Perhaps I had ambitions to be an MP - or an undertaker!

Monday, March 5, 2012



There are only two mistakes one can make along the road to truth;
not going all the way, and not starting.



This vintage photo was among a number sent to me by my American cousin Walter.
It shows whisky being poured down a sewer during prohibition in the USA.



When I was very young I suppose I thought it normal to have bad dreams. Looking back, I remember that I often woke up crying during the night, and one of my parents had to comfort me.

I know I had a vivid imagination and suspected that ghosts lived among the coats hanging in the dark hall of our tenement house. During winter nights, with the living room lit only by one gas mantle, my sister and I would often glance up at the window above the door leading to the hall, half-expecting to see horrible faces watching us.

Perhaps much of my fear sprang from the fact that I was really afraid of God, and believed that, if I misbehaved, he would punish me there and then. The words of a children’s hymn were very real to me -

God is always near me
Hearing what I say,
Knowing all my thoughts and deeds,
All my work and play.

Children had to be especially good on Sundays, for it appeared that God didn’t like unnecessary noise on his holy day. We went to church of course, and after the service our parents would go home, while my sister and I stayed on for Sunday school. In the afternoon, if the weather was fine, we might all go for a walk to the cemetery or perhaps along the canal bank.

Where we lived, children didn’t play outside on Sundays. In the public parks the swings were all chained up and no ball games were allowed. I suppose that the only shops open were newsagents early in the morning, and perhaps an ice cream shop later in the day. Cinemas, theatres and pubs were closed, and there were no football fixtures, either professional or amateur.

It’s interesting to recall that most motor cars then were used solely for pleasure, and on Sundays would stay in the garage. I knew of car-owning families who would walk to and from church - in some cases a round trip of four miles. I'm remembering that working in the garden on Sunday was frowned upon.

At home my sister and I could play the piano, provided the music was “suitable”, and what we listened to on the wireless was vetted by our mother.

The war of course was to change all that, and from 1939 onwards, even in our family, the concept of keeping the Sabbath holy lost much of its importance.



A Scene in Arran
by William Dyce (1806-1864)



I leave my heart in an English garden
by Christopher Hassell (1912-1963)

Breezes in the long grass ruffling my hair,
Hollyhock and bluebell scenting the air;
Nothing in the world can ever be
Such a sweet memory.
Nothing in the world was ever so fair.

I leave my heart in an English garden,
Safe where the elm and the oak stand by.
Though the years rise and roll away,
Still shall those watchmen stay,
Bold in the blue of an English sky.

I leave my dreams in an English garden,
Safe where the breezes of England blow.
When the highways are dark and drear,
I know there's sunshine here,
Bright where the roses of England grow.


Thanks to Hilux 188 for making this slide show available. Scottish scenes are accompanied by “Highland Cathedral” played by the Grampian Police Pipe Band



Ageing seems to be the only available way to live a long life.
(Kitty O'Neill Collins)


Next post here Wednesday 7th March

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