I was thinking recently of my mum's side of the family, many of whom died before I was born. It's time to introduce you to Auntie Annie.
Auntie Annie lived in North Shields, which is between Newcastle-on-Tyne and the sea. The older sister of my grandfather, she was a redoubtable little Northern lady who was widowed young with four sons to bring up, but still managed to be a very good aunt to Mum. Apparently if a grown-up son showed any lack of respect she'd respond with 'you're not too big to put over my knee and spank!', even though the lad in question was six feet tall and built like a bus.
Respect for parents was big on Auntie Annie's agenda. My grandfather ran a fish shop, so early in the morning he'd be buying on North Shields Fish Quay and sometimes she'd meet him down there. One morning he made some light remark which she felt showed a lack of respect to their mother, so she hit him across the face with a haddock. Then she grabbed her shawl and ran for her life.
You may know that London was bombed to bits during the war, but so were several other places, including Tyneside. The bombing was aimed at the heavy industry, the shipyards and armaments factories, or so we've been told. Auntie Annie knew better. When the house she lived in was bombed, she moved somewhere else, and that was bombed, too.
"It's me he's after," she'd say. "Hitler, it's me he wants. You'll see, when he gets me he'll stop the war."
But he never did get Auntie Annie.