And so it is we are gathered, through time to be here. See tribe of Gudvangen gathered. As in always. As in always. Gathered. Ancient Samian land of all tribes: Germanics, Zeeland, Parisi, Vendi, all. We become the Northern men. And we are. See. Here in one small semblance of what was once all Viking we gather.
In this fine fjord are, the very essence of Viking, wander if you will among the very story of it. Yes, we have travelled time and we have memories within us of the wild. The gods are in our hearts still and we live a simple life. There are those among us from so many many lands, so many hearts have travelled here. We are as was and see we celebrate. All is peaceful in this valley of the Vikings. A storm may come, and all about all waterfalls may turn to mists above us. Skies may darken, travelling low, so low the all of us are cowered, heavy ladened. Yet, we stand against the strong strong winds and batten down. Our tents, our hopes, our strong dreams will not weaken. We have travelled here to be. And we are.
We dance, we tell, we make strong, we craft, visions pierce us, send us into dream and yet we laugh. There is a heart inside that makes us laugh and share and be. For we are from always. From all lands and throng to share. From lands as far away as aboriginal, from lands as near as should be, as Simian memories, from Finland, new lands, Hiberno, settled of the Celt, the cold worlds and the depth of souls where-in one knows and believes – This is where we are from and we will live here simply. Even all the trolls and faerie are here, it is our heart, our land and see; year after year, after simple year we live and sport and craft and cook and share.
Wild in our hearts yet tears of laughter, joy and remembering ring within. We are here and we will be.
Wander if you will among this throng and pierce the sky with your eye, stare upon the simple spirited waters, vision you the beings within the walls if you will, dare to step within the echoing caverns, breathe the fumes of fire and say, we are safe, we are skilled, we are here forever.
Viking Valley is, and will be and all the simple souls from child to innocent to wild; We are here and we will be. Forever. We. Are Viking. Here: Gudvangen.
So spoke the Skald.
I will endeavour to post a blog as Skald to the Cheiftain every day during July while I am in Norway.
This piece is adapted from a blog written a few years ago when we were a-feared that there would be no more Vikingby at Gudvangen.
“No, you do not meet the standards. You have far too many uneducated poor with little or no health care. Your workers rights and indeed human rights are far below European standards and all your systems are corrupt.”
“But we need to be part of Europe!”
“If you try and improve your country so people are treated more fairly then perhaps in another ten years you could apply again.”
I will be standing, to proclaim my chieftain; my king
My king among men
Among my Njardar Clan
I will be standing at the Borre gathering
I will be standing, amid the circle of stones
Within the stones
Within the tribes of old
I will be standing for the myriad of visitors of Gudvangen
I will be busking
I will be raising the hearts and the spirits of many within the walls
As long high falls fall
I will be standing
I will be bringing donations; so eagerly given
To create our future
The Viking long past on our land
I will be standing; where a stave church will stand
And seeing it becoming because of us
I will be standing; at a gathering
A thousand yearlong gathering
Among men I met in old Jorvik
Who invited me
To tell stories
With my Chieftain
I will be standing
In the land of God’s Water
To be international
At our market
Will join with my telling
Of merry making
And I hear today
I will be staring
At an old stone
The brave ones
Of the ancient times
In their red boats of bravery
I will be standing in Norway
At the old stones
The old road of history leads us to what are believed to have been thirteen circles of thirteen stones. The graves of the women, the seats of the meeting, the place of the forever. Hunn near Skjærsilden, near Oslo. Here we stand at the Stortinget Plasser to rediscover what is truly in the heart and the bones. For we stand there and we know.
Saying Thank You
Your donation of $3 will encourage me to continue in my creative efforts.
No, no, no, no, no I do understand really. I have got it all worked out, I think.
It is a game chaps play. I know all about it. There are nearly two dozen of them, and they run around in shorts playing a game. Well most of them do, there are two who are put at each end and it is their job to stop them.
There are a lot of people about at a time like this who are interested I believe, and they tend to shout at you, “England!” Thats what they shout round here anyway, “England!” I tend to reply by saying, ‘Yes, that’s where we are sure enough.’ That tends to keep them happy or at least reasure them about their whereabouts.
Each group has a kind of symbol, usually made up of two or three colours, and the interested fellows put these on sticks and wave them about; you see them placed on the tops of buildings or sticking up from cars that pass.
Many of these supports people have a strange belief. They paint their symbol on their face or even all over the front of their house in a village somewhere. They actually believe that because this symbol is on their house in a little tiny street in this country that their team of chappies who are miles away in another land will actually do better as a result.
