Memories of Mervyn Upton
28th August, 1930 ~ 29th November, 2012
Engagement and Marriage
Janet and I began to meet each other during the Summer of 1967. At the time she was living in a flat in Cornwall Road, Bishopston that was owned by Irene Badcock. The relationship grew slowly. We both lived independent lives and I think Janet was ready for marriage before I was.
There were questions to be answered…would a relationship like that between my father and mother develop? Could marriage be afforded? How would we cope with each other’s families?
By 9th May, 1970, I had made up my mind. That morning (a Saturday) we had arranged to meet, as we often did, in town for shopping. Janet was waiting for me outside Lewis’s (as it was, now Primark). She later reported that my face was as black as thunder and she wondered what had happened.
She walked through the shop and into The Arcade with me saying little. I stopped outside a jewellers (Roberts) and looked in the window. Turning to Janet I said “Let’s go in and buy an engagement ring.” The poor girl almost collapsed with shock but, after recovery, entered the premises to make the purchase. At 18.00 that evening, the ring was placed on her finger and we were officially engaged. Immediately, she ‘phoned her parents. On returning home, I said nothing. The next day was Carole’s birthday (26th) and we were all invited to Pill for lunch and tea. We picked up Janet in Father’s car for the journey and, as soon as she was aboard, the ring was shown. My parents were delighted as was my sister.
The next day, Janet’s ring was spotted during morning break at Upper Horfield School. At Glenfrome, we had a tradition whereby anyone with a celebration brought cakes or biscuits for break. That lunchtime I visited Mr & Mrs Havill’s bakers shop in Muller Road to purchase something suitable. Knowing that it was not my birthday, staff wondered what was being celebrated and the mystery was solved by the secretary, Ruby Heard.
Janet was promised that we would be married within a year provided we could purchase a suitable house. Easter 1971 was the earliest spot we might manage. During August 1970, we began house-hunting and learned the vocabulary and inaccuracies of the estate agent. No quick success, but early in September, an advertisement was found, in the Bristol Evening Post, for a property in Dormer Road. We went to see the property and discovered it was owned by a widowed Glenfrome parent who was marrying again and moving.
The house had a new central heating system and looked good although requiring some re-decoration. There was also a garage available which we did not require at the time. My father and Janet’s inspected it and were satisfied, so we made an offer that was accepted…£4,100. A mortgage of £2,000 was obtained from The Shepherds Friendly Society.
In Septmeber 1970, the property became ours and re-decoration commenced. When finished, Janet decided to move in at the end of November. Within a couple of days, power cuts commenced so she was often in the dark in a strange house with its domestic noises. Gradually, various items of furniture were acquired.
The wedding was fixed for 3rd April, 1971 at 12.00 in Eastville Park Methodist Church. Janet selected her niece, Jane Alvarez, and Nicola Parsons to be bridesmaids.
I chose Ray Pepworth to be best man with Nigel Way and Clive Warwick to be ushers. (When he returned to college, Nigel was asked what he had done in the holidays and replied “I was a bouncer at a wedding”!!). Steve Brown was to make a film of the wedding and, to make things easier for him I lent him my camera, virtually identical to his own.
A week before the wedding, Janet’s Aunt Clare came to stay with her. She was the family organiser and took charge. Janet’s mother was not capable of doing this task, in fact, she was not very happy about the wedding…I didn’t earn enough and had no car.
The day dawned sunny, but cold. Father had been ordered to behave himself as, at Carole’s wedding, he had hung about outside the church instead of being at The Grand Hotel to greet his guests. Then he invited all of Ryston’s friends and relations to our house. Mother and I were overwhelmed entertaining them. This time was different. He was in the welcoming line at the reception and Mother invited only those she wanted and could cope with.
Back to the house ~ Ray, Jean, Sally and Nigel Pepworth and Charles Goss.
Ray arrived in good time and we set off for EPMC in a Co-op limousine. When I booked the cars, I went to the Undertakers Depot in Lawrence Hill. I was greeted by a funereal face asking “Can I be of assistance, Sir?” When I asked about weddings, it was as if he’d taken another face from a drawer and a smile appeared.
