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My Great Uncle Roy was a pessimist. His comment on almost every event in his life always finished with the words, "... and it ruined my life."
When I first remember him he was living with his mother and unmarried sister in a lovely old house in Crafers in the Adelaide Hills. The house belonged to my Great Aunt Ada who had been willed the house by her father who died when she was a child. At least, that is what I always believed but research into the true roots of my family is causing me to develop a certain amount of cynicism about the oral traditions I grew up with.
My aunt was hectored by both her very domineering mother and her rather mysogenistic brother and once told my mother that the reason she put up with them was that it was her house and she could evict them any time she pleased.
Uncle Roy pottered around the garden (which was a very large one), mended his own shoes, cut his own hair, kept the supply of firewood ready for the wood stove and generally made himself useful. My great-grandmother, on the other hand, was in her eighties and I never remember her doing anything except sitting in a chair dressed in black from head to foot. She was a very large woman. Story has it that she was once the most beautiful woman in Adelaide but those days were long since past.
Uncle Roy was very rich. He had little need to spend any money and, like his brother (my grandfather), reinvested all of his income and paupered himself in the belief that it was a sin to spend capital. Later, when his sister Ada died and her house was sold he was persuaded by the wife of his oldest brother to buy a large house, in Adelaide, where he would live as a pensioner in her household. He had his own apartment there and only ever joined the rest of the family for dinner in the evening when the main aim of the household seemed to be to try to make him drunk. I am sure that he was entirely aware of the plot - I once saw him smile.
According to family legend there was a time when he contemplated marriage and actually began courting a lady. He used to drive her out in his trap (a two-wheeled horse-drawn vehicle). One day he was driving her out when for some reason the horse bolted. As he dropped the reins and leapt out of the trap he shouted to her, "Jump, you fool, jump!!"
And it ruined his life.
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