My life in a Bombshell.
All Photos added November 2006
Stacksteads, Bacup is nestled in East Lancashire in the Rossendale Valley UK and sits at the source of the famous River Irwell. Many early cotton mills of Lancashire stood on the banks of the Irwell and were powered by it's water flow. The Irwell played a big part in the Industrial Revolution of Lancashire. The header photo is of my home village of Stacksteads where I was born and raised taken November 2006.
Here is a flash memory account of my life from the age of 4yrs to when I left school at the age of 15years in 1956. Some of the surnames have been removed. Many people have died. I did not want to offend anyone who may be reading these pages.
I don't profess to be a writer so here goes nothing.
I was born to this earth in the first house of Brunswick Terrace, Stacksteads, Bacup, Lancashire, England, on 9th October,1941.
From what my Mother told me, the birth was very quick and I was testing my lungs out as the Mid- wife arrived at the house.
My earliest recollections of life was before I started to go to school. I used to wave to Mrs. Malloney a Head Mistress of St. Joseph’s on her way past our house as she made her way to work in the morning. My father kept a garden plot next to a small fish
and chip shop across from our house. What remains of the shop is showing on the left of the above picture. The doorway of the shop was around the corner and in Brunswick terrace.
At the bottom of the plot was a river wall about 3 feet high on the garden side but with a 15 feet straight drop into the River Irwell. On the photo above you can see the railing on the left. You can look down to the river from these railings. The river runs under this road. A girl named Rita H***** lived at the bottom of our street on Farholme Lane (the green door in the centre of the above picture) and I re-call that one day she snatched a table spoon from my hand and dropped it through the railings and into the river. In my minds eye, I can still see the shiny spoon as it lay amongst the rocks in the clear water. The water was dirty all week but when the factories shut down on Sunday, the river water became clearer. I hated her as a kid for what she did with my spoon. It was my dirt digging toy. I used to look through the bars down to my shiny spoon every time that I crossed over the bridge. As the days and weeks passed, I could see my lovely shiny spoon going more tarnished and the hatred for her increased more as the spoon lost it’s shine until one day I couldn’t see the spoon at all.
The Irwell had colour changing moods, which I could not understand at the time. Most days it was clear but the next it could be any colour, green, yellow or even red. I believe this change was due to a dye factory, situated up stream, which would spew it’s waste into the water, somewhere between the bridge and the Irwell Springs about 4 or 5 miles away. At a much later date, I did hear from my brother John, of a truck driver who discharged a bad load of liquid soap into the river and the water foamed up so bad as it crossed under a narrow bridge in Bury some 15 miles down stream, the foam built up so high that it stopped the traffic flow on the bridge and covered a double-decker bus which was stopped on the bridge.
Whilst living at this house, I remember that my older brother John fell from a nearby wall and broke his right arm and my mother told me to give him a kiss as we traveled back from the Hospital in an Ambulance. I didn’t relish the idea at the time, but I did everything that my mother asked when I was very young. Pity I couldn’t have thought like that for the rest of my life, but there we go. With his right arm in plaster, he had to learn to write with his left, but he is naturally a right handed guy. In fact he is able to write to this day with either hand. My younger sisters and brother were amazed at this because it took them all there time to write with one hand, let alone two.
