A Typical Weekend Every single weekend from the day I was born to the day I hit puberty, I left my Mum and Dad and went to stay with my Gran in Castleford. When I was very young, this meant Friday night through to Sunday afternoon, but by the time I got to Fairburn, it was usually only one night a week. Though I was born in Castleford, spent my first eight years living in one of its suburbs and lived near the town centre for three years in the late 1980s, I never saw it as “my home town” so much as “the place where Gran lives.” It wasn’t just where she lived though - it was where she had always lived, where her entire family had always lived and where much of my Grandad’s side of the family lived too. So it wasn’t so much “my home town” as it was “my ancestral seat.” Her name was Rene’e - pronounced “Reeny” to rhyme with “greeny” and “beanie” and “Blue Meanie” - and she really did spell it with an apostrophe. She was born Rene’e Clayton in July 1920, with two older siblings, Stan and Edna. In 1931 they moved into 5 St Nicholas Street, Castleford, just off Beancroft Road, and Gran stayed there for most of the rest of her life, all the way through her marriage to my Grandad, Bill Atkinson, through the early life of my Mum, Janet, and through my childhood too, until she was finally forced to sell it in 1988, only six years before she died. Gran doted on me. Though we didn’t exactly see eye to eye later in life, when I was a kid she was more or less my best friend. I loved going to stay with her - it felt warm and homely, I was always welcome, and of course she spoilt me rotten. Any time I needed 10p for a bag of mixed sweets from John Thourgood’s shop, I’d get it. And Gran was definitely the biggest contributor to my Star Wars figure fund. It wasn’t just me she helped out - when Mum and Dad wanted to buy their first house in Fairburn, it was Gran who stumped up the whopping £800 deposit. She was, as far as I knew, the kindest and most generous woman in the world. Most of my memories of Gran are culinary. I always preferred Gran’s cooking to anyone else’s, even my Mum’s. Friday night’s tea would often be a crab salad (probably served with radishes and hard-boiled eggs, or perhaps cucumbers and onions marinated in vinegar). I never had crab at home so it always seemed exotic. Saturday morning I’d either have porridge (I’d only ever get Ready Brek at home, and Quaker Oats were much more grown up) or eggs on toast. The bread was always Warburton’s Milk Roll and she would break the yolks of the eggs, frying them (in lard!) and garnishing them with white pepper. Saturday lunchtime (or “dinner time” as we called it) would involve a trip to the fish shop for fish and chips (with scraps), usually from Rhodes Fisheries on Smawthorne Lane, which sadly no longer exists. OK, Gran didn’t cook that, but that’s not the point - I associate fish & chips with her, with my childhood, with Saturday, that greatest of all days when I didn’t have to go to school, didn’t have to be in bed by eight, when I could eat sweets and buy toys, watch telly, read comics and have fish and chips for dinner. And yes, they were, quite naturally, the best fish and chips in the entire world. And no, they don’t do fish & chips properly down south. Saturday was also comic day. I’d bought Marvel Comics since before I could read but, by the time I was seven, 2000 AD had overtaken them as my comic of choice. I bought it every week without fail from Patel’s on Beancroft Road, a newsagent’s run by a bloke called Sam with his younger brother Raj and their sister Vaneeta. I think Gran might have called it “the Paki shop” but I’m pretty sure they were: a) English, and b) of Indian descent. Mum & Dad became friends with them for a while and even went to Sam’s fancy Hindu wedding. But that’s another story. The shop, like most shops I remember from back then, no longer exists. After dinner (that’s lunch to you southerners), I’d usually play in the back streets with Wayne and Steven Old, who lived next door at Number 7. I’d known Wayne since infants school and it was pure coincidence that, when he moved house and left that school, he ended up living right next door to my Gran. He had blonde hair and blue eyes, just like me, he was called Wayne, just like me, and he liked Star Wars, Doctor Who and Marvel Comics, just like me, so you can imagine we got on pretty well. I’ll talk more about them another time, but Saturday afternoons we’d usually just kick a ball about the back streets, play Top Trumps or something. A Typical Sunday Every Sunday, without fail, we’d be visited by the “three uncles” - Harry, Wally and Stan, in that order. Uncle Harry (actually my Gran’s uncle) was knocking on a bit, maybe a little grumpy, carried a walking stick because of his gout. Uncle Wally (Gran’s brother-in-law) was the funny one, always ready to engage me with a bad joke or a silly trick (the “Look, I’ve pulled your nose off” routine was his favourite). Uncle Stan (Gran’s older brother) was the lively one, the headmaster of a junior school, who lived in a posh house in Ledsham and, even though he was approaching sixty, would dash and sprint everywhere like he had to be there yesterday. He’d be in and out of the house before you knew it, just to say hello, “Here’s ten pence for an ice cream,” then “I’ll love you and leave you” and he was off. Gran hated the way he slammed doors but he was always my favourite for some reason. Maybe it was the ten pence? The soundtrack for Sunday morning was provided by Radio 2. I never heard it anywhere else - it was always Radio 1 at home - but it was Gran’s station of choice, with Terry Wogan and Jimmy Young in the morning, then the comedy hour at lunchtime (usually The News Huddlines or The Grumbleweeds) - though I confess the comedy hour may have been on Saturdays. Does anyone know? Sunday dinner was always a treat - a giant Yorkshire pudding with onion gravy for starters, with roast lamb, new potatoes and veg for main. And yes, Gran did make the best Yorkshire puddings in the world, but so did everyone’s. It’s a persistent regret that I never got the recipe. After dinner, Dad would pick me up in his car and drive me to Durkar to see my other grandparents. But that’s a story I’ll save for another time. This Particular Saturday My wife thinks this story is really cute. Mainly because of the line, “I thought it was going to bring the house down but I didn’t say that.” She thinks it’s sweet that I wanted to protect my Gran from the idea that the thunder might destroy the house. I think it’s more like Gran had been telling me off all day for moaning - one of her pet names for me was “Moaning Minnie” and it does seem here like “all I could do was moan.” Mr Geraghty thought it was hilarious, mainly because of the picture. Obviously I didn’t see a big sheet in the sky that night, but I’d never heard the term “sheet lightning” before and my silly mind inserted an actual sheet retroactively. Makes me wonder what other memories we fabricate sometimes, indeed how much of this is true. Did Mr Geraghty really find it hilarious or was it someone else? Am I just making this all up? I guess we’ll never know. Note how I’m not supposed to use rubbers but the “e” in “lightening” has clearly been erased. Understandable confusion though since I knew “frightening” had an “e”. It’s just another one of those things which proves how difficult it is to learn English. It’s also worth noting how Gran turns the telly off when there’s a thunderstorm. I don’t think this is common practice any more, but in the old days, every single electrical appliance would get switched off when a storm brewed up. Indeed, the normal everyday evening ritual involved removing every single plug from the wall before bedtime. Electric clocks and remote control tellies changed all that. And no, we didn’t have remote control tellies back then. You had to physically walk up to the set and press a knob to change the channel. Imagine that. If Gran did indeed turn the telly off, then the storm must have happened quite late in the evening, because there is no way on Earth that I would let her turn the telly off in the middle of Doctor Who (which was probably on around 6pm, though I admit I can’t find any hard evidence of that). Don’t think the storm deterred the other 15.4 million people who watched it either. Good choice - this was one of the better ones.
Sheet Lightning
TERM 1 Sept-Dec 1979
TOPIC 1 Sept-Dec 1979
HISTORY 1 Sept 1979 - Oct 1981
SCIENCE 1 Sept 1979 - Mar 1980
FAIRBURN The place where I wrote all this rubbish
WAEN SHEPHERD Who was this strange little boy?
GEOGRAPHY 1 Sept 1979 - Feb 1981
Clarke Hall Old Houses Fairburn v Burton Salmon The Forgotten World String Orchestra Sheet Lightning Grezelda the Witch Bonfire Night Metropolitan Police Christmas 1979 Great Space Battles Luddenden The Hat’s Adventure Sleeping Beauty What I Do On Monday Waen Shepherd 2 Waen Shepherd in: Green Squids Ward’s 7: Move of the Galaxy Ward’s 7: Alpha Centauri Ward’s 7: Escape to Mother Ship Ward’s 7: Death Planet Blake’s 7 Ward’s 7: The Hunt Ward’s 7: Rescue The Flame in the Desert The Fugitive British Skiing Events Fiends of the Eastern Front Apeth (from Outer Space!) Tedosaurus (from Prehistoric Time!) A Walk in Our Village The Mountain Called Tyrannosaurus Rex Florence Nightingale War of the Worlds The Micronauts in: Supersilver
The Old Stone Age Ancient humans try to co-exist with cave lions and giant deer
Darth Vader An autograph from a genuine stand-in
Clarke Hall The place and time where it all began… September 1679?
