Saturday, 15 August 2009

My Mum The 'Governor'

I was wondering what I should write about today; there’s always something new in the political world to pass comment on! But sometimes I just have the feeling to write about something that’s totally different from my usual offerings; and today is such an occasion. As a Socialist blogger I believe that I ought to be able to write about things and people who are important to me or at least in my eyes! So I’ve decided to write about the ‘Governor’, who is the governor you may well ask? Well she’s my mother and ‘governor’ is my name for her which in no way reflects the person she really is!

I wanted to write something about her for some time now; because she really is a very remarkable woman in a great many respects. Attempting to put to one side my inclination to be biased: I can truly say that the two women who command respect and admiration are both my mother and the oldest of my two younger sisters, but it is my mother who if anyone deserves an award for a lifetime of achievement! It’s not the fact that she managed to raise a family of four whilst at the same time copping (tongue-in-cheek) with my father her husband for over 51 years – and I’m 53 so what dose that say? But the many gifts and lessons she bestowed on the lemons; her children!

One of the most notable things about my mum is that I’ve never known a time when she has if ever - fallen out with anyone, if she had she would never done it with any despising malaise or vindictive malice. I was always proud that not many if in fact anyone spoke ill of her; which says a great deal about the person she is. If anything people always sang her praise. My mum has always been proud of her German descent and roots; she was a ‘childhood child’ of world war two which still fills me with intrigue and wonder from the prospective view of a German child. Tragically her father was a victim of that war, depriving my mother and her older brother (now deceased) of any meaningful relationship, all they had to cling too was a distant memory and a photograph that hung for years on the living room wall. What effect this had upon mum growing up I can not comprehend, if it had left its mark it did not show for mum without doubt is made with sturdy stuffing. She met her husband and came to a Britain of the late fifties and early sixties that in some respects was still recovering from the effects of war but was moving into the affluence and comfort of consumerism. However pockets of pre-war poverty still persisted and given that mum had just arrived from a country that had been hammered incessantly and battered by bombs with its cities reduced to heaps of rubble, but it did not dent the German people’s sense of standard and despite probable shortages of life’s necessities. So it came as a shock to find that her new husbands family that’s the inn-laws and about nine children lived in a two bedroom tenement in Scotland, with the living room doubling up as the third bedroom. Times were particularly trying for this family with clothing passed down from one child to the next. Matters being all the more difficult for mum as she could not speck a single word of English; however she soon mastered the language better than the English themselves; without any exaggeration if you met my mum in the street for the first time and happen to had a conversation with her; you’ll never had guessed she was German.

Over the coming years mum made the home for the family that all of us children remember so well, as her oldest and most troublesome child (a standing that I still enjoy) my memory stretches’ back the furthest and I easily recollect the unswerving dedication and application of mum’s role in the household. She had the courage of conviction tempered with determination no mater what to strive to make all are lives that much more comfortable within the limits of economic restraint. In the sixties money and dad’s low paid employment meant that for a time we didn’t have all the luxury’s that are taken for granted today, we hadn’t a hover so mum would be down on the floor on bended knee with a hard bristled hand held brush which doubled up as a deterrent whenever my bother or myself misbehaved; which was more often than not the case! Making ends meet meant that mum occasionally took work on the land with a gang of other women who travelled about the Fen-country working farmers land with such tasks as hoeing crops free of weeds – well it certainly beats the application of pesticides; it was very much reminiscent of the ‘Darling Bud’s of May’ that idyllic period drama set in Kent’s garden of Eden. The Flush of nostalgia; not a yearning for the past has captivated my thoughts’ of a time truly gone with absolute fondness as I retrace my own family’s progress thought the years and mums massive contribution. At the end of the sixties we had relocated to Sunny Scunny or rather Scunthorpe in North Lincolnshire, with its Steel Works and the red sky at night, the glow caused by the tipping of a slag ladle during the cohesive and begrimed steel making process. Scunthorpe or rather the council gave us our first ever council house albeit then a condemned old back to back house with its very own outside bog and mum worked wonders making this house fit for a growing young family until we moved to a more permanent built in the late fifties council house. By this time mum had taken on fulltime employment as a car cleaner or better known these days as car valeting; for a car sales showroom dealership, she was so good at this that her bosses moved her to there more prestigious new car showroom; mum must have sold hundreds of thousands of pounds worth of new cars just on her cleaning alone! It was hard work; and to think that the day wasn’t over when she had finished at the garage, for she went home to prepare the family evening meal and sort the husband and kids out for the next day – what a grafter!
For years her life revolved around her job and the ever demanding needs of a young teenaged incubate of kids; and how I can only marvel at her enduringness and great strength. For years; she never had a social life her weekends were taken up with household family chores of cleaning, washing, ironing and cooking then back to the soap suds and car waxing.
Mum had one significant friend that she held in much high regard and a friendship that stood the test of time: Trevor worked alongside mum for years as part of the car cleaning crew and I only mention him in passing because of something nice she said about him a while back when explaining their relationship she said: “the thing was he was a genuine kind of guy not like other blokes, who would come on to you: No, he was a real friend!” And when that friendship drifted in life’s all too often sifting quick sand of time and changing circumstance, the friendship remained in place, some years after Trevor’s premature death his widow made the moving effort to visit mum who by now was living in retirement in Scotland; the visit was a promise made and kept to Trevor that his wife would visit his old friend in Scotland. I think on its own this little story speaks volumes!

I see from my word counter that I’ve clocked up 1,312 words making this a rather long entry for my blog and yet the story has some way to go yet, so if you stay with it I will endeavour to the best of my ability to bring things to a swift conclusion which is of course no easy task as I’m writing about this amazing and yet modest women my mum.

Well as you may have gathered; my parents moved to Scotland in fact all my family moved at some time or another to the same small picturesque village of Muirkirk, Ayrshire: and once more, without informing me that’s why I’m living hundreds of miles away in Canning Town’ - but of course I’m joking!

My parents decided to take on the running of their very own pub in this lovely setting and location; for the next sixteen years helped for the most part by my sister and her husband, they set about reopening a rundown closed public house and brought it back into the community, in fact it became part of the community as good as any community centre provided by the council. When I think of the things that they all achieved with the pub I then swell-up with much pride.
It was not about making money for they didn’t have much of that; oh no, it became a service to the community unrestrainedly generous; for example every year they threw a pensioners Christmas party; every pensioner would attend free of charge, would receive a full Christmas diner, drinks and entertainment was put on. But best of all is that they provided every pensioner who could manage to get home in time for Christmas, with a gift, any chosen bottled spirit. This was paid for by funds raised all year round. Well it goes without saying that in amongst it all was mum cooking, cleaning, serving and being her usual welcoming self for this has always been her way, she has indeed held the lantern and shown the way.

I Bless her!


Chris H said...

A nice post Jim, it's lovely when we have the experiences and history to honour those who bring us into this world and raise us, especially with the difficulties that exist within our society and world.

Jim said...

Thanks Chris for having the time to read the post!

I can thank my Mum for many things and although she would never say it herself but being a Socialist is one of them!

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