This is me on the left strapped up like an Egyptian mummy, although you probably guessed that by the wellies. In the middle is my cousin Brian and the lad on the right who looks like he might have had a boil is his brother Allan. We were always together and whenever our parents had the chance, we were stood up against the back street wall and shot, with a Kodak Brownie. When I asked my mam why they didn’t have wellies she said they were not as well off as us and I should be grateful.
Brian was a year older than me and if I got into trouble with my mam or dad you can be sure he was the cause of it. He still was years later, but it was also Brian who rescued me when I was a lonely teenager. He introduced me to alcohol and girls, and for that I will be eternally grateful. I still see Allan even 60 plus years later and we play Pool together at our local Workingman’s Club where we hustle the younger players.
As I came from a large family there are lots of cousins and they will get a mention, not all of them as I don’t feel it’s fair to bring up their shortcomings but they know who they are. If you can imagine a Carry On film combined with St. Trinians then you are nearer to understanding my reluctance to burden you with their misdemeanors.
Back in the 50s family played an important part in my growing up. All our parents lived and worked near by so you had real contact with them and our cousins, and so grew up in a close community of family and friends. This meant that even if you were nowhere near your own house you were always in sight of one of your aunts and uncles who would keep an eye out for you, and also had permission to clip you round the ear if you needed it, as I regularly did.
You were involved with family in every aspect of life, we went on holidays together, our mams went to Bingo with each other and our dads went to the Working Men’s Club together. Our mams also worked in the local shops so you could walk along the busy main street and know you had someone nearby in case you needed them. Most of our dads worked at the Railway Wagon Works and we could walk down and meet them as they left work, and see if they had any bait left that we could eat.
It was a time of wonderful community that was taken as granted without realising that it would come to an end eventually. That generation is now in the past but us cousins who grew up in their care are still in touch and see each other, and because of our upbringing still have that feeling of family.