Saturday, 7 February 2015

The 50's. John Peel and Tinned milk.

I'm moving on now into the 1950's but if I recall something from the 40's I'll skip back again.

I said before, my dad was a deep sea fisherman sailing out of Grimsby.  When they came home the men had only 2-3 days in port so they had to make the most of their time.  My dad always went to visit his mum, we called her "Granny Bennett", and occasionally he would take me with him.  Although I was pleased to see her it was quite boring for me as I had to sit while they talked.
The highlight of the visit though happened before we even arrived at Granny Bennett's house; as with all the fishing families in Grimsby my dad's relatives all lived either in the same street or very close by.  My dad's sister Gert (I suppose that was short for Gertrude) lived just half a dozen doors down from Granny Bennett and we had to pass her door to reach grandma's house.  The houses were long terraced buildings, no front gardens, so the front doors opened straight onto the pavement which made them ideal for the kids game of "knock & run".  This was when you knocked on the door then ran and hid somewhere to watch the householder come out!  My dad was a bit of a joker and encouraged me to not just knock on Gerty's door but give it a hefty kick!  I would then run to grandmas door further up the street but never made it inside, my dad would wait anyway to see Gert come out.  She would stand there shaking her fist shouting "I knew it was you our ****** George".  
Aunty Gert was quite a character, she had a house full of kids and was married to my uncle who was known in the family as "Wiffles".  This was due to his habit of smoking Wills Wiffs cigarettes made by WD & HO Wills, the large tobacco company.  Like most men in Grimsby he too was a deep sea fisherman.
When we got inside Granny Bennetts house we were ushered into the middle parlour (remember, no-one used the front room!) and they would talk for what seemed like hours.  I recalled in an earlier posting how my dad helped his mam when he was still at school, doing various jobs to contribute to the household expenses.  He still
This image courtesy of Ann Kennedy
Please take a look at her blog.

helped her until she passed away and always gave her some money each time he was in port.  While we were there granny Bennett would bring out cakes or biscuits and make a cup of tea using water from the large brown enamel kettle that was always on the hearth of her large black range.  I can still remember the taste and smell of that tea, it was thick and strong and the smell came from the Carnation Evaporated tinned milk that she used.  It's years now since I last had a cup of tea made with Carnation Milk but as soon as I see it on the supermarket shelves I'm transported back to Granny Bennett's Middle parlour. 

My granddad rode a bicycle all his life, only giving up in his 70's following a stroke.  Each weekend he would go out on his bike for a ride and visit his mum ("Little Gran") and sister Emma.  When I was big enough he bought a childs seat that bolted onto the crossbar of his bike between the seat and handlebars and I would ride out with him on his travels.  I would sit on the little seat, holding the middle of the handlebars, my granddad would pedal us along albeit slightly bowlegged with me in front of him!
We would visit his mum first and his greeting was always the same..."hello, I'm not stopping!".  After a short chat we would go just around the corner to aunt Emma's house but as we were leaving he would always shout "toodle-pip, I'm off now".
When we got to aunt Emms house it would be the same greeting, years later when I married he would include us on his "visiting round" and we got the same greeting..."I'm not stopping"!!
The highlight of a visit to auntie Emms house was to see her John
A John Peel musical jug like Aunt Emms
Image courtesy of Wikipedia.
Peel musical jug which took pride of place on the top of the dresser.  If I asked politely aunty would bring the jug down for me to see it.  It had a pin underneath and when it was lifted the musical movement inside played the well known tune " Do yer ken John Peel?".  I thought this really exciting.  Occasionally though, even though I asked very nicely, aunt Emm would say "not today, maybe next time eh?"  I never understood why, still don't!  My granddad would say the usual toodle-pip and we'd be off.
On the way home he always stopped at a shop in Freeman Street and propped his bike, with me perched up on the kids seat, against the plate glass window and left me saying "I'm just popping in here for my baccy and a mirror".  I was terrified the bike would slip and bring me crashing down but that never happened. When he came out he did indeed have a tin of his favourite pipe tobacco, St. Bruno or occasionally Ogdens, but no sign of a mirror!  It was many years later, when I was married in fact, that I recalled this mystery one day and the penny dropped.  The shop was a tobacconists and also a NEWSAGENTS......the mystery of the mirror was solved, it was a copy of the DAILY MIRROR NEWSPAPER!! 

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