Manmates Memory Lane Page 3 - Memories form Manchester
More Memories of Hulme
I was actually born at home in Loxford Court Hulme, number 17. I'm the youngest of four boys, my brothers, in case anyone reading this remembers them were, Paddy O'neill, John O'neill, Kevin and of course myself. I remember namesof families that lived there at the time being, the Rhode's, the monigans, the Howarths, of which Sandra later on in life married my oldest brother Patrick. I too remember the old stretford Road with Woolworths on it, Burtons the tailors, Granellies cafe, The U.C.P. where you would get the most marvellous bag of greasy chips in a brown paper bag, or if you were unlucky enough on certain days me mam would get a big piece of tripe of which we were half forced to try the ghastly stuff with vinegar and loads of black pepper on it. My mam and dad used to drink in pubs by the name of, The Transvelle, Clynes's next door to baby care where I was lead to believe babies came from. I remember I used to frequent the sally-Army with my mam very, very regular, and they'd have a sale of allsorts going on and off this stage with a man holding things up and all the women going, hearyah..luv.(thats an expression of what they yelled to the man on stage to signify they wanted it. While all this was going on I'd be having the most adventurous time amongst all the old furniture, jumping from, and trampelening on all the old mattresses. It had the most dusty, musty smell amongst it all. Times were hard but in a funny way happy then. Mum tried her best for us four lads, we'd get our toys from hand-outs at (Wood St mission) every christmas,and we'd get a freebies at the Odeon on Oxford Road, we used to have this yellow paper badge pinned to us, this must of signified we were to get in free, along with the deprived kids group. No such thing as computers for christmas in them days. We'd hang the sock at the end of the bed and wake up the next day being crimbo day to empty the sock each we had which consisted of a couple of tangerines, some chocolate money and some nuts. I could go on forever about the good old days of Loxford Court and will in fact add some more tomorrow as its getting late now. P.S. to whom it may concern, could you please if possible transfer all this onto the memories page for me, as I've just found out I've put all this in the wrong part. I hope you can do this for me as its took me ever such a long time to type all this .Please let me know via e-mail if you can do this for me please.
Yours gratefully, Michael O'Neill. 06/05/05
Many Thanks Michael.
I suppose the earliest memories I have are being carried to the air raid shelter by my mum or dad. Dad worked on the railway so was exempted from going to war, but served in the home guard attached to the Manchester Regiment, so from one point of view I suppose I was luckier than most kids round our way. The shelter was at the end of Russell Square (the street that I lived in No 12) on Hyde Street. I was born November 1939 so I would think my memories would start around 1941. I recall the sirens going and seeing flames up Hyde Street looking towards Old Trafford, the district not the football ground. Another memory was being carried to the Zion Institute on Stretford Road to what was apparently a large community air raid shelter in the basement, many households had been had been asked to leave their homes as a very large bombs parachute had become entangled in the tram wires on Stretford Road we had to walk past it to get to the Zion, years later I wondered why we had not been taken down Mulberry St and in through the back door where we used to go to Sunday school, I still don't know. Anyway by the time I was old enough to play out old Hitler had supplied us kids with some amazing adventure play grounds which of course we were not supposed to go in but, being kids you guessed it, we did. I recall three of us myself Eddy Connor and I think Keith Livesey entered a bombed house as they were called on the corner of Streford Rd and Chorlton Rd opposite Kershaw's green grocers, they were open and never made secure that would probably not happen today. We climbed up what was left of the stair case, I think much of the wood was taken to burn as there was not much coal around and every thing was on ration, however upon entering the bedroom we discovered a bomb with its fins sticking through the ceiling, we ran out of the place somewhat rapid, on the corner was a police man using one of the police phones that they used to report in to their local station we told him and he duly reported the fact to whoever he was speaking, our names and addresses were taken and we were told to go home but we didn't we stayed to see what would happen. The first PC was joined by another who arrived on his bike but neither of them went inside they just made people cross the road to stay away. Not long after a half track army truck arrived full of soldiers and in they went only to emerge after awhile with a large chimney pot its top was shaped like a crown, well it looked like a bomb to us! my backside still stings when I think about it.That's all for now but I shall write some more if that's OK, Trev 01/05/05
Yes Trev, We will all look forward to hearing from you, Alan
Trevor Now Continues Below
Just a few more nostalgic moments for Manmates to share. Well the
sirens finally stopped wailing and people started to get back to some form
of normality, Dads and sons started to arrive home for the lucky ones each
one welcomed with flags and bunting, and of course all the hugging and kissing
that went with it, all seemed a bit soppy to us kids then, some of the kids
around about acquired new Uncles, some even acquired a couple. We were still
playing in some of the bombed out houses, some had been pulled down and made
what were locally known as crofts, we utilised these as cricket and football
pitches built dens and play houses, on them and on bonfire nights had our
"bommies" on them. On the bit of Hyde Street between Upper Moss
Lane and Tamworth Street were two air raid shelters one of them right at the
end of the Square where I mentioned that I lived in my last story to you.
