My Favourite Uncle.

Ken Crisp 20 July 1931 – 10 June 2020.

There was never not an Uncle Ken and Auntie May.

As a child growing up in the wilds of Wyoming and the suburbia of California, Uncle Ken and Auntie May were voices on a tape. My mother (his sister) was desperately English, and I do believe was rather a fish out of water there, having transferred from the soon to be swinging London in 1960, to a land where a having a garden was a yard, and you had to watch out for rattlesnakes.

Each Christmas a box would arrive from England full of Rowntree`s Fruit Pastels, Cadbury’s Chocolate, Smarties, Germolene, and a tape recording from The English Family. Uncle Ken and Auntie May, Nanna, and my cousins. Mum would play them, and play and play them again. I have one old tape still, that Mum put onto a cassette at some point. Their voices still fascinate me, so very BBC, “Hello Valerie, this is your Uncle Ken speaking!”


We left the Unites States in 1967 on a Pan Am jet heading to Heathrow. Uncle Ken was waiting to pick us up. I remember climbing into what seemed to be a huge black car, but surely wasn’t, and the steering wheel being on the wrong side.

Uncle Ken and Auntie May have lived in the same house in Pinner for some sixty years. It has been and still is the one constant in my life. As kids we had the best Christmases there. Well known for hosting the greatest parties, already back in the sixties, Uncle Ken would fill their huge garden with strings of fairy lights, and glowing lights that were somehow hidden in amongst the bushes. They would leave all of us kids and cousins alone as we hid ourselves in amongst the magic. And as far as I know he never electrocuted himself!

He had a great sense of humour. I would on occasion go and stay with them, and his daughter and I would go up into town for a night out, returning on the last train back. Uncle Ken would be waiting outside of the tube station with a large cardboard sign in the front of the car saying “Crisp Taxi Service.”

I left England in 1985. Out visits became more sporadic, and we entered the “cards for birthdays and Christmas” era. Scattered with the occasional visit when I went home.

Over the last ten years though, I have been going home much more frequently. I stay with their daughter and I got to really sit and talk with Ken for quite some hours, and spend time looking at old photos. Curled up on their über-comfortable sofa and eating too much cheese on toast, in the home I have been visiting for more than fifty years. Snug and secure.


Uncle Ken and Mum. 1940. St. Ives, Cornwall.

Uncle Ken passed away on the 10th of June.

Just a fortnight before I had called him and we spent a good half hour on the phone chatting about everything. For this I will be eternally grateful.

I cannot go to the funeral, thanks to the ridiculous 14 day self-quarantine rule in the UK. I am not sad that I cannot be there, I am bloody annoyed.

Rest easy Uncle Ken. Although if Mum has got a hold of you that will be highly unlikely.

With love from your favourite niece.


Filed under Perfume Reviews

11 responses to “My Favourite Uncle.

  1. How lovely and grounding to have Uncle Ken and their home in Pinner as a constant in your life. Those Christmases in the garden sound wonderful!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I’m sorry for your loss, Val. But I’m glad that you have all the great memories. And it is comforting that you had a chance to talk to him recently: those things stay with us.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Tara C

    I’m so sorry for your loss and not being able to go to the funeral. May your happy memories bring you comfort. Big hugs. xoxoxo

    Liked by 1 person

  4. He seemed to have been a great personality. Thankfully you got to talk to him before he passed away. And the photo is precious

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Lady Jane Grey

    I‘m sorry, Val – also for not being able to go to his funeral.
    I got stuck at your first sentence, at Wyoming – you should, if you haven‘t yet, read Annie Proulx’ short stories from Wyoming, they are the best and one of my absolute faborites…
    Sending kisses and a big loving hug !

    Liked by 1 person

  6. bonkersvanessa

    Very sorry for your loss, and the frustration you must feel around the current Corona funerals. Uncle Ken sounds like a wonderfully constant thread in your life, and I am sure he will be sorely missed. I loved the list of contents in his Christmas parcels, especially the Germolene. That is the sad fact about losing elderly relatives: a bit of you and memories of your earliest childhood dies with them.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Hamamelis

    Crisp Taxi Service. What a lovely man he must have been. That must bring lots of joy inside tears.
    Covid sucks in the biggest of ways, not being able to say goodbye is particularly cruel when it is because of such a stupid rule. But you know how I feel about them ;-). Here is to favourite uncles:

    So fill to me the parting glass
    And drink a health whate’er befall,
    And gently rise and softly call
    Good night and joy be to you all

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I am sorry for your loss Val. Such a beautiful tribute you’ve written illustrating how significant your favorite Uncle has been in your life. Your Uncle Ken lives on in your memories and in you. It is disappointing that you can’t be at his funeral and honor him with family; however, you have something so very valuable. The chance to have recently spoken with him, and all of your shared time together. Big hugs xx.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. matty1649

    Virtual hugs Val XX

    Liked by 1 person

  10. I am sorry for your loss but glad you had that long phone conversation with him beforehand. I can relative to how you feel having had a wonderful uncle I lost years ago.

    Liked by 1 person

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