Nigel and Clive came with us but I was disappointed to find neither Steve or the Evening Post photographer present. (The Post had done very well at Carole’s wedding…this time I think they sent the office boy).
The church began to fill up with guests, friends and ‘the professional’ wedding attenders. All around the gallery little heads appeared as Glenfrome pupils obtained grandstand seats. One group of boys arrived from Eastiville Park muddy, with their football. All were very well behaved. Steve arrived late and, when my parents appeared, he panned away from them to film more guests. Mother was not pleased. Nor was she, later, when she heard that ‘professionals’ had been filmed. She blamed Steve but he was not at fault. It was David Alvarez, using Janet’s father’s camera. Later, Steve was excited to tell me that he had filmed fruit machines being driven down Fishponds Road on a trailer. When editing, this sequence, very quickly, went into the waste bin.
The wedding was not photographically successful, but almost everything else went well. Rev John Curnow ably conducted the ceremony and, as usual, Ewart Bawn performed splendidly on the organ. Janet arrived to ‘The Bridal March’ from Tannhauser by Wagner and we left the church to Mendelssohn’s Wedding March. The group photographs were then taken but someone was missing…Janet’s mother! What happened to her, we never discovered.
Janet’s father wanted a small wedding breakfast at one of the expensive hotels. Janet and I, for several reasons, wanted a larger, simpler affair in the church hall. This would aid Janet’s relations as, at the time, the M32 ended at Muller Road and they would not have to find their way across an unfamiliar city on a Saturday afternoon. We contacted Redcliffe Caterers for the meal. They had served the Old Cothamians RFC well for many years and they did not disappoint us. We obtained red, white and sparkling grape juice from the Western Temperance League (no alcohol on Methodist premises!). Later knowledge revealed that this must have been a great shock to the Peachy clan! There were about 70 guests and, for the first time, I met members of Janet’s family such as cousins Daphne and Doreen. Daphne was Janet’s favourite cousin and she was always kind and generous to us…often providing us with accommodation. At the time of writing (1/11/10) she is still alive and aged 90. Also present were her husband, Bob, a farmer and her daughter whose elaborate hair style interested many male guests. Alas, both are now dead. Christine, the teenage daughter of cousin Viv, also attended. Much later (2007) she reminded me that I had asked her if she was the horsey one. Her father, George, an able raconteur, made one of the speeches.
Afterwards, we changed at Barbara’s and she drove us to Dormer Road where a hire car awaited us in the garage. Janet drove us to Wells and we spent the night at The Ancient Gatehouse Hotel. That evening we had our first meal together as a married couple at The Star, High Street (alas, no more).
The next morning we drove to Lulsgate Airport to fly to Guernsey. I warned Janet not to wear a hat as this would reveal we were newly-weds. It wasn’t really necessary as Janet rarely wore one except to protect herself from sun or rain. When we boarded the plane, we noticed a number of ladies wearing hats. Cambrian Airways Viscount 701 G-AMOE flew us to Guernsey via Jersey where all ‘the hats’ alighted. We were to stay in a hotel in Hauteville, St Peter Port and we were horrified to find it closed when we were deposited outside from a taxi. Someone in a nearby house suggested we try another hotel down the hill which was owned by the same proprietors. The owner was out but a member of staff assured us they would be able to accommodate us and made us a pot of tea. When the owner appeared, she apologised. It appeared the managers of the first hotel had been sacked and no records of people booked to stay there had been found. We were not the first surprise guests she had received but, at that time of the year, she could deal with them.
Contact was made with my old college friend, Don Smith. Through the island grapevine, he had heard that a Mr & Mrs Upton were in Guernsey, but he thought they were my parents. He had not previously met Janet but he and Margaret made us very welcome. On the Sunday, he took us to Torteval Methodist Church where he was preaching.
