Flashback on Mothering Sunday

A very young Allan Moran with his mum and dad and his older sister, Brenda.

Remember I said that Allan Moran’s family history was complicated?

As we move further back in time with these photographs more of that history is revealed.

I only know these stories from Joan’s point of view and then she only told me what she wanted to.  As I was merely in my teens and early twenties I didn’t feel able to ask her too many questions about her past.

When Joan and Jim met and fell in love sometime in the early 1950’s she was already married with three young children. Those children were the twins, Trevor and Johnnie and Brenda.

The marriage was undoubtedly an unhappy and troubled one. I always suspected some form of domestic violence but I don’t have any real evidence for that.

Whatever the case Joan ran away or as she said eloped with Jim to Gretna Green. I think she asked Brenda if she wanted to go with her but Brenda felt she had to stay to look after her younger brothers and her dad. Looking at the photograph above I realise how young Brenda must have been when her mother ran away.

Brenda, herself told me that she understood why her mother left her dad as life with him was very difficult. However, she could never understand how her mum could leave behind her children and I also think she could never really forgive her.

The twins whom Joan had abandoned were estranged from her when I first started going out with Allan. Brenda did manage to reconnect Joan with Johnnie eventually but I remember that their relationship was always a little sticky.

Trevor on the other hand still lived with his father and refused to have anything to do with Joan and I think maintained this stance throughout her life. Although, I think I did see him at her funeral. How sad is that!

When they eloped, Jim and Joan had a sort of marriage ceremony at the Blacksmiths shop in Gretna Green and then they went and lived in Glasgow. It was in Glasgow that Allan was born and they lived there for the first few years of his life.

This picture dates from that time. I think that Brenda did come and stay with them for a time but felt she had to go back to look after her brothers.

Flashback Sunday

Here on a happy day out….looks like it could be a seaside trip….are Allan Moran and his mum and dad, Jim and Joan.

Sadly, such happy family days were soon to be cut short. When Allan was only nine years old Jim died from a massive heart attack. He was a miner and was at work in the pit when he collapsed and his friends and colleagues had to tell Joan.

What an awful day that must have been for her and Allan!

Jim was only 41. Heart disease must run in the male side of the Moran family as Allan also died suddenly from a heart attack when he was 36 and Laura just 6. In his case he was having a cup of tea before going to work one morning when he complained of feeling funny, put his head back and just died where he sat.

Joan adored Allan and never really recovered from his early death.

Flashback Sunday

Allan Moran with his little brother, Paul.

Allan’s family history was quite complicated and much of his ancestry is lost to me just as it was to him. JMH, my father, often remarked that he felt Allan had noble features and a kingly air about him. He even went so far as to romantically suggest that he looked as if he might have been descended from Irish or Viking chieftains.

So here he is with his little brother Paul who was about 5 or 6 years younger than him. Paul and Allan had a fairly close and loving relationship. Paul clearly loved and adored his big brother. He looked up to him and idolised him as only a little brother can.

Only he wasn’t his brother, he was actually his cousin. Paul’s mother died in hospital from tuberculosis when he was only a baby and Paul was put in an orphanage. I don’t know how long he was in the “institution” as Joan used to refer to it but it was certainly long enough for him to have recurring nightmares about it. When Joan got her job as a school cook he confused her white uniform with that of the carers in the home. He even thought that she had been one of the carers there and would scream and beg her to remove the white clothes as he thought she was going to take him back . It was clearly a horrible place which scarred him for life.

I cannot remember his mother’s name, although I am sure Joan did tell me….but that was over 45 years ago. His mother was the sister of Jim Moran, Allan’s father. I got the impression that she was unmarried when she became pregnant and that Jim and Joan never met Paul’s father or knew who he was.

Jim and Joan had visited Paul in the home several times and what they saw there soon convinced Jim that he should either adopt or foster his little nephew and give him a home. Joan wasn’t quite as sure as Jim but memories of her own very happy childhood within a close and loving family sealed her agreement.

Now I said that Allan’s family history was complicated. A major factor in Joan’s decision was that at the age of 18 she had been told by her own parents that she too had been a foundling and that they had fostered her from a baby. She always said that her foster parents had always treated her exactly the same as her other brothers and sisters and she had had no idea that she had no blood connexion with them. Joan said that by fostering Paul she wanted to give back a little of the love that had been given to her.

Flashback Sunday.

These posts have been inspired by the imminent arrival of my first grandchild. I want to share the little knowledge I have about his heritage and his family …before all is forgotten and lost in the mists of time. Clouds have started gathering and I already struggle to remember some things that I think I used to know.

So working backwards. Here is Laura’s father, Allan Moran with his mother, Joan and his stepfather, Alan Jackson.

I say stepfather….but I don’t think Joan and Alan Jackson ever married. I think he came to Joan as a lodger when she was a widow struggling to make ends meet with two young children.

When romance actually bloomed for the two of them I dont know, but they were living together when, as a naive 16 year old I first met them. They were certainly sharing the same bedroom at that time, but Joan did occasionally refer to him as “the lodger” and he very affectionately called her “The Duchess” and did all he could to look after her and make her happy. The rest of her family always called him Jacko and it was clear to me that he was well liked by them all.

In those early days of my relationship with Allan…my first long term boyfriend, Jacko worked at the Croda Chemical works at Knottingley and Joan was a school cook. They were friendly and welcoming people who soon took me under their wing.

Every Sunday evening we would play card games, usually for pennies from the big jar Joan kept for just such occasions ….all the while listening to “Play Something Simple ” on Radio 2 or was it the Light Radio station then?I was always partnered with Jacko and Joan with Allan in any partner whist games. This odd partnering had gradually developed as Jacko’s less than expert play would infuriate Joan and led to much squabbling and bickering between the two of them

Connections are strange and pop up all over the place. When I first met Jacko he told me that he was a Knottingley lad and it soon turned out that he knew of my father and all his family who were also from Knottingley. He was slightly older than my father but spoke with some affection, respect and even I sensed admiration for the Hargrave family. My own father wasn’t sure that he could exactly place Jacko, but in later years whenever they met up they enjoyed chatting about the old days in that tight knit village of Knottingley and the eccentric characters and events they remembered from their childhood days there in the 1920’s. But that’s a different set of memories…

Flashback Sunday

So, still on the theme of Laura and her early years. Here is a lovely picture of her with Allan Moran, her first, or rather, her biological father.

Laura and Allan at Grandma Joan’s house in Nevison, Pontefract.

Laura looks a lot like Allan and even has inherited some of his gestures. So much so that my brother once commented that he had just seen a ghost coming out of our van….meaning he was shocked by how closely she resembled Allan and even moved like him. This was despite the fact he had died when she was still very tiny.

Flashback Sunday

Bob in D.H. Lawrence mode whilst studying Philosophy at UAE

Today, February 9th, would have been my big brother’s 71st birthday.

Here are a few photos of him…..actually working for his degree ….taken by our father, JMH when he and Bat visited Bob in Norwich in the early 1970’s.


The last photo, below, was taken much earlier when Bob was an undergraduate at University College, Oxford studying Maths and Philosophy. He went there when he was only 17 and led a rather hedonistic lifestyle with only a little studying. Here he is effortlessly enjoying a laid-back punt on the river.

JMH entitled this photo…
Le Roi Toujours S’Amuse