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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  Birmingham History & Photos / Birmingham History / Re: Birmingham Pub Bombings - Justice For The 21 on: June 08, 2018, 08:14:40 PM
I've got no time for any of this so called Justice.

Do that and you blow open the North Irish Peace accord and the murders all start again.

Those that did it are either dead or close to it after so many years have passed.

To me this is more about people extending their 15 minutes of fame and hopefully making some money from it.
Time to let it go.
2  General Discussion / General Posts / Re: THIS FORUMS HISTORY on: April 27, 2018, 04:09:07 AM
Although the Birmingham history site will never let me darken their door again, I'm one of the few people who left of their own accord.
The site at the time was run by the late Rod Birch and his thieving son Keith.

Pleading poverty week after week, constantly threatening to close the site down unless people subscribed he was collecting quite a fair amount of money each year.
I live 500 yards from where the Birches were and went down to fit a new washing machine and garden tap, imagine my surprise to discover that although Keith didn't work, and Rod was a carer, they had state of the art everything in their home and Rod drove a newish car.

Even so a man is allowed to make money.
What got my war started was Keith insulting several people or constantly harassing people for donations, especially the lonely older ones who saw the webring as a lifeline.

So me and Graham Knight began a campaign to remove them.
Short version they were quickly gone.

Some idiot called Postie alongside his suck ups started writing things about me he'd never say to my face, how I'd bullied the Birches etc, no I didn't, I just wanted them to stop milking those who couldn't afford it.
I haven't given you a tenth of what they were up to.

Sadly Rod Birch died of cancer which was a bloody tragedy.
His son was and remains an idiot.

Oh and although they never said it, I'm banned off the History site.
 
3  General Discussion / General Posts / Re: November 21st 1974, 8.25 pm. Part 1. on: March 06, 2018, 07:56:54 PM
A deal was done, the Northern Ireland Peace accord
4  General Discussion / General Posts / Re: What was the worst job of employment you ever had? on: March 02, 2018, 05:30:03 PM
It was all my fault really, I guess I've always been a bit dim..

Friends who already worked there said 'You've got no chance, there's a two year waiting list just to get in'
As I said, being a bit dim, I simply by-passed the gate security, went straight up to personell and asked if there were any vacancy's..
They said I could start Monday...

It was a temporary post of course, I think that's all they took on in those days, It was August 1974.
The money was brilliant, I 'earned' 80 pounds a week plus two beer tokens each shift.

I remember my first day there, the Foreman sat me down in front of a light, before which, passed row upon row of bottles, the job was to throw out the ones that hadn't been filled correctly..Oh man, what a drag that was! Unless you kept your head still, following bottle after bottle made you feel at first giddy and within the space of minutes...sick.

I remember the Forman asked me what I thought after the first day..
I try not to swear in front of ladies so I won't type it.

The next morning he put me on another job...it was to straighten up the beer barrels as they joined one chain track on to the next...We did this, simply by kicking them straight
At the end of the shift, I had a right leg like Popeye..I also walked round in circles..I could have won Come Dancing without even trying...
The Foreman asked me if THAT day was better...
Mutter...mutter..mutter

I lasted 5 days in a job people were queueing up to get...well, they could bloody well have it!

You see, I am a Plumber and Corgi reg Engineer..yep, one of those devastatingly attractive to women type of guys...how could I work as less?
Besides, I was young and handsome...they could keep their bloody shiftwork..
5  General Discussion / General Posts / A snowflake stops us all. on: February 28, 2018, 06:40:30 AM
On December 26th 1962 the snow began to fall.
I was just a young lad back then and as I watched the flakes fall to the ground, they seemed magical, more to the point, it felt right.
It was Christmas, it was supposed to snow at Christmas.

I often smile to myself these days...schools closing after a light dusting of snow, traffic grinding to a halt, struggling to move in snow you can barely leave a foot print..

In Nechells the snow fell hard again the following day..then with Nechells all white and magical, the skies cleared and all us kids piled out onto the streets.
I remember coming in every 30 minutes to warm my hands up on our roaring coke fire. then crying with pain as the feeling came back into my fingers.
5 minutes later I was back out again.

There was no such things as gloves either, well not for us anyway. We simply wore old socks on our hands.
Woollen socks that were heavily darned and after 5 minutes weighed about 30 lbs each with all the cold water they soaked up...but it didn't matter, like I said, it was magical.

