Here’s a revisitation of a piece I posted elsewhere a couple of years ago – the subject having come up again this weekend at my parents’ house as a result of a front-door-back-door-open-simultaneously situation.
In our family we have a saying to alert against the ‘through-draught’ – being the ill wind that blows from front to back or vice-versa when those two house doors are open simultaneously.
That warning phrase is ‘Bob Hope’s Dead!’, to be called out by he or she who spots an imminent through-draught threat.
Why ‘Bob Hope’s Dead!’? Well…
When my mum was a child there was a neighbouring family in her street (Dewsbury Road, Beeston in Leeds) called the Hopes. Their dog, Bob.
One tea time my grandmother, Edith Miriam Crowley, was lighting the oven with a match, when one of my mum’s siblings came rushing in the front door yelling: “Bob Hope’s Dead!”, referring, obviously, to the demise of the Hope family’s pet, and not the Hollywood vaudevillian. The back kitchen door, which had been open, was caused by the sudden draught from the front door to crash to with an almighty clatter; its pane of dimpled glass shattering into the yard and about the kitchen floor. Edith, head in the oven, took the explosive bang as being gas-related and she and her heart flirted with ending it all right there.
My youthful auntie or uncle, I don’t know who was in the role of jeremiah*, was subsequently lambasted for being the source of two havocs: the devastating rush of wind, and the belief that the Bob Hope ‘rolling the six’ was the one who would now no longer be around to delight US troops for 60 years to come.
As that Bob Hope stayed with us, remarkably, until 2003, the familial altruism of the through-draft alarm would for a couple more generations be tinged with the not unreasonable interpretation that we were in for a weekend of “Road” movies.
Now, however, the alert is clear.
My grandmother, Edith Miriam, pushed on through until some flee-the-scene bastard knocked her down in a hit-and-run on Dewsbury Road in 1962, before she saw any of us kids. Perhaps she met up with the four-legged Bob in another place and told him how his death was marked, and how his memory lives on in preventing domestic typhoonery – scratching him behind the ear as she talks to him.
The other Bob she’ll shun on account of his golfer’s trousers.
* I enjoyed squeezing the Prophet of Doom reference in here. Jeremiah Crowley was the name of my great-grandad; a colourful and troubled ancestor associated with draughts of a more foaming nature.
© Steve Mitchell and Fisher Lane, 2013 & The Total Surprise Machine, Sept. 2011