One day I saw my mother sat down crying alone in the living room of Brunswick Terrace and as I stood in front of her, I remember my head was just above her knees as I enquired as to why she was crying. That was the day that her mother died. I saw my first dead person in a coffin but I don’t re-call whether it was my Grandmother or my Aunt Toni but I feel it was the latter, when I was very young and probably before school age. The first death of a child I re-call was a boy named Tommy F********, the second being Michael T****. Both were pupils of Saint Josephs R.C. School. Tommy was drowned in one of the three lodges and Michael was hit by a wagon and trailer as he crossed the road in Haslingden. Michael used to love to travel on the buses alone to Haslingden and Accrington and when asked by other kids, which he was frequently, to spell the word 'Haslingden or Accrington', could at an amazing rate. The other kids would all be (to coin a phrase) spell bound, to say the least. Michael was deformed at birth and the whole left side of his face and body were affected by this imperfection. He wore glasses with sticking plaster over one of the eyes, walked with a limp and held his affected arm like a broken wing near to his chest. Although this writing is meant to be about me, I classed Michael as my first friend and I have had a soft spot for him throughout my life. I used to play at his house with his train set and his toy trucks and cars in the living room. He was an only child, the son of a local shop owner and as you can well imagine his parents were devastated by this tragedy. Michael was in fact the second person whom I saw in a coffin. My mother and I went up to his house and I will never forget that neither my mother nor Mrs. T***** spoke first off, but hugged each other and cried in the kitchen for what seemed like forever. When the children would meet in the school yard before school started, Michael would imitate for us the newscaster which he had heard that morning on the 8- 0-clock news on the wireless and we would all stand around goggled eyed. “How could this kid be so clever?” This kid who had to hold his finger down to every word when he was reading in class and hold his head so close to the book that his nose rubbed along the pages. Michael was the teachers pet, and rightly so. I remember at our school, a class mate named Kevin M**** was returning from the front of Mrs Griffen’s class after receiving two hard strokes of the cane (common practice at that time of day) as punishment for some menial offence. On his way back to his seat and with his back to the teacher, Kevin gave a brave face half smile as he swaggered with his head held high and his chest proudly puffed out, with a grin on his face, Michael seeing this shouted, “Please Miss he’s laughing”. Kevin was not smiling after he was called back for ‘six of the best’ to the strains of Mrs. Griffen screaming, “Now see if you can smile ". When school ended for that day, Kevin chased Michael down the school lane and was shouting “I’Il kill you T****” and I’m sure he would have if I hadn’t caught Kevin and threatened to knock him all over Huttock End Lane if he laid one finger on my mate at the time, Michael T*****. I became both Michaels friend and defender at that time. .
In our neighborhood, and probably no further than five hundred yards from the house, when aged about 8 years, I fell waist deep into the river Irwell as I tried to recover a floating light bulb as I sat on the river wall. I screamed blue murder and a workman pulled me from the river but to this day one of my boots is probably stuck in the soft sand of the river bed. The river wall on the right of this picture is not the wall where I fell in but further along where the fence has been erected by the white car. I was sat about 3 foot up from the water. There was no fence there during my young days.
Before the death of my Grandmother, I recall being sat in her back yard in nearby #7 Branch street and taking one of my shoes off as I thought I had sand in it but found nothing. That was the first time that I had heard of ‘Pins and Needles’. One day as I stood at the base of a factory chimney, I was fascinated when I looked up at fast moving clouds in the sky. This movement made the chimney look as though it was falling over. I ran out from the factory yard away from the falling chimney and ran into a moving car which was entering the factory yard. At a later date, my mother told me that the driver would have ran over me if he hadn’t seen a little blonde curly head out of the corner of his eye. He carried me home about 100 yards and handed me over to my mother. I remember it so vividly.
My Father kept two rabbits in the garden and he killed one for us to eat at Christmas. Food was scarce, especially meat, as World War Two was not long over and most food was still on ration. We moved from this house to Branch Street. I have no idea what year but it was certainly during the late forties. At the bottom of Branch Street you can see a wall and large trees. The main railway line between Bacup and Bury passed high above that wall. A fine sight during the 50s/60s to see and hear the steam locomotives and their accompanying carraiges wizzing passed the bottom of our street.
We moved our belongings on the back of an open wagon or truck and my older cousins the Ashworth and the Connelly brothers helped us move. We had bought a house right next door to our older cousins the Ashworth family. Eddie Ashworth I remember was sat on one of our easy chairs as the wagon was traveling along Farholme Lane past what later became to be, my brother John’s barbers shop, as we traveled the short distance to our new house.
This is the house today. The red car is standing at the front door. My cousin Winifred Ashworth still lives next door at the white painted house.
We had no bathroom, only an outside toilet and I remember that there was a tin bath hanging on the toilet wall in the back yard which my Father would use in front of the kitchen coal fire. We would get bathed in the kitchen sink and I remember this so vividly. I can remember sitting inside the sink so I must have been very young when we moved and could have even started school from this house.
One day, I recall seeing hundreds of bombers flying over, as I stood in our back yard and hearing the low drone of the engines overhead. This caused a lot of excitement in the street and everyone was standing around looking up to the sky. I mentioned this to my mother when I was in my teen years and she said I was too young at the time to remember such things. I have no recollection however of hearing the air raid sirens at any time during my early childhood but do remember the testing out of the machines for many years after the war ended.
