Subject: My parents on the day of their Wedding
From: Alex Kemp
Date: Sunday, 15 January 2006 00:00:00 +0000
To: All

Note before: This is an old “Diary Entry” from the Modem-Help site, re-jigged into the etmg format. The original site is now long gone.

My mother died in agony from ovarian cancer 3 years ago, and my father--although still alive in his 80s--is a shadow of his former self; hardly the man who did anything and everything decent to put food on to the family table, even if that meant shovelling snow for the council. I am travelling soon from my home in Nottingham to Hertford, to attend joint Birthday parties for Micaela and Oliver, my son’s children (who will be 4 and 1 respectively). I want a better memory than that conjured by the first few words at the beginning of this paragraph to take with me.

Ruth + David Kemp - Wedding Photograph, Hull, East Yorkshire; 22 May 1948

So, here is my parent’s Wedding Photograph, taken (it says on the back) on 22 May 1948. I am stunned at the quality that shines out of both of them. My father looks nervous (I have never known him be afraid of anything, except perhaps my mother)! He is the youngest of 9 brothers and 2 sisters; he had to fight his mother to wed this daughter of the nation’s enemy (he met her in Austria near the end of the war), and that speaks volumes. As you look at the composure of the young woman above (she is just 19 years at that time, and he is 29), consider that she has recently travelled by train and boat from her father’s home in Leoben, Austria across war-torn Europe to London; the close equivalent at the time to a trip to Mars. It is the first time that she has left her home town. She knows that her husband-to-be has a mother that hates her, and also that she will be forced to live in the same, small house as that woman. She has not seen her fiancé for a couple of years before the trip, and has no guarantee that he will actually be there at the station (many women travelled, only to find that they had been strung along by love-rats). In fact, he is so naive that he cannot find her at the station, and goes back to his return train to Hull without her. She somehow manages to find the correct station (there are 7 possibilities in London), and the train, and then my father.

Boy, what good-looking people. I am proud of them both.

Alex Kemp