This is probably the place to start when trying to explain my life and how its gone. Trouble is I want to write it all now but it’ll take a while in telling. Even now, I feel nothing for her, driven perhaps by years of dislike and yes, even hatred. It’s sad to say it, but I think the majority of our family’s problems stem from her. I’ll start by telling some of her story as it may bring light onto the events that followed. Maybe this will become our family genealogy for the future! Whether we like it or not, we are formed by the events in our lives and the people around us. What we see as a child we take as the norm, and may never even realise that our reality was not what society would see as normal or good. I was for a long time proud of my childhood and where I lived, but now see its damaging effects, and the home I saw as a safe haven was not really so.
Gran was born Mary Ann Tracey, from a large catholic family in Cork in Ireland. Her father was apparently a bit of a gypsy and a wastrel. I hasten to add, now these people are so long gone, I’ve no way of verifying much of this except through my memory. She came over to London and worked in the Post Office, and she did say to me once that she had been a Tiller girl – one of the dancing-girls in a show in the 1920s. She met my Grandfather, who parents lived in Winchester and there they settled. Grandfather was technically also Irish, as he was born there while his father was stationed there in the army. Making me by default half Irish, which some people says explains a lot! Great Grandfather was a Fencing master at the famous Winchester College. Grandfather was also military and served in India,mesopotamia and the Kyber pass, nearly dying of enteric fever, and so missing a lot of the action. He must have been a vital man, short and Mum said loving. The marriage produced Peter Croft, and my mum, Moira Nora. grandfather (Harold) ran the small Grocery shop, started by his father. I think in Hyde street in Winchester(ver close to the College) and branches followed in St Cross, Andover, Basingstoke but the main was in Jewry Street, Croft and Son. He became a well known business man, was in Dad’s army (apparently the tv series was true!) during the second world war but died an early death before I was born.
The arrival of Peter was celebrated by Gran, but not the arrival of my mother. Peter was killed in the Second World war, and his death made my Gran what was formerly a bit difficult, into very difficult as she internalised her pain (Mum’s words). She in fact told a friend she had never wanted a daughter, some superstitious would say the fact that they shared the same birthday didn’t help. This was born out by Gran sending my mother to a convent school in Farnborough, Hampshire at the age of five. My mother never got over this nor forgave her, and was the start of the bitterness that soured her life. I could never have parted with my daughter for five minutes at that age, what was Gran thinking?
I have to skip quite a few years as this blog is about my Grandmother, but I’ll return to what I know of Mum’s childhood later. Suffice to say, I was born into a household of enmity. My mother, with two children was divorcing my father and living with my widowed Grandmother. The family had returned from Canada shortly before my birth and Gran hd to sell a ring to help pay for the passage, and never let my mother forget it. I don’t know how old I was before I realised I had to make a choice. Maybe Gran had mellowed in her older years, but my memories of her before this date must have been positive. Then one day, I realised Mum and my brothers were speaking nastily of her, calling names, it was maybe the first time they put salt in her pudding of prunes, I’m not sure. I was aware I needed to be on one side or the other, and that had to be with my family. I innocently chose to hate.