Above is an example of the symbols, it is on material in this circumstance I am pleased to say, as it will be down quicker than if it had been painted.
For ideological reasons I shall shortly be voting to stay within the EU, and a lot of these chappies will also be voting to stay in, but their reason is so they have someone to play with at this time next year.
My advice to you is that this is not a good time to go to the pub. Mainly because of all the shouting, but also because of all the negative energy you will pick up from all the terrible disappointment.
One advantage of all this going on at the moment is that for a couple of hours once or twice a week there will be lots less traffic on the roads.
There is however a remote chance that as you are passing a pub you may hear a mighty roar, although I do not expect this to happen too often.
It is however a great time to go shopping.
(I hope you have enjoyed my shopping advice blog)
At least you will be reminded of where you are.
Saying Thank You
Your donation of $3 will encourage me to continue in my creative efforts.
More on this below but you may have seen this hamper before, it featured in my (highly entertaining) Christmas blog. I have opened it since. The results are shocking.
We shall also be roaming through Ireland, Finland, Norway and a few other spots via intriguing pictures of the past.
Here first though is me!!!!
Yes this is quite a while back. The inscription on the back states; Adrian on the front steps of Farberry Garth Farm near Warter Priory where Nana and Pop lived.
Yes we lived in Warter.
So did these guys by the looks of things.
The coracle, this old picture from the west of Ireland shows how portable these boats were, although the old text says they were used for fishing in rapid-running rivers, I think perhaps they would be put to much better use in stable waters. It also says that ‘Caesar’ adapted them for his Iberian campaign. They are much older than that, , well into pre-history I would say. These pictured where said to be made of split birch and canvas, I am sure over all leather would have been the most used surface.
The photos here (with the exception of the Bunty pic) were taken between 1890 and 1935. There were no credits with them and some are rather grainy, I felt they would be of interest to reenactors, costume makers, historians etc.
Of interest to folklorists too. This one intrigued me. We are still in Ireland. With some sort of rebel gang, which is now largely forgotten: The Straw Boys…Yes the straw hats were a disguise as well as making them look terrifying, what scares me most is that they would dress in women’s clothing.
I am reminded of the Cat People, much feared in Celtic lands, but not now recalled who – or indeed what, they were.
Now this one, clearly, isn’t from way back then, as I have just painted it…
In fact it is a blatant attempt to get you to read more of my blogs by clicking the link through to my Viking Comics Inc. Graphic Novel written with older school children – Oski and the Amulet.
(Do come back here though! The best is yet to come.)
We are off to the Pyrenees Mountains now, for a folk dance. The rather disparaging text says, that as well as a flute and a violin, the piping chap also played a primitive form of wire piano struck with a piece of metal. Hang on! He is playing both at once. The ‘flute’ is some sort of one-hand pipe and the wired thing looks like a wonderful old traditional instrument. I want to know more! I want to hear theses guys (and I want to hear whoever sang with them!).
We are off to old Esthonia now.Wonderful old costumes. I wonder how much of this is recollected and still worn today in the form it is here from over a hundred years ago.
We are looking here at style of dress from the Petseri district; Unique costumes were popular on the many islands around the coast too.
Come to think, I want to know more about such people’s lifestyles and interests.
Now this feller told stories…Nebulous shapes of a bygone age weave and drift from the telling of this Guernsey teller, who went so far back that all of it was true. All of it was believed in the moment of telling, for there are things to the world which are other than we know. If only we knew now; perhaps if we go to Guernsey there will be someone there who remembers him, and remembers his tales.
His companion has clearly shifted all that straw in the huge bale behind her. I note she has a hay bailer rather than a pitch fork, if my memories of the days I would sit on that step and watch the Wolds farm workers are correct. For it has two prongs not three.
I am transported now to Russia. I am planning to do a blog on strange and quaint sayings and proverbs from around the world, and my favourite is perhaps the Russian one I read:
‘Beware of pitchforks, for they make three holes’ – Discuss.
He doesn’t have string round his trouser legs though like Awd Mr Bott.
Off we go now to the Sheep Islands, better known perhaps as the Faroe Isles. It says in the blurb from over a hundred years ago; ‘belonging to Denmark’, is that still the case?Described back then as an optimistic people, I hope they are all feeling as jolly now. I particularly like the feller’s hat – can you still get them?
(The shoe fastening style is of interest too.)
Is it time for a break from the black and white?
Yes!There’s mum all dressed up ready for another adventure. There is the car! They got stopped everywhere they went – by curious coppers.
