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Wednesday January 3, 1979

Ruth Rhodes (nee Upton)
Still snow. We have just been having a laugh talking about our ancestry. Dad's paternal grandfather must have been a frightening character. He had long, flowing white hair, and always wore a black apron. The only thing Dad remembers about John Henry Rhodes's house is the piano with brass candle~holders, and the large, framed portrait of Gladstone on the wall. (Dad says jokingly: "Or was it Disraeli?") The picture frightened him almost as much as grandad did. John Rhodes (1866-1948) was a strong nonconformist lay preacher, and he sang solo in the chapel on Sundays. He was partially blinded when making  his own fireworks when aged 13 or 14. His wife, Christiana Ross, came from a moderately wealthy background, related to the Ross mill owners in Bramley. She died when my father was five or six years old (in June, 1939), and his only memory of her is when she was 'lying in state' in the front parlour after her demise. What did these aloof, God~
fearing folk make of the family of the woman who married their son, Albert Rhodes (1901-73) ? I shudder to think. The Uptons were a colourful bunch of people. My paternal grandmother was Ruth Ellen Upton, the illegitimate daughter of Polly Upton (1882-1932). Polly was from Sussex and spent her formative years on Epsom racecourse. It is said that the father of her illegitimate daughter was a member of the racing fraternity. Polly was only 18 years old when Ruth was born on September 3, 1900. A few years later Polly married Charles Edwin Henty, a jockey, and had a further thirteen consumptive children. In about 1913/14 Charles Henty came to Yorkshire to the stables of the wealthy Gunter family at Wetherby. At the outbreak of the Great War he went off to Europe to fight for King & country, and Polly took her growing brood off to Leeds to find work. The story goes that the first time my grandmother ever saw a tram she worked on it - Ruth would have been about fourteen. She later worked in a woollen mill in Bramley where she met Albert Rhodes. They married at Bramley register office in March, 1922. John Rhodes, the singing Methodist, boycotted the wedding because Ruth was a Roman Catholic. He didn't speak to his son for years, and comfortably off himself, he almost allowed his family to starve during the depression. My Uncle Harry was born in Oct 1922.



Tuesday January 2, 1979

Bank Holiday in Scotland
Dame Gracie Fields.

Mum and Dad's birthday. Snow, bright and clear. Back to the YP for the first time since before Christmas. The New Year Honours list is piled up on my desk. I suspect that they've only given the DBE to Gracie Fields in the hope that the shock might kill her. What a cruel, evil sense of humour I have. Hugh Scanlon is to be made a peer. They might as well make Karl Marx a posthumous Marquess. I don't know why I'm mocking and ridiculing the honours system because really I am all for it.

Tonight. No buses arrive and I don't get home until 6. John, Maria, JPH, Lynn & Dave came to dinner. Sue and Pete of course, too. JPH says his middle name is "Fillet". His swearing has subsided, but he does tend to slap and bash people. Mum succumbed to several heavy blows.

A happy family dinner. Just the tonic for ailing Mum. I gave them both (birthday) cards but no presents. Everybody else seems to have been able to scrape cash together for gifts, but as usual I miscalculated. They don't mind. I told them I'm buying them something on Thursday.

John and Maria left at 10. Late for taking JPH to bed. He managed to burst every balloon in the house and strip the Christmas tree of its pine needles.

Splashed around in the bath. Took to my bed at 1:26am.