Tag Archives: children

My reason to breathe.

Standing at a bus stop with my eight week old baby daughter strapped to me in a baby harness.

I turned to see an old lady gazing at my baby.

She spoke quietly as if she might wake her

Precious beautiful baby, she is an empty vessel be careful what the world puts into her. She pushed fifty pence piece against her tiny hand.

Custom to gift a new baby a silver coin. I thanked her and smiled. It was 1983 I was just eighteen and that was the first bit of wise advise I was given as a new young mum.

I don’t think any of us realise just how fast our children will grow. I know I didn’t.

I lived alone in a tiny bedsit. It was far from ideal but I’d wanted my baby and I was doing the best I knew how. With very little help. I never left her. Ever.

Well not until she was three years old. Time for nursery Not even when my second child was born I had him at home because I couldn’t leave my daughter.

There isn’t a guide book is there. A what to do when you’ve fed, changed, winded and they are still crying, or a number for Mary Poppins when your bedsit is on the ground floor and toilet is upstairs and the baby is asleep. Or your I’ll or you and kids both have a bug and there is no one to help.

Or there is too much week at the end of your money.

I remember sometimes thinking it will be easier when they are older.

It’s never easier as a parent you just worry about different things

If your getting it right.

I think everyone wings it occasionally. I know I did.

I look back now they are all grown up and I’m so proud of them all.

Every new grand child brings joy more love and reminders of my babies and the old lady at the bus stop.

She was so right precious and beautiful and so important what we allow the world to put into them.

Even more so now. Social media and mobile phones technology.

Milestones flashing by, rolling over, sitting up, swimming under water, sleeping all night.

I remember that joy of more than a few hours sleep.

It was hard work being a single mum.

But the best thing I ever chose to do.

My only complaint is it went far too fast.

I still worry about them now they are grown with children of their own.

But I’d do it all again in a heart beat.

The problem with grown up children.

Here I am lying in bed pondering a question only women of a certain age will think.
Do grown up children every completely move out?
You see I absolutely adore my children. They are my reason to breathe.. But…
Oh yes there is a but.
I live in a small two up two down stone cottage.
I say small it’s actually bloody tiny.
So after my youngest (he’s 27 not a teenager) moved in with his pregnant girl friend I imagined I’d have a spare bedroom and some wardrobe space.. a desk maybe with a lamp a space to write over looking the canal. Sigh.. (the photo is the view from my bed. (Yes really)
It doesn’t take a lot to please me.
Nor may I add do I have lots of clothes so small amount of wardrobe space will do fine! Some women have walk in wardrobes 10 hangers will be fine..
That was a year ago.
I have a beautiful new grand daughter I adore. And a daughter in love who I love like my own.
But probably even less space. Yes less…
My eldest granddaughter (12) has taken over my spare room proclaiming ‘Nanny it’s not spare it’s mine’ play stations and a avalance of Mac make up sets of books, hair extensions precariously balanced crockery towers. You get the picture.
My son has moved out but his girlfriends house is only two bedrooms so he can’t possibly take all his fishing gear, electric guitars (three of them) more shoes than emelda Marcos and a wardrobe full of clothes and numerous electrical appliances .oh and a bike. Because ‘ mam we have a baby do you know how much space their stuff takes?’

I refrain from answering unsure if it was a statement or a question. I’m looking for my phone as we are having this conversation.

Mam he laughs you can never find anything!
No son said item is probably buried under a mountain of fishing gear bike and shoes.
He smiles at me tells me I’m the best and what’s for tea tomorrow because they are calling over. Ring me I say with a smile. Who knows I may not have found my phone.
Pass the wine.

Mam. Market stalls and Pippa

 

 

market

pippa

1973. Age 8

Although Mam is ill she works cleaning three mornings a week for Mrs Cook. She says she has ‘No bloody choice if we want food in the cupboards as well as home brew she has to clean’

She has done this for as long as I can remember.

