I found out recently that the phrase ‘sent to Coventry’ originates from the time of the civil war when The Collegiate and Parish Church of St John the Baptist was used as a prison to house Royalist soldiers captured at the Battle of Preston. Being a firmly Parliamentarian city the citizens of Coventry gave the Royalist prisoners a hostile reception – so much so that to this day when you’re given the cold shoulder it’s known as being ‘sent to Coventry’.
We were far from being given the cold shoulder when Gordon and I arrived in Coventry to visit relatives. I’ve been here before and spent time with my cousin Diane and her husband Bob but I’d never met my aunt Beryl. That was remedied today and what an amazing lady she is.
She certainly doesn’t look anything like 91 years old with a brain as sharp as a tack and a wonderfully acerbic sense of humour. We had a lovely hour or so talking about her husband, my mother’s brother Tom, known to her as Paddy. He moved to Coventry well before I was born and the family gradually lost contact over the years. I didn’t realise that Diane had visited for a summer when she was 11 and I was just 4. She took this picture of me and my grandparents in the garden of 8 Rathdrum Street, Belfast. It’s the only photograph I have of my grandfather and certainly the only one of me together with both grandparents. Lord I must have been a tall child if I was only 4 here!
This photograph is also unique in that it’s the only one I know of where Grandma Fulton cracked a smile! She was terrified of cameras and inevitably ended up looking more than a little severe.
After a lovely lunch Diane, Bob, Gordon and I returned to the boat in the basin where we were joined by Diane’s daughter Denise and Denise’s daughter Ellie both of whom I was also meeting for the first time. A bottle of pink fizz later and it felt to me like we’d known each other for years.
Another lunch is planned tomorrow with Diane and Bob, this time they’re bringing along another member of the family for me to meet – their 19 month old grandson Lennon.
This really has been an amazing stay for me here in Coventry – and it’s not over yet!