There are places that remain in our memories, the details may become slightly blurred, nostalgia may colour our thoughts, but they don’t fade. And how those places made us feel at the time is the one thing that remains.
Today I’m really pleased to welcome Patricia M Osborne, friend, author and poet and supporter of many writers, whose work she highlights every week.
When Judith asked me if I’d like to submit a blog about a place in my memory it was Bolton that instantly jumped out. I often wonder why my years as a child from the age of seven to ten were so impressionable. Maybe it was because we first arrived in Bolton after becoming homeless and were housed in a half-way house.
It was January 1963, I was seven coming up to eight, and the snow was thick on the ground when my dad made me go to the shops with him so I’d know where to go in future. Freezing, I sobbed. I wanted to go home, but Dad told me off for whinging, saying he was cold too. The day afterwards I got sick and couldn’t keep food down for weeks other than a bowl of Oxo. Maybe that’s why I hate snow so much because it takes me back to being so poorly.
Our two-up-two-down terraced house in Bamber Street, Daubhill, had a front room, a sitting room, a tiny scullery and two upstairs bedrooms. There was no bathroom, just a tin bath stored in the yard which Mum had to drag in, fill with hot buckets of water from the stove, and bath us in front of the fire. The toilet was at the bottom of the yard and I was terrified to go out there on my own in case there were any daleks.
It was at this house my late sister, Heather, got carried out on a stretcher to hospital. We were like inseparable twins and after being left alone without a playmate for two whole weeks, I was jubilant when she returned home. We’d play upstairs in the cold bedroom for hours. She’d be John Steed banging a large umbrella on the wooden floorboards while I was Cathy Gale.
I loved the museum in the town hall which also consisted of a library and aquarium. It’s still there. This was a place where Heather and I spent most of our time. If not choosing Milly-Molly-Mandy books in the library, we’d be exploring the mummies in the museum or hovering around the glass case of porcelain dolls. There was something about those dolls that made me yearn to own one while Heather found them spooky.
The tiny church school we attended consisted of only three classrooms. It was situated at the bottom of our cobbled street, and although only five minutes away, Heather and I managed to be late most days. A lot of the time was spent being taught the catechism, or learning subjects via the wireless such as the Monday morning singing lesson. Whenever I hear The Skye Boat Song it takes me back to those times.
In the playground the older kids loved swinging me around because I was so light. It was in that same playground during out of school hours when a flasher exposed himself to Heather and I, but we were too frightened to tell Mum and Dad. And then there was the kind teacher who at the end of term offered me the three-foot Christmas tree from our classroom to take home because she knew we didn’t have one.
My best friend, Susan Brown, lived over a wallpaper shop. Sometimes when I’m playing table tennis out on my patio, I experience a kind of déjà vu when I’m back in Bolton as an eight-year-old in my best friend’s backyard pushing her doll’s pram.
On my ninth birthday party, the landlord, who was a taxi driver, turned up at the door. He grabbed my mum by the wrist and made her cry as he tried to pull her out of the house because he wanted it back for himself. It was only when Dad came home from work we were safe. My sisters and I used to lie in bed at night petrified at the sound of a car going by or when car lights shone over the ceiling in case it was the bad man back.
Daubhill holds a lot of memories for me, good and bad. Two years later we were housed in Tong Moor, a different area of Bolton, in a three-bedroom house with a bathroom and garden but still an outside loo. It was here that my youngest sister was born. But then that’s another set of memories.
Thank you, Judith, for letting me share some of my memories.
Thank you, Patricia for sharing. Your memories brought back many of my own, especially the outside loo, where my fear was the spiders!
And If ever you feel like coming back to tell us more of your memories you will be very welcome.😊
Photograph of the places that Patricia remembers can be found through the links below…
Picture of Bamber Street – Bottom right
Bolton Town Hall
Born in Liverpool, she now lives in West Sussex.
In February 2019, she graduated with an MA in Creative Writing via the University of Brighton. She is a novelist, poet, and short story writer. When she’s not working on her own writing, she enjoys sharing her knowledge and acts as a mentor to fellow writers.
In 2017 she was a Poet in Residence at a local Victorian Park in Crawley and her poetry was exhibited throughout the park. In 2019 her poetry was on display at Crawley Museum.
Patricia has had numerous poems and short stories published in various literary magazines and anthologies.
Where to find Patricia M Osborne and details of all her books are here…
Amazon author Page: https://www.amazon.co.uk/~/e/B06XHLKG1N