Archive for June, 2017

Craft Learning

June 1, 2017

Audrey Sanderson, our East Leeds lass in Australia, takes us on a journey from Australia back to Ellerby Lane School. Look out for Audrey’s dad’s white knuckle adventure in the lift at Hitchin’s Department Store.
Craft Learning
By Audrey Sanderson.

Don’t you just love the modern language used now for mundane jobs, basic equipment and a million other everyday chores as if it is new and exciting. Have you ever heard of a job called a Replenishing Supply Assembling Operative? My friend was excited as she told me someone she knew had finally got a job. I said it sounded most impressive but what did the job entail. She said she wasn’t quite sure but thought it could be something in an office as the young woman had been an accountant before getting married. Again I said Assembling seemed to indicate putting something together. I reminded her anything on an assembly line in the 50s was usually in a factory on a conveyor belt and covered heaps of jobs from engineering to putting chocolates into boxes. I asked where the place of employment was. She said it was an evening job at a supermarket. I debated whether to tell her what the job was. It’s a necessity but not a glamorous job. Thought I’d better put her straight before she started bragging to her other friends what the ladies job was.
It’s a person who restocks supermarket shelves after the store has closed. In Australia they used to be called Night Fillers and lots of people did it to earn extra cash. It got me thinking of new fancy names they now use. A garbologist – person who empties garbage bins. A Landscape Creator is a gardener most people pay to cut the lawn. A dustbuster is a vacuum cleaner. Every kind of mechanic and tradesman is called a technician. I had a cleaning business with many employees many years ago, I was a cleaner. Now I would advertise as a professional cleaning operative. I mentioned something about a Blue Collar worker to someone a while back. They actually thought it was a bunch of workers who wore blue collars on their uniforms.
Political correctness in all sorts of things has me baffled. A man hole in the road is still a man hole no matter what the new name for it is called. A chairman of a group is not a chair person. A prime minister is still a P.M. whether it be a man or a woman so why should other titles be altered because some nut can’t tell the difference between a man or a woman. Which brings me to what now in the 21st. century is classed as ancient.

