THE HOT DRY SUMMER
In many ways this was a difficult year. The main cause was medical – my father’s prescription of Practolol. This little blue pill was given to treat his cardiac arrhythmia (heart irregularity), but what was not known at that time was its highly toxic nature. It has not been prescribed for almost 40 years for this reason. The side effects of the drug included cold extremities, fatigue and depression. The effects on both his mental and physical health were extremely distressing for my poor old Dad and for those around him. Luckily the medical profession soon recognised their error and he was given a different medication. He wasn’t a well man of course, but he eventually recovered from his medicine induced illness. It was bad while it lasted though.
So 1976 was thus an awkward time for me. In his depressed state of mind he wrote a very rude and offensive letter to my mother’s brother (Uncle Eric) and sent me down the road to post it. When he had recovered his wits somewhat he asked me if I had in fact posted his letter. Of course I had not, luckily for his peace of mind.
No everything that happened that year was as bad as that. It was the year of the very hot dry summer. The lawn got completely parched and the flowers and vegetables needed lots of water from watering cans. There was certainly a hosepipe ban. As for our business, it was doing very well and I was kept busy making binocular magnifiers – up to 50 a week. Although there as was a substantial bill for advertising, they were nearly all sold at full retail price. We were feeling quite well-off as a result. We bought our first freezer and also had a new garage erected to replace the old wooden one. We ordered it from a firm in Ashwellthorpe. I had also bought a greenhouse which gave me hours of enjoyment. My sister Christine came over from Canada with her children during that summer.
This year my father got his cello out and began to play it again after many years. I had been practising my guitar much more recently, and together we worked on a piece by Vivaldi. Eventually we were passably good at one movement. I still have a recording of it, now transferred to CD.
My friend Bill had just been appointed manager of Whitby Hospital. The old hospital was being replaced with a brand new one, and he was overseeing the change-over. It was a responsible job for a man in his mid twenties, but Bill took it all in his stride. He was rather unconventional in his attitude however. For example he allowed the local vet to use the hospital x-ray machine on his animals out of hours! He had a nice detached bungalow on the edge of the Moors. June 1976 was my first visit to see him in Yorkshire, one of many such visits.