By now we had about 4 inches of snow on the ground, a lot by todays standards, but back then? nothing.

Then after a day's respite, on the 29th December 1962 it began to snow again..and I MEAN snow.
By the 30th of December, 18 inches of snow lay on streets as close to us as Staffordshire, in Nechells it was topping out at about a foot.

Luckily in the those days, the only vehicles you usually saw on the streets were buses and bin lorries. Cars would have been useless.
The temperature dropped and kept dropping.
Snowball fights became deadly as the snow had frozen crusty hard on the top and if you got hit by one of those buggers, you really knew about it.
In Wales, snow drifted up to 20ft high, I remember opening our back door and a snow drift that almost reached up to the door knob collapsed into our doorway.
Ice grew thick inside our bedroom windows.

January saw the coldest temperatures for almost 150 years and later that month, we lost our water supply for several weeks.
The Council delivered fresh drinking water by a Bowser each lunchtime which you took back home in Jerry cans.
We had a means to make tea, we had loads of firewood, we got by....Y'know..mustn't grumble.

Schools opened and life continued.
A foot of snow meant nothing in those days.
In the 21st Century we are used to schools closing if the Headmaster sees a rainbow...Not then you didn't

Mom did however pack me off to school with a new concession, I was finally in long trousers. finally, my Aunts dresses and my cousins bra was cast out into the miskin.
My shoes still had lino in them though.
I remember crying in class as my feet finally came back to life..
Normally I used to go back home of a lunchtime but not then, like I said, it was magical...

Scholefield St still existed on those days, it was a road that ran between Cromwell St And Bloomsbury St, From Rocky Lane right up to where Queens Tower is now.
And right next to Chadsmoore we had made a huge ice slide..
I was late going back to class that one day..in fact about 10 of us were.
Yet amazingly the teacher never said a thing, he just realised they were exceptional times.

Because most of the houses were falling apart, most of the guttering also leaked.
These had formed 2ft icicles, hanging over us like a thousand swords of Damocles...deadly they were too.


So there we were...slipping and sliding on our way to school, Our milk still getting through but in the form of a lollipop,
Lots of other goods slowly starting to disappear from the shops and no flushing toilet or running water.

Then it began to snow...
6  General Discussion / General Posts / The last of us. on: February 21, 2018, 07:58:47 PM
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.
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..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 Grandaughters, 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 wonderous times.
We are the sum of our memories..
And at the setting of the Sun and in the morning..
We will remember them.
7  General Discussion / General Posts / Aftermath November 1974 on: February 21, 2018, 07:52:30 PM
I came out of the Accident Hospital on November 23rd.
I remember lying on the couch staring up at the ceiling unable to sleep, My Dad not wanting to leave me alone must have lay there awake listening to my moans..



People never told me that even with your eardrums burst there was still a roar going through my head that seemed like it would never end..
I remember the most awful thing of all...the smell of my hair that had been reduced to a small frizzled stubble..I had taken several pieces of glass under my right armpit, one through my knee, my left eye (thankfully missing the eyeball itself) a few more in my leg and one to my hip...
On the whole...I'd much rather have been in Philadelphia...

I remember my family coming to see me over the next few days...My Uncle Les, a huge man being reduced to tears as he hugged me.
My Uncle Tommy Brennan, unable to face me because he was Irish...silly, silly man, I loved him very much.

4 or 5 days later, I made my way up to the Bathroom to try to get myself cleaned up, when I looked in the mirror at my peeling and burned face, I felt like crying..
I was a 22 year old man with no hair and a scabby face...not really a helpful look for attracting the fairer sex.

 
Various friends came down to see me , my closest friend Alan told me how much his Mom was worried about me..his Mom? she had been like one to me too..I knew I had to payher a visit just so she knew I was alright, I caught the 55 and 14 bus to Cole Hall lane to see her..I remember people looking at me then when I met their eye...they turned away..
My friend Steve Cox had taken worse injuries than me, thankfully like mine though, only minor...he came out of Hospital, two weeks later..Steve G fared a little worse..he had been out in the open and taken half a beer glass into his back..obviously, the further away if you survive the blast...the more shrapnel came at you....I remember meeting up, the 3 of us, collectively the worst hair styles in history..
I was off work 3 months while I recovered, I wrote earlier I have never once dwelled upon it...that was a fib..my first drink in a Pub post Tavern was when my friend Steve Cox's brother in law took us up to the Skylark on Castle Vale, I remember sitting down all calm and collected as we waited for our drinks...as he bought them over and I lifted it to my lips, I began to shake like a man holding a Pneumatic drill ..it took me another 3 months to get over it.
 
