Tuesday, 29 December 2015

Mother memories


It could be the painting in my bathroom

Always hung on mum’s bedroom wall

Evokes such memories – it’s dusky pink frame

It can be something or nothing at all


The Royal Worcester dish used this Christmas Day

She gave me one time as a birthday gift

It could be something, it could be nothing

It could be just as small as this


The echo of some of her sayings

“It looks black over Bill’s mothers”,

“I go to the foot of our stairs”

Make me smile and there’s so many more

Her humour was funny and earthy and raw


The knitted, multi-coloured crochet-edged shawl

A soap on TV, a flowered overall

It can be something, it can be nothing,

It can be anything at all …..


I’m ironing an old lace white hankie

An “M” is stitched into the corner

The m’s not for Meg but for mum – she was Mary

And of some memories I’m cautious,

Of some I am wary


But mostly I’d say time is a healer

And it’s sometimes nothing at all

That prompts a quickening deep inside

When I’m happy to dwell on my memory-time.

Sunday, 6 December 2015


My friend Jean Freeman and I had asked our mothers if it was okay to go for a walk after church.  Of course, aged 13 years, we were not keen naturalists; anthropology being more our subject on April 8th 1957.    The sap was rising; albeit pretty innocent sap.

White ankle socks were compulsory for nice young girls of our age at the time and so, 100 yards away from our homes, more specifically away from our mothers, we removed them, convinced that we looked not so nice but more sophisticated with bare legs.   Sutton park was about a half-hour walk from St. Marks but unfortunately even with a deserted road and the Banner’s Gate entrance within sight I managed to do battle with a motorbike.   I lost.

I never quite fathomed what message God was trying to get across when I found myself lying in the middle of the road suffering from broken legs, facial lacerations and a kidney injury.    My irrational but predominant thought as dozens of pairs of eyes peered down at me from what seemed a great height, was, mum is gonna kill me for taking off my socks and having bare legs – which she considered to be “common”.

It must have been quite a shock for my parents to have a policeman standing at their front door on a Sunday lunchtime.

Of course by the time my parents had been informed and arrived at hospital, I was completely under the influence of the anaesthetic whilst having my body put back together again.    I can safely say that ankle socks would have been the last thing on my mother’s mind.

I couldn’t have guessed what fun was to follow.    Apart from the added bonus of being unable to attend school as plaster of Paris covered a good area of my body, I seemed by way of my accident, to have reached celebrity status.   From the moment I was stretchered from the ambulance after my week in Birmingham General Hospital, across the pavement lined either side with friends and neighbours in a disorderly guard of honour, up the garden path and into my new bedroom which was previously the dining room, I revelled in my calamity.

I had been given gifts of so many boxes of Bassetts Licorice Allsorts, Newbury Fruits, Maltesers, Cadbury’s Milk Tray and my favourites, Pontefract Cakes, that my brothers would sneak into my bedroom and pinch a complete box without even my noticing their disappearance.

My brothers and I all had our particular comic magazine delivered each week.  I had Girl, my brothers either had the Eagle, Wizard or Hotspur.    It would seem that our local vicar had written, I suspect on my mother’s prompting, to the Girl comic to tell them of how courageous I was being throughout this trial following the road accident.  Fame struck when I featured, somewhat inappropriately I felt, as a “Girl Adventurer” on the club members page and received a “gold” star which proudly hung from my club badge.  I also had a certificate to confirm my bravery.   I nonetheless felt a little fraudulent as I always believed that to some extent the accident was more about my stupidity rather than bravery.

Freedom came in the form of a wheelchair that the hospital had supplied in order to give me mobility throughout the summer months.   Very few people we knew were owners of a car back then and my own parents never did own one.   The wheelchair was fine by me and Jean, Johnny Reeves and Charlie Richmond were my constant companions.  We spent hours together and my previous two-wheeled adventures were now diminished by my four-wheeler exploits.  Like something from a Margaret Rutherford film, we terrorised the neighbourhood with the speed of this wheelchair.  It must have been a somewhat grotesque sight – a teenage girl in plaster of Paris being pushed at breakneck speeds towards you with Charlie wearing his Territorial Army uniform and his heavy boots creating a menacing sound on the pavements.

As we went along we would yell out the latest hit songs – the favourite for us at the time being Alma Cogan’s “Willie Can”.


Willie can you do the things I ask you

Willie can you do them true

Willie can, Willie can, Willie can fair lady

If Willie takes a shine to you


I was always somewhat accident prone and on the removal of all plastercasts and many trips to the physiotherapy unit I returned to school only to break to fingers in my first PE lesson.   This time no presents, sweets or awards and Mr Fulford, my surgeon at the hospital looked less than pleased to see me again so soon.