Old photographs. Damp walls, singing kettles and coal fires

I came across this old photograph.
that’s my Nan and grand father the year is 1966.
that’s me sitting on my grand father’s knee, my niece Angela is the baby in the shawl.
I don’t remember my grandfather.
he died when I was three.
my Nan was amazing a huge influence on who I am today.

Strong northern woman.

You can see from the photo they didn’t have much.

She always worked he like all the men in our family drank never a few always too much.

This was taken in their home a very old run down terraced house facing a park in a collery town in the north of England.

I remember the smell of damp. frayed seat covers on the old two seater sofa I’d pick at the sponge foam through the thread bare covers as I fell asleep listening to the sound of my Nans old Jones treadle sewing machine
it was a magical rythem of my life.
The playground across the road was known as Nanny goat park.
it stood in the shadow of glass factories.

I remember cold fingers gripping the handle of the roundabout as nanny’s old staffie dog Bruce barked until I’d get off.

Cold morning air white spiders webs in privit hedges
Ice on the inside of the bedroom windows. Cold breath in the air.

Chopping stick in the mornings to lite the fire.

The smell of fire lighters and inky fingers from screwing up yesterday’s news paper to insure a flame.

Grand dad died when I was three and nanny moved to a council house with a garden
no park across the road but also no smell of damp.
the windows had lead that reflected onto the bare plaster walls from the light of the street lamp.
while I’d snuggle under sheets blankets and coats to keep us warm
complaining that they made me itch
She would shush me and given a stone hot water bottle wrapped in a tea towel.
sitting on the back doorstep waiting for the kettles whistle hot milky tea.
sterilised milk and a chipped China cup.

Perfect boiled eggs and thick buttered toast.
hearing her singing Vera Lynn White cliffs of Dover and shouting at my cousin’s to stop kicking the bloody football on the side of the house.

Jesus Mary and bloody Joseph she would shout followed by your make the bloody saints in heaven swear as my drunken dad would fall into the back door the smell of beer tobacco and vomit.

John players fags from the shop and jug of stout from the outdoor.
Rapping her door shouting through the letter box.

Naaaaaaaanny

laughing when she would tell me to bugger off home.

Stop bloody mitherin me!
Corned beef hot pot.
massive egg custard tarts.
bacon ribs and pea soup.

Lying with my head on her lap the smell of Sunday roast on her pinny.
her orange lip stick from the Avon woman with the blue bag.
boxes of old black and white photographs telling stories of her life. rhubarb onions, and spuds from her garden
pop soxs and polka dots.
string shopping bags and the football pools. silver hair
Always protecting me I loved being around this tiny woman .
I think this is the only photo that I have of her.
That’s all I need.
the rest I carry with me Nan.

http://www.ravensretreat.wales

Nan

Shouting through her letter box .
Pea soup cooking
Heavy blankets on the big bed.
The archers on the old valve radio
Crazy paving in the garden

Blue lino on kitchen floor.
Tea caddy and aliminium dented tea pot on old pantry shelf.
Whistling kettle on the stove.
Peeling lead on the windows making shadows on the bedroom Walls.stone hot water bottle wrapped in a tea towel
Boxes of swan vesta matches

Brass fireside ornaments
Mirrors that hang on chains.
In their corner they hold captured Victorian painted ladies with parasols furniture polish smelling of lavender.
Lavender tree hanging over the gate.
Rubber spouts on old kitchen taps.
Wooden draining boards and twin tub washing machine.
Tracing paper toilet roll and pink carbolic soap.
Snuffly clever Staffordshire bull terrier to greet us with his tin dish wanting food.
Card games and laughter by the fire for pennies. With cousins.
Bingo at Park Street chip on way home. Cold night air
Head scarfs, blue Mac and walks to the shop for her John player cigs, milk and bread.
Walks to the outdoor for a jug of stout.
Old tins containing buttons black and white photos of memories and stories of her life.
That smell of home of cooking cleaning of love
Fragments pieces of my Nan’s house
Memories of love.