Tuesday, October 31, 2023

Uncle Ralph - 364 Day Marriage

The true story of Ralph's short-lived marriage.

My earliest memory was of him living in a basement flat at 16 Philbeach Gardens in Earl's Court (aka Kangaroo Valley on account of the number of Aussies who lived there). He lived with his girlfriend, Irene, "in sin" as it was described in those days. Very exciting and risqué for someone like me growing up in the very conventional milieu of middle England in the ‘70s.

They subsequently moved upmarket to a 2-bedroom flat at 28 Gainsborough Mansions, Queen’s Club Gardens in Barons Court where Irene’s mother tried to bribe them into marriage with the offer of a three piece suite as a wedding gift! No dice. Eventually Irene gave up waiting and left for Colorado where her sister and mother had relocated some years previously.

Ralph continued to talk to Irene by phone usually on a Friday night after an evening down the Colton Arms. One particularly inebriated evening he suggested they get married. Next day he got a call from Irene to say the date was fixed and he was to present himself at her home in Colorado on such-and-such a date which he duly did.

Apparently the sister and mother both wanted to have the preacher conduct the service in their respective front parlours and got into a heated debate. Exasperated, Irene rang up the reception venue and asked if they could also host the wedding, “Sure”. And so that is how Ralph ended up marrying in the Colorado Holiday Inn on 18 August 1979 when he was 48 years old.

Ancestry.co.uk were able to give me the date but wanted me to upgrade my subscription to research the US records hence the redacted detail. I'm not sufficient nosey at this stage to cough up.

Unfortunately for Irene the cheapest flight out to the States was in fact a one-year return deal. As the 12-month deadline approached Ralph wondered how the lads in the Colton Arms were getting on. "Shame to waste the other half of the ticket." So he returned to the UK and never went back!

Irene was not impressed to say the least.

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