My very first day at school at the age of four or five, I remember one of the kids screaming his head off as he was separated from his mother. I was pleased to be at school because I had seen Mrs Malloney. You recall that I used to wave and shout to her when we lived in Brunswick Terrace. Plus the fact that my Auntie Elizabeth taught at the school. My first teacher was an old lady named Mrs Gannan, spelled I think, Ganahan, who even taught my mother when she was at school. My mother was aged thirty when she married so that put Mrs Ganahan at a ripe old age. During a stage show of the “Teddy Bears Picnic” we had to skip around the stage in an orderly fashion with our hands on either side of our heads so they stuck up like ears and I found myself going in the opposite direction to everyone else. (Which incidentally seems to have been the story of my life) Mrs. Ganahan, who was standing down the steps at the side of the stage, was furious and to prove how furious she really was, gave my legs a good slapping as I passed her, which kind of made me spin around in the opposite direction. You see, I was just skipping all over the stage, happy, playful, full of glee and joyfulness and not taking a blind bit of notice as to which way I was supposed to be going. I was bumping -into all the other kids and this was on the night of the concert. Well I thought I was doing fine up to a point, but after the slapping, half blinded with tears but still managing to sing “Today’s the day the teddy bears have their picnic”. I was doing more of a hop than a skip and still bumping into everyone. The whole stage was in a pandemonium. I was knocking everyone all over the stage as I could hardly see for the tears in my eyes. I had speeded up somewhat in an effort to get away from more slapping which tended to knock everyone off balance and all the children on the stage finished up doing my kind of dance and not the one which Mrs. Ganahan had originally thought up for the night.
I used to trail behind my older brother John on the way to school and I would get so out of breath rushing when we were late that my throat would tighten up and I would be gasping for breath. Being born in the Rossendale Valley in the Pennine Chain, the school was built in the hills part way up the valley side and I came to hate this climb. I used to love to run as fast as my little legs would carry me home for my dinner. One day I took a short cut home where the school fence had been knocked down behind the Gaughans house. This way home, was not only dangerous but downright treacherous. It was more or less a sheer drop for about 50 yards through scrubland and grass before the land began to level out. I had no control of my speed and took a headlong dive as I stubbed my foot on a tuft of high grass. I had a small stick of ‘halfpenny spanish’ between my lips and when I contacted with earth again, my lungs were deflated so fast that I almost blew the ‘spanish’ through Gaughan’s back living room window. I never did find my half penny stick of spanish.
My favorite meal was broth and dumplings followed by sweet rice pudding which I used to stuff myself with. In the earlier years or when meat was unavailable I would fill myself on rice pudding alone and I can remember my mother saying things like, “Do you know how much milk has gone into making that pudding laddie? Two pints”. Everything was still on ration and I remember my mother sending me to swap butter for sugar or visa-versa with a woman who used to work in a metal shop two streets away. I remember a chap used to roll apples from the top of our street along the gutter down to us as he made his way home from work but I don’t know who he was.
One time, very early on in my life I remember a lot of small army tanks racing down Farholme lane and me running after them and seeing them turn up towards the Cemetery along Brunswick Terrace. They looked like tanks but may have had wheels instead of tank tracks, I can’t be sure.
The summers seem to get so hot those days.. The tar between the cobble stones would melt and I would gather up a ball of soft tar and roll it in the palm of my hands. I can remember when the surface of most streets and roads were still cobbled including Newchurch Road. I remember when our front street was surfaced with tar macadam probably around 1950.
I remember when my older cousins were called up on National Service and my mother giving them ration coupons over the back yard wall. The bacon rind left on the same wall for the birds. The large ‘V’ shaped split at the bottom of our old back door and when the sun shone, the outline shadow of anyone who entered the back yard thrown onto the stone slab kitchen floor. I couldn't fathom out why the shadow showed the person approaching to be upside down. Most sinks in the terraced row houses were cut from one piece of stone probably sandstone, but I can only recall a white porcelain one in our house. The tippler toilet which I was scared to death of in my Auntie Annie's old house up Olive Street, Lee mills Stacksteads. I was frightened that I would fall through arse first into the open sewer below. The headless tailors dummy upstairs in the same house. Holding my cousin Peter Cooks Alsatian pup down while the Vet injected it with a lethal dose of poison because it had contracted hard pad and distemper, but I was in my teens by then. Requested by my mother to drown the kittens when I was only 8 or 9 years old in an enamel bowl in the cellar and taking the bodies in newspaper over to my uncle Mick Horan who worked as a Lancashire boiler stoker in the Valley Supply. He would flick open the door of the Lancashire coal fired steam boiler and I would throw the dead kittens into the burning coals. I seemed to be doing this task every 3 or 4 months for ages as we had by now a very randy un-doctored she cat in our house. One day I took the kittens out of the basin a little earlier than normal. They all looked dead, but I almost collapsed when one of them sucked in a deep breath and I threw them all back in the water and slapped the roof slate over the bowl again after filling the bowl completely up to the rim this time. I can still hear them mewing and scraping on the side of the metal bowl. I hated this task but I was asked to do it by my mother and felt I had to oblige.