Mrs cook and her husband Norman live in a big posh house on Rain Rd facing the crematorium. Its two bus rides to get there and its like another world.

A huge semi detached house with a double garage bigger than our house. I love the smell when we walk through the front door Mam says its clean washing smell but i think it smells of happiness because that’s what Mrs cook is happy. She is a big lady she is always pleased to see me. Everything about her is just lovely.

We stand together in the huge leaaded bay window polishing brass ornaments watching the big black cars go down the long driveway to the crem sometimes we see smoke coming from the chimney. There goes another one she laughs. When it’s my turn they won’t need a car they can carry me across the road! I wish she wouldn’t say that I dont ever want her to die.

She and her husband own a string of butcher’s shops and a factory across town they have posh cars an E type jaguar I love and they had motorbikes huge ones that their son rode at the Isle of Man T.T. races when we polish the brass we polish the cups that he has won. But for all the money and money they are as down to earth as anyone.

Mam would go to do her weekly shop in the market she trapses across town for the cheapest of everything. Lennon’s supermarket then to Mrs cooks butchers Next door to the butcher is Jim Chorley’s toy shop.

It is packed with every toy imaginable. So whilst Mam stands at the counter getting her half a pound order. Half pound of stew, half pound bacon, half pound braising steak. I press my nose on the window of the toy stall working my way around the stall making a list in my head of all the things I’d like bikes and prams hanging from the ceiling. Action man, pop and spud guns, spinning tops, hoopla hoops, Spiro graphs, Lego, mechano.

I love this stall and stand there as long as possible picking what I want for Christmas or birthday or whatever is next. Then I see it, a Pippa doll, everyone in school has them apart from me and Wendy, they are on the telly I stand there singing the advert from telly in my head where ever you go Pippa goes too!

I don’t ask for it because I know what the answer will be. I am jolted back to the real world by Mrs Cook’s arms around me from behind. Hugging me smelling of clean cotton overall and fresh meat.

’Now then my little shy girl she smiles what you looking at?’ I smile and pointed through the glass at the Pippa doll.

‘What’s her name?’ I feel my face flush. ‘Come on tell Dolly! Whisper in my ear no one will hear.’ She bends down next to me. ‘Pippa’ I whispered. I hear Mam sigh behind me ‘she doesn’t need it don’t be bloody cheeky you!’ shes saying. I look down at the floor. ‘She’s never cheeky are you my doll,’ Cupping my face in her hands I love her smile and twinkling blue eyes.

‘Come on then!’ She says taking me by the hand. I look back at Mam shaking her head as we disappear into the Aladdin’s cave of Jim Corley’s toy stall.

Mrs. Cook asks the lady for the Pippa doll. ‘And some clothes,’ wow clothes as well.

She passes me the little doll it will fit in my pocket, and then she asks me which of the two sets of clothes I want. A pink suit or a red dress and boots I stand there staring! ‘Oh we’ll have them both!’ Says Mrs Cook

She pulls some money from her overall pocket pays the lady and passed the clothes to me. ‘Thank you’ I whispered, she wrapped me in a huge hug ‘your welcome doll,’ and she kisses me on the cheek.

And with a cheery wave she goes back on the stall to cheerfully banter with another customer. Me and Mam walk out of the market towards the bus stop Mam giving me a telling off telling me she’d told me before about asking for stuff when Mrs Cook was about.

I dont answer i’m too busy pulling Pippa out of her box! We sit on the back of the fifty five bus Mam chats to a lady from the top shops and I singing to myself dressing Pippa in her new red dress and boots. Before I know it Mam is ringing the bell and steering me down the bus with my hood its zip pinching into my neck. ‘Ouch Mam’

I hold onto the bars with one hand and hold Pippa with the other. The bus stops at the end of the street as we walked down I can see our next door neighbor Mrs Lewis is brushing the pavement outside our house.

I run down to show her my new doll. I sit on her step as she sweeps the pavement. She leans on the brush smiling at me.

‘What have you got there then chick’ she asks in her lovely cockney accent.

