A few weeks ago my Uncle Mickey died just about a week short of his 94th birthday, an excellent innings by any standard, he lived in Washington State in the USA with his wife, Jeanie had US citizenship and was a staunch Republican. As it is Rememberance Sunday today, it is a fitting moment to think of him as well as all the other ex servicemen and women.
The header picture is of a Lancaster bomber which he flew in during WWII but that is not of course how I knew him. Although “Nuncky” might seem like a childhood name I gave him, it was in fact of far more recent vintage and arose from him sending me a hurried email where in signing off Uncle and Mickey became rather confused, I made sure it stuck so Nuncky he became from that day forward !
Michael Bagnell was the youngest born of his family and also the only male child, he had four elder sisters one of whom was my Mum with the consequence that he was a bit spoilt and held a unique position within the family. He was ever adventurous and a bit to prone to telling people what they should be doing plus his views on masculinity bordered on the insane. I can remember him throwing me in a swimming pool declaring it was the best way for me to learn to swim, I rather resented that ! But that said, I also have another and more positive memory to set beside that.
Although Britain was on the winning side in WWII, the country was pretty bankrupt, even into the 1950s we still had rationing on many things so there wasn't a lot of “stuff” to go round well, least not in the working class circles we came from. Having a birthday immediately after Christmas wasn't much fun for me, it kind of got overlooked or, Christmas presents were labelled “Christmas and Birthday”, which made me feel a bit short changed. But one year I certainly wasn't thanks to Nuncky who turned up on my birthday with the gift of a die cast model of a Wells Fargo coach, complete with horses, driver, shotgun guard, passengers and luggage, it was in those times a truly top class gift and probably quite expensive too, it made an impression and I can still feel the glow from 65 years ago.
I didn't have too much contact with him over the years of my younger/mid adult life but we came very much together from around 2000 when I was living and working in the States though many miles from where he was living. I visited him on a number of occasions over these years but we often spoke to each other by phone when I moved down to Somerset in 2004 to live with my Parents.
We had the odd bust up over politics but it was never that serious and my abiding memories of the past 18 years will be of sitting beside Nuncky as he was driving us to this place or that whilst chatting about our mutual past, the people and the places back in post war South London and these are warm memories of a world long gone now. I can remember back in 2011 on a visit that these conversations were often interspersed with us laughing hysterically at the SatNav in the car whose instructions Nuncky often ignored. It would start by being insistent about following its directions with commands to turn off at the next intersection until eventually in total frustration it developed a bit of a big sulk which we both found outrageously funny.
Of the following pictures is one of my favourites of Nuncky dozing in an armchair with one of the dogs, Candy on his lap, thus far it is probably the best portrait shot I've ever taken and I'm glad it was of him.