On arriving home from school one day there was an enormous crane with a big
iron weight on the end of its chain, it had already demolished the shelter
at Moss Lane end of the street and was just starting on "our" shelter
the driver lifted the ball as high as he could get it and let it drop. It
broke some of the reinforced concrete roof he kept on doing this until the
shelter was just a pile of bricks, twisted wire and concrete. Tipper trucks
were loaded by a mechanical shovel (no JCBs those days) soon all that was
left was the concrete base, back came the man with the iron ball and started
to break it up, suddenly as the ball dropped again, a massive jet of water
shot into the air as high as the roofs of the houses, a piece of concrete
broke Mrs Higginsons window, you would have thought the war had started all
over again. All was eventually put right, the outcome of all this was that
where the shelter had been they covered the area with tarmac instead of relaying
the cobbles or "sets" as they were called, this gave us kids yet
another play area you could learn to roller skate on it, draw hopscotch's,
play whip and top (I sent a racer through the same window that that got smashed
in the burst quite some time later I must add) Mrs Higginson was not very
pleased nor was my dad who had to buy the glass and putty and repair it, it
was not the last time that happened. However the PITCH as we called it saw
us play many street games either on it or from it, it became the centre of
our street playing. During those hot summers we seemed to have then, it would
get soft around the edges where it met the cobbles, we then used to roll a
ball of the pitch (which it is where it got its name) and stick it on the
end of our arrows as in bows and arrers! made from canes purchased at the
Classic green grocers on Stretford Road he sold all sorts of gardening stuff,
who to in Hulme I cannot imagine. It`s a wonder we had any eyes left `cos
we used to shoot them at each other when playing Cowboys and Indians, usually
after coming out of the Luxor cinema on Erskine Street on a Saturday after
noon we would run down Hyde St slapping our side pretending to be Hopalong
Cassidy or Johnnie MacBrown. Thatwas also another time that we would be in
trouble with our mam`s because Saturday was the day they did the stoning of
the steps, brown at the front and white at the back in the "entry".
How did they expect us to get in when both entrances were stoned, Perhaps
they hoped we would`n`t come back in ever! . That's all for
now Trev. 19/05/05
Many thanks Trev
The article below has been updated. Originally John
remembered Devonshire St and the hotel as Wellington.
He has corrected it today and
I Have changed it to Devonshire Street and The Devonshire Hotel
Hi Al, John Morgan here again,
A memory from the fifties came to me, ...Opposite the tram depot
on Hyde Road with the junction of Devonshire Street, there was a shop that
used to sell ice lollies made from Vimto. These were not just your ordinary
slim flat item, No Sir! they were made on the premises by the owner in..a
tea cup..I think he also used almost neat Vimto cordial instead of the watered
down stuff you would make from the cordial. They were superb as I recall.
Just around the corner in Devonshire Street, was the Devonshire Hotel, otherwise known as Tommy's Music Hall. I sat in there one night and was bewitched by the performance of Roy Castle, what a great showman he was. I was so sorry to hear the bad news of his death a few years ago.
About that time I left Manchester to go to live in London, and I found out about these cracking ice lollies through my younger brother and sister who went to the school on the other corner of the road, St Nicholls, if I remember correctly. I was waiting for them to leave the school one day as I was going down to Piccadilly to catch the train south. Not London Road though, It was Central Station down past the Town Hall.
Another eason I have sent this message is this. I have a blog page on BBC south east Wales site, under the title Morgan's Shout, I do my social comments and political sideswiping on that site. You may like to take a look at it some time. I do not hold back the punches and go as far as the BBC will alow me to. They have blocked a few o my submissions, but most get through. We have some arguments crop up from the responses I get to my contributions.
Anyway, have a read if you can find the time.You may enjoy it.
John (Morgan of Varteg)
If you want to read John's blog pages, click on the link below
Sent in by Ted Knott 06/04/05
Many thanks Ted
Hi everybody from M/C.
Manchester Central High for Girls from 1950-1954 (I think!) Is anybody around who was there then?
Also went to Domestic & Trades College taking City & Guilds 151 & 150 Catering course,ending up with with a busy country (catering)pub in Goostrey, Cheshire.My family home was in Moston,St. Georges Drive,until I
left to live & work away from home. I would love to hear from anybody from those days. Great site,Alan, thanks.
