Friday, September 3, 1982
Dad told me some things about our family history. Thomas Martindale, my great-grandfather, committed suicide in 1908 after the death of his wife Edith which left him with four kids to raise on his own. His nephew, Bernard, killed himself in the ‘30s after the collapse of his business. Both jumped in Iredale’s mill dam in Kerforth. Esther Martindale (my great aunt) died of polio in the ‘20s and her son, Ray Hunt, is now in Clayshaw mental hospital. Another Martindale, Harry, was a child prodigy, “a genius at 8, paralysed by 12 and dead at 18” according to Dad. Who he was and where he fits in I don’t know.
I couldn’t help but laugh. Written down it all looks so ridiculous: suicides, madness, child-geniuses, untimely deaths. But a streak of instability is evident in our tree (also in Nanna Beardsall's side, the Watkin side), an intensity and an ‘oddness’ that's apparent in Uncle George too, and perhaps even in Robert’s highly strung nature.
I was made to work an extra ½ hour at Tesco and afterwards Mum was in a mopingly black and pessimistic mood. It was unbearable. At least Dad cheerfully discussed Helen Vaughan with me.