On the 9th of November 1939 a child was born to Mary Elizabeth Hudston. Mary, unmarried, had concealed the fact that she was pregnant, the doctor was called to deal with suspected gallstones when she was in fact in labour. The birth was a surprise to most, probably not to Mary. She took the secret of the father of the child to her grave. The child, underweight partially due to lack of prenatal attention and wartime austerity was named Kenneth Allan. Kenneth was quickly christened as his future, already dubious was further complicated due to a life threatening condition, almost certainly pyloric stenosis. Operated on immediately the child, it is said, spent some of its early days snugly wrapped in a shoebox by the fire.
Kenneth survived, just, a spell of eighteen months in Bretby Hospital due to rickets unusual but not unknown in wartime Britain. Mary married Ernest Stevens, had a daughter Jean and time passed by. Ernest died in tragic circumstances in 1942 and life was never easy for Mary, Jean and Kenneth.
Kenneth, small of stature, continued to thrive despite frequent broken limbs, often through competing with 'the bigger boys'. Mary died in 1953, aged forty six. Jean was adopted by an aunt and Kenneth allowed his name to be changed by deed poll to Kenneth Allan Stevens. (to mask the stigma of illegitimacy) It was probably the last time in his life Kenneth allowed someone else to make a decision on his behalf.
Life never stands still. A serious motorcycle accident almost cost Kenneth his life. But broken bones and almost a year off work, though painful are seldom terminal. Near misses in canals and rivers are just that, merely near misses. And life is full of near misses. An internal hemorrhage, serious at the time but survivable. Skin cancer, worrying but surely sent to remind that we are mortal. TGA, eerie but again survivable and one hell of a talking point when the conversation flags at cocktail parties.
Tablets for this, tablets for that, no wonder our ancestors had a shorter life span, it's only the tablets that keep us going. But its been fun and its not over yet. And boy, does it seem strange to be seventy years of age!