Your Christmas was better than this

Presumably this story is all over the better tabloids but I only have the Times, which is not a good tabloid.

Once upon a time (1944) there was a girl No Better Than She Ought To Be, who had an illegitimate baby because she went Too Far with an American soldier. She gave the boy up to adoption, and disappeared. He grew up to be a policeman named James Callandar, married, prospered, and retired. Once all that part of his life was over, the law in Britain changed to make it possible for him to find his real mother, and he started a world-wide search.

He found her in New Zealand, where she had had two further daughters, now 56 and 53. Overjoyed, he invited his new family back to Bolton to celebrate Christmas with him and his wife. After some persuasion, they agreed, flew, and were photographed by the local paper. Then they got stuck into the booze. According to Janis Callandar, a former landlady,

“They were party animals. At one stage they drank solidly for 14 hours and treated our home like a hotel.

“Ours is a non-smoking house yet they were smoking about 60 roll-up cigarettes each day.

“One morning they polished off three bottles of champagne between them and then got stuck into Baileys, red and white wine, vodka, port, brandy and lager.”

It’s not just the fact that this was meant to happen all of a morning: I am also awestruck by the amplitude of the Callandar drinks cabinet. In any case, by the time the turkey was served, things were strained: the New Zealand family were also strewing the butts of their rollups all over the floor, and when the elder Mrs Callendar started feeding her son’s dog with turkey scraps on the carpet there was a violent eruption, which ended with the departure of the New Zealand contingent (last heard of at a hotel in Scotland somewhere) and Mr Callandar giving a fresh interview to the Sun: “I wish I hadn’t bothered to trace them. I thought it was going to be perfect having them here but they made our lives a living hell. My mum was OK but my sisters were a nightmare.” I suppose this is how we know they really were related.

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