Margaret (nee Wood) Lawton-Hammond.
Many Thanks Margaret
Robert. You have a great show in manmates, and i spend a great deal of time reading the stories and remembering my past life in growing up in West Gorton, I could swear that most of these stories is exactly what happened to me, it is just as if someone was watching me grow-up. I now live in Windsor, Canada, and have been here since 1970, but will always miss the time spent in West Gorton and Chorlton-cum-Hardy..Last week I discovered a Coloured photo that one of your many viewers had sent to you of St Francis monastery On Gorton Lane, this is the School and Church that I attended ( when I wasn't Wagging it). I have since been trying to find this picture again, so I could place it in a file, but haven't had any success. could you please advise me just where to look, as I am getting quite frustrated. I have Many stories about Brook-House Flats and understand they are no longer there, together with the entire area, but I can still picture them all in my mind Mainly thanks to your great collumn. Keep up the good work Robert, And thanking you in advance. 02/02/2005.
Many Thanks TeePee
Many Thanks Kev
I just discovered manmates a week or so ago but can't sign the guestbook
because of the server difficulties.Also had a bit of trouble because we have
a 'parental control' 'on the websites we use and they seem to think that manmates
is something that we shouldn't be contacting. I think its the mate that is
confusing. We only use that word here in Canada in the sexual context. However
I took the control off and here I am.
I lived in various places in Manchester. Lived in Burnage for a while and then in Withington on the housing estate off Princess parkway. My sister Jean and I went to St. Cuthberts School on Cotton lane. I remember the babies class where we did counting with little shells and ate rusks (bread baked in the oven til hard) that the nuns prepared for our milk break. My Grade one teacher was Miss Swarbrik?and there was a fireplace in the corner of the classroom where we could warm our cold hands and feet after the long trek to school. There was a fireguard of course. I got my finger caught in the door when someone slammed it shut and I lost the nail.The blitz threatened and we had to go to the nearest school which was Old Moat Lane. I remember the doorway being sandbagged until there was an alley formed that we had to go through to get in the door.I wasn't happy and felt out of place at Old Moat because we were Catholics and were teased. All this was when I was 5 and 6 years old and after a little while we went back to a Catholic school but for some reason we boarded the tram on Princess Road to go to English Martyrs in Moss Side.After a year or so we moved house. My mother exchanged with someone in Old Trafford and we lived on Norton Street across from the Army Barracks. It housed German prisoners of war and a lot of the children became go betweens and took coffee from our homes to exchange for tea.In those days I didn't know anyone that drank coffee. One of the soldiers made beautiful jewellery boxes and traded them for anything spare that people had that they didn't use. The thing I remember at that time was the stories they told of their families and how they all just wanted the war to end andgo home.They were treated very well I must add.At this time I went to St. Alphonsus school till the 11 plus then on to Secondary Modern in Stretford. I passed for Loreto College but my mother considered higher education a waste of time for a girl.
Anyone remember the Globe on Cornbrook street. The bug hut we called it. The first few rows were just forms and these were the cheap seats.We used to collect "pop" bottles to see if we could scrounge enough money to get in. The more adventuresome of the boys got in somehow without paying. We girls figured if we didn't know how they managed it then we weren't to blame.If you saw a "dimp" on the street and there were not many, you could pick it up and pretend you smoked.There was a milk bar also on Cornbrook street which had two pin ball machines that the boys always managed to tilt and then we were thrown out.
Bonfire night was the big night for us kids. Most fires built at intersections of streets. No one ever complained about damaging the road surfaces in those far off days. Fireworks could be pretty dangerous though and some one put a rip rap down my sock and I still have the scar. The memories are flooding back and I know this is too long. Please edit where you see fit.
Veronica Marissen in Ontario formerly Vera Taylor.11/02/05
Many Thanks Vera
Hi Al, John Morgan here again,
I have just been reading Pickers stuff about his 'throwing arrow' , I must tell you we did the exact same thing, including the woo string, I found out later that the 'woo' came from woomera, which is aborigine for throwing stick, which Fred mentioned. How we came to call it a woo I'll never know, maybe someone had a Australian contact.
One day I made a splendid version that went like a rocket every time. It was very robust, in that it never broke or the flights never came off it. I was in my apple cart with it until one morning I threw it along a certain direction near to Brook House flats and the string did not release correctly, anyway it spun off to one side and ended up going through a window of one of the flats. Apparently it just missed a woman sitting down having a cuppa. Needless to say I scarpered pretty quickly. I never saw my arrow again, so lost the best one I ever made.The worst thing was I had put the business end of a dart on the front of it. In other words it was a deadly weapon.
