Uncle Bill never forgot the family he left behind in Bolton. He was always generous and tried to find ways to make life easier for them.
My Dad had never learned to drive, car ownership was far beyond his wildest dreams! But Uncle Bill had other ideas and when I had just turned 21, he rang to offer my Dad a car he no longer needed and explained that it would be easier for dad to learn in as it was an automatic.
So, my friend and I found ourselves on the Isle of Man Ferry at the end of December to fetch the car. The crossing was one of the worst for a long time and we were both ill, along with many other passengers.
As we disembarked, Uncle Bill was there waving to the two rather green girls, still suffering! He looked like a bit like a dishevelled Father Christmas in his civvies - lots of white hair and beard under a green hat! He immediately gave me the keys to drive back to his bungalow, not the first thing I felt like doing after leaving my stomach somewhere in the Irish Sea!
When we got to his beautiful home, Erna was waiting for us with freshly made Danish Pastries, absolutely delicious! Erna loved to cook and for the few days my friend and I stayed with them she spoiled us with superb food. But we visited relations my friend had on the island who also wanted to feed us up, after all it was the festive season, so we ended up having to force ourselves to eat so as not to offend anyone!
Uncle Bill always wanted to learn about our lives and what books we read, what we liked to do. Once when I was going on holiday with my parents, years before this, he asked me to write down conversations I overheard, word for word, and send it all back to him.
So, what about my Dad? Well, he didn’t learn to drive, it was beyond him, even with an automatic car! I went out with him a few times to try to give him confidence, I am not sure who was more scared, my Dad behind the wheel, or me sitting beside him! Of course, it should have been the good folk of Bolton whose lives were in danger!
(Kathleen is Bill Naughton’ youngest brother Jim’s daughter, one of four children, the other’s being Jim, Terry and Margaret, all of whom still live in Bolton, save Kathleen herself who lives in Essex).