I’ll bet that word got you in; Catholicism.
My mother had some unusual ideas regarding religion. There was only two, Church of England & Judaism, I told you she had strange ideas. But why the Judaism? We never really discussed the subject; you didn’t discuss things with my mother she told you what was “IT” and that was the end of it, so this is just my thoughts and feelings on the subject.
She had a most unnatural (to my way of thinking at least) hatred of Catholics and Catholicism. I sometimes wonder if this was because of her fathers involvement with the masonic movement ( I’m sure she would love to have been a man and a mason at times) or her working at one time with a Jewish gentleman by the name of Sam Tauber of which she told me some tall stories (actually they were lies but I’m trying to be polite), including going to Paris with him and being introduced to Richard Tauber, his brother.
Trouble is of course that Richard Tauber was not his brother. Richard was an illigitimate only son of an Austrian actor and actress who took his father’s name later in life when he himself took to the stage as a singer. But I never questioned my mother!
Whether she went to Paris with Sam or not I don’t really know, whether she had a fling with Sam in Paris or not I don’t really know or care; the thing is from the stories she’d tell me she thought he was a good honourable Jewish gentleman; and that may have, along with the masonic interests fueled her abhorrence of the Roman Catholic Church.
You may if you’ve been following this series recall that I said I only had one real chum at school and he was a catholic.
Emigrating to Australia
In late January of 1951 we received our marching orders, actually our sailing date, in 1948 my father had, against his wifes wishes, applied to emigrate to Victoria, Australia as he believed that there was a better life for his children to be had there rather than stay on in war torn England (to coin an hackneyed phrase), and the wait we were told would be some four years and we would get a 4 week notice of sailing date when we would have to pack up and sail away (it later became fly away which would have undoubtable been accompanied with Frank Sinatras fine rendition).
We sailed from Liverpool aboard the MV Cheshire which had been converted from an armed merchant cruiser of WWII to a 20th century convict ship/ immigrant ship. Originally designed for around 250 passengers the conversion allowed in excess of 600. Space was somewhat cramped.
Naturally it was a ‘boatload of £10. Poms’ from all walks of life which means different religions, mostly it was C. of E. or R.C., the former predominant, with a considerable number bound for Melbourne and guaranteed jobs and housing. We were part of the consignment (I was going to say contingent but consignmnt is more apt) for the Victorian Railways, my dad had been given a job and house, as had the majority of the 600; but that’s for another time if I haven’t already bored/ regaled you with that story.
There was one family aboard that I recall, (if my sister reads this load of tosh she may care to straighten me out if needs be) and they were Catholic, the wife was Dutch I think and they had a brood, seems they were welcomed by the local Catholic priest and for the next few years a baby arrived regularly and the priest would call round and tell them what a great job they were doing and it got to the stage that the father told the priest to “b….r off”. (lets hope my sister Carole reads this somewhere in her cottage in rural France).
After being fired from my first job in Australia, after less than a week, I eventually went back to work in the insurance industry which was my forté, I wasn’t cut out to be a Blacksmith like my dad, he was the greatest smithy; I was a pen pusher/reader. Actually I’d have been quite happy to just sit around with my feet up and read for the rest of my life but my mother kicked me out gave me 10 bob and told me to go get a job and don’t come back til I had one which I did.
The Micks & Me.
A few months after starting at the “Royal Insurance Co Ltd” I was transferred to the accounts department, why is beyond me I wasn’t inclined that way but they knew best. My mother would have had a fit had I have told her that I’d been thrown into a pit of Catholics. The accountant Carl Otto McKernan, was a mick the two girls that I had to work with, and who were to show me the ropes, were in fact the only people who weren’t; were Mr Death (pronounced Deeth he got upset when I called him Mr Death once) and me. Everybody else was a MICK! Surrounded by them.
Trouble is they were all nice people, every single one of them, the only bore was Mr Deeth,
The two girls, actually young women, Bernece (Bluey) Naughton and Frances Delaney were both a bit older than me, Bluey was 9 years older and Frances 3 and two finer Irish catholic girls you could never wish to meet.I became very fond of both of them; so much so that it didn’t take them long before they had me going to Mass with them during the lunchtimes.
Sometimes once, othertimes twice, a week they would invite me to go with them to a little Catholic church in Elizabeth Street on the corner of Lonsdale Street in Melbourne, and what a beautiful church it is too, I was fascinated. The smells, incense I suppose, the atmosphere so quite and calm, the priest mumbling away in the background in a strange tongue. (I was reliably informed that it was actually Latin which I’d always believed to be a dead language written only by doctors so that nobody could understand what the were trying to kill or cure us with!)
I became very interested in the Catholic Church and religion and of course ne’er a mention of it to my mother.