Getting the hoover out and putting the pipe onto the blow side of the machine and chasing the cat all over the living room was the best game that me and John would get up to. The cat didn’t think so, I’m certain of that fact. We would make sure to close both doors so she couldn’t escape. I tried everything in the book to keep her away from them tomcats. Her ears would go down and she would crouch down to the floor and her eyes would go as big as saucers when she saw the hoover coming out. She would bare her teeth and hiss and I would switch it on and she would literally bounce off the living room wall in an effort to escape... As I look back, I can't imagine how cruel I was by doing this.
I love animals today and feel very ashamed that I was able to be so cruel when I was a child. We didn't class our actions as being cruel. We were only having fun.
The time when a dog followed John home and we were feeding it and giving it milk in the living room (A cardinal sin as it was shortly afterWW2 and food rationing was still in force). When my dad arrived home for his tea, he chased the dog out of the house into the backyard and as it tried to scale the back wall my dad caught it with his hob nailed dry foot boot right in the arse, which helped it’s climb no end. My Father was brought up on a farm and farm dogs are usually kept outside the house.
The time the men were dredging the river Irwell which runs by Stacksteads recreation field and a guy working on the job had his white enamel brew can sat on the river wall and I threw a brick at it from 30ft away and knocked it into the river and he chased me as I headed across the Rec. for the railway line and the safety of home. Wrong. He caught me and slapped my legs something awful. I deserved every slap I can see today.
I remember the massive bonfire almost as high as the houses in Branch street which my older cousins Connelly’s, Cooks, and Ashworth's had put together which blistered the paint on the back yard gates after my Uncle Matt lit it by throwing petrol to it. The colour of our gate at the time was maroon and when I burst a bubble I could see the original colour green underneath as I picked away at the now hard blistered paint.
The yellow star donates the back yard of our old house. The bonfire stood right in the middle of the rough dirt surfaced street. This street looks just the same as I remember as a child. Not even resurfaced.
And here is a closer shot of our back yard as it looks today. Not wooden but a wrought iron gate. Long gone is the tin bath which hung from the outside toilet wall. I like to think that some kid had fun sailing inside that bath on the river Irewell.
Putting a penny on- the railway line at the bottom of our street and waiting for the train to run over it only to return it time and time again to see how big the penny would go, then laying it on the side of the line so the wheel of the train would cut it in half. The thrill of a full size loco traveling past at high speed as we lay as close to the track as possible, was almost as thrilling as the Cyclone ride at the fun fair at Morcambe. I discovered the 'cyclone roller coaster' along with my brother John, Lol T ****** and a guy named Leonard, (whose full name escapes me at the moment) at a later date as we took a two week holiday at Lols Aunties in Morecambe.
I remember someone, (but not me as I never had money to buy them) throwing a banger fire work at Platts dog Rex. Rex lived four doors down our street from us. I saw the dog kicking the fire work from front to back legs as it disappeared around Connelly’s back between their house and the railway wall. Shortly afterwards hearing an almighty bang followed by a couple of dog yelps. Connelly's were my other older cousins and lived at the bottom of our street below the railway wall. My younger sister lives in that house today. I had other older cousins living in that street. As a matter of fact, four sisters were all married in that street one of them being my mother.
I thought that throwing a banger at a dog was cruel but not when I think back again to a local boy named John *********. He threw a full sized cat on the bonfire. Many years afterwards I heard that John B.... committed suicide. Or the other time when Kevin ******** (Not the boy mentioned earlier) stubbed out a Park Drive cigarette on the arse end of a kitten which he had caught by the tale and then let it go along Blackwood tip. It took off faster than Red Rum the race horse across that tip. Children left to their own devices can be very cruel.
‘The one and only time I played truant was with Billy H****** and we played cards near to a local Farm. I was worried stiff all day about missing school. That same farmer gave me and John a dying pigeon which we unsuccessfully tried to keep alive at our house. The fishing and frogging and spawn collecting in the dell of Bacup park or even before that, the times when my mother used to take us there to see the peacocks near to the rose gardens and then we would hope that the paddling pool would have water in so we could pretend to swim by dragging ourselves along on our hands in the shallow water. I used to love going in the blue painted pool. I think that was the way we used to have a bath during the summer months as we didn’t have a bathroom as yet.
