Oi, I Know Who Your Mum Is!

Good morning to you,


I fear that I am being very contrary once more.


I t is now 3am on Saturday morning and this will be the first morning of the week when I do not have to be up before workmen arrive, so, theoretically, it is the night that I could have enjoyed a proper, deep, long, sleep.

Why then am I wide awake, back up out of bed, doing a blog at this hour!


I am in a reflective frame of mind again, as sometimes happens with me when I am unable to sleep.


I was thinking about my Mum.


I remember when my brother and I were small and we lived in a little flat, very close to a really beautiful public park.

It had once been a huge private estate belonging a rich Victorian family, which was eventually given by the owner, to the town, to be used as a park for all of the local people to benefit from,


It was a very philanthropic thing to do and it has given pleasure, plus a real sense of beauty, to many generations of people who lived their lives in a somewhat run down, industrial area once very famous for it’s shipbuilding industry.

I know that my own memories of childhood are inextricably entwined with wonderful days spent on the lake, maneuvering a rowing boat amongst the indignant swans and ducks.


There were days spent with friends, just lying on the huge lawns and chewing upon the sweet ends of grass, while  watching the clouds roll by endlessly.


My life, as I was growing up, would have been so much less textured without the escape to a permanent source of such ordered beauty.


I remember many Sundays when we would all walk through to the far side of the huge place, along a series of paths edged by beautiful flower beds and bushes, in order to reach one particular lawn which had an ornate, wrought iron, Victorian bandstand in the centre.

We would sit upon the folding chairs, which were set out in orderly rows, while listening to well played Brass Band music.


There would be lots of older people there, all beautifully turned out in their Sunday best clothes, nodding their heads or tapping their feet to the rhythms.

We children were not allowed to race around and spoil other peoples’ enjoyment, so families would often be absent for short periods in order to take their children for walks to run off their excess energy, before coming back for another dose of the enthusiastically played musical extravaganza.

In the days before television this was a very exciting thing to look forward to all week.

Like very tiny music festivals….early versions of Woodstock!


In the winter, when the deep snow had fallen, it was a true wonderland.

Everything was so beautiful, just like another world that you were sometimes lucky enough to find the key to.

The lake would be totally frozen, with all the trees hanging down low over it, heavy with their burdens of thick snow.


Normally, we kids would go sledging down the steep lanes around our house, some of us lucky enough to have a sledge, others sitting upon one of the big black square shovels that our father’s used, to fetch in the coal for the living room fires.

This would be kept stored in coalhouses in the back yards


We would be out, getting covered in snow for hours on end, until finally our hands and feet would be totally numb.

I can well remember how painful it could sometimes be, getting the circulation going again once I got back home, when Dad would vigorously rub my arms and legs.

And the chilblains!

Oh my god!


One Sunday in particular. Mum got my brother and I warmly dressed and we took the sledge into the big park.

We were all wearing scarves and pointy woollen hats, which she had knitted from various scraps of coloured wool that used to be rescued from clothes that were too old and worn to be darned anymore.

It was quite a pleasant pastime, in the evenings, to wind up the tightly waved wool that Mum would be unravelling and recycling from the various old garments.

Made much harder, and much more funny, by our daft cat who would keep joining in and attacking the moving wool.

He was called Whiskey.



Anyway, there we were, the three of us, standing at the top of the long steep bank that led down to the lake, and taking it in turns to race down on the sledge.

You certainly needed a rest once you had pulled the heavy wood and iron thing all the way back up the hill again.


Mum was very tiny, and she was dressed in exactly the same way as my brother and I were.

She was having just as much fun too.

Her mittens were as stiff and frozen with ice as ours were, because we were having snowball fights while awaiting the return of the lucky one using the sledge.


Suddenly a huge voice bellowed across the empty park, “Oi, you three kids. What do you think you are doing in my park with that sledge.”


It was one of the uniformed parkies ( park keepers), some of whom lived in little cottages set beside a few of the entrances into the place.

They would patrol regularly during the daytime, keeping a weather eye on what was happening, before locking up the various gates at night, after one final patrol to tell everyone that it was time to close and they must leave immediately by the nearest exit.

They could also be very bad tempered and nasty with us kids.

Probably with good cause at times too.


As soon as we saw him coming, we grabbed the sledge and legged it, followed by the heavyset man, who was rapidly getting out of breath.


“Stop, stop you three,” he was shouting, “stop right where you are.”

Followed by “You won’t get away with this. I know who your mothers are. You are in big trouble now!”


Out through the gate we raced…..And back home again.


How we laughed once we were dried off and sitting in front of the fire with our cups full of hot, sweet, Horlicks.

Brilliant stuff.

Happy memories.


J x

I also remember that we had a special stone in the park, at the side of the path leading up a bank to the bird cages.

This was a very famous stone called the Spitting Stone.

The belief locally was that if you spat on the stone, followed by the making of a  fervent wish, then it would come true,

You have no idea how that stone used to look, covered in slimy hockle.  (spit)

A proper health hazard….but magic!


Sadly, we visited the park just before my Mum died and found that the stone was not there anymore.

How will I get my wishes to come true now?


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