I hold out Pippa. She takes her from me stroking her hair; ‘well she’s almost as pretty as you!’

I smiled up at her. Mam catches me up wheezing and puffing on her inhaler. Shes always had a ‘bad chest but I look after her when shes not well.

‘Do you want to come and help me later when our Fred gets home?’ I’ll give you a shout and we can go clean his coach.’ Fred drives coaches taking people on holidays when he is home the coach would be parked across the street.

I looked at Mam ‘don’t you look at me she says back ask your bloody Dad!’

’Wont he be in the pub?’ Mrs. Lewis laughs. Mam scowls.

‘You know one day your going to answer me with your mouth instead of those big brown eyes! Fred will give you a knock soon.

True to her word after tea there was a knock at the door its Fred.

‘Come on then I hear you’re the new coach cleaner!’

‘ Go on then’ laughs Mam.

Fred holds my hand and we cross the road to his big blue coach. Pippa is safely sitting in my pocket. We clamber up the steps onto the coach Mrs. Lewis is at the back picking up pop cans and sweet papers loudly cursing school kids.

‘Come on then don’t just stand there! You can fit under these seats much easier than me.’‘ She hasn’t got a fat arse like you’ Fred laughs. Handing me a plastic bag. I crawl in and out of the seats picking up papers, cans and a couple of magazines. Fred follows me with a brush and a mop

By the time I get to the front of the coach I’m covered in dust and my knees are black! I sit in the driver’s seat putting my new doll Pippa by the windscreen swinging my legs pretending to drive. Across the street the front door bangs and Dad here striding down the path rollie in his hand smart jacket on. I watch him walk towards the coach.

He strides over stands by the door, ‘Look at me Dad I’m driving,’

‘Driving be buggered your bloody rotten dirty!’

‘ Sorry. Have you seen my new doll Pippa like my friends in school!’

‘ Yes! I’ve seen her. Bloody ruined you are.’

’She’s a good little help’ said Fred carrying the rubbish bags off the coach.

‘Going down the club Jimmy?’

‘ Aye for an hour you watch yourself crossing the bloody road and behave yourself for your mammy!’

‘ I’ll walk her over now’ says Mrs Lewis wiping her hands on her apron then taking my hand and helping me down the steps. Dad bends down for a kiss. ‘See you later think on now be a good girl.’ I will Dad I promise.

‘See you in the morning cock. Remember he winks!’ he squeezes my hand three times. I squeezed him back. That is his secret. Three times means I love you. See you later he says. I feel sick I hope not.

He stands finishing his cig while Fred locks up the bus. As we walked over to our house Mrs. Lewis mutters about men i don’t think she likes my Dad much.

‘ Ale and bloody fags!’ She stands at the gate while I knock on the door. Mam opens it ‘Look at the bloody state of you lady!’ ‘Sorry’ I hear Mrs. Lewis say behind me. she pushed a twenty pence into my hand. ‘ Go get in the bloody bath its run for you.’ I run upstairs into the bathroom undressed and jump into the warm water. The landing window is open and I can hear Mam still talking to Mrs. Lewis. I wash quickly then lay back and put my head under the water I can hear my heart beating. Its the school holidays now maybe Mam will let me sit up later? I pull the plug and wrap myself in the towel. Mam has left on the sink. My hair is all wet but I pull on my red slacks blue night dress and socks. Jump down each stair. Mam is sitting in the living room watching TV and knitting. ‘Where’s Dad gone Mam?’ ‘Now where do you bloody think? Down the bloody pub! He’ll be back when he’s run out of money. Drunken pig! He should bloody move in there!’

‘ What you knitting Mam?

A cardigan. For you!’

‘Can you teach me to knit?’

‘ Your bloody kitty pawed! I cant teach you’.

‘My sister was left handed and she can’t knit either!’ she continued.

‘ Can I stay up with you Mam there’s no school in the morning?’

Mam looked up from her knitting. ‘What the bloody hell have you got on? Get them bloody slacks off!’

