awww miss me
took a trip down memory lane, and camped out for a while.
wish you were here.
back soon x
I feel compelled to say something Easterish, but I'm resisting it.
Memories of Bob Dylan (continued from previous blog)
Twas around this time that I got to listening to Bob Dylan, well it couldn't be helped really as I was living in close proximity to someone who played him on loop.
I like the smile at your fingertips
I like the way you move your lips
I like the cool way you look at me
Everything about you's bringing me misery.
(I love this brilliant little song)
Dear Reader, I am thinking of doing an MA in Creative Writing, what do you think?
I will still do my autobiography work, obviously.
A prestigious and brilliant woman and Thatcher is coming soon....(it's a big book) hahaha
Just heard of the sad passing of working-class writer Barry Hines. I remember reading his novel Kestrel for a Knave for ‘O’ level, which provoked some interesting and emotive discussion, made even more poignant as it is set in the world of a mining community. Our world.
Just got Kes dvd out of the library, in remembrance of a great and influential writer. One of us.
Important to celebrate working-class writers. They are few and far between in the scheme of things.
He gets a mention in my work about working-class writers
working-class writing: https://dspace.lboro.ac.uk/dspace-jspui/handle/2134/5441
hey : )
Hang on, hang on…don’t ever presume to know what’s coming next in my narrative, my life has more twists and turns than a bildsungsroman (and yes, I am on a quest). I was going to stay on at school and do some ‘A’ levels, but fate had other plans and decidedly stuck it’s oar in (and not for the last time) and divert me away from my studies.
During the summer break before I was due to start sixth form I got a job working at the biscuit factory in the next town. They used to take on students on a temporary basis, and the pay was quite good. At the time I owned a 125cc motorbike, which I intended to get to work on. Incidentally, the motorbike was a talking point with many fellas who came into the petrol station where I worked. I ended up going on a few dates with one lad who had a BSA Bantam, a flat-top, and was into rockabilly music. He took me to a several rockabilly nights at local pubs and clubs. He and his mate would get up and dance, I was a bit reluctant but after a few drinks I gave it a whirl. He was nice enough but I decided that I wasn’t all that into rockabilly, or dancing for that matter.
Anyway, on my first day, on the way to my new job at the biscuit factory, I was about five hundred yards from the factory gates and in the process of negotiating a mini-roundabout on my motorbike when a car suddenly pulled-out and hit me side-on. It was a woman driver. It was her fault. She said she didn’t see me. She was more distressed than I was even though she’d broken my leg and I was in agony. The ambulance came and once the paramedics had dealt with her they took me to hospital. It turned out that my tibia was broken. They put my leg in plaster from tip of toe to top of thigh, gave me a pair of crutches and sent me on my way. I was virtually immobile and house-bound for three months. When the plaster was finally removed I had one thin, pale and very hairy left leg. I had to go for hydrotherapy at the hospital to help me to walk properly again. By the way, all credit to the NHS, my leg has worked perfectly ever since, and it looks pretty good as well!
It came to pass that when I was eventually walking normally again I had missed the first term of sixth form. Nevertheless, I thought I might as well give it a go and try and catch up, so I returned after the Christmas break. It was too late though, I had missed a lot of work and people had already formed their own little cliques, so I wasn’t enjoying it at all. It was around this time that I saw an advert in the local newspaper for a live-in working pupil at a riding school. The son of the proprieter was quite a well-known showjumper, and the advert said the pupil would receive riding tuition and training towards instructor exams (obviously downplaying all the hard work that would have to be done in return for the privilege). I wasn’t an experienced rider by any means, having only ever had a few riding lessons, so I thought it was a good opportunity. I applied for the position and got an interview. Next thing, I’m buying a grooming kit, hunter wellies and hacking jacket from Barretts of Feckenham, and packing my bags for the Vale of Belvoir.
By the time it was time to leave school I surprisingly ended up with nine ‘O’ levels. I’m not blowing my own trumpet here; they were fairly average Grades: two As, a couple of Bs, and the rest were Cs. The As were in History and RE. I put the A in RE down to the Bible being all stories and parables, and I liked the poetical type verses (and perhaps my undercover childhood reading of the New Testament had not gone amiss either). At the time I found RE more interesting than English Lit (for which I got a Grade C), but having said that I did take English a year early. Much later, I decided to focus on English Lit at degree level, well I say ‘focus’ but my undergraduate degree was actually Joint Honours English Lit with Physical Education. The trouble with me is that I tend to get enamoured with whatever subject I’m studying at the time; such that during my A levels I had a love affair with Sociology and also a brief fling with Psychology (despite the nobby teacher). However, when push came to shove I plumped for English Lit, and I think this was because at a theoretical level it encapsulates all of the aforementioned: Marxist/socialist/psychoanalytic/theological/feminist, whatever takes your fancy really.
