Hello to all Elaine’s blog followers – I am her mum, Jan Mount. She recently asked me to do a piece for her blog. My lovely daughter left England for NZ seven years ago and I miss her terribly. No-one else on this planet can make me laugh so much that I cry, and I’m still laughing at her hilarious accounts on Facebook, and now on her blog, so I’m more than happy to be a small part of it.
My parents, two brothers and a sister, are all Londoners. My father, Sam, found work in Maidstone, in Kent as an engineer and shifted my mum, Rose, and my siblings down to a rented semi in what they first thought was a God forsaken part of the world – the countryside – just before World War 2. Why he became an engineer was both innovative and brilliant on his part, because he was trained as a hairdresser in his father’s shop on the Isle of Dogs! (Millwall for the uninitiated). Actually, one of the chapters in my book is about this area back in the day. You should read it! My mum was considered the local beauty when she arrived on the scene of a rural Kentish village, with her latest London styled Eton Crop hair and red lipstick -what a hussy! She was full of life and a real comic – a proper Eastender. Quite the opposite to my intellectual, very serious father, but they were a good match and loved each other to bits.
Hello, I’m Elaine’s mum. No-one else on this planet can make me laugh so much that I cry.
I was born in 1941 in that very house in the lovely little village called Loose. The supposedly witty question was always being put to me, “is that right you are a Loose woman?” Yawn! In fact, it is pronounced with a soft ‘s’ – so that it rhymes with ‘booze’. Er …. perhaps I should have said “cruise”. I’m not an alcoholic, honest. As the baby of the family – the closest in age being my big sister, June, 7 years older than me, I enjoyed a happy, cosseted, childhood. Though why my mum had decided she wanted another child when there was a war on has always bewildered me! Luckily I’ve never had a fear of doodlebugs or air raid shelters. I must have slept and gurgled happily though all that.
June was charged with the unenviable task of looking after me when our mother was busily engaged doing other things. Mum worked part time, kept a clean house and was a good cook, but she did like a smoke and a drink. She would nip to the village pub ‘for cigarettes’ but we all knew it was really for a swift cider. I was, in fairness, a bit of a brat. Hyper-active, cheeky and prone to accidents. Luckily June was patient and kind and I love her dearly. Can you imagine how unbearable it must have been for her when she began courting and was forced to have a snotty nosed kid tagging along? When she brought the man she was to marry home, he swiftly put a stop to all that, much to my mum’s chagrin. David and Ron, my brothers were a lot older and managed to escape child minding duties before they did their National Service in the army.
I was regarded as something of a freak in my village, being the only girl who passed the 11-plus exam. What is that you ask? It was gateway to Grammar School, where I received not only an excellent education, but plenty of much deserved discipline. My over-exuberant wings were clipped at last. But I did spend a few times on the red seat – which was a public place of disgrace outside the Headmistress’s’ office. Whilst waiting to be chastised and punished, miscreants would have to suffer the withering looks of contempt from smug, goody-goody students and teachers passing by. Much like being in the stocks in olden times I should imagine – only thankfully without the rotten tomatoes.
Growing up in the 50’s and 60’s was great! The advent of rock ‘n roll : Bill Hayley and the Comets, Tommy Steele and the Cavemen, Lonnie Donnegan with his skiffle group, and of course the King, Elvis Presley. We would queue for hours to see his latest film – we danced in the aisles and no-one could stop us. Then came a new wave of music – Cliff Richard and, you’ve guessed it, The Beatles. It says a lot that their music is still going strong after fifty years. I wouldn’t swap those years and what we had for anything kids have got today. We didn’t have computers, or mobile phones, or 200 TV channels. It was BBC for years until, wow! ITV! Instead we had fresh air, freedom to play hopscotch, rounders and cricket in the street – no cars in our road! As teenagers, we went to a youth club in our flouncy skirts and winklepicker shoes, where we would sing along and dance to the latest records. We didn’t need to get ‘wasted’ which I believe is the modern idiom. A soft drink – or maybe a Babycham – and a packet of crisps was cool enough. We could go to the flicks on a Sunday for 1/6d (one shilling and sixpence, or seven and a half pence now. Ask Elaine what that is in dollars if you are a Kiwi). Then we would go roller skating in the Corn Exchange. Happy Days!
As it happened, I ended up in London when I grew up and married, so Elaine and my son, Ashley, are both Londoners. What goes round comes round. When I returned to work in the City of London as a Chairman’s P.A., I was, without exception, coerced into taking on other responsibilities – PR, Human Resources, Editor of the House Magazine, everywhere I worked. Talk about flog a willing horse – but I loved it. Stressful, long hours at the sharp end, then fighting my way onto a crowded, sweaty, tube train to rush home to cook dinner for my family. In 1999 I was invited to run a new Sports Management Agency with Gold Medallist, Duncan Goodhew, MBE. Great fun – but that’s another story.
My husband Dennis’s mum was a hundred years old when she died in 2002. Until her death, we would travel down to her bungalow in Kent every other Sunday to help with shopping and gardening etc., so what with full time working, running a home and bringing up two kids, my life was pretty hectic 24/7. Dennis had long since retired when we decided to move away from “The Smoke” to a lovely village in Lincolnshire, thirteen years ago. I was still working in London, so the train commute was a lengthy 4 hours daily until I found work locally. Sadly Dennis passed away in 2008 and we all miss him every day. Elaine is a lot like him, though I’d like to think she’s inherited some important genes from me too. Whacky and workaholic come to mind!
I am thrilled skinny to tell you that I will be visiting my dear daughter and her family in January, along with Ashley and his partner. It’s been 6 long years and I can’t wait. I look forward to meeting many of her friends and catching up with Peter’s family.
Thanks mum, great memories, I didn’t know you could roller skate! Can’t wait to make more memories soon. Good luck with the book. I have ordered mine through Amazon and can not wait to read it. Hope there is no liver and bacon tho, as nan used to say!