My Mum Connie 93 – Her Stories and Poems part two.
Well done to my niece Bethany for filming and sending these (and for giggling in the background). It is especially great for me to hear these as I am so far away from home. It makes me feel like I am back there in Scarborough in Yorkshire, England listening to her wonderful wit.
You will all really enjoy these I am sure, so be sure to add comments below and share wherever you can. Then I can ring her and tell her she is an internet star.
A link to her book and to the first part of the series are below.
PS The cover photo is three generations of women. My elder sister on her great grandmother’s knee and at the back my mum with her mum.
The first story mum wrote after stating in writing class…
(Please note it is in two parts, so you will need to watch the short film straight after.)
Radio York paid her for this story…
A poem in darker tone…
Mum explains how amused she was by the poem ‘I Shall Wear Purple’, it inspired her to create her own version. she would always perform them both.
There will be more of her short stories and poems and she has recently been interviewed by The National Railroad Museum here in Green Bay Wisconsin. Once they have those up in the museum archive I will blog a link. For now here are links to other pieces…
It is quaint is Quay Street, let us hope I do it justice. I write this for a neighbour. For a short while back there she thought she had lost her family in that terrible night at Manchester Arena.
So for all those who did lose loved ones and for all of us who suffered through that disgusting tragedy this is a tribute, a sense of belonging, in the way of praise of; the street where you live. – For us, here, that is the historic easy-going Quay Street in Scarborough.
The narrow lane of fishing boats and fisher people has widened along most of its length yet it starts and finishes as a cosy cobbled alley. Quay Street (Pronounced ‘key’).
Cobbled its full length still, set just a little back from the ‘Cobles’ in the bay.
We are the bottom-enders. There is a large grass bank behind us built up of the rows of fisher people’s houses; stacked rows of tightly placed dwellings all rubble now. Rubble.
Above the grass banks of long gone kitchens and bake houses is the most prominent feature of the town: The Castle.
Down below Scar’s Burg our row survives. The Bottom-enders.
I have stayed here on and off for many years with my parents; now, I live here, with Mum while I recuperate – stitch-knitting time.
Fishermen from the street told us when Mum and Dad first got the place of living here man and boy, as did their father before them and his father before that.
A house just a little further down from us still has its bake house out the back, (a few of them do). The lady there, three doors up from me, passed away recently and the moving eulogy to the packed church just up Dog and Duck Steps for here, a step beyond Paradise, spoke of her skills; smoking, baking and sousing the herring, roping the mussel, and dressing the crab; she could dress a crab in less than fifteen seconds.
I chat across the wall to our neighbour, but she has another friend. Her back garden is in two levels; two walled terraces. Her new friend lives on the roof and spends his time on the top terrace – He is in love with her. He has built a nest and comes down to the upper patio to tap on the glass of the French windows with his beak to attract his love. He knocks very loudly. As loud as a large fisherman knocking.
She says it is not her he is knocking for. She says he is knocking for the love of his own reflection.
But you know what they say about albatrosses, perhaps it is true about seagulls too.
Her late husband was a Skipper, I am sure he has worked widely in the sea trade throughout a life of Scarborough, it is as a Skipper that I remember him. Skipper of the ocean-going pleasure cruiser the Caronia, or at other times the Regal Lady. Many a cruise with glass in hand and majestic creatures just off the bow I remember. Many remember and the fiddle plays in our souls as we think back.
There they await you among the 300 plus boats betwixt the three piers of no peer; Scarborough harbour. They have been called on from here before at times of great need as you will hear in the accompanying blog linked to below.
I awake early, it may be the sea birds, it may be the operation scars re-knitting, it maybe is the boot segs, ready to grip the sea boards, clattering the cobbles still.
I hear them I swear. For the street is narrow and the bottom-enders are an endless march along here all through time.
“My father before me, man and boy as I was, as his father before him: Fishermen.”
Yes they were, but something doesn’t quite ring true. After living here a couple of years my dad suddenly realised what was wrong with this claim. The hosues weren’t old enough; they were about 70 years old and the chap living in the one to our right was in his eighties man and boy.
Turns out, the fisher families have always lived here just not in the same building. When the old timey Quay Street was demolished, along with all the lines of houses along the bank above, this road was widened. All this side now housed luxurious semis and lots of the fishermen moved back in, back into a new house, back in to the very same spot man and boy man and boy.
The old street is still there, winding through the centre of the wider road; there are the cobbles.
One can well imagine this narrow street filling as rowing boats are lifted off the bake-house roof and carried through the narrow passage and out onto the street towards the sea.
When I first came here I was surprised to discover that my neighbour at the other side of Dog and Duck Steps was the great uncle of a good friend in York; well-known singer/songwriter Dan Webster. He sings of his relatives: of his grandfather, “I have always loved the sea, but fishing not fighting was for me.” And of his great grandfather who bravely lost his life; Frank Dalton.
There are rumours among locals around the tea stall that when the seas are real rough and the life boat call comes some rotaed crew are hard to find; rumours. The older seasoned seamen are there and ready.
So it was with two who were in their late fifties and early sixties; Jenkinson Mainprize and Frank Dalton.
Thomas Jenkinson Mainprize was best known as Denk and was a relative of the Mainprizes who run a wet fish shop in Scarborough today.
He and Frank were the brave ones who went aboard. It was the Dutch coaster Westkust. The skipper had delayed accepting assistance and had survived eight hours in heavy swell before requesting assistance.
All of the crew were aided by our two heroes who lowered them all one by one down to the life boat deck.
