Weekly Writing Challenge: I remember

Set a countdown timer for 10 minutes, choose one of the writing prompts below, and just start writing. Your worst memory.

Grandad and me in brownie uniform

Me on the right in brownies uniform, grandad on the left in his favourite armchair

I cannot remember when exactly, but most probable around 1962 when I was 14 years old. It was a normal night as always, although I know my grandfather had not been so well throughout the day. He was born 1875, lived his life in our house, his wife dying in 1946, my birth year.

He had a good rough life, according to the ways of the working class population at the time. Was a gifted artist, wood carver, and in the building trade as a carpenter throughout his working years. I remember my mother telling me he would work in a local public house but would rarely come home after work, being the best beer customer they had. We had a wonderful collection of china beer mugs at home in commemoration.

He learnt his swearing watching the men gambling on the street corner as a boy. One of the reasons why the teacher sent him home from school. Swearing at the teacher was not correct, even at the end of the 19th century.

He seemed indestructible. Smoked like a chimney, swore like a trooper and was just grandad, sitting in his armchair out in the yard in summer in the sun even when it was hidden by thick clouds of industrial smoke. He joined us watching the television on Saturday evening, blocking any clear view of the screen through thick qualms of cigarette smoke. He rolled his own cigarettes of course with Rizla papers and tobacco.

Now granddad was not so well at the age of 87. I went to bed that evening and my mum and dad were with granddad downstairs in his bedroom. I could hear the raised voices as mum became excited. Her sister, aunt Lil, was called for. She lived in a house just opposite ours in the same street. Aunt Lil, mum and dad looking after granddad counting each breath and watching each eye movement. They sensed what would happen. Voices were loud and excited

“Dad, dad are you ok? We will call the emergency doctor. Why not, you are not well.”

and so I heard the voices all night. My sleep was little, practically none. I felt what was happening in that bedroom downstairs, the urgency of raised voices, concern, worry climbed through the floorboards to my room. For once I was neglected, on my own. My mother had other problems. The doctor was called for, but he did not come as quickly as needed. We were just a simple family in a crowded East End of London, not anything special and probably the idea was to have a look in the morning.

Aunt Lil shouted again “Dad”

My mother “I think he has gone.”

I stole a look at the clock. Around six in the morning, daylight was breaking. No-one in our house closed their eyes during the night. My parents and Aunt Lil who had called her husband Uncle Arthur in the meanwhile watching after granddad. He passed away peacefully. His time had come, but our house was full of sadness tumult during that night. For me it was a night I have never forgotten.

Weekly Challenge: I remember

Daily Prompt: Ballerina Fireman Astronaut Movie Star

When you were 10, what did you want to be when you grew up? What are you? Are the two connected?

Photographers, artists, poets: show us DREAMS.

Horses in Feldbrunnen

When I was 10? Like in the dark ages when I could hop, skip and jump without thinking that one day it might all slow down. I had my thoughts and my ideas, but they were all involved and influenced by the television. Not the large colourful monster of today with hundreds of various channels showing us the world of dreams, but a small object encased in wood and a screen just about as large as an oversized magnifying glass. We even believed that the television people were coloured black, white and 50 various shades of grey.

Broadcasting took place from 5 to 6 in the afternoon (children’s hour) and from around 8 in the evening for the news and adult programmes. Being 10 years old I would sit in front of the TV already at 4.45 in the afternoon, not wanting to miss anything and watched the pre-moving pictures. Music accompanied by little characters dancing around a large clock. Then the programme began and there I was glued to the screen watching characters like Hopalong Cassidy, The Lone Ranger and The Cisco Kid.

They were all cowboys, so what chance did I have. I imagined myself as the heroine being whipped up by Cisco, rescuing me from the murderous hoards of “rustlers” as they were known as then. I think they were gangs of uncowboys that snatched cattle. Each cowboy had his faithful Sidekick although they were not as good looking as the star cowboy, and mostly a bit dumb to go with it. The Lone Ranger even had an Indian (who were usually the bad boys), but Tonto was OK. He never did anything stupid and just obeyed. The Cisco Kid had Pancho, a Mexican who looked at Cisco with stars in his eyes and seemed to grasp every word that Cisco uttered. Do you think…. No, that sort of thing did not exist then. Later Rin Tin Tin arrived an Alsation dog belonging to a skinny kid who had been brought up on a fort by loads of blue coated soldiers. Then I progressed, I wanted to grow up in a fort as well.

In the real world, my ideas and ambitions were not taken so seriously. Mum packed me off to school every morning after she returned from her job as an office cleaner in the City of London. She would leave around sixish in the morning and cleaned the office of some city gent so that he had a nice shiny desk top and empty litter basket when he arrived at work. In those days money was scarce and the wife worked to earn a little where she could. She had arrived home to get me out of bed, washed and ready for school. That was reality. I would walk to school wondering if when I turned the street corner Cisco or Hopalong would be there waiting for me. No chance, just my teacher and the classmates, their heads probably also filled with being dressed in cowboy clothes.

There was one guy, The Lone Ranger, who lived his life behind a mask. I do not know why, but sometimes I was the only cowgirl that knew why he had the mask and what he really looked like. Oh, the dreams of youth.

I never went in for being a singer or dancer, although Bill Haley had started to Rock Around the Clock and the only dancer I really knew was Fred Astaire. I think Elvis Presley had just left his Heartbreak Hotel and being All Shook Up at the time. That was imposing, Roy Rogers and Gene Autry having a rival.

By the time I was 11 daily television hours were longer and the first horror serial started on TV, Quartermass, so instead of riding the range I was peeping behind the sofa at space monsters. I was no longer faithful to Cisco and the others. I remember my mum telling me that all those cowboy actors were famous in her time. That was parental child psychology and destroyed all my hopes of becoming a cowboy bride as I realised that “in her time” was sometime during the war years when I was not born.

Now I read that a remake of The Lone Ranger starring Johnny Depp has been/is being made. No, I do not think I will bother. It will definitely destroy my childhood dreams and there is something else of importance. I know what Johnny Depp looks like behind the mask. What a spoiler that is.

What am I today? A retired export clerk, with two adult children and 2 adult step children. A cook, cleaner, laundry worker, gardener and speak 4 languages fluently (English, cockney, german, swiss german) and 2 languges almost fluently (French and Italian) with some Russian thrown in for good measure.  Basically a golden oldie, going towards the platinum stage.

Mr. Swiss is not a cowboy, but he helps to look after our three felines. Does that count?

Daily Prompt: Ballerina Fireman Astronaut Movie Star