For me and my friends, it's not all bad though. with the money from The Lord Mayors fund, From Criminal Injuries, From Collections at the CO-OP dairy where I worked, plus local pubs, the Erdington round table, we were paid thousands..the equivilent easily of 2/3 years wages by todays standards..There were 7 of us with such riches..now, think of our other friends who had arrived late and missed it...they never saw the pain...only our money..

Its Burns day (no, not the Rabbie one) at the Accident hospital in bath row..
There I am, feeling all sorry for myself, scabby face, no hair (growing back mind)..really poorly fingers that had been directly out in the blast.
When a young girl sat down beside me..I couldn't tell her age, it could have been anything from 13 to 23...she told me that when she was 10, she picked up a can of petrol that her dad had used to light a bonfire..
You want to know her ambition?
She wanted a nose again..
 
8  General Discussion / General Posts / Re: November 21st 1974, 8.25 pm. Part 1. on: February 21, 2018, 04:50:03 PM
My feelings to the Irish would remain what they are now.
I like the yampy buggers.
Besides, anyone who judges a race by the acts of a few crazy people need to grow up.


I've only ever had one flashback in my life, 7 months after the event.
No, no one helped me, Town was in chaos, people thought there were more bombs.

As for the actual event, there was no fear, no anticipation, one second you were ok, the next you were either dead or injured..
Anyway...part 2!
9  General Discussion / General Posts / November 21st 1974, 8.25 pm. Part 1. on: February 21, 2018, 03:34:02 AM
As usual, me and Steve Cox were standing in Steve Grater's house waiting for him to come downstairs.
Steve Grater was a nightmare, if even a single hair was out of place, he would re-wash it, dry it with a hair dryer and start all over again..sometime we were kept waiting for an hour..
 
Hallelujah! Steve G comes downstairs, dressed and ready to go.
Steve lives about 50 yards from the bus stop near Revesby Walk  and as bus arrives just a few minutes later, by 7. 50 pm, we're on our way to town.
It's a cold November night, but being young, we didn't feel the cold, at least I didn't.
Steve Cox is wearing a long black trenchcoat, Steve Grater is wearing what he always wears..my brown leather jacket.
At 8pm the 55 bus pulls up outside the Cabin Pub, Steve Cox suggests having a quick beer in the Costermongers, he's desperate to have a go on the Shuffle board recently fitted in there, me and Steve Grater can't be bothered and carry on down to our pub.
 
It's now 8.10pm and I'm standing at the bar, I order and pay for 3 pints of Lager, it's 25p a pint and there is nothing better than your first beer of night sliding easily down.
I carry the beers over to where the two Steve's are.

Steve Cox has put some money in a new game called a 'Pong', we know it as the 'Bat and ball machine' the game was two white paddles controlled by seperate joysticks and you hit a small white dot backwards and forwards..
By todays standards, boring and rubbish, back then? wow!




All my life I'd been a bad loser..and I'm losing badly..

Steve Cox is already up 11-4 and the winner only needs 14..
I punch the machine in temper and walk away into the centre of the pub.....
Steve calls out for me to come back..
for the first time in my life I listen to him and walk back to our game..
As I touch the left hand control, my world crashes into darkness.

With a noise like I've never heard before, I'm lifted up and half somersaulting, I'm thrown into the wall.
My eardrums are burst, I've lost all my hair, my eyebrows and lashes are burned off and my sweater has melted to my body..
I'm lying in the rubble, that was seconds before...The Tavern in the Town.

There are no lights left working and when I put my hand on the wall, what's left of the phone is hanging down and I know where I am,

I've been blown to the bottom of the stairs,
I remember with my eyes wide open that I couldn't see a single thing..my first thought was 'I'm blind, I can't live like this'
Trying to gain my senses, I'm thinking it's the game that I was playing has somehow exploded..

