Here begins the story that Mary, Dougie and the three children lived through.
It really all happened because of the baby. She was born in December... properly messed up Christmas for me. And on the morning that she was born, Miss Vint asked me if it was a boy or a girl, ( Miss Vint, the scourge of the third year infants ). I said a boy, Christmas was more important, and anyway Miss Vint always confused me. Dad wanted to call her Mary after our mother, but mum thought that was a shame for such a pretty baby, so they called her Rosemary. And over the years it became “wee pet” or “the baby”, but I liked to call her Rosie Posie ....Now I call her Ro, it’s quicker.
Here’s what occured. It was decided that Dad should build a caravan. With five in the family, holidays needed some thought. And apart from that it was a tradition for the men in our family to do that. Uncle John and uncle Cecil had already made their's, and you know they did things properly..... or so I had heard.
And so it came about. Oh, I could tell you how exciting it was, what with the noise of sawing and planing, hammering and Dougie ( dad-type) expletives. The smell of the glue, as it was heated up to melting point and ladled on to wooden joints, seemed like magic some magic potent.....though doubtless it was because I was as high as a kite on the fumes! I was dad’s little helper and always under his feet until the whole job was finished. So, I could tell you more...how each screw had to be in the right place....how the cupboards slotted into the walls so perfectly and..... but you might get bored. Anyway however great all of that was, it was just nothing, compared to the holidays we were about to have in it.
On the day that the finished caravan was rolled out of the driveway, all the neighbours came to watch. No doubt many prayers were said for Mr. McC. In particular by “Auntie Orr”, my godmother, who lived three doors away. But I should think it more likely that others were displaying that great Belfast character builder... cynicism! However, all went according to plan and the caravan rolled safely out on to the street. Did I mention that at this time, the family didn’t actually own a car?
No? Oh well, merely a minor blip in the Dougie world. There were always friends, neighbours and relatives to call upon in the community that I grew up in. So that’s what was done.