Duplicate with ‘Collections’. Intended to extend this with Sundays in different times – never got around to it.
In 1956 we moved to a semi with two bedrooms, bathroom, a large through lounge, a very small kitchen and a garden, front and back. I first remember then that Sundays gradually became an important part of the week. The weekly wash overtook the kitchen every Sunday morning. It could hardly fail to, it was so minute. A boiler and a mangle and then a twin-tub and huggins of floods. Shirts and pants and knickers anywhere they would dry. And then two-way family favourites and Sunday dinner which was in the middle of the day. It took me ages to get used to dinner in the evening and lunch during the day. It was a joint with veg’ and a fight over the rice-pudding skin. A joint was meat with a bone in it. Where was the join? Mum never doled out all the rice-pudding. There was always some left over. Then Billy Cotton, two-way family favourites, BFPO’s and bumper-bundles, Then mum and dad turned the Sunday express inside out and fell asleep. They did the same to the Examiner every night, except Sunday.
Aunties and Uncles came for tea on Sundays or we went there. So the room had to be clean. Dad always did the “vaccing”. Saturday or Sunday morning, either way best be scarce. Sunday tea was cold, a bit of ham and bread and salad, tinned peaches and carnation milk for afters. Cups of tea and cakes and buns. Mum and auntie would do the washing-up. Dad and uncle would sit in front of the fire and talk. It depended who it was. Uncle Bill smoked a pipe and talked about the war and India. Uncle George chain-smoked Senior Service talked about everything. He was a know-all. Uncle Ray just talked about Huddersfield Town and cricket. Then we might watch something. Sunday night at the London Palladium.
Going out for Sunday tea needed planning. Two trolley buses, the 73 into town and change for Crosland Moor, Sheepridge or Almondbury and get home for my bed-time. Uncle George had a dormobile. I asked him for a lift once about tea-time. He said yes. He wasn’t offering when it was time to go so I asked again. We got a lift and I got mum’s dirty look and an “Oh! David”. Well he had promised.
Sunday was a play day, as long as it was inside. I could read an Enid Blyton in a day, borrowed from Boots’ Library at the end of Victoria Lane. Auntie Gladys had a camera shop on Victoria Lane and bought me the library card for a birthday. You could take a book back the same day. You couldn’t do that at the public library.
The only way to get out on Sundays was to go to church. Sunday school at St. Michael and St. Helen’s. One of those modern places which had dances in them when god was hidden behind a folding door. I eventually joined the choir. I hadn’t a clue but big brother was in it. I got to ring the church bell, wear funny clothes and get given apples and bananas after harvest festival. I also got to get up very early. Mum was in the Mothers’ Union. Dad wasn’t in anything. He said he was an atheist until mum shut him up. We had Whit walks and new clothes and teas on tables in a field and sack races. Big brother had his pals from college and a girlfriend. I was part of the little brothers’ set. He wangled his way into playing football on Sunday afternoons and then so did I. Coats for goalposts and twenty-five a side. That field next to the church was the cricket pitch, the football pitch and ideal for spot of courting. It had a hill and hedges. A sledging track, cold achy hands and stiff wet jeans steaming in the kitchen. You had to go through it for a decent walk or meet your pals. George Haigh got hold of it eventually. It’s all houses now. The church is still there. I heard the vicar killed himself after his mother died. He’d never married.
Sundays got boring. I’d got into the college in 1958. I got fed up of aunties and uncles, grown-ups who talked and watched Sunday night TV. There was usually a good serial about five o’clock and that was it. When it was cold and nobody was coming, we’d pull the settee up to the fire and have our tea on our knees. Anyway this wore off and I got bored. I complained one Sunday night when mum and auntie Mary was washing up. They smiled, laughed. “Haven’t you got anything to do?”. It didn’t help to say things.
Or it did. Gordon took me sailing at Redbrook reservoir with his girlfriend, Adrienne. She came from a posh family. Her mother had been a famous singer in the town and they had a swimming-pool in their back garden. Her father was called Redvers. Was that a name? Gordon and Adrienne smoked Kensitas and collected coupons. She had ginger hair, only they called it auburn. I thought she was great.
I went sailing a season or two. Spare pair of hands for crewing. Sore shins and bum from changing sides. Who did these pillocks steering think they were? Issue orders and then a bit more or out a bit with my piece of rope. I got to steer a few times. I came last. It was best on a windy day. There were two heavy club boats and I crewed for Horace when there was a bit of a blow. Excitement. Hanging out, way over the side, soaking and bailing. We grounded on a rocky beachy bit. Terrific. I never knew who Horace was. An odd-job guy who kept turning up.
Then I was old enough to find something to do on Sundays for myself. Another Church and Dalton St. Paul’s Methodist this time. The youth club was the attraction, but we had to go to chapel as well. A stone box with wooden seats and a wooden stage. Sit on the back row and pass notes to each other. Make too much noise. Dirty looks from the old farts at the front and from the vicar. He was different every week. No women. They must have been on a rota. One or two ranted and raved. At least they were loud. Most were totally boring. We had a scripture teacher at school. We had more than one but he stood out. His teeth crossed over somehow. I never could work out what he wanted. He came to the chapel one week as a lay-preacher. Tall and stiff in a grey suit, using words I couldn’t understand. And he told us off in the middle of his sermon. It wasn’t long after that I walked out a couple of times. I never went again.
