25 September 2008


Lists often do the rounds in the blogosphere - things to do before we die, favourite places visited, songs for life soundtrack, pet hates etc.. This list of five is about things I can see around me as I type at this keyboard - unconscious emblems of life, the flotsam and jetsam of memory.

1. Framed football programme cover. Hull City v Doncaster Rovers 4th May 1949. Many, many years before I was born! No glossy colour photograph here. Instead there's a cartoonish Hull City defender rising to meet the O of the ball that also begins the top line - "OFFICIAL PROGRAMME". There are only three print colours - amber, black and a pale blue. Above the dark shape of a distant grandstand flies the "Hull City AFC" flag. The price of the programme was three old pence and it seems the cover was designed by the great Yorkshire artist - Sid Mercer in 1948. By the way the result of this game was 0-1 in Doncaster's favour - one of only four league games that The Tigers lost that season, becoming champions of the Third Division North. Impressive or what?
2. Karl the Mahogany Elephant. He stands about eleven inches tall. He's smooth and chunky. He has little white tusks and little white toenails and two beady little glass eyes. He stands on the polished black granite hearth, frozen in mid-stride. He is a souvenir of Goa. We bought him from a Kashmiri trader after numerous visits and discussions. On the last day of our Indian holiday we released him from captivity, wrapped him in Hindi newspapers and squeezed him into my hand luggage. Every carved elephant is a little different. Karl is named after a Brummie we met at the Lui Beach Hotel in Candolim. He cost just under twenty quid.

3. List of American Universities - A list within a list. How bizarre! Frances left this list next to the computer. They are universities available to third year American Studies students at Birmingham University. The list seems to have shrunk and when I think of all the great university locations in The States I am disappointed to see how limited this list is - including The University of Wyoming at Laramie and The University of Iowa at Des Moines! No Harvard. No UCLA. No John Hopkins or Ohio State, Penn State or Washington... Still wherever she goes, I am sure she will make the most of the experience.

4. Tan leather box. It's a cube with a lid - twelve inches by twelve - notice how I am incapable of thinking in centimetres.... Bring back imperial measures I say! The box contains the sad remaining documentation of my mother's life. She died a year ago this month after eighty six years of life - a full life with lots of memories and achievements - almost a rags to riches story. I think of her most days just as I still think of my father who died way back in 1979. In the box are more lists - her shopping lists and scribbled accounts. There are also several sympathy cards but mostly it's boring crap from British Gas, Kingston Communications, Lloyds TSB Bank and Scottish Widows. The sorting and closing and communication I have had to perform linked to this leather box doesn't bear thinking about.

5. The Wedding Photo. It's faded now and it came from Shirley's mum's bungalow after her death this summer. Shirley's twenty two and I am twenty eight. I am leaning over her as she sits, in her white wedding gown at a desk in the vestry of St Martin's Church in Owston Ferry, Lincolnshire. We are so young and so happy as we sign the wedding register. Life lies ahead of us and not behind. There are years and years to live, children to bear and raise. On that night, after the reception, we drove down to Lincoln for our one night honeymoon in St Catherine's Hotel. It was October and rather chilly with a thin quilt in a spartan room. The next day I carried her over the threshold of our first house in Crookes, Sheffield. We had only just acquired the keys.

Lincoln: The morning after our wedding we walked up to the cathedral which was once the tallest building in the entire world! The door to the Minster Shop had been unlocked all night. We reported it to a church official and he was so grateful he said we could have anything we wanted. We picked a small framed print of this great church from Braysford Pool.

If you fancy taking up this idea in your own blog - please feel free.... Make it a new "meme" to wander through Blogland.


  1. A lovely idea, YP, I think I might take up the invitation. Elder Daughter lived in Crookes for most of her student years.

  2. Very evocative. The tan leather box speaks volumes. Nicely put.

  3. Good post YP one I will take up on my owm blog


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