‘My happiest hours were when the whole family was together’ (p9)
The close relationship between Kathleen and her family plays a heart-warming and pivotal role throughout her memoir as she recalls fond childhood moments. Kathleen was brought up by both her mother and father alongside her much older brother Vic and her much loved sister Betty. Within her memoir Kathleen not only reveals the close relationship with these members of her family but also with her extended family as she discusses her grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins, she was blessed with a loving family across England. Family is very important to Kathleen and the family values she has inherited truly demonstrate there is no greater love than that of a family.
Kathleen describes her close relationship with her sister Betty throughout her memoir through their imaginary games and Kathleen’s idolisation of Betty it is clear that Betty played a vital role in Kathleen’s childhood. Kathleen describes Betty as, ‘having the best of both worlds’ (p32) as she was able to share a relationship with their elder brother Vic, something Kathleen did not have, and also the playful bond between two sisters. Kathleen frequently describes the imaginary games and excitement shared by her and Betty due to their exciting and unusual upbringing and it is easy to assume that their relationship was one of great fondness as for much of their childhood they were each other’s sole playmate.
Kathleen’s brother Vic is described as being much older than her he is ‘twelve when I was born’ (p1), she describes her experiences of living with her brother as, ‘he did not register very much, the first age at which I can remember him is sixteen, and to me he appeared to lead a life so remote from my own immediate world as to be not worth bothering about.’ (p1-2). Throughout her memoir Kathleen makes very few references to her brother Vic which can be attributed to the lack of bond between the two and also for much of her childhood she was away from Vic as he stayed in England whilst she and her family moved to India. Despite the limited bond between Kathleen and her brother, she still held great family values as she thoroughly enjoyed spending time with her family.
Coming from such a loving home Kathleen also discusses how her parents chose to bring up her and her siblings, it appears she had an incredibly lenient childhood where she was ‘allowed to read what I liked’ (p20). Kathleen unlike many of her fellow Writing Lives authors was allowed to enjoy a free and unrestricted childhood and despite discussing the discipline and punishment her and her siblings received she remarks, ‘my father, he never laid a finger on either Betty or I.’(p33)
Throughout her memoir Kathleen not only depicts the close relationship between her and her immediate family but also between her extended family as she reveals her mother and father’s geology and recounts fondly her childhood summers spent with family in the Isle of Wight and Plymouth. As Kathleen discusses memoires from her childhood there is one such scene which really demonstrates the close bond between her and her extended family.
‘As I recall it Christmas was a very subdued celebration that year, not our usual noisy, happy day. The mood of the grown-ups communicated itself to us, the impending parting overshadowed everything.’ (p36)
As we picture this scene of Kathleen and her family sat down for a Christmas meal the bond becomes apparent as we imagine the upcoming upset as Kathleen, her mother, father and Betty must leave this idyllic family moment unsure of when they may all be together again.
Lindley, Kathleen M: ‘A time to be born’ Typescript. 98pp 1976, Brunel University Library.
Wright, Robert W.; Christmas Carol; Calderdale Metropolitan Borough Council; http://www.artuk.org/artworks/christmas-carol-21565