Sunday Blues

Deep in contemplation.

I hated Sundays, apart from two events that made the day less boring. Sunday meant Sunday School, having to put on proper shoes, being tidy, and waiting for Monday to come along. No football or going off on a bike ride, it just seemed we had to spend the day waiting, for what I never knew, but I did know it was boring. If you managed to sneak out of the house it didn’t help as when you called on one of your friends their parents always came to the door and said they were all dressed up for church and were clean for a change.

In those days there were not many cars around our area, if you wanted to collect car numbers you needed to go up to the main streets and catch some there. Now there was one house in our cul de sac that had a car, it didn’t really go very far and spent most of it’s existence parked on the road alongside the green. But a Sunday was different, the car was still parked there but the husband and wife would come out of their house, get in the front seat of the car and sit and read the Sunday papers. I thought they must be rich if they could afford a car to sit in and read the papers whereas my mam and dad had to sit on the couch to read.

The best thing on a Sunday was that I or our Michael could go to my grandma’s for Sunday dinner, not both of us together because we apparently would end up fighting and disrupting dinner. Now my grandparents lived in an old aged miner’s cottage with a large fireplace range which had an oven in which my grandma made her Yorkshire puddings. It was these puddings that caused me and our Michael to fight over whose turn it was to go that Sunday. They were filled with onions and were more like inch thick pancakes than traditional Yorkshire puddings, and they were lovely, I have never seen or tasted anything like them since. In mining communities Sunday dinner was a tradition, the puddings were served separately smothered in rich onion gravy, I think the idea was to fill up on them so that you didn’t need as much meat which followed later. My grandad would produce a bottle of lemonade and fill up our glasses then dinner would start. Only one glass though, the bottle was corked and put back in the cold larder out of sight. After dinner we would sit on the couch while my grandad dozed off to the gentle ticking of the wall clock and I would sit patiently for what seemed like hours until my grandma would set me free.

Sunday nights were all about getting ready for school next day. Our new council house had a bath, a proper one, not a tin bath dragged into the front room which was the case at our last house. After the bath routine we would watch Sunday Night at The London Palladium and an American TV series, 77 Sunset Strip which had a cult figure called Cookie who was always combing his hair. At some point Gabby, the ice cream man, would arrive in his van and play his loudspeaker to let us know he had arrived. We were all then treated to a 99er, a large ice cream cornet with chocolate flake. Gabby also provided another great service, comic swapping. You could take your Superman or Batman read comics to the van and swap them for unread ones which would then be exchanged with other kids in other parts of the town,

The problem with my grandma’s cottage, especially in the winter, was the toilet. It was an earth closet in an outhouse at the bottom of the garden, and if you needed to go it meant braving the weather conditions outside such as rain, wind, and even snow.

A quick dash down the garden path, into the brick shed, hoist yourself up onto the wooden closet, then sit and contemplate your future while nature took its course. The toilet paper, (The Northern Echo torn into strips ) hung from a nail on the wall and could be quite damp depending on the weather at the time. Then trousers up and run back to the warmth of the big fire stove while shivering at the same time.

The toilet was cleaned out by council workers in a special van arriving along the back lane where they shovelled out the contents via a small door in the back wall.