The Ban

The one word that my father banned in our house was any variation on ‘boredom,’ and Mother sang in unison, which was a bit unusual.

They both felt that there was a world of opportunity out there or inside us and helped us to foster our imaginations from before we could remember.

Mother and Me

There was very heavy control over television watching so that we didn’t become couch potatoes and we each had 30 minutes TV time a day – after 5pm and before 9pm. This involved doing all sorts of deals and pouring over the television listings to make sure we had the timings correct. When my sister went away to school her 30 minutes went with her.

Being outdoors was part and parcel of growing up. Simple things like skipping, making a steeplechase course in the garden with Big Bro, building tents out of old sheets and sticks, playing tennis against any wall that could withstand it, collecting wildflowers, bird-watching, tending our little plots in the garden, going for cycles, picnics or cycling picnics, playing catch, football, cricket …

Mother and Dad participated in these activities but ensured that we could come up with our own imaginary games.

Wet days were all about wellies and raincoats, splashing in puddles, watching the clouds, seeing the trees bend in the breeze, going to see the sea in all weathers when we lived near it…

Indoor activities were special too: baking, drawing horses, getting to use the puzzle books that Mother had hidden away for really rainy days; playing cards, board games, doing jig-saws, making up rhymes, pillow fights and, of course, reading. I was the least ‘ready bones’ in the house and plagued the others to do more active stuff, as I saw it.

I still think and feel that ‘boredom’ simply shouldn’t exist but I think now that I have my parents to thank for that. Others certainly weren’t as fortunate as me.

Where does ‘boredom’ fit or not fit in your life?

The Party

I am not a party animal and that’s putting it mildly. I went to a couple of birthday parties as a child and couldn’t seem to deal with them at all. I think it was the party pieces that got to me, but I’m not even sure if that was it.

There was, however, one party in my life that was heaven. It was when I was thirteen and we had it in the basement of our house – a big bank house – on New Year’s Eve.

The preparations that went into that event were unbelievable and the bits I remember most were my brother and I painting some light bulbs red. How we didn’t set the place on fire with them is still a mystery. There was also the putting up of posters around the old stone walls. Jimi Hendrix is the one stands out in my mind.

The music blasted out from our record player and maybe someone had a speaker -though I can’t recall speakers being much of a thing for home music back then. The main thing was the music played all night and we danced and danced. All my ‘wallflower’ fears seemed to leave me that evening, probably because I knew all the ‘guests.’

Neil Diamond, The Beatles and, of course, I’ve Been to the Desert on a Horse with No Name’ played as the red lights glowed and I felt all grown up in my bell-bottomed trouser suit. I can still see Big Bro with tinsel around his neck. I thought he was cooler than cool as he bopped towards midnight.

We counted down to the New Year, sang Auld Lang Syne and then a boy who I really fancied gave me a New Year’s kiss that has remained stored in my heart all these years. I wonder whatever became of him!

Mother and Father were upstairs throughout all this and Mother provided us all with food and soft drinks without seeming to have any presence in the crowded room.

No party could ever surpass that one – I knew it that night and I still believe it was beyond special. As we approach New Year tonight, sweet memories from that year will come flooding back along with lots of others.

Expressions I Love

I found myself thinking about words and expressions today and it seems that there’s a vast array of Covid ones which have almost taken over.

Here’s a few non-Covid ones that resonate with me and that are steeped in good old nostalgia:

#1. ‘Now you’re flyin’ ‘- words spoken by a friendly man at a service station here in Tramore after he’d have made sure my car was petrolled, aired and watered and ready for my journey back to Dublin;

#2. ‘Ah cod, don’t think I can’t see through you’.’ My mother’s words when I’d try to fool her that everything was okay when it wasn’t.

#3. ‘Lock Hard.’ Brings back memories of men who ‘helped’ with parking in Dublin especially when we’d be going to big, exciting events like a Christmas pantomime.

#4. ‘You’re van, you’re playing great.’ Big Bro on tennis courts when I thought I was finally going to beat him but never did.

#5. ‘Will we go Molly’s?’ Son’s regular question re going to Tramore’s friendliest, most delicious cafe right on the seafront.

#6. ‘There’s no such thing as a cross baby only a tired baby.’ Sensible words of a lovely lady who minded son and who remains friends still. She also claims: ‘Old friends are best,’ and I love her for that.