For those of you who are into the details of such a thing, it is a Mini sub-frame with a boxed steel outer frame welded on and a single wheel axle at the back. They went everywhere in it.
Oh yes and plywood.
Back to black and white. A totally different place to the Faroes, but just as flat – Holland.And yes there are flowers on the whip. It was their wedding day you see.
Northern Holland we are in (perhaps that is a bit steeper). What you do is, you drive around all the local villages with your engarlanded whips and throw out sweetmeats (as we used to call goodies) (as we used to call chows) (as we used to call sweets)… As you might call candy. Phew, we got there in the end.
When we arrived at the end of the Forth Bridge (they still haven’t built the fifth one) Dad still had all the takings from the raffle he had ran the night before. As best man at a wedding he was informed of a similar tradition to above. This was the sixties, so I am not sure if it still goes on. He was told they had been collecting coppers (great big pennies and ha’pennies) and gave him a bag full. He was instructed that as they drove around the villages he had to throw a few out whenever he saw children congregated. So he thought, ‘Well, I’ve sent a cheque (‘check’ in the US, if you still use them), so I might as well add in all this silver’; tanners, bobs, two bob bits and perhaps a two & a sprat or two. IE quite a lot of money.
Gosh what an uproar there was. Never forgotten. They still discuss the generosity of Yorkshiremen up there.
(Between the third and fourth bridges somewhere I think.)
(One of my little geographical jokes there did you see?)
They have even stranger customs in Finland…And I have no more to say about that.
This isn’t an island…
But Stromo is (please add your own two little dots to the top of the last letter O).And these are the Stromo girls.
Apparently Faroe was one big island till Norway went and dropped a bit of it’s coast by mistake. See Geographical joke no. 1.
After that Thorshavn was the central island of 21, 17 of which were inhabited just over a hundred years ago, (Is that still about right for nowadays?).
These girls where described as speaking a dialect version of the Norse (Is that still the case?)
I like the different headress thingies.
It is Bunty time.
I used to steal my sisters Bunty comic as soon as she put it down. mainly because of the cut out dolls – free in every issue.
(Note the little tags – that’s what it was all about.)
But shock horror…
Well, shock horror 01
I opened the hamper.
I opened the comic. There wasn’t a cut-out dressing up section!
I read the comic.
Shock horror 02.
I read it.
Well, I only read the front. It was enough.
How horrendous! How funny it was back in ’84. Oh Bunty chats so. In she comes to the lesson on first aid. Oh how she chats. Nobody can learn a thing. Then Teacher has a great idea. Bandages wrap like this, she ties Bunty’s arms and legs to the chair. Band Aid sticks like this; she clamps shut Bunty’s mouth. Oh how they all laugh. Learning first aid and gagging and tying up the over chatty Bunty all in one lesson., Ho ho. Ha ha. Ho oh my god, have we changed that much! Its only thirty years ago.
Let’s run away to Sweden.These happy Leksand girls were described as well-built and prepossesing. It is a shame we cannot see the multi-coloured nature of their aprons. I also think their hats are really cool.
This one said they were disappearing.The Lapps that is. I don’t think they did disappear, but perhaps the tents did. It is described as a Kota and I want one.
There are plenty more to come in the future, but for now, here is the last picture of this edition. I like this one.It says that the Hardanger people are staunch advocates of the femine orthodox garb. It also decribes them as modern Norwegians. There is a suggestion that this is a farm house; although it is noted that the old log cabin farms are few and far between as they are being replaced by farm houses built of brick and stone – I haven’t seen too many of those either.
More from me soon. I am always glad to receive input.
I thought the next edition of this series might focus on the Americas and Australia.
But my next blog will probably be favourite quotes, so do please send some…
Saying Thank You
Your donation of $3 will encourage me to continue in my creative efforts.
While many people are reading my Mum’s wonderful book of memories (Navy Blue Knickers) I am ringing her everyday to let her know how many have looked at it and in what countries. While in there in the stats I noticed just how much of the world is clicked…
I am thrilled to see that my blog is now read in 58 countries across the world: United Kingdom – United States – Norway – Brazil – Germany – Spain – Australia – Netherlands – France – Canada – Italy – Belgium – Russia – Japan – China – Malaysia – Sweden – Portugal – India – Ireland – Finland – Mexico – Slovakia – Philippines – Puerto Rico – Denmark – Venezuela – Poland – Austria – Israel – South Korea – Columbia – Ghana – Ukraine – United Arab Emirates – Bosnia & Herzegovina – South Africa – Singapore – Guatemala – Chile – Argentine – Serbia – European Union – Peru – Thailand – Myanmar – Iceland – Cyprus – Turkey – Dominican Republic – New Zealand – Trinidad and Tobago – Taiwan – Czech Republic – Bolivia – Guernsey – 138 to go…
(I need Greenland!)
