Tale of three halves

This is a tribute to our relationship - 1947 to 2023 - 76 years.
Apologies if the reader doesn’t recall events quite like I have portrayed them, particularly the dates. Memory isn’t what it was and anyway I have selected the good bits, mostly.
I’ve divided it into three: growing up, growing apart and growing old. The rough and tumble of family life, leaving home and developing our lives, and finally becoming pals and confidants.

Growing up. I have covered these early years in detail elsewhere (family stories). My memory is dominated by arguments between Dad and Steve. Dad was an angry man. He had an invalidity pension from the army for duodenitis which produced bouts of misery. He returned from the war to a family dominated by women and children (Granny Addy, her 3 daughters and 5 grandchildren had supported each other whilst the men were working or away). He did actually return to his pre-war job, but soon left for the ‘electricity board’. Whilst both jobs were in accounts he had no qualifications. I think he must have felt hard done by.
        Steve was bright and in 1953 went to Huddersfield College where he joined the rapid stream (taking ‘O’ levels in 4 years as part of trying for Oxbridge). He and dad clashed. Dad was grumpy anyway but Steve couldn’t keep his mouth shut. So we all copped it. Mum’s recurring plea was “Oh, Reg”. We lived in rented housing just outside the town centre. Despite apparently not having much money, in 1953, Dad bought a house in the suburbs. The arguments continued. I lived at the bottom of the food chain. Dad was unforgiving of my slightest error. Steve referred to me as the cretin. I do have fond memories of family holidays, caravans and holiday camps at Filey and Scarborough. Christmas was also a period of respite.


Growing apart. Steve progressed to the sixth form, specialising in the sciences. His hobbies were jazz, classical music and astronomy. He became a snob and had a girlfriend. In fairness he followed rugby league. University then, another girlfriend. Not home as much. Still fighting with dad. Started smoking cigarettes around this time. Married Hazel. Job at the university. So he’d left home. Though we had a super family caravan holiday in The Lakes. Walking and drinking in pubs (I’d be about 15).
        I followed him to what was now New College (amalgamation of the old one with Dad’s Hillhouse ‘redcaps’) and we shared 2 years (1958-60). I also followed the sciences, (biology instead of maths). Not a happy time for me in third, fourth and fifth years. Every end-of-term report was a nightmare, after doing so well at the beginning. I looked up to Steve. Writing like him. Saying stuff he said. Even followed him to Liverpool. There was also divergence as I was heavily into rugby union and pop music. I married Sheila in 1972, just after leaving university.

        Dad mellowed as more grandchildren came along. We got by.

        So this was the period for establishing our families and careers. Didn’t see a lot of each other - family visits and gatherings though we did meet supporting rugby. We even went to Paris for an England-France RU match. Steve was a tad arrogant - he thought the Wembley cup final was a home fixture for Widnes RL (won the RL Challenge Cup 5 times between 1964-84). My perception of Steve then was of a solid family man and he remained so for the rest of his life. In 1980, we took Mum to The Wembley RL cup final Hull derby. Train there and back same day. Queen Mother in attendance. Hull KR won. Mum sat between us - proud doesn’t cut it.

New College

Paris International

        His university career had always been a mystery to me, though he did give hints in moments of self-reflection. There were other bits I learned during his first illness (Oboe), but no need to dwell on them. The names in the piece have been altered. I'm Dyce, short for Dyson, son of David (like Rebus and Morse). He recovered after a rocky few days on intensive care.

Growing old. Any differences of opinion had gone. Just 2 old farts with common baggage and interests. We became closer after Mum and Dad died. Sorting stuff out. Grieving together.

        There are many highlights: The Lords tour (Lords) , The Anfield tour (Anfield), narrow boating, a lazy session at The Baltic Fleet down on the Liverpool Docks (Baltic Fleet). I have to mention my role in helping with information about Steve’s life-changing and threatening medical conditions. Phone consultations which I christened Steve’s medical textbook.

        We went all over on the boat. Steve didn’t want to drive initially. However, I had an episode with the toilet one morning and he had to take over (we didn’t stop). Couldn’t keep him off the tiller then. Gave advice to all and sundry, telling them not to worry if they made a mistake. Trent and Mersey, Llangollen, The Oxford. A famous trip on The Thames to Abingdon when Louise and Steve saved a boat from crashing; with help from some local lads. We'd got mixed up with a regatta.

Baltic fleet

 2023 New Year event

And we had the final chapter in Durham (Durham). His second trip to intensive care.

Short pleasant weather window amongst some unpleasant stuff.
Time for brother Steve to bow out.
He had already gone.
But he would have the last breath.
Well we had switched him off.
We were all there,
Funny thing that last breath.


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