When we were knee high to grasshoppers, my friends and I would love to walk alongside the wildflower and grass verges of Cambridge Road in Bedford, past the cabins and boats down to our left on the Ouse, then up the sandy lane to Cardington Mill and Mill Meadows. We watched the growth of the cooling towers going up on the new power station across the fields. We discovered the huge round pipeline ready to be laid under the meadows and had great fun being brave enough to climb and crawl in it.
On August 15th 1962, I was nineteen and in Bedford having a sleepover with my Auntie Betty because my Uncle Vic was on nights at the power station. I was company for her. In the wee small hours of the morning I soaked the bed when my waters broke all over my beloved Auntie Betty. Loving and kind as always, she reassured me, helped me get dressed and I walked home in the early morning, where the streets were all empty and the birds were stirring. My Dad met me halfway and we phoned the midwife from the phone box near the shops, but she’d gone out on her bike.
It was me Mam who delivered the 6lb 2oz bundle of joy with lots of black hair. We called this treasure on earth, Maria. My Dad played Bing Crosby’s True Love loudly on his radiogram downstairs, then came up with a little tray of sherry glasses to toast Maria. He adored her. She made the final days of his life very happy.
Our lives were blessed with you Ria, from that dawning.