That will mean that when I look at the stats map most of it will look yellow! (cos Greenland is quite big you see)
Saying Thank You
Your donation of $3 will encourage me to continue in my creative efforts.
Navy Blue Knickers and Things That Go Bump in the Night – 1930’s memories as told by a 8 year old who is now 89
“I dedicate this book to my grandchildren.”
“I write this book for Lucy on her 8th birthday.”
“Thank you to Jane and Harry for their encouragement and to William for his help; and Lisa my young reader.”
Chapter 1 – Having My Picture Taken
am Connie Staveley, I live in a nice village called Burton Fleming. I am seven and three quarters years old. I have just done quarters at school so I know thats right.
I am taller than most of the other girls in my class, and I have long fair hair. I know a lot of things that happened when I was only two or three years old. My Mother says that I cannot possibly remember, but I truly can.
When I was two, or maybe three I went to a proper place to have my picture taken. It was a bit like a house, but when we opened the door, a bell started to ring. It kept bumping into the back of the door and going ding ding ding, until my aunt Ada closed the door. My aunt Ada always came with us when we did important things, like dentists and doctors and things.
The man seemed to know we were coming. I think my aunt Ada had been in to see him before. I didn’t like the man very much, because he lifted me up on to a table, and he gave me a big grey ‘elifent’ to hold. It was really heavy, and the table was all slippy. I kept nearly sliding off, with that silly ‘elifent’ in my arms.
It was too heavy to hold and it made me cry. I cried a lot and the man got cross. He went to hide under a big black table cloth. My mother and auntie had to go and sit on a sofa. It was a long way away. Then the man peeped out and said, “Say cheese,” I nearly cried again. I don’t like cheese, well I do just a little bit now, because I am a big girl.
I don’t know why I had to say cheese, we had fish and chips at my aunt Ada’s before we went to see the horrible man.There was a big light went ‘flash’ just like when it thunders, then the man popped out from under the table cloth, and said. “That’s it then, I will send the photos in the post.” It was not a very nice day to remember, but I did have my Sunday dress on and my best boots, and it was only Saturday.
Chapter 2 – A Terrible Thing Happened
hen I was four, we had a very terrible thing happen. It started off very exciting. It was called a feast day, and all the men went to a feast. My Grandad collected all the money to pay for the beer and things, and the man at the Star Inn let them have the feast in a room above the stables.
All us children and mums and Grannies and aunties and some of the men went to *Southwells Field. We did all sorts of things, like egg and spoon races and games. I was only little when this terrible thing happened so I was in the baby race.
Our house was filled with aunts and uncles and cousins. I was too big for my cot so my cousins Cicely and Zilla slept in it. I was in between my mother and aunt Ada, so I didn’t fallout. All the beds were full and there was even beds on the floor in every room.
The bedroom window gave a great big crackling noise and broke just like ice does when you walk on it. We all jumped out of bed, well my mother lifted me out. I was still a bit asleep.
Everybody crowded into the living room. They were all talking at the same time and made such a noise, and I wanted to go to sleep again. Everybody wondered whathad happened. Grannie said we all had to go back to bed and stop causing such a commotion.
She said it would be that silly lad that lives up the lane, “He will have bumped into our front steps with his lorry, I’ll sort it out in the morning”.
Grannie always sorted everything out…
The next morning we heard that all the houses had been shaking at the same time, and Boynton’s lorry couldn’t have bumped into them all at the same time. The Sunday papers said it was an ‘Earthquake’. Something like thunder and lightning but worse.
Chapter 3- A Wonderful Thing
remember a wonderful thing, from when I was five and a half years old. We all ran out of school and Mrs Ashton told us all to look up into the sky. We saw this really big thing floating past. It was bigger than the chara* that takes us to the seaside. It was on its wayback from america. There was a German inside but we couldn’t see him.
Mrs Ashton said he was a friendly German not a bad one.
Chapter 4 – My New Sun Hat
he next summer was very very hot. My uncle Joe told me it was better than he had ever known, and he was a big man he was 28 years old. We had our summer dresses on and we had to wear sun hats everytime we went out.
Mrs Ashton was my teacher and she was my mother’s friend as well. She brought me a lovely sun hat. Her little girl was too big for it. It had ribbon round and little tiny tiny daisies on. We all got our legs brown and my Grannie said I looked the picture of health.