Anyway, nobody had planned on me getting so many ‘O’ levels. No one in my family had passed exams before. When the careers advisor had asked me what I wanted to do I said I wanted to win Wimbledon, but I knew this wasn’t really an option as we didn’t have the money. I was mad on Wimbledon as a child. Every year I used to make a scrapbook by cutting out pictures of the players and interviews from the newspapers. I remember how excited me and mum were watching Virginia Wade on the telly win the ladies title in 1977; the same year as Queen Elizabeth’s Silver Jubilee. I used to play tennis with my aunty in the park that was behind the factory across the road from our house. There were two hard, tarmac tennis courts. For a small fee you could play for an hour, or for as long as you liked if nobody else was waiting. Apart from that I used to spend hours practising by myself by hitting a tennis ball against the end factory wall from the car park. I was thrilled when I bought myself a proper metal framed tennis racquet from the sports shop with my birthday money.
So, strictly speaking I didn’t have a career path and when school ended I had no idea whatsoever what to do next. A couple of school friends had got jobs in offices, but I knew I didn’t want to do that. A few others were staying on at school in the sixth form to do ‘A’ levels, so I thought I might as well do that. At the time I had a part-time job at a local petrol station, where I worked a few evenings and weekends. I also was doing a lot of baby-sitting for relations and neighbours, which was a good little earner, so I wasn’t short of money at all. My parents were alright with me staying on at school as I contributed a bit of money towards my board and I was quite self-sufficient.
I am currently reading Margaret Thatcher’s autobiography and no matter what people may think about her there is no denying that she was an incredible woman who had a remarkable life. Just reading about all her achievements and accomplishments pales my own life into insignificance and I can sense my inferiority complex growing deeper with each chapter. However, since we are completely different people with completely different upbringings and experiences of the world, I think that at the end of the day we are quite incomparable. So, I won’t beat myself up about it for too long, besides there are others willing to do that.
Here is a taster of what Maggie has to say about her time spent in the Shadow Cabinet of Ted Heath’s Conservative Party:
‘I didn’t make a particularly important contribution to the Shadow Cabinet. Nor was I asked to do so. For Ted and perhaps others I was principally there as the statutory woman whose main task was to explain what ‘women’ – Kiri Te Kanawa, Barbara Cartland, Esther Rantzen, Stella Rimmington and all the rest of our uniform, undifferentiated sex were likely to think and want on troublesome issues.’
(To be fair, it’s not all as delightful reading as this.)
Ellen Wilkinson added to website.
I remember two of my primary school teachers in particular. One, although she never taught me because she left before I reached her class, was a nun. She wore the full black habit inclusive of veil, cross around neck and Rosary around waist. But she was no Audrey Hepburn in The Nun’s Story. No, this nun, poor woman, had personal issues: a hirsute top lip and shocking body odour. Now, I get this bearing our afflictions with fortitude so we can glorify in Jesus’ suffering type of attitude, but there is no grace in derision. Quite frankly she was bad PR for the sisterhood; being a nun wasn’t on my list of possible future careers. The other teacher I remember was a masochistic elderly Irish psychopath. She had a rasping, hard Northern-Irish accent that could put the fear of God into you. On Monday mornings she would interrogate each class member as to whether they had been to Church on Sunday, and if you hadn’t you had better have good reason. I believe she was responsible for creating many a bear-faced liar. She exulted in public humiliation and glorified in inflicting pain, making children stand on chairs for hours and smacking legs at the slightest opportunity. She also taught folk dancing for PE. So one minute she was belting your legs with the wrath of God and the next minute she was making them do the do-si-do and the Gay Gordons. This woman single-handedly nearly put me off God forever, and if there’s any justice in the afterlife I know where she’s going. A few years later, at secondary school, also Roman Catholic, our class made the RE teacher cry, and not in a good way. My friend and I were made to leave the class and sent to the library (appropriately) for insubordination. I did feel sorry for the teacher, though. He was a gentle soul, if somewhat of a drip, definitely not the fire and brimstone type like the aforementioned teacher. He wasn’t cut out for teaching in a secondary comprehensive, especially not with that subject which was rapidly going out of fashion. He eventually left. Years later I was to critique the Catholic faith in my MA dissertation at University. Who knew?
Here endeth this section
(God forgive me)
Perhaps you’re wondering what this all is leading to… Perhaps you’re not… Nevertheless, regardless of what you may, or may not, be wondering; it is a matter of fact that I did, once upon a time, work for Midland Red driving a bus. Actually, it was a minibus; specifically, it was a ‘Foxcub’ minibus.
To get to the centre of the forest, you have to circumnavigate the trees. I beat around the bush, I know, but I usually reach my objective. Eventually. So, here is the locus of the section entitled, ‘On the buses’. Finally.
to be continued...