The Forgotten World John and Mick fall foul of some extreme potholing
Bonfire Night Waen’s first time at the annual village fireworks display
Christmas 1979 Can Waen last the night without opening his presents?
String Orchestra A visit from the North Yorkshire County Council Orchestra
BLONDIE! Pictures of Little Waen’s lovely blonde hair
A Typical Weekend Every single weekend from the day I was born to the day I hit puberty, I left my Mum and Dad and went to stay with my Gran in Castleford. When I was very young, this meant Friday night through to Sunday afternoon, but by the time I got to Fairburn, it was usually only one night a week. Though I was born in Castleford, spent my first eight years living in one of its suburbs and lived near the town centre for three years in the late 1980s, I never saw it as “my home town” so much as “the place where Gran lives.” It wasn’t just where she lived though - it was where she had always lived, where her entire family had always lived and where much of my Grandad’s side of the family lived too. So it wasn’t so much “my home town” as it was “my ancestral seat.” Her name was Rene’e - pronounced “Reeny” to rhyme with “greeny” and “beanie” and “Blue Meanie” - and she really did spell it with an apostrophe. She was born Rene’e Clayton in July 1920, with two older siblings, Stan and Edna. In 1931 they moved into 5 St Nicholas Street, Castleford, just off Beancroft Road, and Gran stayed there for most of the rest of her life, all the way through her marriage to my Grandad, Bill Atkinson, through the early life of my Mum, Janet, and through my childhood too, until she was finally forced to sell it in 1988, only six years before she died. Gran doted on me. Though we didn’t exactly see eye to eye later in life, when I was a kid she was more or less my best friend. I loved going to stay with her - it felt warm and homely, I was always welcome, and of course she spoilt me rotten. Any time I needed 10p for a bag of mixed sweets from John Thourgood’s shop, I’d get it. And Gran was definitely the biggest contributor to my Star Wars figure fund. It wasn’t just me she helped out - when Mum and Dad wanted to buy their first house in Fairburn, it was Gran who stumped up the whopping £800 deposit. She was, as far as I knew, the kindest and most generous woman in the world. Most of my memories of Gran are culinary. I always preferred Gran’s cooking to anyone else’s, even my Mum’s. Friday night’s tea would often be a crab salad (probably served with radishes and hard-boiled eggs, or perhaps cucumbers and onions marinated in vinegar). I never had crab at home so it always seemed exotic. Saturday morning I’d either have porridge (I’d only ever get Ready Brek at home, and Quaker Oats were much more grown up) or eggs on toast. The bread was always Warburton’s Milk Roll and she would break the yolks of the eggs, frying them (in lard!) and garnishing them with white pepper. Saturday lunchtime (or “dinner time” as we called it) would involve a trip to the fish shop for fish and chips (with scraps), usually from Rhodes Fisheries on Smawthorne Lane, which sadly no longer exists. OK, Gran didn’t cook that, but that’s not the point - I associate fish & chips with her, with my childhood, with Saturday, that greatest of all days when I didn’t have to go to school, didn’t have to be in bed by eight, when I could eat sweets and buy toys, watch telly, read comics and have fish and chips for dinner. And yes, they were, quite naturally, the best fish and chips in the entire world. And no, they don’t do fish & chips properly down south. Saturday was also comic day. I’d bought Marvel Comics since before I could read but, by the time I was seven, 2000 AD had overtaken them as my comic of choice. I bought it every week without fail from Patel’s on Beancroft Road, a newsagent’s run by a bloke called Sam with his younger brother Raj and their sister Vaneeta. I think Gran might have called it “the Paki shop but I’m pretty sure they were: a) English, and b) of Indian descent. Mum & Dad became friends with them for a while and even went to Sam’s fancy Hindu wedding. But that’s another story. The shop, like most shops I remember from back then, no longer exists. After dinner (that’s lunch to you southerners), I’d usually play in the back streets with Wayne and Steven Old, who lived next door at Number 7. I’d known Wayne since infants school and it was pure coincidence that, when he moved house and left that