Chapter 5 – May Queen Day
am seven and three quarters now. I will tell you about another picture that I had taken. I will tell you about that later.
When we have a cold we use a hankie. It is a little square of cotton and it is nice and soft.We have a nicer one for best for Sundays. It is very soft, and it is made from fine lawn, not grass lawn sillies, a kind of cotton, but thin. Some of my hankies have C for Connie in the corner and some have flowers stitched on. My auntie Bessie does them for me. I have hundreds in my hankie drawer.
If I don’t have a pocket in my frock, I never know where to put my hankie. Sometimes I put it up my sleeve, but it falls out. I once felt ‘awful’ because of where I put my hankie. I will tell you about it.
It was last year, 1934. Every May time we have a maypole in the school yard. It is as tall as the school, nearly.
Some of the fathers help to put it in a hole in the middle of the school yard.
Then they hang all coloured ribbons from the top, and we all take a ribbon and dance round it.We wind in and out until we make a pattern with the ribbons. sometimes it is plaited, and sometimes like a cobweb. I can plait my hair now, all by myself, but not very well.
Even the boys had to dance, they didn’t like it very much.There was a May Queen as well, even when my mother was a little girl in the olden days there was. All the children are given a piece of paper to write the name of a girl they like best. It has to be a girl from the big girls class. The girl with the most votes is the May Queen.
A bit like when we have an election to get a new Prime Minister or Queen. This year I was the May Queen’s attendant. We vote in the little classes as well for attendants. I was attendant last year as well; the time I felt awful, about where I put my hankie.
I had a pretty yellow taffeta dress, all sticky out like a ballerina. I had a head-dress made with little bunches of buttercups. It was like a golden crown. My hair was all hanging down in ringlets.
The bedtime before May Day, my mother twisted my hair all round long strips of rag. It hurt when I was going to sleep. My Gran said, “Ah well prides painful mi lass.” I think she meant, if you want to look pretty it has to hurt you first. I had to sleep with the rags in all night, but I didn’t cry or anything.
On May Day when we took the rags out, my hair had gone shorter. I did cry then, but Gran said it was because it was all twisted in corkscrews, and it would be long again tomorrow. Isn’t that funny!
I looked ever so pretty. Well, my auntie Bessie said I did anyway.
The AWFUL thing that happened was a man came to take photos.
It hung on the school room wall with last year’s May Day pictures, and my sticky out dress was all tucked in my knicker leg. Well I had nowhere to put my hankie, so I tucked it in my knickers. I always feel AWFUL everytime I look at the picture. Well, everybody knows, I had my hankie up my knicker leg don’t they.Oh my gosh I feel AWFUL.
Chapter 6 – Navy Blue Knickers
fter the Awful thing happened my aunt Ada bought me some knickers with a pocket in. White ones for Sunday and navy blue for school days. I showed them to everyone at school. Not the big boys though, they always laugh at us infants. I showed Geof Wells and Maurice Pickering cos they’r our friends. Geof Wells said I could keep my money in it. So if I don’t spend my Saturday penny I put it in my pocket to keep it safe. I am always doing handstands and cartwheels and things. I can’t do them properly like Ellen Brambles. Sometimes my penny falls out and hits me on the nose.Chapter 7 – The Jubilee
his year was the Silver Jubilee. It was in May after May Day. Jubilee means 25 years since King George V was made our king. His wife is called Queen Mary. Everyone loves them both.
My uncle Joe says they are kind, and bother about the working man. I think they bother about the women and children as well, if they are kind, but uncle Joe doesn’t know about that.
The King George V is the first King to talk to people on the wireless. V means 5 I think.
On Christmas Day in 1932 he said, “This is a message to all my people throughout the Empire.” I was only six years old so i can’t remember what the message was, but I think he said, he loved us all.
We just got our wireless, it had an accumulator that made it go, and uncle Joe took it to the shop every week to have it charged.
That means put more stuff in it. It was called a wet battery. We all sat around the wirelsess to listen to the King. He is on the wireless every Christmas now, after we have had our Christmas pudding. I haven’t to talk for ages until he finishes his message.
On Jubilee day nobody went to work, we didn’t go to school. the King said we could have a day off. In London where the King has his palace, all the people had a picnic in the street.
They put tables up and had jelly and custard I think. It was called a street party. The dads put up ribbons and flags all over the fences.
The King liked it all, when he rode down the street with the Queen in a golden coach. We didn’t have a picnic in our street, but I had a really nice day.
At the top of our lane there is a tiny little house and my friend Mrs Bott and Aud Tommy Bott. My mother says their real name is Burt, but Gran talks proper North Button. That’s what Burton Fleming was called in the old days.