When the bathroom was made by partitioning off part of my mum and dads bedroom, I wanted to sleep in the bath in the Eiderdown. Anything for a bit of excitement. I remember our first television. The children’s programs. Rag Tag and Bobtail, The wooden tops and spotty dog. Muffin the Mule. Andy Pandy’s coming to play. Lah la la la la lah lah. Bill and Ben the flowerpot men and the Weeeeeeeeeeeeeeed.
The first record which I bought was a tune called ’Zambezi’. However my older brother John soon had me listening to Lonnie Donnigans ‘Rock Island Line’ which was probably John's first record. When ever he played a record for me he would always say “Now just listen to the start of this record Mike”.
We both would help local farmers Frank Pie or Bob Dick to deliver milk at weekends. I would help John with his paper round until I eventually got my own round.
This is Franks Pye's farm as it looks today. Next to Bacup Park.
A thought comes back which still makes me cringe today. When Bob Dick told me not to try and use the tap on one of his milk churns on the cart at the top of greens and I did just that and couldn’t switch the thing off and I watched and screamed for Bob as I saw the milk going down the nearest grate in the gutter.
The very street where the milk ran down the gutter. Cutler Lane, Stacksteads.
I used to get sixpence or a tanner a morning. When my mum told me to ask Bob for a rise he said that the only rise I would get would be one from the toe of his boot up my arse. He was one of the old school you see with a wonderful way with words but he did nevertheless give me 2 shilling and six pence that day.
In the old days people still used the ‘poe’ or ‘gerrys helmet’ under the bed at night time. Not many had an inside toilet. John was delivering milk for a local farmer and carried a small milk ladling can and measure. He went into a back yard where a lady had a fancy flowered POT poe drying on the back window sill.. He thought it was a jug and put two pints of milk in it. But how was John to know, we had only seen the metal piss pots in our house.
When my mother was going into hospital to give birth to my sister Margaret, I shouted at the top of my voice to her from the back of our house in Branch Street, ‘BRING US A BLACK ONE BACK MUM’. I thought at the time that women had to go to Hospital and ask for a baby to bring home. I knew nothing of the facts of life. The facts of life to me at the time was total devilment. Robbing eggs from the local butchers hen shed along with Derrick *******, John ********* and my brother John. I was never more scared in my young life when the butcher eventually caught up with me and John in the outside toilet of our back yard after a lengthy chase all around our Church yard and the neighborhood. I remember unloading the eggs en- route along the side of the church wall. That was probably God paying us back for plastering the outside of his house with broken eggs. Can you imagine 'Owld Eash' as he was known, seeing his livelihood running down the walls of a Catholic Church and him being a Protestant as well. I bet there was steam coming out of his ears by this time. As he opened the toilet door in our back yard, John and I scampered through his legs and cleared our back wall and screamed for our uncle Matt Connelly who lived in the bottom house of the Street. Uncle Matt saved our hides that afternoon I can tell you.
At the end of each terrace row of houses was a cast iron down spout which was intended to carry rain from the roofs.. We had other uses for this pipe. It could be used to climb up or it could be used for a game of ‘Devil up the drain pipe’. I used to think this was the neatest thing I had ever seen or heard. Around late October or early September when we were collecting waste paper for our bon-fires, we would stuff balls of paper up the drain pipes until we could get no more in. It would take a long time and effort but we would do a few at once and then set fire to them. The heat of the fire would rise and set fire to the paper above. The drain pipe would glow red in the dark and the howling, and I do mean, Howling, would scare off the toughest pack of wolves. It was unbelievable the racket that this activity would create.. The neighbors would all come out into the street but there was nothing that they could do to put the fires out and the kids would be in bed and the screaming and howling could be heard all over Stacksteads. We would be all peeping over the railway wall giggling like hell and every dog in the valley would be barking long after the fires had gone out.
The railway wall, drain pipes and row ends where we had so much fun. The railway wall on the left.
