SHE was a strange woman. They were a strange family. Still are, in fact.
Mrs Foster only tried to do good, but somehow nothing really worked out for her.
She had four children, all of who had learning disabilities, but all — well, most — who managed to thrive in their own way.
The story was that her husband took the pill because she didn’t like it and that’s why she ended up with a family that will never be forgotten in the village. He left pretty sharpish, so no-one could really corroborate that tale. Some said he had ended up in prison in Dover, but the town doesn’t have a prison. Well, not officially anyway.
Mrs Foster ended up on the front page of the local daily after she was found guilty of cruelty to animals. It wasn’t cruelty in the traditional sense though. She took in stray cats, dogs, a goat and rabbits from all over. The rabbits were her undoing as they did what rabbits do and she ended up with a house full of them. The RSPCA were called and she was prosecuted and found guilty. Cruelty was the wrong word though.
At one point the family swapped their council house with that of their neighbours because they fancied a change. As you do.
One of the lads even got married to a woman more than twice his age. Mrs Foster told my mum she was after his money. The marriage didn’t last long. Probably because it didn’t take her long to empty his meagre bank account.
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Another of her sons collected radios. At least it appeared that way. “What are you getting for Christmas Foz?” “A new radio,” he would answer, old radio stuck to his ear. Not literally, obviously. Maybe not obviously, come to think of it.
Foz would wander round the village all day and most of the night, his particular skill being able to recall every football score he heard and relate the full lot to everyone he accosted.
“Stenhousemuir are two up at Cowdenbeath, Mc Sporran’s got them both, 12 for the season now. Oh, and Northampton have had two sent off at Gillingham, but are still winning one-nil,” my mum would tell me on returning from the shops. “I met Foz in the street.”
He was good at darts — possibly still is — and could apparently add up the scores, and despite, or perhaps because of, his unusual personality, was never short of friends. One of the other brothers cleaned at the Working Men’s Club and another was the groundsman at the neighbouring village’s cricket club.
I was about 11 when I first became friends with one of the lads. He was about 21. There was nothing strange about it. He was friends with anyone whatever their age.
The reason for writing this isn’t to ridicule the Foster family, but to show that there is a place for everyone.
The Fosters, in a way, were ahead of their time, fully immersed in the village and its activities well before inclusivity was a word that featured in life as much as it does today.
Their lineage, like mine, will end when they go, but they will be remembered for longer than most of us.