This week my Dad turned 80, as did his twin sister, so I have been a bit nostalgic this week. As I looked up at my sensible array of shoes I spied upon two old pairs of hand made Lancashire clogs – one belonged to my Grandma, who was born in 1899 and a small red pair that were hand made for me when I was just a toddler in the 1960’s.
They were made by the local clog maker in a clog making shop in Hindley, near Wigan in Lancashire where both my parents are from. I think the shop is a kebab shop now.It is interesting that I have a thing about shoes, as my mum, (who will be 80 in a couple of weeks , but she does not want anyone to know so shshsh mum’s the word)- so legend has it, did not have a pair of real shoes until was 11 and my Dad who had tuberculosis in his hip and spine, and lived in some dreadful sanitorium miles from home for most of his childhood, wore the same style of black ( never brown) othapoedic boots ( and still does) all his adult life. I was thinking about how much lives have changed.
My Grandad who in this picture was mid-thirties, fought in the first world war, lied about his age so he was probably under 17 when he went. He was in a bunker with all his mates, a shell went off and he found all his friend had died. He spent his adult life down the coal mines with a flask of water and jam butties ( bread and jam to you) a wonderful sense of humour and spirit, as many did, and died of emphysema at the age of 59 in a miners home in Blackpool, so I was robbed ! My other Grandad also died at 59 of poor health – they were very hard-up, he had trouble finding much work. I never knew either of them which is a real shame.
My heritage, as with everyone, is an important part of who I am, and I bless my family for the struggle, hard times and spirit they had. So easy to forget. It can get like the Monty Python sketch ‘we used to live in a shoe box in the middle of the road -you tell the young people and they just don’t believe you’. It was bloody grim, but I bet there some things that were better. There was lots of music in their houses. No bloody X-factor making people think singing is a thing for the ‘talented’- to be judged by a bunch of overdressed ninny’s. No-one would have gone in a shop talking on their mobile phone and completely ignored the person serving them. When my uncle died in the 1980’s, even then, every man in the street in Hindley took their caps off as the prossesion went through the streets.
Everyone sung. My Grandmas both sung in the church choir, and one of my grandmas played the organ and the mandolin. One of my many Great Uncles played the concertina, his mate had a bass concertina which got taken on every trip , singing on coaches, mandatory! Another arranged the finest music for the local brass band and everyone sung, and did recitations. The piano was in the centre of one of my Grandma’s houses.
So I must give the clogs a bit of a polish. Both are too small for me -now that was a bit more interesting than my next boring pair of sensible shoes.
SONG OF THE DAY -George Formby -Leaning on the Lampost
Still makes me weep…so nostalgic -again legend has it he live next door to my auntie in Hindley Green. A lot of the reason it is so touching is the smiling. I recognise his smile -many of my family from that era had the same ‘smile though your heart is aching, smile even though it’s breaking’ thing going on. Very special. Very close to my heart. x x