We moved from Battersea to a flat above a shop in Brixton. Now my dad was living with us. It was great for me, but it was obvious that my parents did not get along. Christmas came, and Dad brought home a big tree--not as tall as the ones in Winnipeg or Vancouver, but tall enough that I could not reach the top. Mum and I were out one day and came home to find my dad drunk. I think it was the second time in my life I had seen him in that condition. He was a funny drunk, full of jokes and tricks. He had not only bought and decorated the tree, he had also bought presents, wrapped them, put them under the tree, and blown up enough balloons to fill the whole floor of our sitting room. Christmas Day, we had a big dinner, now that we had three ration books to buy a reasonable amount of meat, etc. It wasn't turkey, but whatever it was, it was well appreciated.
Around that time, my mother received a letter from her mother who was still in Vancouver. Granny had sold her Vancouver house and bought a small farm an hour's drive from the city. She had written a will, that gave one acre of land to each of my mother's siblings, but instead of land Mum was being given a trip back to Canada. I was ecstatic! I hated England with such a passion--I had always told my classmates that if I could arrange it I would be on the very next boat out of there. Here was my chance. Mum began to look into what needed to be done for this trip home. We'd need vaccinations. We'd need to find out what transportation we'd be taking. Granny had somehow arranged with Cunard for us to simply go into the London office and book passage on a ship. She had also arranged with the Canadian National Railway and the Canadian Pacific Railway for our trans-Canada journey--with another stop-over in Winnipeg.
At the Cunard office, my mother was driving me crazy and throroughly annoying the desk clerk. She hummed and hawed about this and that until I finally got up from my chair against the wall and went to the counter to see what was going on. I listened for a moment, and then I said to the clerk, "When's the next boat out of here?" He said, "Saturday." I said, "We'll take it." My mother started to protest--we could go to Scotland, we could go to Paris.... I said, "We've been here three years. There was lots of opportunity to do that and we didn't. Let's just go home." The clerk was so glad at the prospect of being rid of my mother, that he had everything all set up and ready to sign in no time at all.
Unfortunately, it never occurred to me that my dad would not be coming with us. Granny had not provided for him.
The Christmas tree was still up in our little flat, when my dad took our bags down to the taxi and accompanied us to the train station. That was the last time I ever saw my father.