Remembering my mum on Mother’s Day

1921 – 2018

This is my mum on her 93rd birthday. She didn’t look her age, and it’s how I will remember her.

In her later years, but before going into care, she liked sitting down with her feet up; watching TV and Holby City; reading the Mirror and the Daily Echo; chewing toffees; visits from her family; visits from the carers; tea but not coffee. She dozed a lot.

She loved driving and the independence it gave her. At the age of 89 she stopped driving – and her swollen knee suddenly got better.

She was a strong old lady. She had a lovely smile and looked a bit like our Queen. We all miss her.

Was my dad innocent?

train-set-on-floorI don’t have many memories of my childhood but I do remember when the train set disappeared, though my recollection may be a bit dodgy.

My dad brought me / us a train set (for Christmas?) and I have fond memories of laying the track to run under the furniture. My guess is that it was a clockwork train, though I don’t really remember. I don’t know how long we had it, I suspect not very long, but when my dad again left the family home for what was to be the last time, the train set disappeared as well.

The explanation I’ve told myself since that time over 50 years ago, is that my dad took the train set with him, but it’s always puzzled me as to why he would have done that.

For no good reason I have recently pondered whether my dad did actually take the train set when he left. The only other explanation for its disappearance is that my mum kept the train set from us. But why? She couldn’t be bothered to get it out? It was a reminder of my dad? She sold it (we were poor)? Although my mum is still alive, her situation doesn’t make it an option to pursue this, and it really isn’t important.

But it’s interesting that even after such a long time it’s possible to look at something in a completely different light!

My mum doesn’t look happy

By the look on my mum’s face, and the suitcase and bag piled up on the wall, it looks as if another one of my stepdad’s cars has broken down.

Picture taken around 1966. I was a bit of a looker, do you think? Things change.

How I became a reader

Portswood library, Southampton

I have always read, though with gaps. Now, I read a lot. This is how I started.

At primary school I had a girlfriend(!) and during reading classes we used to hold hands under the bench. Love+reading = Love reading?

At home we would get comics delivered, on a Thursday I think, including Tiger, Eagle and Bunty (for my sisters). My favourite stories were Roy of the Rovers from Tiger and The Four Marys from Bunty.

Our local library was in Portswood. On the left was the children’s library, on the right the newspaper reading room, and straight ahead the grown-ups’ library. I can recall borrowing Enid Blyton’s Famous Five and Secret Seven series, Frederick Marryat’s The Children of the New Forest, and a picture book about evolution which may have influenced my lifelong atheism.

My favourite book that I owned was The Boys Companion which was 600+ pages of information relevant to boys – games, hobbies etc. You can get old copies of this on the Net and I like this description of it on Amazon – “This is a wonderful book detailing all sorts of manly activities for chaps. Girls had not been invented when this book was written!”

My dad was a member of a book club which produced compendiums of abridged novels, usually three or four in each thick volume. I loved these stories which were mainly adventure, war and cowboy stories.

I have no recollection of my parents ever reading to me, so my lifelong interest in reading is entirely due to my own efforts!