I wrote recently about my Dads rather large family - he had 10 brothers and 10 sisters. These are the sisters, this would be taken before I was born, the eldest of them was older than Dad.
The house behind was a post war council house - "homes for heroes". It is at the end of a cup de sac and is really a terrace of 3-4 houses that was built for them. My memories are of their always being more than immediate family there, meal tables with 15 or more around the table and second sittings the same, I'd not be sure who I was sitting next to - a boyfriend or girlfriend or just someone in the neighbourhood who was hungry.
I perhaps romanticise things a bit, but my memories were of generosity and probably a degree of poverty. Gran couldn't have been healthy - all that child bearing, she had only one hand from birth and her diabetes ("a bit of sugar") I remember her holding a large bowl with her handless arm and whipping the cake mix or yorkshire pudding mix with the other or watching her with the postick doing the washing. I remember Grandad every morning suit trousers on, vest and braces hanging down, eating sops (tea and bread), probably toothless. I remember him taking me and my brother for walks along the fields and pit slag heaps and feeding us extra strong mints. I remember making clippy mats and also Constables Hay Wain over the fire place and horse brasses which Gran would occupy me with cleaning when I got to be a nuisance. I remember my cover drive playing cricket aged 5 straight through the neighbours front window, I remember them saying how quiet and good my brother was when our parents picked us up (and knew by implication that I wasn't).
It all seemed at the time so normal and now I look back and there was so much that was extraordinary.
I don't often see this branch of the family (keeping up with 40 aunts and uncles and over a hundred cousins and half cousins isn't realistic). But when I meet up with the surviving aunts and uncles at funerals mainly, I'm given a place of honour on the aunts table afterwards like I'm being included in the inner circle where men aren't allowed but small children may be - all 65 and over now, large loud wifies, with pints of beer who tell me all about their medical problems, how many bypasses they've had, their diabetes histories, gynaecological problems, they get their second opinions and then they hug me and I disappear in their embraces, they pat me on the head and pinch my cheeks and for a moment if feels like all that is quite normal.
I've just counted the picture again and there's 11, I now know a bit how Gran and Grandad must of felt. I consult my mum tomorrow when she comes down what the explanation for that is.
PPS, I've just spent a little time with my mum going over this photo and the woman next to last at the top end of the line remains a mystery woman....