The thing with Catholic primary schools is that a lot of time is spent on religious instruction, such as the Catechism and the Creed; initiation into the Sacraments, such as Holy Communion and Confession, and the celebration of feast days and festivals, such as Christmas and Easter. I remember having to learn the Catechism by rote. It taught us things like Baptism enables eternal life, and the Blessed Trinity consists of God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Ghost. (These are such difficult concepts to comprehend as a child, and it is no wonder I was highly susceptible to that ghost in my house.) We also had to learn the Times Tables and spelling words by rote. It’s easy to repeat something mindlessly, but the information just doesn’t sink in. Thank goodness they caught on that this method of teaching is not conducive to learning. However, learning lines is something I’ve always found problematic. I recall many a tortuous hour I spent years later trying to learn quotations from Shakespeare for my English literature ‘A’ level: ‘I am more sinned against than sinning’ is one that springs to mind. I greatly admire those who act in the theatre, who learn hundreds of lines for one production, then move on to the next job and have to start over. When I started school I could read and write quite well, having been taught by my mother at home, but at school they had those Peter and Jane books which were based on phonetic learning. These set me back. It was like looking at another language, and I felt stupid until the rest of the class caught up and we went on to ‘proper’ books.
Christmas at school was lovely. I have fond memories of assembling the huge Crib, making decorative stained-glass windows out of coloured transparent plastic and glitter, constructing angels’ wings out of cardboard and tin foil for the nativity play, and singing in the Christmas carol service. The highlight was the Christmas Fair. It was held on a Saturday afternoon, and was open to the public. The school hall was packed with various stalls and games: the bottle stall where you could win anything from a bottle of tomato sauce to a bottle of whiskey; the pick- a-straw stall where you win everything else; the guess the name of the doll stall, the guess how many sweets in the jar stall, and numerous cake stalls. Santa (St. Nicholas) paid us a visit, and at the end of the day there was a big raffle.
Easter wasn’t as much fun. Easter is the biggest feast day in the Catholic calendar, and it is marked by sacrifice, suffering and sadness – and, of course, Salvation. In the period leading up to Easter, otherwise known as Lent, we had to give up something. Since I had no particular notable vices at this age I invariably plumped for chocolate. It’s surprising how much chocolate a child can acquire without actually spending any money, much by way of grandparents. By the time Easter arrived, I had usually accumulated a sizable stash: Mars bars, Marathons, Maltesers, Freddos, Wagon Wheels etc. I must admit the frustration of abstaining from these sweet delights was eased somewhat by the knowledge that I would soon be able to gorge on them to my hearts content. Apart from this relatively small personal sacrifice made in honour of Jesus, Lent also involved having to do the rather more emotionally harrowing Stations of the Cross. There are fourteen of these in all, and they are situated at regular intervals on the interiors walls of the church. Each station depicts a scene in Jesus’ life; from when he is sentenced to death leading up to when he is laid in the tomb. In our church these scenes are depicted in framed wooden carvings, with gold Roman numerals indicating the number of the Station. We, the class, would walk round the walls, stopping at each station where one of us gave a brief reading, describing the scene. We would say a few prayers, and then move on to the next Station. Apart from our young hearts being wracked with sorrow at the story of Jesus’ crucifixion, it was also a physically painful experience having to stand around for ages in the freezing cold church - you could see your breath. All in all, it was quite an ordeal, which I suppose is fitting regarding the subject matter.
After the church, the graveyard and the brook have been negotiated, the footpath emerges back onto a public street. You then have a steep hill to ascend to reach my school at the top. Meanwhile, at the bottom of the hill there is a small row of houses, surrounded by a high privet hedge. One day, at this very location, I was showing off my new pair of shoes to a friend – incidentally, every new school year my mum took me to Clarks in town to get my feet properly measured. I’ve never had any foot problems, so credit to her for that. Anyway, I was sticking out my foot and rotating it so my friend could benefit from a 360 degrees viewing, and for some reason which is not clear to me now I performed a high karate kick. Consequently, one of my brand new shoes flies off over the hedge into the aforementioned garden. There was just no way of getting it back as there was no one at home, and the hedge was impenetrable. I had no choice but to walk all the way home with one shoe. My mum was quite reasonable about it and we later went to get my shoe back from the householder. However, a few days later I was having a laugh about the incident with somebody else in exactly the same spot, and while I was demonstrating the occurrence the same shoe flew off again into the same garden. People weren’t as forgiving this time and I got a telling off. There was a lesson to be learnt here - something about never making the same mistake twice - but I really didn’t catch on till much, much later.
At the top of the hill is my school, which is land-marked by the red-bricked, stained glass windowed Roman Catholic Church that takes priority on the road-side. Apart from having to say prayers in morning and afternoon school assembly, every Wednesday morning we had to attend a full length mass. We would file into the church from our classrooms. The girls had to cover their heads, so I usually pulled over the hood of my anorak…
To cut a long story short: