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Poetry D Jour by Beryl McMullen coming December, 2010


Notice: The forum is being looked after by Garden Gerald, Nick and Townie.

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1  General Discussion / General Posts / Bloomsbury St Library. on: January 13, 2018, 06:10:14 AM
It was in here I spent many days of my younger life.  Taken mostly by my sister Norma, I used to lose myself in among all the books and different stories that were available to anyone who cared to read. It was in this place I learned all about the 'Secret Seven and the famous 5' ..it was here that I learned about Astronomy and Ancient Britain and foreign lands.
 It was usually a Tuesday night, Norma would tell me to collect all my books (three books on a dog eared card) and off we'd walk from Ashted Row down to the Library

 I think it's the smell I remember most, .the ink off old print that permeated the very air we breathed as we leafed through the hundreds and hundreds of books that were on offer.  Of course there were far many than mere hundreds, but in the late 50’s kids were only allowed in their own section and to be seen in the adult part resulted in a telling off.
 It was in here I read all about the 'Silver Sword, a book set in 2nd world war Poland with 'Jan'  it was my brother Robert who got me into it.  There were also a few books on a TV series that was showing at the time..’Torchy the Battery boy’ and a horrible girl called 'Miss Bossy boots'

 And I recall books on the vast Wheat fields of Canada...how I longed to live there...
 But above all these things, I loved the Science, the geography and history books, Books filled with stories and pictures of comets, planes and, weapons, different lands and different ages all took me back to another place and time.
 Looking back, although my teachers taught me to read and write, I was far more interested in learning things they didn't teach rather than the ones they did.  I think I did ok.
 The pillars by the counter were Cast Iron. They had a hollow 'dong' to them when you rapped your knuckles on the post.  If you look at the lights going down the middle you'll see a giant ceiling rose.

 This was the original gas lighting, long before they bought electricity to this Library, this is what you read by.
 They closed the building down a few years ago...it will never be opened up as my beloved Bloomsbury St Library again..
 They shut the building because someone had stolen all the lead off the roof.  The powers that be closed it down because of water coming through the ceiling and if they had meant to reopen it again, they would have stopped the rain getting in straight away .

 When I drove past a few years ago, all I could see was a small flapping strip of green canvas that had worked free and was stopping nothing.  The damage grew worse by the day.
 Built in 1892, it finally destroyed by Philistine’s who probably never knew how to open a book.
‘’You are going to rest with your fathers, and these people will soon prostitute themselves to the foreign gods of the land they are entering. They will forsake me and break the covenant I made with them." Deuteronomy 31:16
2  General Discussion / General Posts / Brave New World. on: January 11, 2018, 04:46:21 PM

Long ago and far away,
In a land that time forgot,
Before the days of Dylan
Or the dawn of Camelot...
There lived a race of innocents,
And they, were you and me,
Living in another time
In the Land of Memory


We'd never heard of Microwaves,
Or telephones in cars,
And babies were breast, or bottle fed,
And never grown in jars.
Pumping iron got our wrinkles out,
And 'gay' meant fancy free,
Hospital wards were single sex
In the Land of Memory


We'd never known of Rock bands
That were Grateful to be Dead,
And planes were not called Jefferson,
And Zeppelins weren't Led.
And Beatles lived in gardens then,
And Monkees in a tree,
And Madonna was a virgin
In the Land of Memory


There were no 'Safety Cameras'
No Perriers to chill,
And fish were not called Wanda,
And cats were not called Bill.
And middle aged was thirty five
And old was sixty three,
And ancient were our parents
In the Land of Memory



We had our share of heroes,
We never thought they'd go,
Least not like Buddy Holly
Or Marilyn Monroe.
For youth was still eternal,
And our lives were yet to be,
And Elvis was forever,
In the Land of Memory



We had our TV favourites,
Eric Morcambe seemed so nice
And when Cinema made movies,
They never made it twice.
We didn't have a Star Trek Five,
Or Psycho Two and Three,
Or Rocky/Rambo Twenty one,
In the Land of Memory


Oh, there was truth and there was goodness
In that land where we were born,
Where navels were for oranges,
And Peyton Place was porn.
Harold Wilson was in power
And Hoss was on TV,
And God was in his heaven
In the Land of Memory


So now we face a brave new world
In slightly larger jeans,
And wonder why they're using
Smaller print in magazines.
And we tell our children's children
of the way it used to be,
Long ago and far away
In the Land of Memory...
3  General Discussion / General Posts / Re: Times Gone By on: January 10, 2018, 08:03:42 AM
Hello Hattie. I just want to say great post!