I didn't bother after that, it was too dangerous I reasoned. What if I had hit that woman?, it could well have killed or seriously maimed her. Not to mention that the crash as it went through the glass could have given her an heart attack.
The tin can thing I did try once, but as we lived on the third floor of the flats, every time I filled it with gas, by the time I reached the ground the gas had escaped so it never was a success. I used to do another trick though, that was to put a 'banger' firework into a small pop bottle, lit of course, put down the spring stopper, and throw it some distance or into the canal, then it would explode like a bomb, we did it with cocoa tins as well, the lid used to pop off and go half way to the stars we thought.
The pop bottles had a penny deposit on them, so we made sure that when we took the empty bottles back and got our penny, we would quite often sneak another empty one up our jumper, effectively getting a penny for nowt plus an empty for use as described or to get another penny later. WE were not always successful in that as sometimes the shopman would be keeping a close eye on what we were up to. It depended on how many customers were in the shop and other things such as did he put the bottles behind the counter or take them out through the back of the shop etc.
One shop put them in the yard at the back, but always left the yard gate open, no problem there then. It was a good means of income taking empties back, especially beer bottles. There was always a few bottles lying around on a Sunday morning, the drunks used to leave them where they dropped them on Saturday night. Also we used to knock on doors and ask for empty bottles, as a lot of people could not be bothered taking them back themselves.
Later on we discovered that lead was a good thing to collect as the rag and bone man would pay good cash for it.So we would go down to the areas where the old houses were being left empty, down in Ardwick and Ancoats, there we found lots of lead as we stripped out gas and water pipes. I suppose it would have been off to the juvenile court had we been caught, but we did not think it was all that of a crime, especially seeing how we got money for the stuff.
The R & B man used to ask us for brass and copper as well, but that was not so readily available, what we use dto do for that was go around the houses asking if they had any old brass things they didn't want such as plaques and pots. It was amazing what people would give us. One old woman took about ten of these plaques right off the walls in her flat one day, she said she hated them and could not bother polishing them. Her husband had used to do it, but since he had died she wanted to get rid of them, our knock on her door was the opportunity she had been waiting for.
The corporation were doing up some houses in west Gorton one time and they took out a load of copper hot water cylinders from a van to put into these houses. Anyway another lorry backed into them and damaged most of them, The man on the site threw them all to one side of the site where they lay for weeks, until a couple of us asked him what they were doing with them, he told us they were no use, so we asked could we have them. "Take them" he said," but don't tell anyone I said so." We made a lot of money on those, If I remember right there were about seven or eight of them. The R & B man was very pleased, I think he gave us about ten shillings each for them. A lot of money in those days to a bunch of street wise brats such as we were.
All for now, maybe more will come to mind later,
regards Al, and best wishes to all the Manmates.
John Morgan 12/02/05
Many Thanks John
What a brilliant site, and indeed what nostalgic stories some of your members enthrall us with. So many memories have come flooding back. I'me a lonsight lad now living in cornwall.and hopefully over the next few weeks I can enlighten you as to my life in the 1944 + yrs Ispent there as a child and a young adult. REGARDS , DAVID EDGE. 12/02/05
THE OLD MORRIS10, A JOURNEY BACK IN TIME. August 1954.
Still stinging from mother's earlier slap for some very minor misdoing, I
joined in the excitement with my brother and 3 sisters at the thought of a
day by the sea. Our dad on the spur of the moment had decided to take us kids
on a trip to Blackpool.
It was a sunny day, a Sunday in August and we kids were bored from our long school holiday. Mum was being her usual self, moaning to us kids to get from under her feet. We all went into the garden to avoid further slaps and curses and we all sat there waiting for our dad to bring round the car.
The car was his joy. It was a gleaming, cream coloured Morris 10 saloon, with all the trimmings, upholstered inside with leather. Billy my twin and I would wash and polish it as often as we could, most times when it didn't need it. It was the only car in our street, and our pals would come round to stare, criticise us as we worked away.
We lived in a big house, but it never seemed big enough for us 5 kids. We were a burden to our mum and she always made sure we knew it. Her favourite way of telling us to get out of the house was always to "go to Buxton". We could never understand why Buxton.
