Big Fuss — Little Bottles
... and more about Una Watson.
John — I’ve been thinking, and there was something else that may have had a bearing on things — it was so long ago. There were two sisters — they were school- teachers as I remember, or at least one of them was. And one of the things they did was to acquire a Baby Austin — an Austin 7 — all the rage in the 1920s. And they got good service out of it, these sisters. One of them was a sole-charge teacher at a country school — she had to be able to teach everything. Perhaps Bunnythorpe School, not sure. These women — mature women they were — they treated themselves to driving around in their car, and for some reason they took me along on some occasions for an outing — a pleasing demonstration of their car — their Baby Austin. And this occasional drive, now and then, got to be expanded into a weekend spent with these teachers.
How come they took a shine to you?
That’s a mystery. Perhaps one of these ladies had fallen for Dad in the early days — it’s a bit misty — or maybe they’d lost husbands in the war? Who knows what the background was — all I know is that there was me, like the spectator, and getting fussed over. I didn’t mind it a bit, just like I didn’t mind Mrs. Watson fussing over us.
Did Una and Dave Watson have children to fuss over?
If they did I’d have known about it, so I don’t think they had children of their own. Una and Dave visited us often, and we visited them.
There is one special memory, of the times when Mrs. Watson threw a party. She’d call on me and brother Bill to help.
She’d throw a big party every Christmas time. The Watsons had a nice house up Featherston Street, and Dave made good money. They spent a lot of money on the party. Mrs. Watson did lots of organising. She was very good at that sort of thing. We’d start in the morning and she’d set us to work for the day. First we’d set the table, help get things ready. We were very willing. We were her special invited helpers, setting out the food, and of course our mouths were wide open.
This lady was really smart, it seemed she could do anything. I remember the fruitcake. Huge! Three tiers. And she’d decorated this huge fruitcake. Very elaborate it was, patterned and designed, amazing, all three tiers of it. The party would start early afternoon and we’d help out as we were told.
It’s funny the things that stick in your mind. One year, when the guests were starting to leave, I remember a couple of boys hanging around. They were about the same age as us, quite friendly. And as we were closing down the show, one of these boys picked up a bottle of fizz and pulled out the cork. He started to drink it down, and it didn’t last long. He turned to us and said, ‘These bottles don’t hold much, do they?’
I remember that small thing, over 80 years ago. A boy, complaining the bottles were a bit on the small side!
Things haven’t changed one jot, have they?