My mother won’t let me talk North Button way. I wish I could because I like the way my Gran talks.
Anyway! I sometimes go up the lane and Mrs Bott comes out to play with me.
She is a round lady like a cuddly ball.
She sometimes comes into the lane and we both skip.
Mr Bott holds the rope when he is at home. Mrs Bott is a very good skipper. She can even do salt and pepper. That means skipping faster and faster. When she skips she wobbles all over. when I giggle she says, “See if you can do better mi lass,” and I can’t. I always trip over the rope when it goes fast.
Mrs Bott has a really, really big fat thumb on one hand. She told me that when she was a young woman she worked in the cotton mill. It was at Bradford. That must be near London, cos its a very long way away. Her thumb grew big with pressing on the machine all the time. She used to wriggle her fat thumb at me to make me laugh. Sometimes she drew a little face on her nail. When it wriggled it looked like a little fat man.
Mr Bott is always in the fields working. He wears corduroy trousers that whistle when he walks, uncle Joe calls them his whistlers.
Mr Bott ties a piece of *Massey Harris band round his trousers just under the knees.
He says it is to stop mice running up when he is harvesting.
He has a great big coat. He wears it when he goes out after tea, it is very old and scruffy, but it is the most wonderful coat I ever seen.
Mr Bott calls it his magic coat. He shows me into his pocket, and it looks empty, then he puts his hand right down to the bottom of his coat and pulls out a rabbit. He has another pocket at the other side. When he opens his coat you can see two enormous pockets that touch the floor, and he finds a pheasant in there or maybe a partridge.
Mrs Bott says, “Them birds will do us a good dinner or two.”
Gran says Mr Bott is a poacher, and he’ll be getting wrong one of these days.
Mr Bott is round as well.
There is another round one in their family. They have the biggest fattest cat that I have ever seen. It is called Tiger. He has his own chair, and a big soft cushion on it.
When Tiger sits in his own chair he fills it all up, but he lets me squeeze in besides him. His purr is so loud, it sounds like an engine going inside him.He purrs like mad when I sit with him and hold his big paw in my hand. I went up the lane to Mrs Botts on Jubilee day.
We all, that’s Mrs Bott, Mr Bott and Tiger Bott, we all sat on stools round the wireless and heard the King’s people all cheering as he rode past.
We had a little glass of tonic wine and a piece of coconut cake with icing on. Mrs Bott went to the drawer in her sideboard and took out a red, white and blue box, with red, white and blue ribbon round it, all tied in a funny bow. she said, “Noo then bairn ev ya ivver seen owt lake this affoor?” and she untied the ribbon and lifted off the lid. Inside the box was three pieces of soap and one was red and one was white and one was blue. I said that I had never seen anything like it before. Mrs Bott said, “You can have one to take home so you can remember Jubilee day for many a day”.
Her little fat fingers hovered over the soap as she wondered which one to give. The pinky one was pretty, but it was supposed to be red. The white one was just like Grannie has in the front bedroom in case the doctor comes and wants to wash his hands. Mrs Bott said the blue was a very special soap, “It is very hard to make blue things because dyes are made from plant’s leaves and roots and you don’t see many blue leaves do you?” She took the blue soap out of the box and gave it to me wrapped in a silk hankie, “A special soap for a special lass”. Although the blue was not properly blue, it was like a bird’s egg colour. I ran straight home to show it to my mother. I still have it in my hankie drawer. I shall keep it for ever and ever.
When my uncle Joe came home for his tea, he brought me a special Jubilee present. It was a real silk hankie, with a Union Jack on it. I wrapped my soap in it and I will keep it for ever and ever and ever.
Chapter 8 – Betsy
had a lovely Grandad. He was very tall. Mrs Bott said he was a real gentleman. He was a very gentle man. He used to tie a cushion on to the bar of his bike with a long red scarf and lift me up onto it when he went to look at his sheep. Sometimes he took me to see his brother in Flixton.
I liked going with my Grandad but it was a bit scary when he went over a pothole in the road. It made the cushion wobble and sometimes it started to swing round under the bar.
I nearly went with it, but my Grandad always help on very tight to my coat.
When my Grandad went for a walk to meet his *cronies; that’s what Gran called them, I used to put my arm round his long legs. I couldn’t reach his hand very well. His ‘cronies’ were Mr Newlove and some more Grandads. They all meet at the Post Office corner. There is a square at the end of Milsons Lane.
Some of the ‘cronies’ squat down and play a game. They called it shuv a’penny*. Shuv means push and they had to shuv the other man’s a’penny off the board. The board was a patch they marked out with a stick on the ground.