I missed lots of your experiences as I was born in 1952, but I still went through limited rationing, back to back housing, the neighbours chatting over the fence as the sun went down but I think exactly the same as you.
This is my slant on it.



I think folks...we may be the last.
For centuries British people had a continuity, the coinage I grew up with, was as familiar to me as it would have been to my great, great Grandfather.
More often than not, the money I spent could have been the same pennies that rattled in the pocket of an inner city waif 80 years before I was born, in fact, I often bought sweets with a penny carrying the head of King George or Queen Victoria, it was nothing new, nothing to marvel at.

We were patriotic back then too, I think most of us had queued up in the rain as a black cavalcade sped past, without us getting even a glimpse of bejewelled and gloved hand, but it didn't matter, we bragged about it for months afterwards, we remembered it even longer.

Our Politicians had honour and integrity, we trusted them to look after our fortunes and uphold our moral standards.
Teachers and Policemen didn't have to earn our respect, it was just unthinkable not to give it them.

We had pride in our armed services..
now they are insulted and spat upon as they recover from injuries while laying in our hospital beds.

Some of us still persevere, clinging on to our past, our values, our heritage,  just like shipwrecked survivors hanging on to flotsam after the HMS Great Britain had long slid beneath the waves..

But do you think our children will?

and if not our children, do you think our Granddaughter's, our Grandsons will be able to understand even for a second the fires that we 'Inner city' Brummies were forged in?
Of course not, it will feel exactly like when we look at old Victorian photographs and smile as we shake our heads at their 'funny ways'
We've moved on too fast in too short a time..

People of our age are the lucky ones.
We stood astride both the 'old' way of life and the 'new'
We lived in magical days, we lived our lives in wondrous times.
We are the sum of our memories..

And at the setting of the Sun and in the morning..
We will remember them.
4  General Discussion / General Posts / Re: WHERE DO YOU LIVE NOW on: January 09, 2018, 05:01:28 PM
Hi Gerald, no chance it was his party that sold the course!
No Sorry, I lived there from 63 to 77.
5  General Discussion / General Posts / Re: WHERE DO YOU LIVE NOW on: January 09, 2018, 04:45:50 PM
We mirrored each other then Townie, I played football for the Scotsman, darts for the Pigs, the three Tuns at Fazeley, Tame Valley Alloys, all in the Villagers League.
Then I played snooker for Madewell under Ron Gibson.
6  General Discussion / General Posts / Re: BEST CHRISTMAS PRESENT on: January 09, 2018, 03:02:18 PM
When I was 7 my Dad gave me a metal Ray Gun, I had that gun for about a year, I loved it.
Originally it had a 2 inch spike coming out the middle of it but Mom made Dad cut it off as it was too dangerous, up to that time though, it was my best ever Christmas present.

The following year I had a gun and holster set whilst my brother Robert had a Davy Crockett Suit,
We looked a right pair of twits, me with a gun and holster set and Robert with the costume and no gun...but it didn't matter, I loved my gift, I really did.

When I was 8, I won a book token from the Tree Lovers league for a poem I'd written..I WAS so proud of that..
I lost it the same day I picked the award up from Baskerville House (Then the Ceylon Tea Centre) but it didn't matter, It was the best present ever.

The one year my brother John took me down to see a Mr Underwood and we collected a cowboy hat off him as one of my Christmas presents.
I SAW my brother put that hat up the chimney in the bedroom, yet when I sneaked a look 30 minutes later it was gone...that goddamned Santa was a stinking thief.

However he redeemed himself a few weeks later when I found under our Christmas tree alongside a box of paints and a colouring book..
THAT was my best Christmas up to date.

