Comics, Confectionary and Culinary Memories

After a bit of a break I am coming towards the end of my memories of my Mum, with this post focussing on food and drink. In latter days most of the photos I have of my Mum are associated with weddings, and this one is clearly of my Mum and Dad heading out to some unspecified wedding in 1979. It seemed appropriate given that two of the anecdotes towards the end of this piece are associated with happenings at wedding receptions. 
The grocer’s shop where my Mum worked for most of my school days was , as I said previously, at the crossroads formed by the Holywood Road, Station Road and Circular Road (famous for two former residents, C.S. Lewis, who lived for a time at “Little Lea" and the first Prime Minister of Northern Ireland James Craig who lived across the road). There were a small cluster of shops there, a butcher, bakery, the grocers in which my Mum worked, a pharmacy (which later became a video library) and a newsagent's, known as “Walter's" after the proprietor,…

Domestic Drama

I will return to my Mum's story when I get some more time, but this is just a wee reflection on the drama outside my breakfast window this morning distracting me from pressing work.  The picture isn't of our huntress, couldn't be bothered going out into the cold and damp to capture this drama on camera... I really wouldn't have made the grade as a David Attenborough cameraman...

The age old drama
Of predator and prey Played out in a suburban garden; Death crouching in the flowerbed, Garlanded with yellow blossoms. Narrowed eyes darting, Watching for flitting quarry. An Egyptian goddess observing The fall of every sparrow, and robin, As assiduously as our heavenly Father. Ears flicking, muscles coiled; Finally unleashed In a blurred flurry of fur, Frustrated by a lack of wings.

Regathering her dignity The huntress returns Settling for dried pellets, Rather than fresh feathered flesh, Then settling down  on a human servant's lap To be petted and purr, Peaceful innoce…


A few thoughts for All Saints Day...

All That great crowd of witnesses Cheering us on to the final whistle From the heavenly bleachers. Not just the sanctified celebrities  But our unremembered, unrecognised Unhaloed predecessors  Who filled pews and cleaned loos Lived their faith unfussily Passing it on by word and deed Not words proclaimed from pulpits But the quiet kind word  In the right place at the right time Not spectacular miraculous deeds But simple acts of grace far from the spotlight's glare. Let's celebrate the uncelebrated.
All Not just the long departed Removed from this messy arena Encouraging us to come join them; Not just those gloriously shining  But our fellow feeble strugglers. Those we recognise  As brothers and sisters Because we think and speak With the same theological accent; Because we sing and dance (or not) To the same spiritual tune, But also estranged siblings  Living under different roofs Singing strange songs  And eating suspicious food. But no less sanctified than us.
All saints…

Home and Work

After a break, here's the next part of my reflections on  the life of my Mum, picking up where I was born in 1965, with the photo here being me on the day of my baptism, with my Mum and Dad and oldest brother Robert outside our house in Carolhill Gardens.

My Mum worked in Robb’s fruit and veg shop on the Newtownards Road until just before I was born in 1965, and didn’t return to work until my brother Sam, who was born in 1969, started into Primary school.

By the time I was born the family had moved from 18 Solway Street, off the Newtownards Road, the small terraced house that my Grandfather had bought my parents when they got married, to “Ivydene”, the semi-detached house at 32 Carolhill Gardens, further out the Holywood Road, which was to be my home for the first 18 years of my life. However, at least two or three days a week my Mum took us down to the Newtownards Road to do shopping or visit my Dad’s Mum or later my Grandfather. When my brother came along this meant that she usu…


I will return to my Mum's story in due course, but in the meantime here's a short poem that came out of watching a pied wagtail while of a leadership retreat at Dromantine and reflecting on some seemingly binary decisions I have to make.

Wagtail walking the ridge tile Stark against the skyline  Only one direction possible Until  They take flight

Work and Leisure

After leaving Mersey Street School at 14 my Mum got a job in Inglis’s Bakery at East Bread Street, in the midst of the war, working on the biscuit factory floor. During this time he met and subsequently married my Dad on 4th June 1947 at the age of 19. We're not sure whether she stayed on in Inglis's after her marriage, but she certainly left before her first son, Robert was born in 1948. Those were the days when frequently marriage, and usually pregnancy  meant that a woman lost her job. There were no maternity or equality rights of any sort. But my Mum had a strong work ethic, and money was in short supply, so even though she was no longer working in Inglis's, shortly after Robert was born she was working just across the road in Robb’s Fruit shop – the “second shop” just below the Albertbridge Road/Newtownards Road junction.

She stayed working there after the birth of William and even after the family had moved from Solway Street up to Carolhill, indeed she was working …

Old Bill

The second of a short series of blogs on my Mum and her side of the, family. 
My Grandmother Ellen died while my Mum was in hospital giving birth to me so I never got to know her. By that stage her relationship with my Grandfather had broken down and she was living with my Aunt Lily in another house in Parkgate near the Oval. And because  of this family breakdown, for the earlier part of my life I didn’t know my Grandfather either, indeed I was walking with my Mum pushing my brother in his Tansad (there’s a word you don’t type every day) up the Newtownards Road she stopped to talk to an older man. After a few minutes we moved on and I asked who he was. “That’s your Grandad,” she said, but for some time that was as far as it went.
It was a year or so later when she started to take us to visit him in Island Street... which I mainly enjoyed because there was an adventure playground across the road at the time, and another playground round the corner. I only recently discovered that we on…