#7. ‘I love your dog,’ when it comes like a chorus from a group of tiny school kids out for a school walk around the corner from us.

#8. ‘Let me do all the worrying here and you focus on the practicalities.’ Comforting words from one of the best doctors I ever knew at a time of extreme concern.

#9. ‘You go for a swim, it will do you good to get into the sea.’ Words from hubby who knows what works for me.

What expressions warm your heart?

Phone Boxes

I just heard on the radio that there is a new initiative afoot to turn our old on-street phone boxes into fast car-charging ‘stations.’

That got me thinking about all the phone calls I made from phone boxes around Ireland from when I was a young teen.

This comes after a conversation with son (25) the other day during which I was trying to explain about trunk calls versus local calls and the key role of the telephone operator. The picture I painted was a bit ‘valley of the squinting windows’ type in that one was always aware that the operator could hear conversations unfolding and was therefore in a position of being aware of news pretty much as it came in. ‘Breaking news’ is the term now; I’m not sure what it was back then – gossip or ‘sca,’ maybe.

But the phone boxes were lifelines for me when I moved away from home. I was one of those closely bonded kids who rang home every single night without fail and that was something that lasted right up to the day my father died, years on in 2010. It was Mother I used to have the long chats with but Dad very often answered the phone and made sure he got to hear and give ‘the breaking news’ first.

I’m sure I drove waiting callers crazy when I’d get Mother to call me back in the phone box when my money was running out – most nights! It would be all steamed up and I’d try and avoid catching the impatient eyes glaring in at me and luxuriate in the chatter with Mother about everything from how our dog was to the fact that the new moon was due and to be careful not to see it through the glass for fear of bad luck; to seeking advice about how to deal with insect bites, cakes that wouldn’t rise, whether or not it was a good idea to go on a second date with a guy we both knew just wasn’t my type at all….

Those public phone boxes heard it all as did the operators. Some of the conversations were highly charged, like trying to explain the inexplicable or screw up the courage to confess to being completely broke, yet again, after splashing out on an irresistible bargain in my favourite clog shop or cheesecloth shirt emporium!

I just hope this charge will go into the environmentally friendly cars and that people will always hear the echo of :’Yes, I’ll accept the charges,’ in response to the operator interceding and asking Dad: ‘Will you accept reverse call charges?’

Yet Another Ireland

There I was making a cup of tea with a tea bag and I got to thinking of all the things, of my lifetime,  that have vanished apart from fleeting memories of them. Here’s a few that might or might not jog a memory, draw a smile, a sigh or …

#1. Green public telephone boxes with button A and button B. (I saw one in a garden out in the middle of nowhere the other day.)

#2. The Riordans on RTE television

#3. Making a ‘trunk call’ and having to dial the operator.

#4. A time when there were no mobile phones and not all that many houses with telephones.

#5. Wooden tennis rackets

#6. The coming of the ‘hole in the wall’ that gave out money and how you’d say ‘Thank You’ ’til you realised what an eejit you were talking to a machine.

#7. The move to decimalisation

#8. When shops were shut on Sundays and from 1-2 for lunch.

#9. When you went to the chemist to collect your photos and get a new film.

#10. The doctor who dropped in after tea to check on ‘the patient.’

#12. Telegrams

#13. Butlins Mosney by the Sea

#14. Bedsits

#15. The border posts between the Republic and Northern Ireland

#16. When 99.99% of people in Ireland were white

#17. Days before Funeral Homes

#18. When JFK was revered in Ireland

#19. Showbands coming to town

#20.45s and LPs

#21. The washing-up ritual

#22. Talk of joining the Common Market

#23. Charles Mitchell reading the News on RTE

rte_news_-_charles_mitchel_last_broadcast_1984
Charles Mitchell on RTE ~ Photo: Wikipedia

#24. That first big green car wash when you forgot to close the window

#25. Jim Figgerty

 

#26. The Catholic Church ban on its adherents attending Trinity College, Dublin without special dispensation.

#27. Edna O’Brien’s The Country Girls

#28. When Sunday Mass included the priest reading out a list of who had given a donation to the church and how much it was.

#29. The first moon walk

#30. Listening to Radio Luxemburg under the blankets (no duvets then!)

Maybe you have a few or hundreds to add to the list?