Dad on the other hand was the opposite, a very laid back man who most of the time had time for us kids. A musician by profession he had a usually jolly nature, which he shared with his numerous pals and us. He loved his pint in his local pub, and on Sundays it was not uncommon for him to come home slightly reeling and watched by all us kids who knew he was an easy target for an extra few pennies which he would hand out to all and sundry when in his cups. We had even seen him do a rather daring handstand against the garden wall where all the loose change would fall out of his pockets, and after a mad scramble we kids would be a few pennies richer.
We'd all had a good scrub that morning, Pauline the eldest sibling having ensured our necks and ears had seen some soap. Full of anticipation we all sat on the newly mowed grass and speculated how we would spend the shilling that mum had given each of us. All the butties and biscuits had been packed into a brown cardboard box and a large bottle of dandelion and burdock stuck its neck out to us temptingly, knowing full well that we couldn't touch it till later in the day>
Up drove dad in his beloved motor having first gone to the local petrol pump
to fill up the car ready for the 56-mile journey to Blackpool. The journey
would take us about 2 hrs, but with dad driving you never knew! He was a notoriously
bad driver, in fact hed never had to have a driving test so he was self-taught
if you like. Fortunately traffic in the 1950s was nowhere as chaotic as now,
which was probably just as well.
Pauline 5 yrs older than we twins then took over, dressed in a cute floral dress, her hair done up to the nines she took over the procedures as to who was sitting where. Susan being the smallest and aged just seven was allowed a seat by the window followed by Billy (he had to be near to the door because he peed a lot) then me in the middle, Ann as the next eldest sat by the other window. Pauline as the eldest was next to dad and gloated at us all in the back cramped up like sheep in a pen.
All the windows were wide open and the hot air streamed in. Dad in a white
shirtsleeves rolled up was all ready to go. Mum stood on the steps of the
house shouting warnings of the consequences if we misbehaved, but also that
she hoped we had a good day, and a shout to dad about not having a pint whilst
he was driving!!
WERE OFF, WERE OFF, WERE OFF IN A MOTOR CAR!! WAS IN THE MIDDLE OF NOWHERE AND DON'T KNOW WHERE WE ARE we all sang as the car slowly moved away taking us to our adventure?
Wed got to the end of the street, mum we could still just about see, wiping her brow from the heat and probably at the thought of a rest away from us kids, when Susan started bawling! She had forgotten her doll. She was going nowhere without her golliwog. Dad braked the car with no thought for his rear passengers and as we all stumbled forward he cursed and told P auline to run and get her doll. She did and soon we were off again, that is until a few yards later Billy decided he was desperate for a pee!!I cant repeat what dad had to say, and we kids for that matter. Billy ran back to the house and within a minute was racing back to the car being followed by lots of curses from mother!
No motorways in them days, just roads that lead you to where you were going, north, east, south or west. No mind bending roundabouts, no travel lodges and service stations, just a normally peaceful ride to your destination.
We left Manchester and made our way to Altrincham ready to join the east
Lancs. Road. There was a steady stream of traffic. Most of them no doubt on
the same journey as we were taking. It wasn't long before boredom set in.
A moan here and a moan there. Ann suggested a game of I SPY. Good idea Ann,
go on then.
The thing was that like all games we played it, ended up in an argument. Paulines go and she said I spy with my little eye something beginning with S.(We were eating a butty at the time) so away went calling out everything we could see beginning with S.Even dad was joining in even though we dreaded him taking his eyes of the road. Sun shouted Ann, shed Billy called out. Susan followed with stupid sausages for some bizarre reason. I scanned the passing landscape hoping to win the game and the chance to pick my eye spy. By then we were well out in the country, a novelty to us city kids. Then I saw it. Wede passed many so far and nobody had seen the obvious S word.. SCARECROW I cried out certain of a win. No Pauline shouted back!!! Of course it was scarecrow I screamed, weve done every other S that we can see. No Pauline told us, carry on. It was futile, we tried every possible S as we sat eating our butties and each taking a swig of the dandelion and burdock we had to give in, not at all happy about it, but things were getting stroppy.
Ok Pauline we said, annoyed at her smirking grin, we give in. We all nearly choked on our butty when she said the answer was sandwich! Well come on who called a butty a sandwich in our house?? I remember thinking, if that's what passing the 11 + does to someone then I hope I fail.
Dad loved his draught Bass. In fact he told me in later years that the reason
we had lino on the landing leading from their bedroom to the bathroom, was
because he could quickly slide to the toilet from the bedroom, particually
after a heavy night out on the Bass, without any accidents.
