The Good Connection
When passing verdict, however mild, upon ones parents, the verdict of Heaven should always be borne in mind.
Deuteronomy Chapter 21
18 If a man have a stubborn and rebellious son, which will not obey the voice of his father, or the voice of his mother, and [that], when they have chastened him, will not hearken unto them:
19 Then shall his father and his mother lay hold on him, and bring him out unto the elders of his city, and unto the gate of his place;
20 And they shall say unto the elders of his city, This our son [is] stubborn and rebellious, he will not obey our voice; [he is] a glutton, and a drunkard.
21 And all the men of his city shall stone him with stones, that he die: so shalt thou put evil away from among you; and all Israel shall hear, and fear.
Well, I'm willing to risk that, despite the accusations of gluttony and inebriation (which have a tinge of truth).
My mother Katie was always determinedly reticent about her childhood, her schooldays (which came to an end when she was only 14), and her subsequent days in the world of work.
The one episode with which she would regale my brother Simon and myself was that somebody called Alan Good, a Big Businessman, by whom she'd been employed as a secretary during the war, had paid a visit to the Waddell household in Loughborough not too long afterwards (I was only a year or two old). She'd done her very best within the limitations of rationing, and the marital impecuniosity, to produce a nice lunch, towards the end of which strawberries (possibly home-grown) and cream were served. APG (as he was always known) reached for the jug and tipped its entire contents onto his bowl of strawberries.
"Oh dear", he said, "Have I finished all the cream? Though I expect there's plenty more?"
Little did he realise that small jugful represented an entire month's coupons – he had a large country estate, with its home farm and dairy herd, and he was entirely insulated from - indeed unaware of - the exigencies which affected the rest of us common folk. The phrase "Have I finished all the cream?" passed into family mythology and ever afterwards Simon and I could reduce each other to roars of laughter by its very mention.
About a decade later, during my father's temporary affluence and our residence in Basil Street, with Harrods as our corner shop, as it were, we somehow seemed to be on very good terms with somebody called Audrey Good, an extremely nice, very good-looking and well-educated woman, with a particularly warm smile, and her two very accomplished sons, still at public school. They lived in a large house in, quite possibly, Queen Anne's Gate, to which Simon and I would be taken from time to time.
This (apparently) newfound friendship survived my parents' break-up, though now it was just my mother by whom Simon and I would be taken to visit Audrey and whichever sons happened to be at home. But the scales had noticeably tipped. My mother became very deferential, even subservient, as her social credit rating and purchasing power had crumbled. I don't suppose Audrey gave such things a moment's consideration, but I felt distinctly uncomfortable at Katie's demeanour.
The oddest aspect of all, in retrospect, was that even the name of Bill Good was unknown to me, and I thought Audrey was APG's widow and that it was he who had been killed in a plane crash (the bare fact of which had been released into the domestic domain by the maternal censor). And I continued to think that for years, and the fact that Audrey was divorced anyway was never even hinted at.
At some point after that, Audrey went to live in Greece (she was certainly there in 1964, as she came to visit me in Athens, and later most generously contributed the £5 that was essential to get me back to England). My mother's limited geography never really extended to Audrey's precise location, though she never failed to remind me of the Kyria's reputed command of the language and beautiful intonation. I think Audrey wisely settled for an island rather than the mainland; Athens still had a beguiling, raffish charm in the 1960's, but on my more recent visits, since The Colonels and the Abdication, it has looked like any other down-at-heel European kakopolis.
In the meantime, Katie took up with Nan Good, who I now realise was Audrey's successor in Bill Good's affections, though my wife and I hadn't the faintest idea as to Nan's place in the jigsaw, or even that there was a jigsaw into which to fit. I can dimly remember several occasions over a decade or so (the last, oddly enough, being the weekend of the Bhopal disaster) on which we met her. And Nan meanwhile very kindly allowed Katie to escort us and our young family to her very capacious summer cottage on the shoreline of Trearddur Bay on a couple of occasions; yet again, though, the role of 'charity evacuee' was deeply embarrassing ...
In 1976 I moved from Bristol to Reading, leaving the academic life for ever and zigzagging into the equally bizarre world of commerce (for undercover bitchiness, academia takes the biscuit, but for undisguised nastiness, the dagger without the cloak, for flagrant nepotism and lazy ineptitude, the laurels have to go to mammon).
And shortly afterwards, it emerged that Audrey had returned permanently to England and suggested that she and Katie should jointly buy a shared house in Oxford, near Folly Bridge – their relative contributions were never disclosed. And so nearly a decade of thraldom began, with mandatory lunchtime visits from Reading every Sunday fortnight, for roast beef and Yorkshire puddings (which my wife and children didn't want ...). Audrey always very tactfully made other arrangements on these occasions, but we were always on tenterhooks lest a spill or a tear or a breakage should occur.
