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U3A Writing: Mrs Dyson's Diary

In nostalgic mood, Nancie Dyson recalls childhood games from a fitter age.

Last Wednesday I arrived home at 12.45 to discover that the electric was once again off.

Having been without power for 13 hours Sunday night to Monday lunchtime, and being told that they
hoped to have the power back on at 5.30, I wasn't best pleased.

Having texted my daughter to relieve my feelings, she replied, "No swearing, if it's still off tonight you will come and stay with us.’’ And all of a sudden the world wasn't such a bad place after all. Someone did care.

I was reminded of the verse my Dad wrote in my autograph album:
‘It is easy enough to be pleasant when life goes along with a song,
but the girl who's worth while is the one who can smile
when everything goes Dead Wrong.’

Which led me to autograph books, which were the in thing in the 1930's. Friends and relatives
have contributed with drawings and wise sayings. The only famous person who has
contributed wouldn't mean a thing to today’s youngsters. I went to hear the Reverend Bramwell
Evans preach at the chapel at the top of Chapel Hill in Huddersfield. He broadcast on the
radio as Romany, which is how he signed my book. He spoke of his adventures in the country as
he travelled in his Vardo, with his dog called Raq. He also wrote books about nature - very tame by
the side of today’s heroes.

One other contribution in my autograph book is as relevant today as then.
‘Work though as busy as a bee, and be careful of your money.
For you'll find it true that friends are few, when you are short of money.’

In this nostalgic mood I started thinking of the toys we played with, in contrast to the
sophisticated toys of today. Obesity was something we never suffered from. Walking to and
from school four times a day - no school dinners. P.E. at least once a day in some form or
another. Skipping, hopscotch, marbles, conkers, cycling - usually one rickety bike between any
number of boys and girls. A hoop was the band from around a fruit barrel; a skipping rope
the rope from around an orange box. Shopping for the housebound was a good source for the odd halfpenny for sweets.

Our jigsaws were home-made by our dad; he was very good with a fretsaw. He made radios too
and the cases for them. I used to help him wind the coils. When Dad was soldering the wires in
the radio - a very tricky job - should something go wrong, he would say, "Damn and set fire to it."

An oft-repeated tale was of my older brother being found under the table, trying to roll me
on the floor saying, “Damn and set fire to you. Won't you role?", which I blame for
me not turning into a sugar and spice-and-all-things-nice girl, but an out and out tomboy
who could beat her brother into submission any time. He would yell, “Mum, Nancie is hurting me."
Which meant I was in trouble.

When we were older, he got his own back in much more subtle ways. Words were always fascinating to
me, and once when I was going through a phase of reading words backwards, he challenged me to
read the H.P.sauce label in reverse. I never refused a challenge. When I got to the name
of the manufacturer,! went blithely on, and got a crack on the ear from Mother. No I MEAN a crack!
She never tapped, and the reason why? GARTONS was the name, and that read backwards was
SNOTRAG. I had walked straight into it.

Back to this week. On Thursday evening my daughter came to put the heating timer back to the
correct time, and I regaled her with the story of me searching for my glasses that morning -
last thing off and first thing on. After having thought of all the places they could be, I
realised they were still on my face, and I must have slept with them on – attributable,
according to my daughter, as a sure sign of senility. At least we had a laugh.

But beware, you young ones, things come back to prove it can happen to anyone.
Friday, my son-in-law turned up in the afternoon to take me to see my daughter, who - and she
doesn't know why – had walked into the road and got knocked down by a lorry. Sleeping in your
glasses is chicken feed by the side of what she had done. Her bruises, and the bump on her head
and the sprained wrist will be raised in future when she again gives senility as a reason why
I do something silly.

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