Our trip was on a Sunday, the morning after a night out after work for dad. He and his band would spend the interval of there performance supping pints. They would be lined up on the bar for them, bang on 10 pm. All 14 of the band would follow dad to his local just round the corner. They usually managed to down 3 pints each before returning to resume their playing. Dads pal a pleasant rogue and smart looking guy called Billy Mc ewan, was also his after time boozing partner. When they got together that was it. Dad had been with him the night before, and the manifestations were about to be seen (or heard and smelt in this case)
The nearer we got to our destination the more the clouds dropped. From a
glorious summer day we were driving into a storm. It was not even mid day
by then, and we had a whole day in front of us. First a little spatter of
rain, which slowly but surely turned into a heavy shower. Loud thunder sent
Susan shivering like a newborn calf. Dad had to slow down, as did all the
traffic. It pelted down. Windows were quickly wound down and the traffic slowed
to a snails pace. It was humid, hot and sticky in the car. Billy was squeezing
his legs together, once again desperate for a pee. Susan was crying. Ann arms
round me, knowing I too was scared in the change of events. Traffic slowed
to a standstill, forced to by the sudden flood of rain. Pauline even looked
worried, a frown on her face as she looked to dad for comfort. Then it happened.
Now when dad farted he meant business.. As we slowly realised that it wasn't the country smells of newly spread sillage that we'd experienced just 30 minutes ago, and pulled our noses at. Which dad had explained was the smell and taste of the countryside, and that we, as city kids should savour. It was teeming down out of our windows and there we were locked in, incarcerated with the vilest smell imaginable to man.
Dad proudly announced it was him, a big smile on his face. As one we shouted DAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAD that's awful. He replied by lifting his left buttock to release yet another by product of his night out..
We reached the end of the east Lancs. Road and took the turning of to Blackpool.(I could never understand why it was called the east Lancs. road till many years later. From Manchester you go west to Blackpool. The reason was that when it was first designed, the route was from Liverpool to Manchester, hence west to east.
"There it is Billy "shouted, hoping to win the shilling dad had promised to whoever saw the tower first, but once again he was wrong. Just another pylon on the landscape. The weather had started to brighten and the sun was heating the tarmac roads forcing steam to rise in hazy clouds. The windows were thankfully open again streaming welcoming air into the car. We leaned out of the windows risking decapitation just to breathe and catch sight of the magical Blackpool tower. After many false "THERE IT IS, I WIN" Pauline very coolly turned to dad to announce that there's the tower, pointing ahead. Sure enough there it was, on the horizon stood in all its glory. She won the bet, but by then we didn't care. My shilling was burning a very big hole in my pocket, and I had lots and lots of things ide promised myself to do.
I could smell Blackpool before we got there. I could hear it to. The weather
had reverted back to its earlier self. We felt clammy in our clothes and couldn't
wait to be rid of them. We slowly made are way onto the central pier, dad
fervently looking for a place to park. There were signs all over the place
advising visitors where to park, but needless to say dad opted to find his
own space right on the front. It must have been a good half hour before he
spotted, what seemed to us a totally impossible place to park. I could see
by Pauline's face that he was never going to get in there. She said dad "you'll
not do it" to which he remarked "watch this" Remember this
was Blackpool, mid summer, the place teeming with holiday makers. So began
a display I never ever want to see again. I still blush 40yrs on. Dad slowly
tried to pry his way into a space literally half the size of his car. His
cars rear end stuck out as he tried to manoeuvre into the space, but also
blocking on coming traffic, both ways I might add, and also what I forgot
to tell you is that dad was blind in one eye!! He got well and truly stuck.
Pauline suggested that we kids got out. The Irish in him was coming out. He
told us to stay put and that he was ok and he would park here. His face took
on that reddish glow that we knew would slowly go down to his neck, and make
his veins protrude and his glands perspire. Swiftly passing round the dandelion
and burdock, which now tasted warm and nasty, Pauline told us to stay calm.
Dad swore and cursed and was determined not to give in, when a tap on his
windscreen from a uniformed arm made him stop.
By this time the promenade was grid locked.
A very overweight policeman, looking extremely harassed and hot, politely
asked dad to leave his car. Which he did, but ensuring he left us another
fart to savour during his absence
We got out of the car and stood on the pavement, relief showing on our faces as we took in the fresh air. Trams rumbled past like locomotives, full of happy trippers. You could hear the screams of fear and delight coming from the funfair. The smells of roasted almonds and candyfloss wafted over to us. And that aroma of fish and chips, graced with malt vinegar that passer-by's were eating in their newspaper packages.
We knew this was going to be embarrassing. Dad was never wrong,
Certainly where his driving was concerned. We saw him approach the policeman, and dreaded the worse!!
As they approached each other we were stunned to see them both smile, and
just like old soldiers meeting at a reunion they hugged each other. Over the
din of car horns blowing and shouts of "get out of the bloody way"
etc, we heard dad shout Eric, and the policeman Billy.!! Yes old buddies.
