Alis Grave Nil

Sunday, 5 October 2014

Who Do You Think You Are?

I don't know if you will be interested in this chers amis but I watched this BBC programme the other night and found it so interesting,  not least because it was about my ancestors as well.  Billy Connolly's grandmother, Flora, and my grandmother, Mary Cusick (nee McGowan), were sisters.  Flora was my great-aunt. Although I don't remember seeing her that much when I was young, I can always remember her calling into my grandma's house and giving us a square of her Fry's Crème bar before she left. She always made us laugh when she was leaving because she shouted "Cheery Bye!"  When we were young, we thought that was hilarious for some reason.
We also knew Billy's mother, Mame but we didn't know about him for years because it was all a great family secret/scandal.  The fact that a young married woman had left her kids and run away with a married man and started a whole new family in Dunoon, just wasn't talked about to children.  Although our staunch catholic family would have been appalled by what she had done, for some reason, they stood by Mame and I'm glad they did.  She was the funniest person I ever met. When we were about 8 or 9, my brother and I were taken to visit Mame in Dunoon by my aunt. Well, the two ladies were desperate for a gossip sans enfants so Mame handed us both an orange from the fruit bowl and left us in the capable hands of her husband, who was also left with two other very small grand-children. I was terrified of dogs when I was young and as soon as the bloody dog saw the orange in my hand, it thought it was a ball and started chasing me round the coffee table - I was screaming but I didn't think to let go of the orange.  Eventually Mame came back in and dragged the dog into the kitchen where it promptly chewed my aunt's expensive leather handbag handle.
Once we were at a family funeral and the same aunt was taking my sisters, brother and myself in her old Mini (i.e. like the ones from the original Italian Job) back to my grandma's house.  There must have been three of us in the back seat and we called Mame over to give her a lift.  Well, she clambered in backwards and promptly sat on the floor.  That started us laughing and then she shouts "Did you lot move that seat back deliberately?" Maybe it was the stress of a funeral but we all laughed until we cried and then some more.  I knew Mame before I knew her back story so I knew her without judging her and I liked her for who she was.  Maybe I would have thought she was a terrible person for leaving her two children if I had known but I am glad I didn't have the chance to judge her, and I was also glad when Billy said he didn't bear her any malice for what she had done.
Anyway, I've never met Billy Connolly but I was always secretly proud to be related to him.  We were not allowed to have his early concert LPs because my mother thought they were too rude (which they probably were) so we used to stand outside this older boy's house and listen to him playing the record at full blast in his bedroom with the window open. No instant downloads in those days eh?  
I will be on radio silence for two weeks from mercredi, mes amis.  See you on the flip side, as they say.


  1. How amazing. How interesting. wow a real life celeb as a member of the family.

    How a fantastic holiday!

    1. Hi Sol. I've never actually met him but other older family members have. Thanks, I will have a great holiday. Can't wait.


  2. I watched the Billy Connolly "Who Do You Think You Are?" programme last week and enjoyed it though it was sad to see that ill-health is now claiming him. He's not the outrageous and slightly angry man he used to be. I saw him "in concert" in Cleveland, Ohio and then again a few years back at Sheffield City Hall. He could make me laugh so much I almost weed myself. And now I am blogging with one of his closest relatives!

    1. Oh and have a lovely holiday! Good Golly Miss Molly!

    2. I think whatever drugs BC is taking for his condition have slowed him up, which is really sad to see.

      Thanks YP. Hopefully I will have some funny stories to blog about when I come back, probably involving extremely rude French people. I will miss you madly but am getting very excited about our trip. Next stop...Venice...Whoooooppppeee!