‘ But I like wearing pants in bed Mam!’ then if the monster comes I can run fast and Its cold in my room!’ ‘You look a bloody state no more talk of monsters and its summer’

I sit on the sofa cross my legs under me and put a cushion over my trousers.

Lady jumps up beside me.

‘Get that bloody dog down.’

Lady pushs against me and we sit there together united!

‘I bloody give up!’

‘There is something bloody wrong with you.’

‘You can take them off before you get in the bed.’

’Go make me a cup of tea and you can stay down for a bit.’

I jump up running into the kitchen lady close at my heels.

Pull out the big box of matches and lite the kettle.

Wash Mam’s cup and put tea in the pot.

I quickly made a cup of tea and pour some milk into a cup for me, pouring some into a little into a dish for lady.

.’Shhh! Don’t tell Mam’

She looks up at me lapping the milk and I’m sure she knows what I say to her.

I carry Mam’s tea in put it next to her on the Cornish sit down with my milk.

Lady pushs the door and jumped back up beside me.

I lean over the sofa and picked up my book. Then snuggle down with lady. I turned the page and before long I;m lost with Peter Pan and Wendy.

Mam sips the hot tea looks over at us and shakes her head. she shakes her head a lot.

‘Okay you lie on there and read .Let me watch are you being served.’

Mam sits knitting I drink my milk and lie on the sofa with lady. I fall fast asleep with my book Mam shakes me telling me its time for bed.

‘ Come on get up. Your Dad will be in soon.’

‘Come on up the bloody dancers.’

I get up and sit on the stairs waiting for Mam to let lady back in.

Its raining she comes back shaking herself and runs upstairs before me. I shut the bedroom door, as Mam shouts ‘Don’t let that bloody dog on the bed!’ ‘I wont! Night Mam.’

‘ And take them bloody slacks off!’

‘ I have Mam’

I lie sliding into bed. Lady jumps up and settles by my belly.

As soon as she lies beside me I fell warm and safe. Me lady and Pippa.

If any monsters come Lady wont let them in she will bark and growl and wake Mammy up.

Home brew Shenanigans

home brew

Everyone on Dad’s side of the family drank heavily raced grey hounds and bet on horses. Even the women!

So to us kids that was just the norm.

My Dads youngest brother (our Peter) was no exception.

He was married to Auntie Aggie they were real characters. Aggie never wore her false teeth although she had been known to cut the edge of a pastry crust with them when baking and she did look a lot older than her years.

The creases on her face always reminded me of yesterdays screwed up chip shop paper. She wore odd sized plastic sponge rollers under a head scarf tied in a neat knot in the middle of her forehead. She swore a lot mostly at Peter. She always had a ciggie in the corner of her mouth which when was finished she would use to light another one from. She always wore her pinny and faded pink slippers the ones with that you slipped over your toes with a fluffy bobbly thing stuck on the front, well I say fluffy maybe when they were new which Aggies weren’t so it was anything but fluffy sort of knotted in need of going in the bin.

Uncle Peter could be found in one of three places. In Rain hill psychiatric hospital drying out from the booze. At home brewing home brew in the kitchen. (Or drinking it!) Or out with my Dad down the club.

I really liked him he was like a younger funny nice version of my dad, he smiled a lot and when he wasn’t smiling he was laughing mostly at Aggie.

Auntie Aggie reckoned if we looked in all three places and didn’t find him he then he definitely was dead! We always managed to find him.

He would get out of bed light a cig and pour a pint. His hair sticking up like a mad professor holes in his jumper from fag burns

The kitchen pantry, under the stairs and the spare bedroom was full of home brew.

Lines of sterilised milk bottles with plastic snap on caps.

I remember him running out of bottles in the middle of a barley wine brew and flagging down the Alpine pop man outside the shop.

Getting him to drop off two crates of bottles in exchange for some of his famous home brew!

He and Dad were well known for their beer. Mam swore they only brewed their own as they had been banned from most of the alehouses in town.