The weather for our stay was not very warm, but dry. For the honeymoon, Janet had purchased another new mackintosh, this time a bright red, PVC one that enlivened the photographs and made her very visible.
On 14th April, we boarded Cambrian Airways Viscount 806 G-AOYH but a strike prevented a landing at Lulsgate so we were taken to Cardiff (Rhoose) and returned to Bristol by coach.
Our Silver Wedding
3rd April 1996 was our Silver Wedding anniversary. Friends were local, Janet’s relations distant, so we decided to stage two functions.
The first, on the actual day, was an evening meal at Rangeworthy Court. Pete and Frances Williams drove us to the event and the guests were Ray Pepworth (our best man), Nicola (bridesmaid) and Tony Perrett, Barbara Parsons, Charles Goss, Marion Wall and Stephen Brown. After a delicious meal, we relaxed to chat in the sitting room. For the journey home there was a full moon experiencing a partial eclipse in a clear sky.
Gill suggested that The Old Mill at Aldermaston might be a suitable place for the family party. We made a reconnaissance and we were impressed so we booked The Barn for the luncheon party. The proprietor particularly recommended his sausages to be included in the buffet menu.
On Sunday 21st April, we set off for the party, taking Ray Pepworth with us. The family were there in force ~ Brenda and Peter, Jonathan, Gill and David, Andrew and Maria, Jane (bridesmaid) and Martin with Jack, Harrie and Hannah, Pat and Carol, Daphne and Bob, Tim and Liz with Julian, Roy and Joan, George Mugele, Nicola and Barbara. The sausages proved to be very good as did the rest of the meal. George was able to have two helpings of pudding. Afterwards, he informed us of the rate of flow of the nearby small river in gallons per hour!! Daphne, Bob and Liz enjoyed a walk along the bank of the river explaining that, although they lived in the country, there was no river nearby. How different from us city dwellers who lived near the Frome Valley. After a late afternoon cup of tea, we all departed. Janet was proved wrong - the second party, although different, was as successful and memorable as the first.
Thirtieth Wedding Anniversary
Friends and relations were celebrating their Ruby Weddings. Janet thought that we might be too old to celebrate ours in 2011 and so, instead, we should celebrate our thirtieth wedding anniversary.
Choice of venue was discussed and it was decided to stage it in the East to enable her relations to attend. We chose Ardmore House for the party and for our stay in St Albans. Guests included Brenda, Peter and Jonathan, Gill and David, Daphne and Bob, Tom and Liz, Roy, Carol and Pat, Kathleen and David Maskell, Diana and Maurice Purkiss. The buffet lunch was excellent and, afterwards, we had use of a large sunroom where people could sit and talk ~ the event concluding with a cup of tea.
Afterwards, we departed for a brief stay at Church Stretton to enable us to attend the Ruby Wedding celebrations of Barbara and Marcel Noel at
St Luke’s Church, Wolverhampton – this was a service and an excellent tea.
Janet was delighted to encounter her old Head, Marjorie Ekblom. Her husband, Laurie, who had been in the RAF during WWII and was stationed in the area, recommended the meat pies!!!
Saturday August 28th, 2010 - ‘80’
Father did not live to be 80, dying at 77. Mother was convinced she would not live to be 80 but did so, dying at 84. However, at 80 she was living in a Residential Home and limited plans were made to celebrate the event which were, grudgingly, enjoyed.
There was no close family to organise an event for my 80th birthday. There were two alternatives ~ stay at home on one’s own or invite friends to some celebration activity.
After thought, an idea formed and I sought the views of Barbara, Joyce, Nicola and Kelly. All agreed that my plan was good.
Eagle Coaches and The Royal Hotel, Weymouth were contacted and a coach to Weymouth and a buffet lunch were booked.
Two lists of potential guests were constructed ~ the first choices were invited on 7th July and two orally accepted on the same day - Barbara and Mary Rogers. The first to reply by post were Pearl (who could not attend) and Russell (who initially accepted but, later, declined).