In 1962 my brother Pete was bought a Johnny 7 super gun, of course, me and my brother Robert got up before him, opened his present and shot him to bits but hey ho...that's big brothers for you.
When I was in Secondary School I was bought my first telescope, now THAT was my greatest EVER present..it took me away from Nechells and allowed me to see the stars.

The following year I was bought a pair of 16 x 50 Zeiss binoculars..oh wow..the whole world in my hands..I still look back on those binoculars with a deep longing.

Oh my God..I've been bought a Fidelity Tape recorder!..I spent that Christmas taping Top of the pops,
I recorded Tom Jones' 'The Green, green grass of Home, The Beach Boys with 'Good Vibrations' and Petula Clark's 'Downtown.
It WAS brilliant, my best Christmas EVER.


I remember when I was 17 getting my frst Levis, not only was I was the 'Bee's knees' I was now the Bee's armpits thrown in with it..at LAST..I was one of the crowd, what a Christmas!
1974..3 weeks after the Tavern, the Lord Mayors fund sent me £500 over 4 months wages to spend in time for Christmas..THIS was my best present ever..

It's 1977 and I've bought home a little cross Labrador/Wolfhound pup, we call her Polo, she becomes one of most treasured gifts ever, I am to spend the next 14 years loving her.
She dies in the January of 1992...she was the best present of my life.

Fast forward 20 years..I'm now the father of two girls...but this isn't about gifts you can't buy, this is about gifts you can..

I'm bought a 150mm Reflecting Telescope, it has a Barlow lens and the rings of Saturns and the bands of Jupiter lie open before me..
It was my BEST present...my best ever..

And,  as I look back on this long and sometimes lonely life, I think of all those wonderful gifts that have been given to me over the years..
And I would give up each and every single one..
I would erase every memory, every single moment..
If I could just have my Mom and Dad back with me for one more Christmas, just for a single day, one single day so I could tell them both I love them..
And that..
That Would be my greatest present.
7  General Discussion / General Posts / Re: WHERE DO YOU LIVE NOW on: January 09, 2018, 02:56:27 PM
I live in Tamworth as well Townie. For the first 25 years of my life I didn't have a view or house worth having eyes for.
My first home in Nechells was a back to back hovel in the top half of Cromwell St and unless you liked looking at a row of heavily used outside toilets then I suggest you pick elsewhere.

143 Ashted Row wasn't much better, although in all fairness we had a wonderful view of our next door neighbours pigeon pen.

9 Hindlow Close didn't exactly make the dream views catalogue either.

From our back window we over looked a 20ft square garden full of asylum seeking weeds, after that a row of derelict garages where no one would park a car because no bugger owned one, then a row of unused car ports, past those a 12ft railway wall and finally Duddeston Mill railway yards. 

I finally got a decent view when I bought my first house by Barr Beacon, the sights there were truly magnificent, sadly my house was too cheap to have windows, so I never really got to appreciate it.

These days from my back windows, I can see countryside right out through to Warton, Shuttington, several other villages right over to Burton on Trent.
On a dark winter night it really is pretty to see all those twinkling village lights.
How long that will last I don't know since they sold Amington golf course off to build 'Starter' homes beginning at £300,000, I expect the trees and everything else they'll plant to soon begin hiding all those wonderful views from me.

But its cool, I've come a long way from Nechells.



 

8  Birmingham History & Photos / Birmingham History / Genesis. on: January 09, 2018, 09:46:25 AM

I was born on March 31st 1952 in the little town of Coleshill, Warwickshire.
Why I was born in Coleshill I'll never know, I can't really find out either as the only people who could tell me have been gone now for many years.
I do know my Dad was rather pleased, the very fact I was born just 6 days before the end of the tax year meant he got back a lot of income tax for the last 12 months.
Not that anyone but the local pubs or bookies would have benefited from it though.
Sadly for Mom and my family,  Dad was the life and soul of the pub and had been for many years.
So there I was, just a few days old when life decided to play its first trick on me. Coleshill wasn't my home at all, 'Home' was a place called Nechells.

In the book Dante's Divine Comedy, they refer to the sign that hangs over the gates to Hell.
The sign read  'Abandon all hope, ye who enter here'
Nechells beat it by a country mile.

