22 November 2012


That night a bright star shone and three Hell's Angels came from the east on motorbikes. It is the house where I was born many years ago - in the  bedroom to the right. In those days, it was very common for country women to give birth at home, attended perhaps by the district nurse or the local GP. It certainly wasn't some kind of lifestyle choice. Besides, though the modern western world has turned birthing and midwifery into pseudo-sciences, human history has demonstrated a less anxious view of childbirth. It's just one of those things. Like shelling peas.

I lived in that house for the first seventeen years of my life but have never been inside it since. Little nicks were made on a wooden door jamb to plot growth spurts and there was an old wash-house where I kept my pet mice. Next to that was the coalhouse where we stored both anthracite and coke. There was no central heating.

It was the village schoolhouse and one day when some men came to replace floorboards in our sitting room, as well as discovering an enormous puffball fungus, we also found a stack of Victorian slates and pencil-thin chalks that had been  used in the old school during the nineteenth century.

Even as a child of three, I would wander into the school next door and affix myself to which ever class I chose. I became the school's little mascot - carried on big boys' shoulders or bounced on big girls' knees. The school was just an extension of my home. I appear in several formal school photographs sitting amongst the big kids.

An old fashioned black bakelite telephone sat on the window sill of our dining room next to the kitchen. It was there on the day I was born and it was still there the day we departed - seventeen years later - still working perfectly well - but by then you no longer had to go through telephone operators in nearby Hull. The world had moved on.

I have so many memories of that house. Dad in his pyjamas blasting noisy rooks with a shotgun he had borrowed from a local farmer. Mum forever sewing beneath her sidelight. The coldness of linoleum in wintertime when you swung your feet out of bed. Paul dissecting a dogfish in the box room. Father Christmas leaving wonderful parcels in the dead of night. Simon and I drinking several bottles of "Babycham" when I was nine and he was seven - getting secretly inebriated while our parents were out. Robin customising his Lambretta scooter in the garage. Me listening to Bob Dylan, Cream and Led Zeppelin for the first time. Amy Spicer polishing mum's brass and silver ornaments. A gipsy selling clothes pegs from a basket. Oscar's kittens. So many memories.

I was going to include one or two other photos with this post but after seven and a half years of blogging it appears that my Picasa photo allowance has been used up and if I want to increase my storage I must pay the Google god money or delete old photos - which I is what I did just to get the schoolhouse picture in at the top of this post. Has anybody else encountered this problem?


  1. Speaking of trendy births. Try attending an antenatal class drunk after 2 hours sleep and trying to take it seriously. Expats of every nationality asking inane questions- Danish woman- 'what happens if I'm walking along and my baby head pop out' and perky kiwis massaging each other...

  2. Speaking of central heating just read a lovely story of an Iraqi girl moving to London and doing the old universal 'run along the sides of your feet on cold lino' routine.

    Even I forget what a house is like in Britain in the winter especially when you can't afford to turn the heating on in the day!

  3. I reached my Google photo storage limit 2 years ago and have paid the princely sum of about $5 each year since to extend the storage capacity.
    Home births are unusual here in Oz ... thank goodness.

  4. "It's just one of those things. Like shelling peas"

    Ooh! I'll bet there'll be a few ladies who would leap at that description!

    I was present at the birth of my Godson (the father could not be there). I was at the head end and Carol spent all her time pushing and sinking her fingernails into my arm. Afterwards I confessed to her that I could not imagine the pain of child birth. She asked me to consider, as a man, trying to pass a golf ball.

    Just over twenty years ago I decided to drive past where I had been born in Berlin in the fifties but it had all been torn down.

  5. Golden memories. On the Picassa front, I used to use them, but switched to Flickr, first the free account and the the unlimited paid-for service. Does Flickr work with Blogger?

  6. Yes it does Mr Parrot - it's what I used to use.

  7. Yes it does Mr Parrot - it's what I used to use.

  8. BANGBOOTH KOKY Ho! Ho! That antenatal class could inspire a great comedy sketch with your part being taken by Christopher Lee! By the way - I never turn our heating on in the daytime - I just close the windows and put on a fleece.
    HELEN If I could have the same deal I'd take $5 a year but it doesn't seem to be there now. maybe I'm missing something.
    HIPPO They say that in South East Asian paddy fields, squatting women have their babies and then just carry on working. A shame your own Berlin birthplace was obliterated - rather like Hitler's bunker.For me it's kind of comforting to know that the room where I was born is still behind that window.
    SHOOTING PARROTS & SIR STEVE (Occupied C.) I have no idea how I'd bypass Picasa in order to bring my photos in from Flickr but thanks to both of you for the hint. I'll look into it.

  9. occasionally I go back to my favourite old home. ( I visit Bel Ami on Wynyard Road in Hillsborough who lives next door to my old house)
    and I dont feel at all melancholy at all
    when we moved.... chris,finlay and maddie and the cats....( everything dear to me) moved as one.....
    this always surprised me as I thought I would miss the old place dreadfully


Mr Pudding welcomes all genuine comments - even those with which he disagrees. However, puerile or abusive comments from anonymous contributors will continue to be given the short shrift they deserve. Any spam comments that get through Google/Blogger defences will also be quickly deleted.

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