As well as their beer the other thing that was famous was Aggie and Peter’s fights.

I remember vividly walking up the grove were they lived early Saturday morning and being able to hear them three houses away!

I cautiously  pushed open the back door to hear Uncle Peter shouting at Aggie to move all the rubbish from under the bloody sink so he can fit his new batch of brew in.

‘RUBBISH! RUBBISH!’ she yells back. ‘That’s me best pots and pans!’

She is in full swing now and I just manage to duck out of the way as a handle less pan, which finds its target catching uncle Peter with a loud thud on his head!

‘You bloody madwoman! Luna-bloody tic!

‘You want locking up you do your pots for bloody rags!’ he’s standing there rubbing the side of his head!

‘Oh its me that’s pots for rags is it!’

She’s nearer now and she belts him on the other side with another pan!

I manage to duck under her raised arm into the living room were Colin and Phil sit obliviously in front of the telly.

‘Who do you think you are Greenall’s bloody brewery?’

‘Get out of this house and take all those bottles with you your nothing but a piss artist!’

The back door opens again and there is the sound of glass smashing!

‘Are you coming out?’ I ask? Colin

He raises his eyes to the ceiling and stretches. ‘Aye I may as well they are at it AGAIN!’

‘Well at least they talk to each other’ I hear myself say feebly.

‘My Mam and Dad won’t even speak to each other’

He laughs ‘I wish they wouldn’t maybe we could all have some bloody Peace.’ He sits up takes one of Aggies fags and lights it. ‘Want a drag?’

‘No! it stinks!’ I say pulling my face he laughs ‘Come on soft arse.’

The back door bangs and we watch Aggie scurrying down the front path still chunnering as she goes. Uncle Peter sticks his head down round the living room door. ‘Here you two get in here and help me finish these bottles afore she gets back. She’s gone down the shop for fags.’

‘Good laughs Colin I smoked the last one!’

Phil goes reluctantly into the kitchen I follow perching myself on a stool in

The corner.

Uncle Peter had made a massive vat of barley wine and is siphoning it into sterilised bottles. Taking great care not to screw on the tops too tight so that the gas had room to escape as the wine continued to ferment in the bottle

He is shouting at Phil to hurry up and make some space at the back of the pantry so that Aggie won’t realise there was more brew in there.

Colin hands the bottles to Phil who put the bottles into the back of the pantry. He winked at me and nodded at the bottle as he tightened the cap as he moved them.

I laughed nervously!

‘She’ll never know!’ laughs Uncle Peter rubbing his head were the pan had hit him earlier.

He had just moved the last of the bottles as Aggie walked in the back door.

‘Hiya Mam’ piped up our Colin. ‘Brought us any toffee’s?’

‘Never mind bloody toffees where’s me cig packet you little thief.’ she clipped

him before he can answer.

Phil laughs

‘And what have you done with all that ale you pissing alcoholic!’ she carried on where she had left off before the trip to the shop.

Peter is standing there grinning like a Cheshire cat!

‘I’ve poured it down the sink my bloody Queen!’

‘Your right my love no more ale.

I’m brewing no more.

When we’ve drunk what we’ve got my love that’s it!’

‘You awful bloody liar!’

‘You pour ale down the sink bloody never!’

‘I know your lying I can smell it now where is it!’

Peter is belly laughing now I  try not to giggle. ‘You can smell what?’ he says theatrically.

‘It must be your top lip rotting my love!

That’s what you get for not wearing your bloody teeth!’

Its no good I heard myself laugh.

Aggie flies at him hitting him with anything that’s handy.

We stand in the doorway shaking laughing.

Before I know what had hit me she had spun round and clipped us too!

We are down the path and out of the street like a shot!

Id rather fight next doors bull terrier than have a slap of me Mam says our Phil as we collapse on the grass laughing and I have to agree.

Take me home.

m27-3

It was 1964 on a bright summers afternoon the sky was blue and not a cloud could be seen.