I rise to my feet and fall over again, my balance has gone, along with my eardrums..
There is a roar going through my head like a 100 thunderstorms..the noise is sickening..the odors are even worse,  I need to get out of here.
All of a sudden as I grope around on my hands and knees in the dark, I'm kicked in the face, it splits my top lip, the person who did it never meant to, he or she wouldn't even know I was there.

I can smell bacon cooking, I didn't know it then but that was the smell of burnt and dying people..
I was 10ft away from the Bomb as it went off, and in the smoke and dust filled darkness, there are dead and dying people all around me..later the body count is to total 11, the injured in there number....well...everyone.

I know I can't stay in there, although I'm still not sure what happened, I know that to stay down there is really not a good idea..I start crawling up the stairs, all of a sudden my arm vanishes through a hole in the stairs where the bomb has punched through.
I cut all under my arm on ragged concrete..I can't feel it though, I'm in shock, the real pain was a little gift still to come..


My Dad had always said 'Les, if you're in trouble, tell me'..
Oh my Dad...
I was in trouble.

In my whole life, I'd never been one for giving up, I decided to make my way home to Nechells..looking back it was just like learning to ride a bike again..I'd go a few yards and just slowly, fall over.
Burst eardrums and stolen balance reduced me to a Toddler learning to walk once more.
Town was in uproar, I remember people running everywhere, no one stopped to help me, they probably thought, two bombs had already gone off, there were bound to be more.

Now I'd gotten out into the cold November air, the pain was moving me to a whole new level, blood was running from my right armpit, my lip was split and bleeding, I'd taken shrapnel to my side, something had gone completely through my left knee, my left arm was peppered and bleeding, my hair had all gone and I felt like I'd been hit with a giant hammer.
My eardrums were killing me with earache on a level I had never known and I had blister sacs of fluid on each finger of my left hand and another one running from wrist to elbow..
My sweater had melted to my shoulder and my trousers hung in tatters, the blast wave had gone up both trouser legs and unable to get out of the waistband and literally blew my trousers apart...
I looked quite dapper really.

After what seems like hours, I finally get to the long wall that runs down Curzon St, half a mile gone, half a mile to go.
I begin to cry, not because of the ever growing pain, I start to cry because finally, I can stop myself falling over as I cling along the wall down to the White towers.

Jimmy Kennedy and his girfriend Lucy come running past me..he doesn't know who I am...the blast has half closed my eyes, it's altered all my features and with my hair gone, he can't recognise me.
I call out his name and he stops, he's on his way to Town as his girlfriend's sister was in there too, he doesn't stop, later on, he describes me as 'Looking like a monster'
I console myself by thinking...'It could be worse, I could be a Villa fan'

I dont remember the last 500 yards, I was dragging myself along on adrenaline...and it's starting to run out..
Finally I get to my door, it opens and I fall into the arms of our lodger Arthur..
Next thing I know, I'm at Bath Row being treated by Doctors,
Arthur had knocked on the door of a lovely neighbour, his name was Mr Quinn, Antonio Quinn's dad and he rushes me up to the hospital in his little Mini...

They are triaging the wounded, I'm quickly checked over and I'm given a needle for my pain...it's been a living thing for a few hours now, it slowly begins to fade..

A burned and dusty hand comes on to my leg..Arthur later tells me he hears a voice saying 'Help me Arthur' it's my friend Steve Cox, I couldn't recognise him.
Steve Grater's Mom and Stepdad come up to the hospital, They are told that their son Steve is dying...in the confusion they have been given the wrong name...the person so mortally injured was a Mr Chaytor....both the Graters begin to cry.

A few people over the years have said 'You must hate the Irish'..no..how can I? my older brother is married to a wonderful Irish girl...my much loved Nephew and niece are both half Irish...tell me, which part of them should I hate?
10  General Discussion / General Posts / What lies ahead? on: February 21, 2018, 03:22:01 AM

In the Mail a few days ago there was a short article asking , if you could, what letter would you write to your teenage self?

Obviously the paper is assuming that you would be better educated and more worldly wise than you were back then, but I have to say, the whole thing intrigued me, so here we go.

Dear Les,

How I wish I could stand by your side in the years that lie ahead of you.
There are so many wonderful and sad days in your future, there will be so many things I wish you had not done and so many more things I wish you had.

You're an apprentice Plumber right now, I know you have doubts that you wont be as good a tradesman as you'd like to be...dont worry Les, that bit will work out, not always and there will be times you walk away, only for you to return back to your trade over the years...but rest assured, you WILL be a good Plumber.