Eric was a musician pal of dads from his days in London. Within minutes Eric
was in the Morris driving it round the corner to some safe parking spot. We
were saved (for the time being anyway)
We stood waiting for another ½ hour before dad came over to see us. We were desperate to get going .He left us all in the charge of Pauline and Ann, and arranged where we should all meet up later that afternoon, which oddly enough was a large pub on the golden mile called the Swan and Anchor.
First thing we had to decide was where we were going. I shouted the beach,
Susan the roundabouts, Billy wanted to go in the fun house. Of course we really
didn't have a say with our two big sisters as our protectors. I won; it was
down to the beach. We had packed our cossies, in the hope of having a paddle
and a dip in the sea. Mother knit our swimming trunks, and they always slipped
down your bum when you wore them. The minute they got wet they dropped to
your ankles. So armed with bucket and spade, our box of goodies, and a penny
worth of ice cream cone we made our way on to the crowded beach. It was packed.
Bodies of all shapes and sizes paraded themselves. We found a little spot
not far from the waters edge. The tide was ebbing so soon we would have even
more space. We were under strict instructions to stay within sight of each
other at all times. Pauline had been given all our money to watch over. So
anytime we wanted anything we had to ask her.
I loved donkey rides. I asked Pauline for a penny to go on a ride, which she gave me. I gingerly walked over to the group of sad eyed looking donkeys trying to see one that didn't look too aggressive. As each one was dismounted by some wild-eyed child ide stroke it. They had an odd but not unpleasant smell to them. I stood in the queue with some rather nasty, scruffy kids with an accent I didn't recognise. I remember they were using language that ide only heard my mother use when angry. Lots of kids had crowded round, and then came my turn to mount my steed. The attendant started to lift me into the saddle, when to my horror my swimming trunks stayed on the sandy ground leaving me starkers. Horrified I wriggled out of the hands of my saddler, grabbed my knitted trunks of the floor and, with shouts and jeers ran in tears to my siblings.
After a short and very cold paddle in the Irish Sea, it was decided it was time to attack the funfair.
The fairground at Blackpool is massive covering nearly 40 acres. It has every
imaginable ride you can think of. Roller coasters, dodgems, roundabouts, waltzers,
and of course the famous steeplechase.
Every few yards you can buy candyfloss, ice creams, fish and chips, toffee apples, you name it's all there. You can watch them roll out sticks of the famous Blackpool rock. The whole place smells just like a toffee factory would.
So under the watchful eye of our big sisters we were let loose into this magical world.
Susan was tired; as we all were .It had been a long, hot and clammy day,
not helped by the earlier thunderstorm. She was the spoilt one of the family
obviously because she was the last-born. Ide been told to keep hold of her
hand as we walked round picking the rides that we would go on. She was whimpering,
that she wanted to go home, and that she wanted a pee. I was getting impatient
with her. I saw Billy playing at a halfpenny slot machine, so suggested to
Susan that she went over to Billy. You see ide seen a big sign advertising
a ride called Flash Gordon rides again. It was a bit like a waltzer really
but the cars were space ships and a lot flashier than the usual. I ran over
to Pauline who was being chatted up by a very acned lad with brylcreamed hair,
and demanded two pence of my spends. Running back to my promised ride I noticed
Billy still playing his penny slot. The noise around was deafening, Frankie
Lane was singing * COOL WATER *over the speakers, being challenged by a young
Elvis on another system. The screams and shouts from all the rides was deafening
but added to the atmosphere that was Blackpool.
I pressed my money into the greasy hands of the fairground attendant as he pushed the metal bar that strapped me in my seat. And then WHOOHAAAAAAAA away we went. I was spun, shaken and stirred as we whirled round. It was scarier than I thought, and I could hardly get my breath. Each turn we did I looked for my twin in the hope he was watching so he could see how brave I was attempting such a grown up ride. A s we slowed, the ride having reached its climax, I noticed to my horror that there was no Susan?? Feeling dazed and a bit wobbly from having survived such a grown up ride, I lurched over to Billy demanding to know where Susan was?
"Why are you asking me" he said,"last time I saw her she was with you"
I was in trouble, big trouble. "Bill she went over to you" I said,"I saw her walk over as I was getting on my ride" W ell I haven't seen her he said, a big worried frown on his head.
In a panic that even today I remember with a thud in my heart, I ran over
to my elder sisters, and in tears tried to tell them that we had lost Susan.