From the only bed I had to myself for the next 20 years, I was taken to a place called Cromwell Street in inner city Birmingham.
I was taken to a house that was an old back to back hovel, with no bathroom, no indoor toilet and no hot water.
It was a two up, one down 3 storey ruin that even before you counted me,  housed far too many people.
2/222 Cromwell St didn't even have room for Cockroaches.

Except it did.

And by the time we added the armies of bedbugs, the battalions of mice, the silverfish and the blackbat's, it could easily be described...as...full..

Some people went to the Zoo to see wildlife, we went there to get away from it.

So there I was, the latest addition to an extremely poor family, a family that was rich in parental indifference, but at least I had two loving  brothers and two heartless, uncaring ugly sisters.
In the Cromwell St home where I spent the first two years of my life, lived Mom, Dad, Uncle Les, Norma, Johnny, Brenda, Robert and me. All there in a two up, two down back to back box.
8 people sharing 2 bedrooms.

We didn't need blankets to keep us warm in bed, if it got cold, I just snuggled under my brother's left testicle.
Oh and to compound the situation, several other families lived in our yard and there were only 4 toilets.. it was said that no one ever sat on a cold seat.                                                                     

                                                                         1954/1955

Like most people, I don't have many memories before the age of two. My first one is of me in 1954 sitting on my neighbour's front step clutching a Teddy bear.
It's not mine of course, it belongs to a little girl called Sophie Tucker. Sophie was named after the American singer of the time.
A few months go by and I'm standing outside a lavatory in Ashted Row.
I'm in the back garden of our 'New' home, I'm holding Dad's hand and he's looking at an overgrown tree that almost blocks the doorway to the toilet.
It has to go. Within weeks it has.

Entrance to the toilet isn't any easier though, since my sister was recently born we now have 9 people sharing a single outside loo and we also had a father who spent more time in there than he did in bed.

Ashted Row was wonderful.

A late Georgian building, it had 4 bedrooms, two large living rooms, a big kitchen with a black leaded range and a small brew house tacked on to the end.
Now add two very large cellars, a front and back garden, it was an opulence we'd never known before.
One of the great advantages of living in a 4 bed roomed house was I'd now moved from sharing a bedroom with 3 other people to sharing a bed with er...2 other people.

Mom and Dad with my baby sister Rita, had taken over the back first floor bedroom.
Norma and Brenda had the front attic bedroom, Uncle Les had the rear attic, so that left me, Robert and Johnny sharing the front bedroom all to ourselves.
And before I forget, I think we'd also brought along all our old Cockroaches and mice. 
And they all liked our bed.

I have many fond memories of Ashted Row, they were easily the happiest days of my life, I had no worries, yes I was poor but so was everyone else, so therefore I had no real yardstick to judge wealth by.
I had my Mom and Dad, all my brothers and sisters, my Uncle Les living with us and on top of which, our house was the focal point for all my many Uncles and Aunts, the whole place just rang out with laughter.
Life for a Nechells raggamuffin was pretty good.

Except for when I was around 2 years old.

When I was 2, just before she set off to school, my sister Norma took me to the shop to get some milk or something, I was in one of those big old prams, you remember them, the ones modelled on the German Panzer Mk4..
From what I gather she met her friend in the shop and promptly forgot all about me as she carried on to school..
I was there for 5 days...

Well, of course I wasn't! 3 is far more reasonable..it's just Mom had so much on her mind then that I guess we were just like pets...only missed us if she couldn't get us in for the night..
The story IS true though..Norma did leave me outside a shop and it was only when she was sitting in class did she realise and had to go out of school to get me....the swine.
 
9  Birmingham History & Photos / Birmingham History / Clothing disasters. Volume 6. on: January 09, 2018, 09:39:36 AM


In 1970, I was hanging around with my best friends Derek Johnson and Allan Chance.
This was at the time because of my colour hair, I was BEGGING everyone I knew, to start calling me ''Red''
Red Adair, the oil rig firefighter was world famous around then and I SO wanted to share the same nickname..

Eventually after MUCH pleading, I finally got someone to call me 'Red'
Ok, she was only six but at least it was a start, I just needed a few others to start the ball rolling.