The first 48 invitations produced 23 acceptances. Slowly the names were replaced but, in the last week, 7 dropped out including two on the afternoon before the event (who gave me a different excuse the next time they saw me!). Now there would be 40 guests.
80th Birthday Celebration, Weymouth ~ Guest List
- Nicola Perrett
- Mary Rogers
- Ruth Carter
- John Dando
- Kelly Allen
- Janys Pentland
- Eve Scott
- Alan Robinson
- Pete De’Arh
- Ann Butt
- Sita Winstone
- Patrick White
- Valerie Allen
- Dave Butt
- David Winstone
- Norman Preece
- Sue Allen
- Steve Butt
- Doreen Guidett
- Richard Harrison
- Pete Allen
- Viv Lear
- Mary White
- Margaret Edwards
- Tina Trott
- Pete Williams
- Sue Robinson
- Dilwyn Edwards
- Sonia Trott
- Auntie Ann
- Betty Kingston
- Pamela Bush
- Barbara Parsons
- Pat Coles
- Mo Lewis
- Joyce Foord
- Bill Coles
- Paul Lewis
There were three problems ~ weather, parking and lateness…how long should we wait for latecomers?
On the day I woke early and looked out at the sky – it was mainly blue. I planned to leave home at 08.20 to greet my guests outside Tesco. At 08.15 the bell rang – it was John and Valerie who had parked in Dormer Road. At the same time, Auntie Ann arrived at Pete Williams’ house. Shortly after reaching the rendezvous, guests began to arrive. Everyone was punctual and, at 09.00, the coach departed.
During the first part of the trip I slowly made my way down the coach to have brief conversations with my guests.
A refreshment stop was made at Yeovilton FAA Museum. Declining refreshments, I took the opportunity to photograph everyone and, fortunately, I was successful. Initially, I hoped to photograph outside Tesco but was too busy greeting people.
At Yeovilton three objects appeared on the coach. Two ‘80’ balloons (Pamela) and a notice ‘Mervyn’s Birthday Bus’ (Mo and Paul from their son, Gareth).
Another conversation walk was made during the next stage of the journey. Traffic can build up to form long queues on the A354 as it descends to Weymouth. We were very fortunate, the traffic was light and we reached Weymouth promenade at 11.45. The party split up and I visited The Royal Hotel to check arrangements and a surprise was revealed ~ Mrs Foord and birthday cake!
I then walked along the promenade to view familiar scenes – Punch and Judy, the donkeys, the sand sculptures. During my stroll John, Valerie, Pamela and Mo were encountered. I then walked to the harbour and along St Mary Street to The Royal Hotel. The bar was full and Dave Winstone offered me a drink (orange juice and lemonade). There were many similar offers from others.
At 13.00 we entered the dining room. It was large, light and overlooked the promenade and sea. The buffet lunch was spread out on a long table and looked (and was) delicious. After Dilwyn had said grace, the guests lined up to load their plates with delicacies. I was frequently urged to join the queue but, as a good host, I waited to last. Looking round for a seat, I spotted one next to Ruth on a table with Viv and Janys – very good companions.
Guests were invited to return to the table for more food and many did.
After tea or coffee, the birthday cake appeared (a gift from Joyce and Barbara) bearing two candles, an 8 and a O. It proved to be excellent.
Afterwards, the party left to explore Weymouth. It was during the meal that a third ‘80’ balloon appeared at my table (Nicola).
I strolled along the promenade and encountered Barbara, Betty and Nicola. Two of them were ready for a rest so Nicola and I proceeded to the harbour and decided to cross by the rowing boat ferry – a new experience for Nicola. As we set out, another boat was arriving from the other side. It contained Peter Williams and Auntie Ann. After an ice cream, we walked along the harbourside to the town bridge where we waited as it was open to allow boats to pass through. Then we walked along St Thomas Street, cutting through to the promenade where we sat with John and Valerie and were joined by Peter Williams and Auntie Ann.
Just before 17.00, the coach arrived and everyone was present to board it.
A non-stop journey brought us to Tesco at 19.30.
A successful day that had gone to plan.