Birthday Thoughts

Today is my birthday ~ not that you’d know it from hubby and son who are the most un-birthday people you could ever meet, even when it comes to their own birthdays.

Birthdays in the house of my youth were HUGE days and it came as no surprise that Big Sis and Big Bro sent lovely cards and things, as always.

I had a gorgeous day ~ just took off on an adventure.

When I was coming back to Tramore the sun had just set and I found myself drawn to the house where we lived back then. It was here in Tramore.  Our parents were renting it and I got to thinking of how Dad would have come home from work ( in those 1950s days, fathers certainly weren’t in attendance at births here in Ireland), and made sure Big Sis and Big Bro were okay.  Here’s the house as it was looking this evening.

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My First Home, Tramore, Co. Waterford

Back in the 1950s, Tramore had its own little nursing home where many of the town’s babies, including me and my two sibs were born. It was about a two minute walk from our house so Dad used to call in the mornings and evenings to see Mother and the new baby.

His evening call would have been around the time I was passing this evening and this is how the nursing home of old was looking. It’s the near one with the red door.

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Lyon Terrace, Tramore

It’s lovely that these houses are still in existence and so well maintained.

I can’t but smile as I think of Mother’s description of Big Sis’ disappointment with the baldy baby that I was. She had been madly looking forward to having a little sister and thought I would be like her doll ~ Emily-Anne. As you can see from this photo that Father took, Emily-Anne raised the bar rather high!

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Big Sis, Big Bro and Emily-Anne

The card I got from Big Sis this morning certainly indicated that she’s well over her disappointment.

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As for Big Bro, he and I have been the best of friends since Day 1. He’s a great one for tossing out crumbs of advice so this P.S. on his card  was absolutely true to form:

Make the most of 59!

I certainly intend to …..

Lines of Connection

WordPress have just sent me a notification telling me that today is my 5th Anniversary since registering with them. It’s hard to believe that it could be 5 years ~ but I remember well that January night in 2011 when I decided to give blogging a shot. Never, ever did I think that I’d still be here or that I’d have made so many new friends and connections through this whole medium. Thank you from the bottom of my heart to everyone who has taken the time to read my posts and engage with them in some way.

As you know, Social Bridge is all about connections and what caught my eye as I sauntered through a little village by the sea today was this ‘antique,’ that wouldn’t have been so out of place 5 years ago but which seems like as if it belongs to a parallel universe now.

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Telephone Times

Remember the feel of dialling out numbers that were so much shorter than they are now. The first one of ours that I can remember is 8442. And then all the rigmarole about making a ‘trunk call’ through the operator, not to mention an international call.

I wonder what news and gossip was exchanged on this particular phone. How many fingers dialled numbers? How many whispered calls were made in the dead of night? How many times was that receiver slammed down in frustration and fury? How many times was it picked up tentatively and then silently put down after a change of mind about making that call? How many times did it hear those special words: ‘I love you too?’ 

 

 

Backseat Kids ~ Five Photos/Five Stories 3

The excitement of  kids bubbled from a car that passed me as I was walking round our block with Puppy Stan this evening. It catapulted me back to Summer holidays and our wild antics in the back of the car. We spent our time waving madly out the back window at the cars behind, at people out walking, at policemen, at farmers driving cattle along country roads, at groups gathered at street corners …..

Happy Days! Photo: Frank Tubridy
Happy Days!
Photo: Frank Tubridy

Those were days long before cars even had radios. Our singing was the blaring music  and the song that still rings in my ears is Ten Green Bottles. Mother led the rhyme games ~ that’s when we got into the habit of making up rhymes with people’s names. When you have a name like Tubridy, people find it hard to get back at you!

And, we all knew that when we reached the outskirts of whatever town we lived in on our return journey, Dad would say: A penny  for whoever’s first to see someone they know.

Funny, I haven’t seen a backseat of kids waving madly at me for years and years now but I’ll tell you, I knew the importance of waving and waving until the car had gone out of sight.

***

Many thanks to Willow for nominating me for this Challenge.

Here are the rules for the “Five Photos Five Stories” challenge:

“Post a photo each day for five consecutive days and attach a story to the photo. It can be fiction or non-fiction, a poem or a short paragraph and each day nominate another blogger for the challenge.

My third nominee for the Five Photos/Fives Stories is Robin at northumbrian:light.