MY AMAZING MOTHER – SHOE SHOPS, MARGARET THATCHER AND THE BIN MEN

6 Jan

My mother was an amazing woman, I only had her in my life for the first twenty years of it, but her memory burns bright inside my heart.

As I approach that age that I really remember her vividly being, it is her sense of humour that I find myself thinking about the most.

Brought up in Liverpool, she had an amazingly quick wit, she was kind, loving with a wonderful sense of the ridiculous, and an unswerving conscious. 

One of my very first memories is her marching my four year old self, with great speed and determination up to Peartree common in Woolston to a demonstration against Margaret Thatcher who had decided when she was Education Minister to remove free milk from schools.  I remember her chanting “Thatcher, Thatcher milk snatcher” then every so often telling me what an appalling woman this Thatcher was.  I often marvel at how astute mum was back in 1970.

It must have been about the same time that mum mounted the sit-in protest in the shoe shop in Bargate, Southampton;

Mum had been sold a pair of shoes in the sale and we had both gone back to the shop so she could get her money back, as the sole was coming away from the shoe.  Unfortunately, we were met with the manager an oily, unctuous, supercilious man in a grey suit, who made it plain that items bought in the sale could not be refunded due to their sales terms.

I remember looking at the display in the store for ‘Tuf’ shoes and thinking this man had made a big mistake. Twenty minutes later, I was proved to be correct.

Mum had sat down on the floor in the middle of the shoe shop and of course sat me right down beside her, then she had embarked on telling every person that entered the shop that they should not buy any shoes from this store as their stock was ‘total crap’ and that when they fell to bits after a week you would not get a refund. 

The oily manager had tried to remove her but this had just caused mum to then accuse him of assault.

The refund was eventually processed and mum and I were escorted from the shop, as we walked along the High Street laughing I told mum “don’t worry I spat down that back of that man’s suit”.  The look of horror, pride and delight on my mother’s face was a joy.  I think it was then she realised I was I was a chip off the old block.

I want to interject at this point and state that my mother was a real lady, please don’t get the impression she was a brawler.  She was impossibly glamorous, always decked out in the best jewellery and make-up and could dazzle at the Savoy when attending awards dinners with dad or just dazzle when she put the bins out.

Talking of bins, the walk to school with mum often became a bit of an embarrassment, especially if it was bin day.  All the bin men would stare and start wolf whistling at mum, she seemed secretly pleased.  I asked her once what they were doing, she told me “oh they are just being friendly, your dad gave them a good Christmas box”.

But, undeniably there was just something about my mother that bizarre situations always seemed to find her.

In her later years mum did a lot of charity work for the local church, I remember her once organising a car boot sale.  The man who was working with her ushering the cars into the church car park, insisted they needed arm bands.  As soon as he said it I just knew this would get her goat, she hated anybody who possessed a bit of petty power, clipboards, armbands, name badges, traffic wardens etc.  When she was cross or tipsy her Liverpool accent would always re-emerge.

“Why do we need an armband John” she said, sounding like Marie from Brookside.  John stuttered, “because people need to see we are in charge”.  Mum looked at him with incredulity, “we are standing here telling them where to park, isn’t it obvious’?  I watched as she got increasingly irritated and John became more and more flustered as I edged away I heard mum say “tell you what John, go and make yourself a bloody armband and I will be here still organising when you get back”

Life was never boring with my mother, I have an endless fund of stories.  She had her own business when most women were still mainly housewives, she was a great artist, political activist and refused to ever be middle aged.

People often say to me, what a shame it is that your mother died when you were still so young.  I always reply ‘of course, but would I have swapped her for anybody else’, no she was the best and twenty years of the best is a blessing.

So now when I look in the mirror and I see her looking back I feel very proud, and I think her gift to me has been to ensure that life keeps finding me the most bizarre and ridiculous situations I think I owe it to her memory to always act with the same impulsive incredulity that she always managed with such aplomb. 

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6 Responses to “MY AMAZING MOTHER – SHOE SHOPS, MARGARET THATCHER AND THE BIN MEN”

  1. PaulDBrazill January 7, 2013 at 11:02 am #

    Lovely stuff. Beaut woman.

  2. Annie Beckett January 9, 2013 at 5:39 pm #

    I love your mother, and I love you. brilliant as always xxxxxxxxxxxxxx

    • angelacollings January 13, 2013 at 9:48 pm #

      So glad you liked it Annie, she was wonderful. xxxx

  3. Mitchell Geller March 30, 2014 at 8:51 pm #

    Angela, this will be reread many times. Thank you. 🙂

  4. southamptonoldlady November 26, 2015 at 1:33 pm #

    Your mother sounds wonderful. I remember always having to take my shoes back to Ravel in the high street. They had the trendiest designs but always fell apart.

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