What you wore was crucial on Sundays. Different but the same as others. It was a mark of how much your parents could afford. I had green cavalry twills and a black blazer for a while. We all wore fawn slacks one summer. Then there was sports coats and sun-glasses. But the suit was the key. Three-piece, 17 inch bottoms, dark blue with a pattern. Me and dad fought over the trouser bottom size. He wore 21 inch things, imagine? Ballooning out in the wind and urrgh! Tight trousers showed the shape of your leg and only teddy boys wore them. I wanted 16’s and got 17. We are in the tailor’s shop. Stomach in a knot, waiting. “What width do you want your trousers bottoms?” “17 inch.” Before dad could say anything. “They always know that, don’t they?” says the measuring man. Smug bastard.
We used to parade up and down parks on summer Sunday evenings. Walk or get the bus. Trying out smoking cigarettes and pipes. Play a bit of football, in waist-coats, suit jackets carefully stacked. Eye up the talent. One or two had long-term girlfriends, but we liked each other’s company. Short term girlfriends between long periods of thinking about girls and what was underneath blouses and bras. I used to ache about big brother’s girlfriend, Pat. My first girlfriend was Leslie Newton. She’d fallen out with a pansy called Massie who’s dad was a policeman. Massie acted like a pansy but he didn’t play football like one, for King James’. “Will you go out with us?” “Who’s us?”. Me was always us and to go with someone was to fancy them. If they went though, that was different. That was finding out about for real about blouses and bras. Soft cuddly bits, aching and stiff other places. Leslie Newton’s dad was in the same mess as my dad. “Your lad ‘s got his hands on my daughter.” Treacle buttie time, following morning. “How’s Leslie?” Muddled and guilty. Six weeks walking out and going to the Waterloo pictures on Saturday nights. God, it was hard, learning what you’re supposed to do. I know what I wanted to do. It was a while before I did that. Six weeks was my record. I think she’d’ave gone, but I didn’t dare. If you tried owt you were dirty-minded. Well I was, but I didn’t. We all were, but we didn’t let on to them. I actually believed for a long time thet they didn’t want to do it. What a waste of time. I could’ve got on with it years sooner. Pamela Bradbury let me into her top half – wonderful, at parties and behind the air-raid shelter at the bottom of her road. Her big sister fancied me. She said so. We went on a camping holiday in Jugoslavia. She saw me changing in a tent by the shadow of a torch on the tent wall. She told me the shape. God, what was I doing, or not doing. I could’ve had the whole family. But you just didn’t go out with older girls. After Chapel, “Come back to us, mum and dad’s out.” More lost opportunities.
Anyway Sundays. I finished at chapel when I managed to make the sixth form. I nearly didn’t. Five remove for a week. Only got six o-levels with average marks. Dad wrote a letter to “slimy” the headmaster, and I’m in lower sixth science. Sundays was a work day. Measured in hours and compared, lied about, frightened and frightening them. I worked in a fitted wardrobe, followed big brother. Dad made a table and a lamp. Big brother went away to university when I was twelve. So I had plenty of time in the wardrobe, but it only became serious in the sixth form. We were a group of five or six pals, doing sciences. We’d visit each other’s houses on Sunday nights, whether mums and dads were away or not. Talk and play bridge. We made my bedroom into a bedsit, big brother’s bed a settee. Sundays were available for serious swotting – often 6 hours at a go.
with cushions, expensive wallpaper and an Elizabethan tape-recorder. Record the new releases from “Pick-of-the-Pops” every Sunday. Head-phones so as not to make too much noise. It was the only way to hear what you were recording.
And then Sundays was for serious courting when mum and dad was out or going for tea when her mum and dad were in.
Away to university and Sundays were what you made of them. Working sometimes, especially getting near to exams. Sunday Times was regular, following Parkinson and his rants at the MCC. We played inter-departmental rugby on Sunday winter afternoons, often after a garlic laced midday meal. Against the engineers, the chemists or the architects. Always with a hangover. We’d a decent team, it didn’t matter. Sunday evenings in the flats were for programmes like the Forsyte Saga and those Dickens serials. During the summer, CPK might take us out for a spin to N Wales. He was the only one with a car at the time. Various girls visited and we had one stay with us. Mary, posh and lovely who was hitched up with a slob called Ian, who later killed himself. A bruiser from Stoke who smoked and drank like a Glasgow welder. She went on to marry a physician and do well I guess. Barry had a girlfriend from home who would come and put him on a diet and clean up our wonderful naughty frying pan. Her father was a gp and we got mighty tired hearing about Di’s old man. Dick was from Nottingham, qualifying with the help of the army. Married Helen, otherwise known as Tinkerbell, the magic fairy.
Sundays in Cardiff