You will become self employed in your 20's.

This is a bitter sweet thing, yes, you will experience a lifestyle that you never even had the capacity to even dream about, but like all things, there will be a cost.
There will be days when you go to work early in the morning and return back home late at night, and on those days, you will not see your little girls, those days are gone forever, and now in your later years you will realise, no money is worth that.

Your Mom is dying Les, she has just a few short months left to live and your prayers will mean nothing...she will never tell you she loves you, but again, don't worry, she does, she always did, very, very much...

I wish you could understand that torturing yourself over the years about that unspoken love is pointless, there should never have been any doubt, search your heart and you'll know it to be true.
After your Mom dies you will be empty and lonely, grief is a natural part of all this, but you will almost let it consume you, know your mother would never have wanted that of you...ever.

When you're 17 you will argue with your father and in the heat of the moment say to him that you wish it was he who had died and not your Mom..how that will torture you Les, but don't let it, you loved your Dad very much and he loved you in equal measure, he will show you that 11 years later when he calls you to his house and you and he share his last mortal moments on this earth.
I know he loved you, just as much as you love him.

You will marry a girl called Rosalyn.

Honestly! right now you still pray to a God, you ask him in in your despair that if he truly loves you, then he will show that love by taking you quietly in the night, don't despair, a wonderful life is about to begin.

You will have children, yes, those too, two fantastic girls who will make your heart almost burst with pride and love and with three people you would give your life for, you will travel the world.

By the time you are 45, you will realise all of your dreams, or so you think.

Before you are 50 you will become the grandfather of Katie Green and your heart will swell even more with love for a beautiful girl.
Then in 2009 your grandson Joshua will be born..
Les, although you dont know it, you have won the lottery of life, you will be blessed with the kindest and most wonderful family a man has ever known..
And you know the best thing my young friend? when you're 65 you will know it.

I'd wish you a fantastic life Les, but there's no point, I'm you....and I'm already there.
11  General Discussion / General Posts / Re: A poem on: February 18, 2018, 02:56:42 PM
Brilliant and true
12  General Discussion / General Posts / The Pole Gang. on: February 18, 2018, 02:55:23 PM
It's late September 1965 I've just started the 3rd Year, I'm now in 3Y and someone in Duddeston Manor School hates me..
Actually, that's not true, this goes beyond far beyond hatred...this time they've also thrown in public humiliation, disgust and contempt just for good measure.

Anyway.
I've finally got together a school uniform. I'm FINALLY wearing a school blazer WITH a badge,
I have a school tie, a semi decent shirt, I'm wearing NEW shoes and I'm also in the snappiest pair of hipsters you've ever seen.
Apart from...sigh...there is something wrong with the trouser creases..no matter how I try, they always look like Stevie Wonder has ironed them.
Trouble is, they are the only pair I've got.


We're in School Assembly, blah..de blah..de blah..de blah.
After our little sing song is over,  The Headmaster Mr Southern, hands over to the Deputy Head Mistress, Mrs Evans.
She announces she is introducing Dancing lessons to the school, to help us learn more about the social graces.

I don't care, this isn't going to affect me in the slightest, I can't dance and NO one would DARE to try to make a senior member of the feared Pole gang do it anyway.
Friday Morning my class is lined up against the wall in the school hall. Mr Wells is sitting at the Piano.

''Now boys and girls, choose yourself a partner and we'll begin to practice some basic steps..''
Oh drat...now here lies the problem...when it comes to talking to women I'm about 10 times shyer than Raj from the Big Bang theory.
Before I even blink there's just me.....and Mrs Evans left.

''MR'' Robinson she says to me...come out here please...giggles and laughter rise behind me as I begin my march of doom.
I feel myself going bright red..I just know that with my already red hair I'm beginning to look like a giant tomato.
Right in the middle of the hall Mrs Evans takes my hand...at round 5ft 3 inches tall, she towers over me.

''Now'' she said. ''Take my right hand with your left hand, put your right hand around my waist and try to keep your enormous willy away from me.''
Well ok, She definitely SAID the first bit of that sentence.

''Now step forward with your left foot''
And it was then I lost the will to live.