Then Denk and Frank. They swung over the side. The Westkust rose up. Denk made the leap and was down safe. Before Frank could join him a huge wave parted the craft and he was left high up hanging from the Westkust. The coaster dropped, the life boat was pushed up and in, they met in a sickening crunch. The Westkust again lifted and Frank fell, to lay dying on the deck of the life boat.
At his funeral, well, just after his funeral, the Second Mate of the Westkust stepped alone from the crowd to stand at the grave.
He took off his cap and he knelt, “Frank Dalton, as soon as I saw your smiling face climbing over the side of the Westkust I knew we would be saved. Frank Dalton thank you.”
All the more reason for fellow fishermen the next day to have a Cobler’s Monday. That is when there has been a hard time of it and just a weekend is not enough time to ‘recover’. So the crew of the coble agree between them they will all claim a sickie and spend the day ‘recovering’ together; most likely in the Golden Ball or the Newcastle Packet.
Scarborough is known: for these few old buildings here on Quay Street, for its two bays with its harbour between and of course being looked over by both Olivers Mount and the Castle.
It is the natural spring near the end of the south bay which brought people here; 3000 years ago this way a sacred spring was visited and adorned. It was much later that these waters caused an expansion of grand buildings. We came here to take the air, (we still do, just watch the walkers up and down), and we came to take the waters too. Spa town.
The Spa was built and people came in their droves to go down the steps to draw the magical waters.
Trains helped. Workers starting to get actual holidays also brought more trains and very busy patches.
There was another fame, a fish, a big fish which brought the rich. A tough fish: the tunny. Strongest fish in the sea so they say: the North Atlantic Tuna.
Not that there are many now; the mackerel and the herring runs diminished massively in the 30’s through to the 50’s as more intensive fishing techniques developed unchecked (before my 17 year old niece became the fear of the unwise and the inspector of nets).
Interest in the tunny was intense, but on a much smaller scale – Which is strange for such a very big fish.
They say now they are returning and are up to 500lb but the records say far bigger.
Very rich pickings indeed, for the very rich. They came in their droves, filling the best hotels, finding fame and indeed further fortunes.
One poorer catcher of a tunny got rich by charging for photos with it.
Fame came with the danger, small boats, small crews and fishermen in ones or twos. Some fought for hours, only to lose the line and the monster in a sudden snap. Some might be relieved at such a result as the boats were hardly large enough for the big big strong strong fish.
The record holder wasn’t a rich visitor, well he was a Lincolnshire farmer, so he probably was reasonably wealthy. Lewis wasn’t a fisherman, he was taking a break after being discharged from the RAF and was talked into having a go.
Some say he doesn’t hold the record. He caught a fish a full pound heavier at 852lb than the previous largest but someone complained later that the rope was extremely wet. What a wet fish! What a slime! I say, “Pah!” I won’t have it, I hereby award the record to Lincolnshire farmer Jack Hadley Lewis for his amazing 852lb tunny.
Go see the impressive statue on the Northern pier.
You might try finding the entrance to the Three Mariners Inn while you are on your way from Quay Street.
The RAF are responsible for one eyesore on Quay street between two of the three beamed buildings in the street; an ugly flat-rooved intrusion between the Mutiny (formerly the Lancaster) and the Three Mariners Inn. Them bombers they had disposable petrol tanks, like bombs attached to the wings. When they were empty into the sea they went. They weren’t at sea on this occasion, they were above a beautiful old building – gone now.
I think the horrid flat building should be covered by a commemorative mural.
The devil brought his revolution here. His Brigg at Filey pierced a ship or two. Perhaps it stabbed at John Paul Jones. The American revolution came to this coast and his sword was left here. So the legend goes. It is said that he ‘safe harboured’ at the Three Mariners Inn across from me. I’ve seen the sword, that missing sword. It was said to be his and I saw it when the oldest complete building in the area (circa 1430) was a museum.
What a cranky museum it was, everything was everywhere, stuff heaped up, jewellery, toys, weapons, clothes – piled on every surface.
Rummage away visitor, ride the toy vehicle children, steal away visitors. Well some did. The sword somehow went one day, that was the last straw for them and the museum is no more.
You might want to buy the house though.
Sit on the bed, look in the mirror. Well, that’s what my young daughter did. Incidentally there is a long running (now suddenly exacerbated) family argument about which daughter it was.
As we left she said, “I didn’t like the man in the woman’s hat.” I asked where this was. “When I was sat on the bed.”
I was in the room, in fact I lifted my little girl up onto that bed. There was no one else there. So I told her I had seen no one. She looked up at me and with a serious face said, “Oh, you could only see him when you looked in the mirror.”
You might want to buy the house though.
I wonder if Dr Strange would? My mum has a claim to fame and I utilise it whenever I do publicity for my story-walks over in my home city: son of York’s first ghost-walker. It is true.
So it is a shame for her that after a lifetime of telling ghost stories, now in her retirement, she has to listen to loud ghost stories outside her window. Yes, Dr Strange of Scareborough Ghost Tour stops right outside to tell his screamer tale (which mum tells me is quite tall).
There is another fame to be experienced in this street, and I don’t mean just international blogger Adrian Spendlow (me), There is a great fame in Quay street, wait for it; Quay street is the home of the most famous vehicle on Scarborough.
A truck and a caravan welded and melded into one stupendous vehicle. The ornate homely transport is to be home to some of my stories – the side opens to provide a raised patio stage; my stage.
We will be appearing at various venues with Travelling Tales.
As Anne said, and you may still hear her voice if you visit her grave just above our house, “But he, that dares not grasp the thorn. Should never crave the rose.”
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.
I am always glad to hear from people: email@example.com
Mum is known throughout the north of England for her presentations , publications and entertainments.
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