My song today is ‘When I Fall in Love’. This popular song, written by Victor Young (music) and Edward Heyman (lyrics). It was introduced in the film, ‘One Minute to Zero’ and Jeri Southern sang on the first recording released in April 1952. The song has become a standard, with many artists recording it; the first hit version was sung by Doris Day in July 1952.
A 1996 cover by Natalie Cole included a ‘duet with her father Nat King Cole, by way of vocals from his 1956 cover, won 1996 Grammys for ‘Best Pop Collaboration with Vocals’ and ‘Best Instrumental Arrangement with Accompanying Vocals’. The song has been covered by too many famous artists to name but is mostly associated with Nat King Cole, whose recording reached Number 2 in the ‘UK Singles Chart’ in 1957.
My mother was the eldest of seven children, as I am also her firstborn of seven. Her youngest sibling was her brother Tom. I was born in the front room of my Maternal Grandparent’s house in Portlaw, County Waterford. So, Tom and I were probably born in the same bed and bedroom, but on different mattresses. When I was born, Uncle Tom was 7 years old.
As the oldest child, It was the chief task of my mother to always keep an eye on her older siblings, and no doubt she was charged by her mother (as was I) that this responsibility was lifelong and didn’t end when one got married and set up their own home. Ireland was short of work during the late forties and fifties, and the only prospects a young married couple had of a better life was across the sea in England. So, my father got a job as a miner in a West Yorkshire colliery and for the first two years, me and dad stayed with his sister, Eva, who lived in Bradford, while mum and two younger sisters stayed with my mum in Ireland.
When dad got a one-bedroom tied-cottage with his job, mum and my sisters, Mary and Eileen followed and family life started in England. There was only room for one double bed and my parents and her three children slept in it top to tail for five years.
About five years after migrating to England, we were fortunate to get a brand new three-bedroomed council house on a new estate nearby, Windybank Estate. I’d only been given my own bed in my own room for a few months when my mother’s brother, Willie. decided to migrate to West Yorkshire. Naturally, he came to live at our brand-new council house with his older sister and her family. Poor dad agreed until Willie got set up elsewhere. It took Uncle Willie four years until he found alternate lodgings in London!
I had forfeited my own bedroom to an uncle I hardly knew. Meanwhile, my mother continued with her increased breeding of the Catholic child factory and a few more siblings of mine were born. She stopped when there were seven children in total. The trouble was that when Uncle Willie left our house, after four years of free lodging, Uncle Johnnie caught the next ferry over, and he took his older brother’s place in my bedroom. Uncle Johnnie stayed for three years until he married. Just as I was about to get a good night’s sleep as a sixteen-year-old teenager, Uncle Tom caught the ferry and arrived on my mother’s doorstep. Mum put her youngest brother up until he wed two years later.
The one thing that I will never forget about Uncle Tom was that he was always a good singer; probably the best singer in his family. I recall that his favourite song was ‘When I Fall In Love’; a song he sang by invitation on many a night out in later years. He married and lived down Cleckheaton and had two sons, Nigel and Russell.
One week ago, Uncle Tom had a stroke that left him speechless and placed him in Calderdale Hospital, Halifax, where he still is. Since being in the hospital, Uncle Tom has had another stroke and is seriously ill. His wife, Aunty Kathleen has Alzheimer’s for a while now and their son, Nigel has recently flown from Australia to be by his father’s bedside.
It is Uncle Tom’s 84th birthday today; a factor he will probably be unaware of in his hospital bed and wholly unable to celebrate in any meaningful way. The most loving thing I can do for my only surviving uncle is to sing him his favourite song, the song he sang every day when he lived with us., shared our family house and took my bed. Happy birthday, Uncle Tom. Although you may not be aware, despite all past disagreements between us, I love you, we all love you and pray for your recovery. Your nephew, Billy x
Love and peace Bill xxx