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20101012

Sunday February 8, 1976


Wake up at 9am when Uncle Harry announces from the foot of the stairs "breakfast is served, and I'm just going out for the milk." I lay with head pounding listening to Mum laughing in the next room. David proceeds to fall out of his bunk and onto the top of me, and Peter lays in bed chanting ditties that would make even the lewdest of rugby song fans blush.

Have toast and marmalade for breakfast and discuss the hazy events of last night. Harry and I have the same political views entirely.

At about 10.30 we set off on a tour of Cumbria. Harry, Carole and I in the first carriage, Lynn and Dave in the second, and Mum, Dad, Sue & Pete in the third.

We get as close as we can to Windscale Nuclear Power Station, and also visit the site where Uncle H is to have a caravan. He may get a job at Windscale, but I can forsee only danger and the prospect of nuclear holocaust ahead if Harry Rhodes is let loose there. Perhaps Henry Kissinger should be told before it is too late.

Spend an hour or two in the pub before Harry pays for a great chicken lunch. He only eats a mouthful and is taken ill by it. He's in a bad way.

Back to Ravenglass for 3.30 and we all go down to the beach. Carole and I go for a walk and she has hysterical fits when I accidentally push her into a tributary of the River Esk. I can see Harry looking at Carole when we're in the car because she never opens her mouth. He thinks something is wrong, & cannot understand she's on quite a different wave-length to him. She is blinded by words consisting of more than four letters, and Harry tends to use these long words rarther a lot.

Every time I say goodbye to Harry I fear it may be the last time because he's such a frail, old lad for 53.

Leave at about 4.30 and have uncomfortable, cramped journey home with David. Carole comes to Pine Tops until 9.30 and then I see her onto a bus homeward.

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Saturday February 7, 1976


Up at 8.50am which must be the earliest I've been up on a Saturday since I gave up Saturday mornings at the YP last Jan.

Have a bath and get a bus to Carole's. I catch her with a cigarette. She says she was only smoking because she thought I wasn't going to turn up. If she ever gives up I will eat my right ear.

Go to Otley market and buy a £3.95 waist coat which matches my levi-type jeans, and buy a film for my camera.

We got off the bus at Hawksworth Lane and Carole left her suitcase in the luggage rack and we almost lost it for good, but her presence of mind retrieved it within seconds of us alighting.

Set off for Uncle Harry's at 1pm. Stop for a few drinks in Skipton and arrive at Ravenglass at 4.30 or thereabouts. After roast beef and Yorkshire pudding in his wonderful little cottage we go to a local pub - all nine of us - and stay until after 11pm. Carole doesn't say much and I think she finds it hard to communicate with Uncle Harry, who is perhaps too 'deep' for her.

Back at the cottage Harry puts on a Spanish record and raves about it all night. By 1am everyone - except me - are shagged out, and drifting off to different sleeping spots, but Uncle H and I sit by the fire until 4.30 to solve the problems of the world.

He says he won't be around for much longer and if he's still here in five years it will be a miracle. I tell him he is not an alcoholic, but he says he's seen hundreds of men like him on mortuary slabs and that he most certainly is one. 'You see, Michael' he said 'you can tell an alcoholic not by what he drinks, but by what he doesn't eat.'

I do know that Harry has the apetite of a sparrow with stomach cancer. I fear for him very much. Typical, that out of all my uncles my favourite one has to have suicidal ambitions. He's not too late to be cured, but he hasn't the will to live. Other than this we talk about Margaret Thatcher, Airey Neave (who he says is the real power behind Mrs T), communism in Britain, fascism, King Juan Carlos, holidays in Spain, Mr Jeremy Thorpe, homosexuals, and Harold Macmillan. And throughout we have the Spanish LP banging away in the background keeping a good many of the guests upstairs awake.

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