school, he ended up living right next door to my Gran. He had blonde hair and blue eyes, just like me, he was called Wayne, just like me, and he liked Star Wars, Doctor Who and Marvel Comics, just like me, so you can imagine we got on pretty well. I’ll talk more about them another time, but Saturday afternoons we’d usually just kick a ball about the back streets, play Top Trumps or something. A Typical Sunday Every Sunday, without fail, we’d be visited by the “three uncles” - Harry, Wally and Stan, in that order. Uncle Harry (actually my Gran’s uncle) was knocking on a bit, maybe a little grumpy, carried a walking stick because of his gout. Uncle Wally (Gran’s brother-in-law) was the funny one, always ready to engage me with a bad joke or a silly trick (the “Look, I’ve pulled your nose off” routine was his favourite). Uncle Stan (Gran’s older brother) was the lively one, the headmaster of a junior school, who lived in a posh house in Ledsham and, even though he was approaching sixty, would dash and sprint everywhere like he had to be there yesterday. He’d be in and out of the house before you knew it, just to say hello, “Here’s ten pence for an ice cream,” then “I’ll love you and leave you” and he was off. Gran hated the way he slammed doors but he was always my favourite for some reason. Maybe it was the ten pence? The soundtrack for Sunday morning was provided by Radio 2. I never heard it anywhere else - it was always Radio 1 at home - but it was Gran’s station of choice, with Terry Wogan and Jimmy Young in the morning, then the comedy hour at lunchtime (usually The News Huddlines or The Grumbleweeds) - though I confess the comedy hour may have been on Saturdays. Does anyone know? Sunday dinner was always a treat - a giant Yorkshire pudding with onion gravy for starters, with roast lamb, new potatoes and veg for main. And yes, Gran did make the best Yorkshire puddings in the world, but so did everyone’s. It’s a persistent regret that I never got the recipe. After dinner, Dad would pick me up in his car and drive me to Durkar to see my other grandparents. But that’s a story I’ll save for another time. This Particular Saturday My wife thinks this story is really cute. Mainly because of the line, “I thought it was going to bring the house down but I didn’t say that.” She thinks it’s sweet that I wanted to protect my Gran from the idea that the thunder might destroy the house. I think it’s more like Gran had been telling me off all day for moaning - one of her pet names for me was “Moaning Minnie” and it does seem here like “all I could do was moan.” Mr Geraghty thought it was hilarious, mainly because of the picture. Obviously I didn’t see a big sheet in the sky that night, but I’d never heard the term “sheet lightning” before and my silly mind inserted an actual sheet retroactively. Makes me wonder what other memories we fabricate sometimes, indeed how much of this is true. Did Mr Geraghty really find it hilarious or was it someone else? Am I just making this all up? I guess we’ll never know. Note how I’m not supposed to use rubbers but the “e” in “lightening” has clearly been erased. Understandable confusion though since I knew “frightening” had an “e”. It’s just another one of those things which proves how difficult it is to learn English. It’s also worth noting how Gran turns the telly off when there’s a thunderstorm. I don’t think this is common practice any more, but in the old days, every single electrical appliance would get switched off when a storm brewed up. Indeed, the normal everyday evening ritual involved removing every single plug from the wall before bedtime. Electric clocks and remote control tellies changed all that. And no, we didn’t have remote control tellies back then. You had to physically walk up to the set and press a knob to change the channel. Imagine that. If Gran did indeed turn the telly off, then the storm must have happened quite late in the evening, because there is no way on Earth that I would let her turn the telly off in the middle of Doctor Who (which was probably on around 6pm, though I admit I can’t find any hard evidence of that). Don’t think the storm deterred the other 15.4 million people who watched it either. Good choice - this was one of the better ones.
Sheet Lightning
TERM 1 Sept-Dec 1979
TOPIC 1 Sept-Dec 1979
HISTORY 1 Sept 1979 - Oct 1981
SCIENCE 1 Sept 1979 - Mar 1980
FAIRBURN The place where I wrote all this rubbish
GEOGRAPHY 1 Sept 1979 - Feb 1981