Mr Newlove sometimes brings his little girl with him. Ruth is her name and she is one of my best friends.
I think the ‘cronies’ are all best freinds. They tell each other funny things and they all laugh at the same time.
Me and Ruth used to play with our dolls until it was time for tea. Our dolls are both BIG rag dolls, and we both have very ‘little’ doll’s prams. Our dollies just fit in if we sit them up.
My doll is made with cloth and it has a black face and black curly hair. Gran says it is astrkn*. Her eyes are stitches and mouth is as well. Blue for her eyes and red for her lips. Her nose is a stitch as well.
I am sure she can see me. She often smiles when no one is there. I talk to her a lot. She doesn’t answer, but I know she is listening. I tell eh rall my secrets, and she never ever tells anyone becasue she can’t talk at all. She hasn’t got a tongue you see. I love my doll a lot, her name is Betsy.
When Bessie was a little girl, Betsy was her doll. Now Bessie is grown up. Betsy is mine, but I promise to always look after her properly. Bessie is a lady now, 17 years old.
Ruth lives across the pond. Her Grannie and Grandad live with her just like mine.
They have a lovely garden, like a secret garden. There is small hedges all round patches of flowers. The hedges have tiny leaves and only come as high as your knees. It is called box hedging. The little hedge makes a box for the flowers to grow in.
Chapter 8 – Great Aunt Mary
hen I was nearly five my Grandad was very poorly. I went to stay with aunt Mary at Hunmanby. It was my great aunt Mary really. She was my Gran’s sister, not a little girl sister, you can have big lady girl sisters as well.
Aunt Mary is a big lady. She doesn’t talk North Button like Grannie does, she is a bit posh. Her house is a lot smaller than ours. It is all cosy and warm.
She has *antimassas on the settee and chairs, and there is a big aspidistra on a stand in the corner.
Everything is pretty and shining bright. There is a polished clock that hangs on the wall.
It has a very loud tick. When aunt Mary goes into the back garden I go as well.
If I stay in the house I get frightened of the TICK, TOCK, TICK, TOCK.
Aunt Mary is a seamstress, she sews lovely dresses with all satin bows and lace on. The real LADIES come and try them on and give her a lot of money for making them.
When they come aunt Mary talks all posh. Mum says she is refined but Gran says, “She puts it on to be all fancy.”
I love to stay with aunt Mary. She says if I don’t behave myself she will throw me up into one of those little white egg cup things at the top of the telephone post. There is just one outside her cottage. But I am not scared really, she is only pretending I know.
I heard her tell my Gran I was a grand little lass and ‘does as she is bid’.
When it is a sunny day she will say, “Come on bairn, we will go and see one of my ladies”.
When we go to the big house a lady in a cap and apron and a black dress comes to the door, and takes us to the lady’s room. Then she comes back with a shiny tea pot on a tray and china cups and saucers.
There is a lacy cloth on a little table and small buns to eat. The cups are very thin. Aunt Mary said when you hold them to the light, if you can see through them, they are real china.
Don’t hold them up with the tea still in, like I did, or you will spill it, like I did. Aunt Mary wasn’t cross she said I was a good little lass for not crying at the lady’s house.
I stayed at Mary’s for a long time.
When I went back home, Grandad wasn’t there any more. My Grannie said he had gone to heaven, he wouldn’t be hurting anymore.
Jesus is looking after him. I think it would be better if my mum and Gran looked after him still, and he could take me for rides on his bike again. I cry when I go to bed because I can’t see Grandad anymore.
Bessie comes and sits on my bed and tells me stories to make me stop crying. I don’t call her auntie Bessie she is like my big sister, she is only ten years older than I am. Bessie is my mother’s younger sister.
She makes new clothes for Betsy sometimes.
Chapter 10 – The Kid Catcher
know about Jesus, cos I go to Sunday School. It is different to weekday school, you don’t have desks with lids and pencils and things. Mr Story and Mr Southwell tells us stories about god and we sing a lot.
Our Sunday School is called *Primitive Methodists. Primitive means Mr Southwell doesn’t like pictures and fancy crosses on the walls. He likes simple crosses and things, so he says.
Ruth goes to Sunday School as well and afterwards a few of us best freinds go for a walk up Back Lane.
We sometimes go back down Mr Southwell’s garden. We get the gate open very quietly, and creep down the path, past cabbages and rhubarb.
We sometimes have to hide under the rhubarb leaves when we hear Mr Southwell come out of his back door. It is a very long garden, so he doesn’t often see us.
