|Dorothy at Benbow Quay Shrewsbury Aug 2009|
|View of Berry Brow towards Crosland Moor|
|Communicating with Sir Edward Elgar|
The other half of the family was called Jefferys and came, as the name suggests, from the West Country,
|Cheapside Halifax where George Jeffreys set up his workshop|
So there it is. My mother grew up in Sowerby Bridge from the age of 4 having been born in Luddendenfoot, nearby. Her father was a joiner on the railway, served in the Medical Corp in the War where he saw action at the Battle of the Somme and her mother was the daughter of the local chimney sweep. She was the youngest of 6 (3 boys, 1 of whom died at birth, and 3 girls) and was, in every respect what you might expect of a youngest in a large family.
|Sowerby Bridge Cricket Queen aged 13|
|Dorothy takes to the stage|
|Chorus girl - Dorothy is 2nd from left|
The post War years were another thing altogether, however. Marriage and family were the order of the day and Dorothy and my father, John Rayner, were exactly the right age to be a part of that. They married in September 1945 and had their first child, Paul, in January 1947, a baby boomer. I followed in 1949, Richard in 1950 and Mark much later in 1963.
|Rayner family - Peter, Dorothy, Paul, John, Richard|
Married life was not kind to Dorothy. It was, as Alan Aykebourn once remarked like a cold bath - the longer you stayed in it and the colder it got and she stayed in it far far too long - 33 years in all, a fact I still find hard to believe. It was not pleasant for those of us who had to observe and live with it either, characterised as it was by chronic depression and an over possessiveness that bordered on strangulation at times. Each of us had to re-structure our lives in some degree or another before we could settle down to living the life we actually wanted rather than the one she attempted to carve out for us. All the more surprising, then, that in 1966 the family emigrated to New Zealand, a dream
|Dorothy posing on the beach|
The final 35 years of her life were very different from the previous 54 as she waded through 4 significant relationships, 2 of which were marriages. The first was to a man 14 years her senior and ended after 2 years when he died. The second also died after 4 years, as did the third. She then emigrated to Australia, staying briefly with Paul before settling on the Gold Coast. Her fourth man was a
|Palm Beach Australia showing Dorothy's home|
During this second part of her life a more positive personality emerged and with it many odd ideas. In her earlier life she had played the femme fatale modelling herself on Betty Grable and Marilyn Monroe. Logic and science meant nothing at all to her and she felt free to believe whatever she wanted to believe. Many of her ideas came from spiritualism and a magazine called Nexus which presented very extreme notions such as that we were all put on the earth many years ago from another planet in a galaxy far far away. She had very well developed ideas about conspiracy theories believing even that the medical world told wholesale lies in order to make money. Just about all of history was false and was a huge cover up for what had really happened. This side of her belief system conveniently supported her notion that she was a victim and never stood a chance in life.
Some of her ideas were quite amusing. On one occasion she collapsed on the dance floor and was revived by a burly fireman which she reported to me by saying she had died on Saturday night but was feeling much better now. On another occasion she said that burial trapped the soul in the body and that if you walked past a graveyard you could see the souls sitting on the headstones unable to be released. My favourite was simply a misunderstanding when she insisted that a 60 year horse had just won a gold medal in the Olympics. The truth was that it had been 60 years since the Brits had won gold. She never backed down though.
So what do we make of this life now ended. It is, at the very least, a tragedy. In my early years I saw myself as a victim with her as the perpetrator. However, she saw herself as the victim and I have never discovered a perpetrator. I made a very clear decision never to play the victim card and never to have much sympathy for others who did. You could say I got that from my mother. Yet in many ways we are alike. It takes only a slight adjustment to move from hopeless to hope and to be fair to her she did have hope - but it was a teenage girl's dreamy hope that never crystalised into anything that took her forward. She did see herself as little more than a teenager and was proud of it. The glamour, the pretentions, the stunning appearance, which she believed she still retained just as it was as a young woman, were all intact. As a child she was a blond, like many children. As an adult she was a blond by choice - a dumb blond bombshell with a teasing and seductive style to lure in whoever she could. Yet underneath it all she simply wanted to be loved, preferably by a devoted man who worshiped the ground she walked on. She had a few disciples but not enough to satisfy and I don't think she ever understood why her invitation didn't work. She had much love to give but few takers.
In the world of psychotherapy you learn that people are the way they are for a reason and your job is to find that reason and exploit it. It is not a good thing to take sides and either support or condemn someone for how they are. Easier said than done when the person in question is your mother - but that is what I did. On that basis we were separate people and I reclaimed my life even though she spent the rest of hers trying to draw me back into hers. She didn't take after anyone as far as I can ascertain and I don't think anyone takes after her so maybe she achieved the uniqueness we all want - or maybe, as my 5 year old godson says, she just wanted to be an angel.