty hard to convince Mum that Queen’s Cottage could be a real home for them both and Max, their hugely loveable but boisterous springer spaniel. 
How right he was though and since then they have really improved the house and nurtured the garden with many hours of labour and love.  They have made time to fully immerse themselves in local life – they help organise and contribute to fetes and garden shows. They entertain a lot at Queen’s Cottage too and together are a real testament to the adage that a busy life is a fulfilled life.

 Mum and Dad’s family continued to evolve in 2010 when Jacqueline and Matt married and they are now the proud step-grandparents to Lucy.  I know they both get a huge amount of pleasure from seeing how happy and settled Jacqueline and James are and watching the next generation grow and mature.
And so, to today.
 Mum and Dad – you are the incredibly strong backbone of our family – and Jacqueline and I are very happy and proud to be here today to celebrate your Golden Wedding Anniversary with your family and friends.  Congratulations!  Let’s enjoy the cakes that I wish I could say I had made and decorated but, of course, no-one does it better than Mum and it would simply not be “an event” if we didn’t have one of her creations at it! [Raise glasses] Mum and Dad.

Mrs B's Speech went down rather well....
That's a cut....
A link to more of the party pictures will appear hear shortly
Next time I take you overseas to Washington D.C.


  1. That looks like it was a helluva lot of fun!
    Happy Anniversary to her Mum and Dad.
    This, of course, comes from a perfect stranger in America, so I know how special that is! ;-)

    1. Al you have been around long enough to feel like part of the family... You should probabaly be slightly upset that you didn't get an invite....

  2. What a wonderful speech! I wish I had read it before we spent this weekend with you. Gorgeous.


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