Paula was seventeen she sat dangling her feet in the cool water on the banks of the stream day dreaming she was a loner and loved nothing more than being outdoors wondering through woodlands always bare foot the breeze in her hair book in her hand she watched the willow tree on the opposite bank of the stream sway lazily water bubbling across the rocks and pebbles her feet cold and her back hot as sun shone down so brightly she found it hard to concentrate on her book so instead she watched the water it seemed to glisten and shine in the sunlight as she looked up across to the other side she caught her breath for there watching her beside the willow tree was something at first she couldn’t quite make sense of.

She rubbed her eyes and squinted. Then rubbed them again. A being something watching or was it?

It was sparkling almost iridescent crystal like.

The being seemed to fade in and out of focus flickering like a lamp, blending in and out of the surrounding almost camouflaged. She blinked hard. But it was most definitely  still there.

It was much taller than Paula longer arms and fingers beautiful.

Paula stood up slowly and bravely began to paddle across towards the willow tree. The water wasn’t deep just past her calves, but she waded cautiously so as not to startle or frighten the being. Somehow she felt they were destined to meet. As she drew closer the being began to come into focus still almost transparent swirling colours reminding her of the translucent bubbles she had blown and loved as a child

‘Who are you?’  asked Paula in almost a whisper as she watched a bright blue dragonfly glide through not around the being, yet she didn’t feel afraid just more and more curious. Tall and slender long iridescent hair with a definite air of femininity

The being reached slowly over and placed her fingers gently on Paula’s forehead the finger felt definitely solid despite her translucent appearance

Standing there together barefoot on a grassy bank breeze blowing in their hair

visions started to flood between them.

Visions of a beautiful place a planet light years away a race of star people. Peaceful tribes healers teachers, purple topped mountains, waterfalls lush green valley’s huge trees and an array of beautiful animals. Paula had never seen before she gasped and whispered Koraki that is your name?. The being glowed even brighter. Her eyes now visible where the most beautiful shade of green like the purest Jade.

Why are you here? Paula thought. Koraki answered her questions yet no words were spoken.

She was a traveller explorer of the universe a bringer of light collecting samples of plants and herbs she had been to earth many times it was not unlike her own planet but our species caused her sadness primitive behaviour killing each other and the planet they live on.

She and others like her where also here to plant seeds of hope and enlightenment to help awaken humans to a new way of life to enlighten them to save their beautiful planet.

As the sun set and darkness fell giving way to a dark moon in an ink black sky stars twinkled like Koraki iridescent skin.

She pointed up to the sky to a small cluster of stars barely visible.

‘Is that your home where you come from?’ Asked Paula.

She sighed, ‘Can I come with you?’

Koraki gently touched her forehead again.

‘No spaceships, these beautiful beings travelled through consciousness in the blink of an eye speed of light. Like beautiful white Ravens

‘She then showed Paula a vision of herself holding a baby girl a star seed.

‘How’? Asked Paula.

They stood opposite each other Koraki held up the palms of her hands the palms seemed to swirl spiral iridescent pure white shining light.

Paula held up her hands much smaller against Koraki a ball of lights around them glowed she had never felt such pure love and hope.

Paula slept peacefully on mossy grass that warm summer’s night under the willow tree by the stream.

She was woken by the warmth of the sun on her face and the babbling of the stream a Raven cawed above her and she thought she heard Koraki whisper that she would see her again.

The following spring the baby girl Koraki had gifted to her was born seed of the star people. She was tiny perfect dark brown eyes and an almost translucent aura about her.

Outside the window a raven cawed loudly as my mother Paula cradled me in her arms.

My love for healing for herbs and fascination with the stars and the universe and affinity with animals I’m sure comes from Koraki.

Living by water walking barefoot and love of books comes from my rebel mother Paula.

‘I’m a mountain wondering lover of Ravens and all things magical.

On a dark moon you will find me barefoot on the mountain crossroads by the stream looking up to a tiny constellation of stars home of Koraki beautiful iridescent bringer of light hope and love.