In 1986, Audrey decided to move to Spain, having tired of the British climate. And so, the house in Oxford was sold, and with financial assistance from her sister Marjorie and my brother Simon, Katie purchased a newly-built terraced house in Chichester (which held happy memories from the days of Grannie Waddell and my own childhood, and also chimed with several generations of Katie's kin, who had more recently made their homes thereabouts). Audrey visited her on a number of trips back to England, but despite being four years the elder of the two always had to undertake scrambles up into the loft to check for mysterious drips or funny noises.
Katie valiantly continued to drive well into her late 80's, at which point the family collectively dissuaded her from continuing. But until then, she had made regular visits from Chichester up to Oxford to visit Mary Good and Maria Good, for stay for long weekends or to house-sit while Maria was away.
She wasn't the sort of person of whom one could ask questions, and so one applauded these anabases without the faintest idea as to who the visitees might be. You, with the benefit of the tabulation below, can see that the one was Bill Good's younger sister and the other was Alan Good's second wife (and indeed widow), and in fact you have the whole perspective which I until a couple of days ago (Jul 2017) could never appreciate ...
But there was a deeper connection that emerged several years after Katie died. I had rung my Aunt Jane in Victoria BC at the usual very late hour (for me, that is) and she was recounting something about her father, the redoubtable Robert Waddell, when she said "Of course, that was when he was working for Alan Good" and I almost fell off the telephone stool.
Following his long association with Brown Bayleys in Sheffield, Robert had set up as a freelance consultant engineer in 1937, and with the advent of the Second World War he had been retained by the Ministry of Supply to liaise with various engineering organisations that were busy turning ploughshares back into swords. The sort of stuff he'd done procuring components for aero engines for the RFC back in 1917/18, in fact.
So, it wasn't really so surprising that he should have visited the headquarters of Alan Good's engineering empire from time to time on the ceaseless round of long journeys in blacked-out unlit unheated railway trains that my father once told me had irrevocably ruined Robert's always precarious health.
But then Aunt Jane said "And of course that's where Walter met Kathleen" and that really was an eye-popper. Walter was a name my father (aka William) hated, but everyone in his family continued to call him that. His father Robert and he had a most difficult relationship, and they certainly weren't on visiting terms, so this otherwise implausible visit was evidently also on liaison, from Rustons, the engineering company for which he worked. And somebody had said, by gum, we've gorra'nother bloke here with the same name as you.
And at some point Katie popped in to see Robert (she was a PA to Alan Good by then) and perhaps Robert introduced them, perfunctorily as was his wont, and that, dear reader, is how you get to read this rather circuitous narrative, as they married a year or two later.
On reflection, it's not too surprising that such a tale hadn't surfaced in all the decades since that time, as ours was not a family which celebrated anniversaries or put wedding pictures into frames or photograph albums. In fact, it wasn't until I began to research this website that I discovered the date and whereabouts of their wedding, and I've certainly never seen a photograph of it. Oh dear, it's all getting a bit Alan Bennett, isn't it.
But I suppose that ultimately I owe my existence to Alan Good.
Or perhaps Adolf Hitler.
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Please note that links from
- (Click here for Rev Thomas Good)
- (Click here for the Good family generally)
- (Click here for Alan Paul Good particularly)
- (Click here for the Scott family generally)
|#||Individual||Spouse / Partner||Family|
|‑3||Rev Thomas Good
(22 Mar 1842 –
9 Jun 1925)
Curragh, Co Cork
|Susan Hannah Brodie
(31 Jan 1841 –
16 Nov 1926)
(m 13 Nov 1867)
|William Ireland Good|
(23 Mar 1873 –
4 Oct 1944)
and numerous others
|‑2||William Ireland Good
(23 Mar 1873 –
4 Oct 1944)
|Ethel Beatrice Marsh
22 Jan 1929)
(m 23 Apr 1900)
|Hilda Margaret Good|
? Thomas Good
(b 4 Apr 1905)
Alan Paul (APG) Good
(Q2 1906 –
10 Feb 1953)
Ethel Mary Good (or here)
(25 Mar 1912 –
3 Jan 2000)
William (Bill) Marsh Good
(ca 1914 –
10 Jan 1952)
(allegedly aka Creepy)
|‑1||Alan Paul (APG) Good
(Q2 1906 –
10 Feb 1953)
|Doreen Priscilla Cory
(18 Dec 1907 –
(m Q1 1931)
|Yvonne D Good|
(Q2 1932 –
Elaine N Good (=Constable)
(b Q1 1933)
Paula J Good (=Chaffey)
(b Q1 1939)
|Mary (aka Maria) Brough
(m Q2 1945)
|‑1||William (Bill) Marsh Good
(ca 1914 –
10 Jan 1952)
|Doris Audrey Scott
(18 Feb 1912 –
(m 18 Sep 1937)
daughter of Harold Seymour Scott (1883-1945) and Doris Bailey (1891-1944)
|Edna (Nan) Good
||William (Bill) Good|