I think he hears us cos he stands ever so still, and he looks up the garden. One day he started to walk across the lawn, then, he went back into the house.
The rhubarb leaves are like big umbrellas, they are taller than us. If we find a young stalk we pull it out and eat it. It is quite sour, but we pretend we are on an island and have had no food for a year.
Mr Southwell has a little girl the same age as me. She is my Sunday froend. her name is Nan, it’s Nannette really, but I am her best freind, so I can call her Nan*.
Everybody calls me Connie but my real name is Olga Marie.
In Burton Fleming when tiny things are cute the old people say, “What a conny little thing.” Mt Grannie says I was cute when I was newly born. Auntie Bessie says I still am. My mother’s name is Mary, but she was called Connie. A week or two after I was born they called her Mary again.
When I went to stay with my auntie Mary I had just started school. There is a man called the Kid Catcher. He isn’t at school all the time, he only comes if any of the children don’t go to school.
He goes off on his bike and he finds out why they aren’t at school. When he went to our house they told him I was in Hunmanby because my Grandad was very poorly.
The Kid Catcher went to my aunt Mary’s and asked if she knew where Olga Marie is and aunt Mary said, “I have never heard of such a name in my life.”
The Kid Catcher thought I had been kidnapped or murdered. There was a lot of people looking all over for me.
When I went back to school Mr Dukes laughed, Mr Dukes is the head master and teaches the big class. He is a friend of our house. He said, “Don’t worry, nothing will come of it.” Connie isn’t even five yet, so she won’t be put in prison because she hasn’t been to school.
Chapter 11 – What Shall I do? – or, The Tiny Gold Pin
used to like to help my Grannie tidy out her little drawers when I was a baby, before I started school. One day when I was older it was raining and I couldn’t go out to play in the garden. Gran said, “It’s a bit since that there lartle drawer had a good sort out. We’ll ev a go at it shall wah?” There was alsorts of lovely things in it.
Shiny blue buttons from aunt Hannah’s wedding dress, some pennies from France and a tiny gold safety pin. Gran said I could have one thing before we put them back and I chose the golden safety pin.My friend Nan and I are always having brainwaves, and then we count how many others in the class copy us. We had this brainwave for our hankies, because Nan didn’t know where to put hers either. We pinned them onto the front of our frocks and then they floated down. We looked like actresses, as they floated as we walked.
We couldn’t use them though, it would spoil them if they were dirty. I used Gran’s golden safety pin for mine. When I went home from school, my mother said it looked silly and “It will make a hole in your frock.”
So I put it on when get to the gate at the side of the house, but I have to remember to take it out again before I go home for my tea. One day we all had to keep our hair tidy all day. A man came to take pictures of us. He took a really big one of all the class and then one of us all by ourselves. We got our pictures taken today and we can take them home. I don’t know what to do about mine.
I think, I will just take the one with everybody on, because Ruth is right in front of me and you can see my face. Well that’s alright I kept my face clean except for a crayon mark near my nose, and my hair ribbon has only slipped a bit. But the other picture will get me in trouble for sure. There right in the middle of my front, for everyone to see, is my little golden safety pin, and a BIG FLOATING HANKIE.
Oh my gosh!
What shall I do?
*Southwells Field = as it is a name of a place rather than a statement of ownership it no longer has the appostrophy
*chara = Charabang a name for a typ eof bus used for bus trips.
*Massey Harris band= a kind of rough hairy string much like sisal
*cronies = an old term for friends you hang out with, it infers you are a bit suspect as a kind of joke, but I am unsure of theorigins. Perhaps you know…
shuv a’penny*= knocking an old half penny piece across a board to settle in the best spot – a gambling game no doubt.
astrkn* = I would say this as, astrakahn, and I recall a fur coat of mums which she said was this that I thought was wonderful. Possible cos it had no spikes, it was fur woven into itself so it was lovely to look at and felt very smooth.
*antimassas = antimacassar, as in a protection against stains from macassar oil; a hair treatment made from coconuty and ylang-ylang. Initially they were a practical thing in the previous century but they became a decorative fashionable thing.
*Primitive Methodists – I was also told of Bush Baptists and a terrible place called chapel when mum talked about the old days when I was little. She also recalls seeing Catholics!
Nan* = Nannette still calls upon mum regularly, it is good to see they are still friends, and I understand Nannette continues to work at her cafe on the coast at Scarborough.
I am very proud to be able to republish my mum’s book. She sold thousands in hard copy and will be pleased to see this online version.
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Mum is known throughout the north of England for her presentations , publications and entertainments.
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