Tag Archives: Car Boot Sales

Outing the In-laws

13 Nov
Mum & Dad In-law

The Loveables

I was reading a blog about other people’s in-laws this morning, and that got me thinking about mine.  They were wonderful people, and I’m not just saying that because they’re dead.  They treated me like a daughter and, best of all, they never took sides when the Hub and I argued; which we did a lot of in our younger days.   They never took sides but, when necessary,  they did scold the Hub for not treating me right (see earlier post about me and diets).  No wonder I liked them.

My first meeting with Mam C was not auspicious: the Hub and I had only been together a short while; I’m not sure that we were even dating at that point.  It was four in a South African afternoon; Mam was wearing a kaftan and carrying a large ball of cotton wool on her shoulder, which turned out to be Lady, their Maltese.  Mam’s very first words to me came with a soppy look: ‘This is my baby.’  I was eighteen and befuddled.  Now, of course, I’m 46 with a cotton wool ball of my own, and just as soppy as dear old Mam C.

Mam C had a real zest for life.  Born with a serious heart condition, she was not expected to live beyond the age of six.  Forbidden to dance, ride bikes or roller skate, she did all three.  Totally and utterly banned from ever having children, she had six.

I don’t remember my first meeting with Dad C.  He was a quiet man who never spoke unless he had something sensible to say.  I had enormous respect for his opinion.   I never saw him lose his temper in the seventeen years I knew him, although he did once get slightly irritated with the Hub (see earlier post about me and diets).  Once the Hub and I were serious, I stayed over at their house every weekend.  Dad C and I would often leave Mam C and the Hub at home and go off to the café on Saturday afternoons to choose a couple of pirate videos,* snacks and sweets to tide us all over to Sunday night.  South Africa closed down at one p.m. Saturday in the 1980s: no supermarkets, petrol stations, nothing.  Just the cafés, a sort of extended corner shop that didn’t sell hot drinks or have tables to sit at.   No wonder I spent 1982 in a daze.

They had generous hearts and no money.  In their retirement, their greatest pleasure (apart from visits from their large extended family) was spending Sunday mornings at car boot sales.**  Every one of their children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren received wonderful and thoughtful Christmas and birthday presents, despite a budget of just £5 each per week.  I think it was Little Old Lady Syndrome: hardened boot salers would be unable to resist a sweet old lady or dear old gent haggling for a £1 reduction from £3 to £2 on a spaceship or a makeup set that cost £50 each in the shops.

They were married for 52 years, and one of those couples who were blissfully happy.  Normally, that would be irritating to the rest of us grumpy married or co-habiting folk, but they were such lovely people that it simply aroused the ‘aahh’ factor.  Dad C, a lifelong but not prolific smoker, died in 1999 of cancer.  Mum C died a year and eight days later, on the anniversary of his funeral.  They said she died of heart failure but we all knew it was really a broken heart. 

I still miss them.  I hope my boys find in-laws as wonderful as mine, but I suspect they were a one-off. 


*I say pirate videos, but they were actually home recordings of British TV sent to the shop’s owners by members of their family; the Equity ban on broadcasting British programmes still being in force in South Africa at that time.

**For a picture of that Great British Institution, the Car Boot Sale, visit this blog: http://sorrydadenglandisweird.wordpress.com/2009/10/21/best-of-the-worst-some-awful-must-do-british-experiences/

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