made in 1921

9 decades of a life

On the 3rd of September 1921 my great Aunt was born.  She was christened Norah Wilson and she is one of 6 children that my Gran looked after when her mum, Minnie died at the age of about 32.

I think my great grandad was caring and very family oriented because all of his children, grandchildren and great grandchildren stay in touch and care about what the others are doing.  No mean fete as there are rather a lot of us. His name was Frank and I imagine losing his wife of only 11 years and having to manage with 6 kids alone was pretty daunting.  I think it my have been more daunting for my gran.

There aren’t many of the 6 children left, my gran died in 1992, the other 3 have passed at different times, including meg who died at just 18 years old.  Norah and Ken (the babies of the family) are the only ones left.

They are incredibly interesting to talk to:- they’ve seen war, they have buried children, they have experienced the loss of those that should be left long after them but they’ve enjoyed some amazing times and mostly amongst family.

What do you make for an incredible old lady for her 90th birthday?

When I was trying to work that out, I researched her birth year and every year since and it has been a very busy 9 decades indeed!


1920s – Jazz had it’s age, the world of film blossomed into a formidable media that is enjoying a renaissance now, there were natural disaster such as the Tempa Bay Hurricane, but there werealso medical developments like the invention of the BCG injection to stop the terrible problems from German Measles  in 1921. The 20’s were referred to as the ‘roaring 20’s’, The Bolshevists invaded the democratic republic of Georgia, Northern Ireland was ‘created’, Tutankhamun’s tomb was revealed (1921), FA cup is played at Wembley for the first time. divorce rights become equal, the BBC broadcasts the chiming of big ben for the firs time (1923), hattie jacques is born, tony hancock dies (1924),  TV is created by John Logie Baird (1926), penicillin is discovered, the Tyne Bridge opens and Heinz baked beans are made in the the uk for the first time (1928),

1930s – David Belamy is born (1933), Jackie Charlton is born (1935), king george the V dies at Sandringham, Butlins opens(1936), we get the 999 emergency number (1937), the Sutton Hoo treasure is found and The Royal Oak is sunk by German U boat at Scapa Flow (1939).

1940s – The Battle of Britain begins (1940), George Orwell writes ‘animal farm’ (1945), Stevenage new town concept is approved (1946), Queeny marries the mad greek (1947), The Windrush arrives to change the face of the UK for ever (1948) and the polo mint is born.


married in January 1943

1950s – the first package tour goes to corsica camping (1950), the king dies and our current queen succeeds him, the flower pot men come to TV (1952), casino royale is published, the samaritans are set up (1953), fish fingers go on sale (1955), double yellow lines are introduced in Slough, the last Lancaster bomber goes into retirement (1956), UK postcodes introduced, minis go on sale (1959), Lady Chatterley’s Lover is released for the first time since 1928 & penguin are sued for obscenity.

1960s – the farthing disappears from our purses (1960), Private Eye is published, ‘The Pill’ becomes available (1961), Profumo has his scandal, Ronnie Biggs carries out The Great Train Robbery (1963), man walked on the moon (1963), Jackie teen magazine is published, (1964), the pennine way opens, so does the post office tower, Ian Brady is arrested (1965), Milton Keynes is born (1967) and the M1 opens to get to it (1968).

1970s – Bloody Sunday devastates northern island (1972), ‘The Dark Side of the Moon’ is released by Pink Floyd (1973), there is a drought (1976), Fleetwood Mac released ‘Rumours’, the world shares successes of the ‘test tube baby’, we all street party for the Silver Jubilee (1977), Anna ford becomes the first female broadcaster (1978) and Sid Vicious dies.

1980s – John Lennon is shot dead (1980), the Apple Mac classic is launched (1982), we get live aid (1985), Mikhail Gorbachev becomes leader of the Soviet Union (1985), ethiopia’s experiences it’s worst famine, Libya is bombed by America (1986), The Berlin Wall comes down (1986), Tienanman Square protests (1989), MTV iss launched, Michael Jackson’s Thriller album is released (1982), we get hip hop, the film Chariots of Fire is released, pac man is launched, new romantics hit the charts, nintendo release their game console, we all strut around wearing ray ban wayfarers.

she moved from her pub of 3 years to a bungalow in 1986

1990s – the cold war ends, war breaks out in yugoslavia, britain hands hong kong to the chinese, mobile phones hit the high street, the world wide web is publicised, we get Dolly the cloned sheep, princess diana dies in a car crash in paris, the film Schindler’s list is real eased along with pulp fiction, forest gump and american beauty, we get Friends, The Simpsons & South Park on TV, Oasis, blur, Pulp and the Verve hit the music charts, play station is launched with huge success, Petronis twin towers in Kuala Lumpur become the tallest building, Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s stone is released,

2000s – the ‘naughties’, the 21st century begins as does the third millennium, nobody’s computers went pop, diver’s raise the titanic that had sunk in 1912, the twin towers of new york are attacked and the world watches in horror, Sadam Hussein is toppled, the uk goes into afghanistan and Darfur sees it’s darkest days.

2010s – Kate Middleton marries Prince William and the film ‘the king’s speech’ about his great grandfather is a huge success (2011), Mac launches it’s iPad, Alexandra McQueen commits suicide, the taliban continues to terrorise, there are natural disasters everywhere and Colonel Gadafi is run out of Libya by rebel forces, there are regime revolutions all over the world, The Olympics come to London (2012), the Rugby world cup goes to NZ and is to be hosted by the UK in 2015 and goodness knows, there is more to come……..

Quite frankly, that is a LOT going on (and that’s the potted version!). Aunty Norah’s life has been a little less busy, I have to say.

So the decision was made to make a cushion with 9 hearts on it to represent the 9 decades of her life and what it held for her:- she married in the new year of 1943 and had her only son Howard in the October (a true honeymoon baby), they moved into a pub called the fox inn in Penrith in 1956 where they lived and worked for 30 years, she retired from the pub in 1986.  Amongst other interesting things she has owned a race horse called Rock Cottage and although she has been a widower for an eternity she has survived it with a great sense of humour that is very close to the surface and very like all of the Wilson family. She reminds me very much of my gran as they looked incredibly alike and she also had an indomitable character.

They are having a bit of a knees up in the pub where she used to live tonight, I think it will be a bit of good fun.

Have a very happy 90th celebration Aunty Norah, I wish I could be there.

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