''Leslie '' she said, ''I'm trying to teach you the Waltz, how come you appear to be doing the Hokey Cokey''?
NOW THAT she did bloody say..
The whole of the class laughed at me...including my beloved Pat Egan, the only woman I have ever loved or wanted.
I melted on the spot in shame, worse still I had now given her a goal in life, it was now her ambition to teach me to dance..and every week beyond fail she would be choosing ME as her dance partner.

Except I had a plan...
A cunning plan...a plan more Cunning than the professor of Cunning at Cambridge University.

The next week when she picked me out again, I confidently STRODE up to her, took her hand and said ''Hello Miss Evans, I hope you don't mind that I have nits''

...........''That's alright Leslie, so have I''
13  General Discussion / General Posts / March 1952 on: February 18, 2018, 02:52:03 PM

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 April 5th meant he got back a lot of income tax for the year.
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 Inferno 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, two down dump 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 Dudley 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 four loving  brothers and 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.
 

                                                                 
14  General Discussion / General Posts / Scars on: February 15, 2018, 08:25:33 PM
My father was one of 5 children. He was the second child of Samuel and Florence Robinson.
 Dad came into the world on June 12th, 1913. His home was a small farm called Forge Mills in Water Orton.
 Dad had an older brother called Reginald and he preceeded Dad by two years.
 After Dad came Charles, Born in September 1914, Charles died shortly before the Christmas 3 months later.
 Than came my Aunt Eva in 1918 followed by my Uncle Les in 1921.
 My grandmother died shortly after giving birth to him..
 Following the death of Nan, Granddad took heavily to drink and dedicating his time to becoming the hateful, cruel bastard I knew him to be.

Granddad then met another woman called Florence, Florence Mk 2 already had two children of her own, a daughter called May and a deaf and dumb son who I only knew as Jack Gibbons.
 After Granddad married Florence, they produced three more children together. Samuel, Tony and David,
 David would become my favourite Uncle.

Which meant that for me in the late 50's, I had a load of immediate Uncles and Aunts and even better, our house was the meeting point for all the family.
 and once you add all my cousins, we were just one tent short of a circus.

Seriously, apart from my well off Uncle Reg (who I rarely ever saw) the rest of us didn't have two buttons to rub together, yet the whole house rang with laughter.

Why we laughed is one of lifes mysteries.
 We didn't have a TV, we had no savings, no car, minimal worn furniture and we lived from one week to the next, buying everything on tick.
 We hid from everyone who knocked our door, Blundells, the Milkman and at times because we couldn't pay our groceries we'd got on tick, we hid from them also when they tried to collect their money.
 I guess like many in Nechells, we had parents who dreaded Birthdays and Christmas, not because they didn't love us or didn't like the Xmas holiday, it was because they had to try to find extra cash to pay for them.

Every single thing we had to wear was either hand me downs or sewn and darned so heavily there was hardly anything left of the original material.
 No food was ever wasted and the only person we DID look forward to seeing was the guy who emptied our gas or electric meters.
 At least that way, besides the filed down ha'pennies, we also get a little bit of our cash back.
 I still remember coming home though on many a winters night to find our home was being lit up by the light of a few candles.
 No money for the electric meter in those days meant no light for the house either.

Then when my eldest brother and sister left school and began to work, the keep they paid Mom was more than just welcome, it was vital.

People talk about the affluent 60's.
 For the Robinson's, that was just a simple spelling mistake, for us it was more like 'effluent''
 It was shit.

I don't have many regrets in life, but my mother is certainly one of them.
 After pretty much struggling from day one, just at the time Moms life should have began to grow easier, the poor bugger goes and gets terminal cancer.

And if you think getting cancer in your mid 40's while you still have a son in Infants school was bad, Mom had to suffer the tragedy of losing her granddaughter in a traffic accident.

Mom weighed less than 6 st when she had to drag herself off her death bed to look after our Brenda.
 Where she found the strength from I'll never know, before mom passed she was also aware that besides Suzy dying,
 her sister in law and close friend, my Aunt May had also died with Leukemia , Mom followed several weeks later.
 It was a bad time.

Then we had a short respite for a few years before it all began again.
 Mom's brother Uncle Robbie, he died after two lads crashed a stolen car into him. My Geordie Nan passed away,
 my Uncle George choked eating a Takeway.
 Uncle Sam died of Cancer as did my Uncle Tony

The first four to be born almost outlived everybody else.