I used to love collecting wood for the bon-fire. The word ‘Bon’ my father used to pronounce ‘bone’ and I assumed at the time that when Guy Fawkes was burned at the stake, they burned his bones as well. It is more likely that the word is of French origin and means ‘good’. I remember my brother John got a smack in the face with a plank of wood from Mr. S********when he was out one evening stealing (raiding) wood from his son Ronnie’s Bon-fire and my Mum and Dad were arguing as to who would go up and bust Mr. S******* face for him. I still don’t know in fact, who went up, if any of them did. A whole gang of us would go up the ‘Thicket’, a small wood near the cemetery. Some would be carrying axes and chop down the trees and drag them home over the wooden bridge. Some of the trees had to be chopped up again so they would go across the narrow bridge. This bridge used to scare the living daylights out of me when I was a kid. I was always frightened that my foot would go between the wooden boards and I would fall through into the river. This could never have happened as the gaps between the boards were only about 2 inches, but I could see the river Irwell through them and I had already had a sample of that as I mentioned earlier. When I was very young and on Bon-fire night round the ‘Rink’ area, Mrs. B********, who incidentally was a lovely little woman, used to dish treacle toffee and roast potatoes out to all their John’s friends. When I saw the toffee, I became the best friend that John had ever had in his life. It’s no wonder I have only 6 teeth left in my head today with all the bloody treacle toffee I ate that night.
There were some strange people around Stacksteads those day’s and probably still are today. I used to be scared of them when I was young. A few that spring to mind are, Fairy Rawson who used to throw water over the kids for playing outside her house.
Fairy Rawsons house is just out of shot to the left. Ours is the one up past the white painted one.
Clarry Harris who was a ‘Midget” and only about 3feet tall. He owned the cobblers shop or shoe repair shop at the bottom of Huttock End Lane. Whenever my mum had my hand and Clarry came up the road, she would say to me "no remarks now about this little man". Of course I would say "I'm bigger than him mum" as I was passing and my mum would almost drag my arm out by the socket. The ‘Red Shadow' who wore a red wig and I think lived down around Stacksteads Station somewhere. The older kids used to say that when the sun was setting and all the sky was red during the summer evenings, he used to come out from his house and creep about looking for a child to strangle. This used to put the fear of Christ up me. Clara ‘Cluck’was another one. She used to chase us with her mop along the landing behind Mr. Thirds chip shop for singing along the landing, 'Clara Clara Cluck Cluck Cluck. We used to run like rabbits and dodge down Pickovers back and home to safety.
And that's Clara Cluck Cluck's house on the landing with the yellow star. Today they are renovating this row of houses.
The person who I was most frightened of was known as ‘Feebie”. She was the ugliest looking woman I had ever laid eyes upon. Talking of eyes, Feebies looked just like when you put your first finger of each hand under your own eyes and pull down on your cheeks as hard as you can. She had a fat face that hadn’t seen a bar of soap in years and she would curse and swear out on the main road at the walls and the lamp posts at the top of her voice. She would stand there looking at the wall and I mean really shout at the top of her voice and she would eff and blind and wag her finger at the wall. Whenever I saw her I would avoid her like the plague. I was scared stiff of her because I had never seen anything like this before or since.
The first time I ever saw two families battling together, again frightened me. This was up Greens on Cutler Crescent. I don’t know which families were involved. Possibly the Mulcahies and the Greenwoods. I know even the women from both families were out in the Crescent ripping chunks out of each others hair and the men were kicking hell out of each other. There was at least a dozen people from both families going full bore at each other. Screaming women battling screaming women. Cursing men battling cursing men. Me and a school friend Terry W**** were trying to get to his house but it meant us passing this rumpus. We had to turn around and use the other end of the Crescent to avoid the fighting.
I thought that our house was a bit untidy at times but the first time I went to Raymond *********'* place up Blackwood, God this beat anything I had ever seen in my life. What a tip. Raymond was in my class at school. In his house was newspaper for a table cloth. On the table was about twenty part empty milk bottles and the milk was rotten in each bottle. About six part loaves of stale bread were also on the table. There was nothing on the floor, not even oil cloth. You walked on the stone flags. The fire was out and the ashes had not been taken out to the bin for at least a month and I am not joking. There was a mound of used ashes which spewed out from the fire grate about six feet into the middle of the room and under the table which was the only stick of furniture in the room. The curtains were always closed day and night and the whole place stunk to high heaven. I only went in with him once, never again. He had no mother and lived with his dad. When I look back now I feel so sorry for Raymond and pray that he made good in his life.
‘This period covers most of my life up to the age of about 12 years. From that age onwards I became an Altar Boy and if you think that made me into a good boy, then you are wrong. Puberty was setting in and my attentions were turned towards the lovely young fillies around Stacksteads and Bacup...continued...
For the continuation of this story.