Sunday, 18 May 2008



Those Ol’ Grey/Pink Boys Trousers.

In the 1950’s money was tight, and for our large family it was tighter than for most. But my Mum WAS very good at all the home-craft things that Mum’s ‘were’ good at in those days. Like making jam, sewing, cake-making/decorating, knitting, etc, etc.

Infact, each year the village would hold it’s annual ‘Flower Show’. Some villages still do, but it’s a dying tradition due to the enormous bills that the ‘Health & Safety’ guru’s put on the organisers, by way of ‘third-party-insurance’.
(I know, it’s a joke, but that’s today’s society for you).

To get back to the point. My Mum used to enter these flower show competitions where the best prize you could win was a ‘Rosette’ for 1st, 2nd or 3rd, (Very coveted rosettes they were too in their day) and she would always come away with several 1st place rosettes. Especially in the cake-making/decorating, jam, and dress-making sections. It got to the point where she was ‘expected’ to win.

(The Wargrave flower show was hardly 'The Chelsea Flower Show' but still.)

Naturally, this brought attention from the ‘better-off’ women of the village to request ‘favours’ from my Mum. Which she duly complied with, and was usually rewarded for the efforts, building up quite a reputation as a ‘good’ seamstress and general ‘sewer-upper’. As well as provider of some of the best home-made jams and cakes anywhere.
(Wedding cake? No problem, and decorated to perfection.)

Now, as part of her ‘reward’ for doing a favour to ‘one’ of the villagers, she was given a good amount of this high-quality material that was left over from the job in hand. GREAT! But what to do with it, that was the question?

My brother Bill and I were at junior school, and as such only had short trousers. We’d been pestering Mum to get us some ‘long’s’ for ages, but she just couldn’t afford it so we’d wear these shorts that were getting tighter and tighter as we grew.

Now in those days we ‘never’ had a telly. (Only got our first ‘Decca’ radio in about 1954). As you can guess, a lot of sewing, jam making and cake-making went on. The sewing usually got done in the evenings until long after we kids had gone to bed.

One Monday morning, our Mum told us we didn’t need to put on our shorts, she’d got some ‘long’s’ for us. Bill and I looked at each other, well pleased and couldn’t wait to see our new trousers. When we did, our jaws must’ve nearly hit the deck. She'd made them for us out of the left-over material that this other villager had given her as reward for doing one of her ‘favours’. Nothing wrong there. They fitted great. But the material was ‘pure 50’s’. That itchy-grey, wool/cotton material that was generally ‘grey’ but with flecks of ‘pink’ and ’white’ running through it. I’m sure whatever she’d made from it for the villager was fine. But for two lads who had to now wear ‘trousers’ made of the same material to school?…….No!…No!…No!

As you can guess though, we ‘did’ wear them to school, and for days we had to defend ourselves against jibes of ;
“Your Mum made your trousers….Hah Hah Hah”.

I steadfastly stuck to my story that our local ‘Tally-Man’, Mr NorthEast, (Genuine name by the way) had sold them to my Mum on ‘tick’. That they’d come straight from ‘Tutty’s’ the department store in Reading, Berks, where most of the lower class used to get their stuff from using credit vouchers.

Eventually, the jibes died down, and everyone got used to Bill and I wearing our strange ‘grey-pink’ boys long trousers.
Anyway, I’d convinced myself that ‘they’ were just jealous, and we were naturally very proud of ‘Our Mum’s’ ability to make almost anything from scraps of old material.

Could their Mum’s do it??
I don’t think so. Which is why they all used to come to ‘our house’ to get things like that done.

Who else could have such ‘vivid memories’ of one pair of Ol’ school trousers?
If nothing else, we were left with those, and ‘memories’ as you know, are ‘Golden’.

Catch you later,


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