My Dad passed away 7 weeks before my first daughter was born in 82' and my wonderful Uncle Les was cremated on the same day my second daughter entered this world.
 It was a day of heart breaking contrasts, I was there for them both.
 Uncle Reg who I hardly saw and cared even less about, passed away in the early 90's...I didn't even know he'd gone until a few months later.
 My beautiful Aunt Eva died of heart failure in 1997, it was ok though, all Aunt Eva wanted was to be with her beloved husband, my Uncle Tom, a truly lovely man.

My Uncle David ? now he was a genuine hypochondriac, The man thought he was dying every day. strange to think he became the oldest ever living Robinson, passing away 2 years ago aged 83.


 Then the clock began ticking on us.
 If I could have put a bet of which one of my brothers and sisters would be most likely to go first, I'd have put my house on it being our Brenda.
 I'd have won too.

And on 11th September 2007, my brothers and sisters suffered our personal '9/11'
 After 2 years of struggling with cancer, at 15.44pm, one of the finest human beings I've ever known, was finally reunited with her little girl.
 I will love and miss our Brenda all of my days.

I confess at times throughout my life I have been almost broken by grief.
 It's the price we pay you know for loving those that we do,

Like the song goes, 'Love hurts, love scars, love wounds and marks''

Me?
 I wouldn't have it any other way.

See this scar?
 That was caused by crashing on my bike..
 The one on my leg, I had at school.
 When I fought a playground fight.
 The cut on my eye was caused by Ray.
 Through an arrow in full flight,
 The scar on my neck was made by a burn...
 By a blowlamp still alight.

The Tavern gave me 15 more,
 From my shoulders to my knee.
 Added together, there's 31..
 But they're just the ones you see.
 My real scars are deeper still,
 And some just never heal.
 They're caused by the loss of those I loved.
 Who taught my heart to feel.
 Those are the scars that ache and burn.
 And never go away.
 They just grow duller in their pain,
 I live with them each day.
 But how less a man I'd truly be.
 Without those hurting scars.
 For you see, it would mean I'd never loved
 And that would break my heart.
15  General Discussion / General Posts / School trips on: February 04, 2018, 12:59:46 PM
I remember the second time he took us to visit Sutton Park.
He arranged it as a field trip of course, something to show us that life wasn't just grime and crowded houses, but that there was a wild and interesting side of life to discover too..
I remember he told us to collect things to take back to class so we could discuss them..
My friends bought back, leaves, fungi and pieces of bark.
I bought back three Squirrels and a Park bench..
Mr Pullen went barmy...
Loxton St was in its final year then, It's classrooms were Dickensian,
The school meals were like something from Oliver Twist..and the toilets?
straight from Dante's Inferno...it just lacked the sign..Abandon hope, all ye who enter here.
But if it helped, I was little and handsome.
It was at this time I moved from Ashted Row to Hindlow Close,
Hindlow Close had four bedrooms, it also had something we had never known before...A Bathroom and Central Heating.
Dad put the underfloor heating on once...then we got our first bill..
It was never used again in the 17 years he lived there.
So now, I was little, cold AND handsome.
I was now about to start Duddeston Manor Bi-Lateral school,
Life was about to get a tad more complicated...
I was completely hopeless at sport, Oh, I had staying power,
gallons of it in fact...I could run for miles, its just I was so little...As I said earlier, I was only 5ft tall when I left school.
I found this so hard to understand when my Dad and all my Uncles ranged from 6ft 1ins to an incredible 6ft 7.
We take tall people for granted now, but think about then, really tall guys were met with 'Lofty' and 'whats the weather like up there?'
No...my family were tall and I was the class midget....
I remember one day in Gym, my friend and I were messing about on a Vault, jumping on the long hanging ropes..
I remember Allan diving on to one of the ropes..I kindly screamed out advice 'Miss!'..he carefully followed that advice and landed on one tooth, snapping it in half....he has had to wear a false one ever since..my, I did laugh!
It was however, my turn just weeks later when playing Pirates I climbed up on to the Basketball board, I'd been there but minutes when a Teacher (Mr Croxall) walked into the Gym and ordered me down..
I remember jumping and as I landed I came down on one leg and it twisted sidewards
I remember screaming loud enough and high enough to break glass as my dislocated knee swelled up like a balloon..
And that toothless %$&*$% Allan C laughed...
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