How half a moustache made for 60 years of marriage bliss
ON THEIR wedding day, the groom had half a moustache, but 60 years later, James and Phyllis Feagan have led a full and loving marriage.
The Eastern Heights couple will celebrate their 60th wedding anniversary this month and together, they have shared decades of laughter, the same sassy humour and a spark in their eye.
At home in their suburban living room, surrounded by family photos and memories, James and Phyllis are a cheeky, loving and doting pair.
Delve into their past, however, and the couple have a deep and fascinating love story that started at home in London.
"We only lived a few streets away in London and Jim played for a soccer club that my brother played for and that's how we met," Phyllis said.
"We went everywhere together in a crowd first, then singled off and got engaged 18 months after we started going out and got married two and a half years later at St Mark's Church in Kensington.
"We had our first child 14 months after we were married, another four years later we had another one and then the third child when our eldest was 11."
The pair met in 1955, the year James finished national service in the army.
"The night before the wedding, the boys went out on a bucks night. Jim's friend and best man who he was in the army with, came down from Darbishire and they went out and got a bit worse for wear," Phyllis said.
"They walked home down the middle of the road and then Jim proceeded to shave half his moustache off. I didn't really know who this man was but I went through with it anyway."
James' explanation for the wedding day drams; "I was still drunk". "It was rum in those days."
Despite the moustache mishap, and others throughout their relationship including Phyllis burning a French polish table with a loaf of bread and accidently dinging a brand new car at the shops, Phyllis said there was always something about James she couldn't ignore.
"He had nice wavy hair a nice manner. The thing that got me most with Jim was his manners. Even now he'll hold the car door open for me. Luckily our children have been bought up the same way," she said.
"My secret is letting him think he's right most of the time without arguing. If he wants to argue, I let him think he's right and eventually they find out they were wrong.
"He's very good to me and looks after me very well. He will do anything to help. He does the vacuuming for me because he says it's too heavy for me. He always leave the sink beautiful and shiny, never a dirty dish in the sink.
"I want to impress the closeness of family and doing what you can for one another. Even if you don't have a lot of money you can help someone along when they need it.
"I wish for everyone to have a family like mine and someone to make me a cup of tea at 3am.
For James, the attraction was strengthened through his stomach.
"People say to me what is my secret to happiness is and I always say a good cook. I married a good cook. Her speciality is cooking," he said.
"I like typical English food, nothing fancy, none of this Italian thing. If I can't recognise it I won't eat it.
"I'm not blowing my own trumpet but I get up and make her a cup of tea at 3am if she can't sleep. We share things, Phyllis cooks and I wash up.
"My heart is in my belly."
Jim was a handbag designer in the UK and an upholster in Australia, he even made the rose-adorned lounge he and Phyllis sat on.
The family moved to Australian in 1970, when their youngest child was three months old, and lived on the Gold Coast for 20 years before the moved to Ipswich in the 1990s. They have six grandchildren.
They both left behind a childhood of war in the UK.
Phyllis was evacuated from London to Cheshire during the war but James stayed and his home was bombed twice.
The pair can recall horrific stories from the war; watching as others collected childrens' body parts from a pool that had been bombed and seeing limbs and dead horses in the rubble in the street.
It was a time when every family had an air raid shelter in the garden and children would run for cover as danger loomed.
"We never suffered any trauma from it, it was the way our life was at the time, even down to small things like the food we couldn't have," Phyllis said.
James said it was all a part of growing up in the UK during the war.
"We were pretty young, I was five when the war broke out and 10 when it finished. I think more about it now in terms of what my mother went through while my dad was in the army in Europe," he said.
"It didn't mean anything in those days because we were kids. We used to watch the planes come over, we worked out if they stopped near you we would continue playing cricket in the street because they never dropped straight down.
"But it they stopped elsewhere, we'd run for shelter."
The move to Australia was inspired by James' best man, who came to Australia five year prior, and a want to have a better life for their family and to be able to raise their children in the sunshine.
"We wanted a give life for our children really. The weather was a big draw. The kids had an outdoor life," Phyllis said.
"I have been very homesick living here but you do what's best for your children. I miss the country in England, it was absolutely magnificent.
"Our eldest son was in the air service and police force here and we used to come to visit and thought Ipswich was really nice. We move here for a quieter life and that was 20 years ago."
James said the family had created many happy memories in Australia.
"I don't miss anything, I love Australia. But I will always be an Englishman," he said.
"The most proud thing I think about living in Australia is the things our children and grandchildren have achieved. I'm pleased with that."