For the last time... God bless, love, Marion
I HAVE just celebrated my 81st birthday and was fortunate to receive many lovely cards and presents. One of my presents, a bottle of perfume called 'Woman' gave me an extra reason to smile.
It took me right back to a scene from Coronation Street when Hilda Ogden was using a bright red lipstick and husband Stan said "What's that smell, Hilda?" and Hilda replied: "That's WOMAN, Stanley, WOMAN."
Hilda and Stan were my all-time favourite comedy duo in the soap.
We also enjoyed a lovely family meal in Bristol Fashion and I thought "That's it for another year!"
Then a few days later Derek said he had another treat for me. We lunched again in Bristol Fashion and, after lunch, we spent a lovely, quiet, time together in St James Priory church, where my dear mum and dad married in 1927, eighty six years ago.
I wondered what hopes and dreams they had on that day and how glad I was to know their lives had been happy.
Mind you, our next sojourn into the past didn't go quite so well. We decided to walk into Bedminster or Be'minster as we called it, which Derek, since he grew up in Kingsdown, never knew in its prime.
Although we had, on occasion, shopped in Bedminster, it was the first time we had ever walked together into East Street from Redcliffe Hill and telling how it was nearly reduced me to tears.
Living in Regent Street, as a little girl, Bedminster was a noisy, exciting, place full of smells. From Redcliffe Street right down through East Street to the toilets on the London Inn there were so many shops.
My Dad used to tell me how many pubs there were in Bedminster – I think he only drank in one or two of them – and how on Saturday nights there were more people using the 'loos' than could possibly have drunk in any one pub. All the men scurrying to empty their bladders before getting on the number 10 or 10a bus to Knowle West. On the right was the faggots and peas shop.
Only rarely was I allowed out at night with my Gran, but when I was I loved it when we went to get a basin of faggots and peas.
The 'cop shop' was also on the right, along with the Hippodrome, where my, then young, mum and dad, used to go on a Saturday night whilst Gran baby sat. So was WD & HO Wills, where so many young people started their working lives, including my first husband. George used to work in the warehouse and sometimes, if he knew I was coming to Bedminster, he used to look out for me and give me a little wave. Apparently you had to be very polite and well turned out to get into Wills. Though I was reliably told that on Fridays the girls, who had to wear a turban, used to wear their hair curlers underneath so that they looked their best for their night out. When I was little my dad used to take me to Verricha's for a lovely banana split but when George and I went in there years later I always used to have a strawberry milkshake.
When George and I got married we got all our 'Beautility' furniture in Bedminster. We used to say if you couldn't get it in Bedminster, you didn't want it or didn't need it.
My first job, when I left school, was at Coventry and Jeffs, but then, lured by the promise of more money I went to work at Curry's, East Street. My manager was a Mr Walsh, and I did accounts which mostly consisted of making out the hire purchase agreements for cycles, and radiograms – a very popular item in 1949. Customers were supposed to come in weekly and make their payments which would be suitably recorded, and, if customers missed more than one payment, I would send a warning letter, reminding them of their obligations. However, one family steadfastly ignored all reminders and Mr Walsh, bravely decided to go and tackle the miscreants! However, as he went up the garden path, he spotted the cycle, a blue Raleigh, leaning against the wall. Quick as a thought, he wheeled it down the path, jumped on it and cycled back to Curry's.
Much to my surprise that was the end of the matter.
So, did I enjoy my nostalgic stroll down memory lane?
To tell the truth it was quite sad.
The Hippodrome got bombed during the Second World War and most of the other shops no longer exist.
God Bless, love Marion.