Janice Smith did.
After seeing her over the Chippy with one of her friends, I shouted across Revesby Walk ''Hello Janice''
Back came the reply... sigh...''Hello Leslie''

''Er Janet, can you call me Red please? Y'now, like in RED ADAIR''

'Red? RED?Huh? bleedin' RED?Huh?? she softly sniggered..
''Ok then I will...and give my love to Ginger Rodgers''

Anyway at about the same time I bought my first pair of Loons.
GOD they were tight! I could have painted them on and had a little more testicle room.
To cap it off they never even had proper pockets.
All they had was a tiny little patch INSIDE the waist band that you could store a bus ticket in.
Sigh...and they were too short.
I was the only kid I'd ever seen wearing Loon shorts.

Oh and later that year I bought myself a Blue and white Polo neck jumper.
It had a navy blue chest and sleeves and the polo neck bit was white wool.
When I put it on, I looked just like Vicar Thomas.

Hipsters.
It was the Summer of 1969 and I bought some tweed wool hipsters.
It was BLISTERING hot, my Tweed hipsters were half inch thick and almost bullet proof.
They were also the itchiest item of clothing that has ever been worn in human history.

After enduring a complete day of agony I finally took them off on the night to reveal two, red and glowing, pin thick legs, I'd lost every hair on my shins, 14 toe nails had fallen off due to the excessive heat and my knees has been worn away to the bone..
NEVER EVER again!

I had to wear them again the next Monday because someone had stolen my Levi's off my clothes line.

In 1970 I also bought some Flares.
Oh Christ, what have I done?
The model in the shop poster wore them with style and panache..
Me? I looked like a drunken Popeye.


1969 I bought a St Christopher medallion and chain.
It was SO bloody cheap they wouldn't take money for it, I had to trade something like 5 Ant pelts to make the purchase.
I can remember the woman looking at it now.
This lady was SERIOUSLY struggling to say something nice about it..
She stood there frowning for a good 5 minutes and I actually saw the light go on in her head.

''Oh wow'' she said..
''DIAMOND cut!''

I slithered out the shop under the welcome mat.
10  Welcome New members to the Birmingham and Surrounding Counties Forum / Introduce Yourself / Just saying Hello. on: January 09, 2018, 09:26:00 AM
Good morning folks.

If there are no objections I hope to spend a little time on here.
Catch you later.

Les
11  Birmingham History & Photos / Birmingham History / Re: Woodcock St baths on: April 13, 2017, 04:04:47 PM
Hello Gerald, I began at Cromwell St, Junior and Infants, that was late 56 until 1963.
From there I went to Loxton St, (63/64) Duddeston Manor from September 64 until 67 when I left school to begin work as an Apprentice Plumber.
12  Birmingham History & Photos / Birmingham History / Re: Old pubs of Birmingham on: October 13, 2014, 12:52:46 PM
Trees? you HAD trees? talk about moneybags!

I never even knew what a tree was until I left Nechells, I thought they were giant pencils.
I mean, if you're going to come on here flaunting your wealth..

And as for Roller Skates, you rarely found a pair of wellies that would fit inside them,
We were REAL men in Nechells, we made Go-karts and nail guns, we made slate tomahawks and nail tipped arrows and bows.

We had to, otherwise the rent man knocked our door for money.
13  Birmingham History & Photos / Birmingham History / Paper boy and other stories on: September 29, 2014, 07:31:24 PM
When I was 13 I had a paper round.
It was for Harborne's which was at the bottom of Revesby Walk.
Although I only had 29 papers to deliver, the round covered High Tower, Queens, Home and the maisonettes.
Unfortunately for me, I also had ONE paper to deliver at 106 Inkerman St.

It was in Inkerman St, not far from the Brittania Pub that this bloody dog (who could have been a stunt double for my mother in law) used to live.
And lie in wait.
For me.

Without fail every morning, this dog used to rush down the entry as he heard the paper being pushed through the door and he would snap at my bag and ankles.
After losing up to 97 gallons of blood one Sunday morning, I decided enough was enough.

So I began carrying a 2ft long stick.
Whether this satanic dog was telepathic I don't know, but every time I carried the stick with me, the evil pooch was nowhere to be seen.