We all ran in every direction, shouting searching for our baby sister
A few worried parents hearing us shouting and scurrying about asked her name and could they join in the search.
For a good 15 minutes we screamed her name.
Ann was in tears, Pauline as always in control, was showing signs of doing the same. We, and by then several other dozen folk, had searched everywhere.
Exhausted but with no intention of stopping our search, we all sat to try and consider just where she might be. I explained as calmly as I could to Pauline what I said to her as I pointed to where Billy was playing his slot machine. Then I remembered, she needed a pee!! A few yards away were a ladies toilet. Pauline ran of, quickly followed by Ann to see if she was there. Thank god they found her in a cubicle fast asleep, cuddling Mr golliwog.
The weather, true to form for an English summer, started to change. The sky began to darken, sign of a storm brewing. We all raced round trying to do the rides and all the other things wed promised ourselves to do. Huge splatters or rain started to slowly descend, sending families scurrying to find shelter. We kids, following Ann found, ourselves in a hall of mirrors having had a joint whip round to raise the entrance fee. We were having fun watching our ridiculous reflections in the huge mirrors, when Pauline suddenly catching sight of a clock near the exit, exclaimed" my god its ten past five, and we should have met dad outside that pub at five, come on lets go".
It was pouring down with rain, as we half walked half ran to find the Swan
Anchor pub, which fortunately Pauline had remembered the name of." Were in trouble " Pauline kept saying, "Dad will be mad". We got the pub expecting to see dad there. Well he wasn't outside it anyway. Ann was quickly nominated to pop her head in the swinging pub doors to see if dad was inside. She peered in as we watched her and we caught a whiff of the tobacco smoke and the sweet hops from the beers. Ann suddenly went inside, a very brave act. She returned after a few minutes with a armful of smiths crisps and a bottle of lemonade with the announcement that dad would follow shortly. Huddled in the pub doorway, keeping out of the way of tipsy customers who were leaving, we munched on our crisps as we passed round the bottle of pop, each taking a long swig.
Twenty minutes later out came dad, trilby at a jaunty angle, his ever present bow a bit skew whiff. We knew the signs; he was a bit tipsy (his words) but in a great mood. " Right kids he announced Ime treating you all to fish and chips before we set of for home" W ow he was in a good mood. So off we set looking for a café that could seat 5 kids and a loud, but loving dad. Dad kept offering to do a cartwheel down the street but in unison we all pleaded to him not to. It was just after six when we opened a steamed up door to find a table big enough to seat us all. Our clothes were wet and clammy, so discarding what we could; we made ourselves comfortable in readiness for our welcome supper.
A large lady, her face oozing sweat and grease came over to take our order" Fish and chips all round "dad shouted unaware that he sounded like a fog horn "and a big bowl of mushy peas, plus a plate full of buttered balm cakes"
Now this was sheer luxury for us and totally unexpected. We tucked in to
our supper, even being allowed to make chip butties with our balm cakes, totally
forbidden at the table at home. We followed this with our choice of milk shakes,
which went down our throats like a gull swallowing a herring.
Feeling full and bloated we left the café in search of the old Morris 10, which father had assured us would be easy to find.
We found it an hour or more later, after dad had called in at the local police
station to enquire if his long lost pal Eric was still on duty. He sucked
at least five polo mints before he entered the cop shop as he called it! After
a couple of phone calls to his colleague, we were directed to our car, which
incidently was in the opposite direction to which wed been searching!
There was no singing as we set of home. Within seconds of getting in the car Susan was fast asleep, her mop of blonde hair resting on Billy like a curled up hamster. I being generous had broken of a piece of the aniseed rock ide bought earlier and was sharing it with Billy. Ann her head resting on the window, was in a reflective mood, possibly dreaming of the boy ide seen her admiring earlier. Pauline, in the front seat, I could see was watching every move dad made. Fortunately the traffic was slow leaving Blackpool itself, which meant that dad couldn't put his foot down, as he would have liked to have done.
As the rain continued to pound down, dad having removed his hat and his bow, strained to see through the windscreen into the darkening night. We kids though exhausted, strove to stay awake. We approached Manchester slowly but surely. Dad by this time I had noticed kept looking at his watch. By this time it was nine thirty. The gas lamp just outside our house glowed in the rain as we pulled up by the gate. We all shouted our thanks to dad for a great day out as we wearily made our way up to the door. I turned my head behind me ready to thank dad again .but all I saw was a trilbied head walking of in a quickstep to his favourite haunt.
THANKS FOR A GOOD DAY OUT DAD.AND THANKS TO YOU MORRIS 10.
DAVID EDGE 02/07/2004.
Many Thanks David
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