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Tuesday, 19 January 2016


Following on from yesterday's post - Before Amnesia: Some Of The Things I Remember, here are some more "I Remembers"............

I remember the first grown-up book I read from start to finish. It was Shane by Jack Schaefer, a western story, unsurprising choice to those who know me.

I remember making toast at the coal fire in the living room. It was a bit blacker than the grilled version. We did not own a toaster in the 1960s.

I remember smoking (really sucking) my brother’s pipe in an attempt to be a big lad and feeling sick, not too far from death’s door.

I remember loving the smell of annuals at Christmas.

I remember one Christmas when Santa brought me a Man From U.N.C.L.E. attaché case containing everything a spy would ever need. I was Napoleon Solo and I had a triangular yellow badge with the number eleven on it.

I remember a nun from Scotland called Helen. She visited our neighbours and once brought me a book of Irish short stories. Some days, she didn’t wear a habit.

I remember being hopeless at skipping.

I remember Heinz salad cream on Sundays.

I remember thinking General de Gaulle looked scary.

I remember giggling at Mike Yarwood’s impersonations of Harold Wilson (pipe, raincoat) and Ted Heath (heaving shoulders when he laughed).

I remember the number 13 Glen Road bus, from Belfast city centre to the terminus next to our flat. We kids would hang around in the hope that the drivers would let us sit in their cabs. Some even let us wear their peaked caps.  Some told us to feck off.

I remember doing The Twist to Chubby Checker’s record.

I remember liking Melody Maker more than New Musical Express.

I remember my mother feeling very sad at the news that Pope John 23rd had died.

I remember being haunted for a while by the police photographs of Ian Brady and Myra Hindley, both staring straight at the camera and, therefore, at me.

I remember the thrill of getting a signed photograph of Henry Darrow who played Manolito Montoya in The High Chaparral.

I remember seeing pictures of hippies in San Francisco, all kaftans, flowers and hair and thinking ‘what a bunch of weirdos’.

I remember candlewick bedspreads.

I remember loving Mary Poppins but not liking The Sound of Music.

I remember feeling real fear when the Parish Priest turned up in our class to test us with Catechism questions. He was fat, he looked fierce and frightened the kids, and maybe the teacher too.

I remember gunfire outside our front window and my mother telling us all to lie flat on the floor. She prayed in a loud whisper for God to protect us. It worked.

I remember the smell of incense, melting candle wax and furniture polish in St. Teresa’s Church.
I remember our dentist at one time was Dan McCartan who played Gaelic football for Down. He was not the gentlest dentist.

I remember dulse sandwiches, a chewy taste of the ocean.

I remember covering my school books with offcuts of wallpaper to protect them from damage.

I remember the rag man would come around with his horse and cart. No matter how much old clothing he was given, his exchange was a china cup and saucer.

I remember hearing that a man called Jim Figgerty was the only one who knew how they put the figs into fig rolls.

I remember not liking Ena Sharples.

I remember Oor Wullie and The Broons in The Sunday Post. I thought all Scottish people were like them.

I remember laughing at Jimmy Clitheroe on the radio and thinking that it was okay to be a cheeky scamp. For years, I didn’t know he was a wee man.

I remember local baker Barney Hughes’s bread stuck to your belly like lead, or so the street song said. We took the risk and ate it anyway.

I remember the advert for “ding-dong Denny’s” sausages, although they didn’t make that noise.  They just sizzled in the pan like every other sausage.

I remember my big brother Paul driving me in his old Hillman to a cold water trough up the Black Mountain. He told me it was the best water for removing fly-squash from windscreens. Sure enough, it worked.

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