The very first time I forgot the bugger there he was again and there was another 83 gallons of my blood soon decorating the pavement.
Yet as soon as I put my stick back in my bag...
Nothing.
Zilch.
Nada.
So I came up with a cunning plan.

I got hold of a giant metal nut and I tied it on a 3ft piece of string.
The idea was, as the pooch of the Baskervilles came at me, I would swing the metal nut in a big arc, whack the dog on the nose then kick him to death with my hob nail Wellies and hopefully smother him to death with my paper bag.

He fell neatly into my trap.

As my nemesis came flying down the entry, I unloaded my metal nut just like a giant (but deadly Conker) swung it in a giant arc and halfway through the swing, it hit the side of the entry wall and came crashing down onto my own head.
I staggered to the floor on my hands and knees, blood gushing from a 1 inch cut just above my ear..
And it was then that BASTARD dog bit me on the leg and bum again.
All this for a £1 a week.
14  Birmingham History & Photos / Birmingham History / Re: Days. on: September 29, 2014, 07:17:57 PM
xxxxxxxxxxxx
15  Birmingham History & Photos / Birmingham History / Days. on: September 21, 2014, 10:36:15 AM
No new born child gets to choose their name.
But if you're lucky you are given a good one.

Over the years I've had the pee taken out of mine many times.
The people who have told me that ''Leslie'' is a girls name? well I've lost count.
But in truth it was water off a duck's back.

Oh sure, I sometimes wanted a classier and tougher monicker, a Mills and Boon name, something like Lance Prodder, or Brett Scuttler...but hey-ho.
Leslie is it.
Leslie or Les it remains..

What always made it easier to accept, was the fact I was named after a great, great man.
The first Leslie Robinson was given his name 30 years before I was born.
Kind, tall, hard working, strong, he was everything you define a man to be.
He was someone who inspired you, better still he was blood.
He tried to kill me once.

Whilst my Mom and Dad never owned a car, Uncle Les who lived with us had several, the old Rovers, Morris Oxford's, the Austin Cambridge, none that were top of the range but they were certainly iconic.
He was working on his car one day and let the jack down while I was under it.
The tyre had my hand my trapped and I was screaming...it was easily the longest 4 seconds of my life.
That was Ashted Row.

He also bought me and my brother pop guns once, I remember him calling me and Robert up to his attic bedroom where he gave them us..it was a brilliantly sunny April day and within minutes, we were both downstairs, string and cork cut off, firing small pebbles at each other.
Uncle Les lived with me for the first 12 years of my life.
He took me camping once to Arley, I remember it mainly for the fact he pitched our tent on an Anthill.
Silly bugger.

He raced pigeons..not with much success though, his were all skanky one legged things, with barely a feather between them he could almost fly better than his pigeons.
Uncle Les died of cancer in 1983.

It was a day of contrasts....I watched my little girl being born in the morning and after a completely sleepless night, at 1pm, I headed off to Perry Barr crematorium to say goodbye to the greatest Uncle a man has ever had.
8 days before, I had gone to visit him with my brother Pete at the Taylor memorial hospital.

Cancer had taken away all of the huge man, from 6ft plus and 16st he had been reduced to a shell.
His last words to me were heartbreaking..
He looked up from his hospital bed and in a voice barely above a whisper, said ''Who are you''?

It doesn't matter Uncle Les, cancer may have made you forget me, but I'll always love and remember you.

When Mom died in her 40's, I was just a kid, and when you're a kid, anyone over 30 seems old, so when I lost my Uncle Sam, Aunt May, Uncle Robbie, Grandad, little Susie, Uncle George, and about 6 others, I consoled myself in the thought, apart from Susie, they were ''Old''
Of course they weren't.

They were ALL young...their lives should still have been ahead of them, not behind.
Hand on my heart, apart from Grandad I miss them all.

And my beautiful Uncle Les, a man whose name I am proud to carry, wasn't old at all.
Oh, he seemed it back in those far off days when I held my second little girl in my arms.

Today I become older than he was. Today is the day I outlive him..
Oh my loved Uncle Les.
You weren't old at all
xxx
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