I felt as old as Methuselah after reading an article on reviving ancient arts. Upon reading it found out it was the ancient practice of hand knitting articles you can actually wear.
It amused all the ladies of a Knit for Charity group I organise. US! Ancient! How dare they. Just because our oldest member is a lady approaching her 97 birthday and obvious to all she is more active than some women a fraction of her age belies the tag of ancient in any way shape or form.
Feathers were not ruffled as we all laughed at the notion of actually wearing something that had been hand knitted as the writer of the article suggested it was a novelty revived from a forgotten age.
At Ellerby Lane school knitting was taught to girls from the age of around 6-7 years old. Parents had to supply a pair of plastic knitting needles and a ball of wool for their daughter. Miss ????? taught the class I was in. It wouldn’t be fair to name the lady as my description of her to my Dad was from an innocent child who observed peoples mannerisms. She was a thin lady and to us young kids we thought she was as old as our grand mothers. On reflection she would probably have been in her 40s but she didn’t dress in the height of fashion or wear any makeup. In the course of the year I was in her class she asked various ones what their fathers did to earn a living. My Dad had been wounded in WW1 and was employed as a lift operator in Hitchin’s department store which was situated in Briggate opposite Marks and Spencers. He wore a uniform with brass buttons which he polished every night along with his black shiny surgical boots and was very proud of the job he did. He called out what each floor supplied as the lift transported customers up and down to each level. A prelude to the T.V. show ‘ Are you being served ‘ many years later.
He arrived home at his usual time of 6:30 p.m. one night and before taking his coat off said a lady had rode up and down in his lift several times before chatting to him. Instantly Mum wanted to know who the woman was, what she’d said and what did she look like.
He said she was an odd sort of lady and was probably younger than what she looked but she had been very nicely spoken and said all sorts of interesting things. He’d hung up his coat and sat at the table. Mum banged his dinner plate in front of him and demanded to know what the woman has said. He said he would finish his dinner and then he would tell us.
Dad didn’t usually act that way but it was plain to see he was enjoying every moment. He was smiling to himself all through the meal and mum was furious. My brothers and I ate up quicker than normal, all eager to hear about Dad’s secret woman. Mum had a face like thunder ” WELL ” she demanded as soon as Dad had eaten the last mouthful.
He made the tale spin out saying it was a day like any other. How the lady had rode up and down in the lift twice and not got out on any of the floors. No security guards back then and sometimes especially in the colder months now and again unfortunate members of the public who had a mental disorder would wander round large department stores where it was warm. They never bought anything nor did they try to steal anything they just wandered around looking at things. They were well know to the staff and so long as they didn’t annoy any of the shoppers they were free to move about the store. If they were the worse for drink or really did need a bath they were soon escorted out of the building and onto the pavement.
Dad described what the lady was wearing and how she kept taking off and putting back on her gloves before she spoke to him. My Dad was a perfect gentleman and always polite to everyone. He said he thought she might have been an old lady who was getting forgetful. We’d never heard the words Dementia or Alzheimer. If you had white hair, couldn’t remember certain things the rellies said you were getting senile. My Dad was more polite, he took everything in his stride and never got flustered about anything.
He asked Madam if she was looking for something special and maybe he could tell her which floor level it was on. She fidgeted some more with her gloves as people were leaving and entering the lift. This went on until there was only Dad and the mystery woman alone in the lift. To us kids the tension in the room was like listening to a radio play. The atmosphere to Mum was like a red rag to a bull, she was on the point of yelling her head off or smashing the table with her fist.
Dad said, ” You’ll never guess who it was ” he looked at us 3 kids. We thought it was somebody famous like Vera Lynn or Gracie Fields. ” NO,” he laughed ” It’s someone one of you three know very well ” We didn’t know anyone famous.
Mum started yelling ” For God’s sake who the hell was it?
Smugly Dad said, “It was one of your teachers”
Straight away Mum asked Alan, my eldest brother what he’d been up to at school. Standard reply from him ” Nuthinn ”
She started to rant ” If you’ve been getting up to no good you’ll be getting a what for I can tell you ” ‘A what for ‘ could mean anything from a clip round the ear, a thump from her fist or a belting with Dads razor strop.
As calm as anything Dad told her to leave him alone and why did she always think he was up to no good the minute he was out of her sight.
He said to Norman, the youngest one of us three ” What about you, have you been doing anything naughty?”
Immediately Mum jumped to his defence “It wasn’t him, leave him alone, he never does anything to be ashamed of, do you “she said as she faced Norman. He shook his curly head but looked apprehensive at Dad. A sort of look any young kid has if he thinks he’s been found out on some misdemeanour or lie he’s told. How much trouble can a five year old get into that would warrant a visit from the school teacher?
Dad looked at me. I was one of the quietest kids in the school what had I done wrong? Dad said it was my school teacher who had been to see him but he forgot what her name was.
Mum grabbed hold of my shoulder and started yelling asking what I’d done to bring shame on the family. The only thing I could remember getting wrong that day was spelling the word Tyres wrong in the spelling bee. My surname was Tyers and that’s how I’d spelt the word meaning car tyres. It was hardly bringing shame on the family when we all had the same surname. Dad told mum to sit down and WHY didn’t she shut up and listen for a change instead of thinking Alan and me were always doing things to annoy her. Always wanting the last word she said because we always did something we weren’t supposed to be doing. Looking back on it I think breathing must have been on the top of her list. It didn’t faze either of us as we grew up with the same sense of humour Dad had and we both found something to laugh at in most situations.
Dad asked the name of my teacher and what she looked like. In all my innocence I said she always wore a twin set and flared skirt. A twin set being a short sleeved jumper with a matching long sleeved cardigan of the same colour and design. She wore wedge heeled brown shoes and she didn’t wear lipstick. Her hair was grey and she combed it into a bun at the back of her neck and she wore glasses. Dad said it sounded a bit like the lady who had spoken to him.
Mum wanted to know what she’s said and why did she go to see him where he worked. He had a big smile on his face and said “She came to tell me I had a very intelligent daughter who was a pleasure to teach.”
Mum’s jaw dropped “What else did she say? There must have been something else or she wouldn’t have wasted her time searching you out to tell you that. Teachers only want to talk to parents if the child has done something wrong. ”
He said, “Well this one didn’t. She said our Audrey was eager to learn and quick at picking things up and she was far advanced than a lot of kids in her class. ”
Mum wasn’t convinced and asked me if there was another girl in my class called Audrey.
My Christian name wasn’t very popular back then, I don’t think there was any other girl in the school called Audrey. Plenty of Jean’s, Joan’s, Barbara, June, Brenda, Pauline’s. I think those names were also film stars names of the 30s and 40s.
Dad asked he if she wasn’t proud her daughter was doing well at school and pleased the teacher had taken the trouble to find out where he worked to tell him how clever I was.
My turn to be pounced again “Why did you tell her where your Dad worked? What did she want to know for? “I said she’d had asked plenty of the other kids as well. She asked if Miss???? had been to see the other kids’ fathers. I said I didn’t know. She told me to ask them.
Asking a quiet kid who never said boo to a goose to go around the class asking if Miss ??? had visited their fathers was asking to be singled out for all the kids in the school to want to know why. I said I wouldn’t do it. Pounce, Pounce again she yelled “You’ll do as I tell you or get a what for “I was close to tears at the thought of having to ask the other kids. I knew I’d have to do it or cop a belting from her.
Dad said quietly to mum “Why don’t you go and ask Miss whatever her name is why she came to tell me and at the same time you could ask if she’s been to see any of the other fathers. It might also be a good idea to thank her for taking so much interest in her pupils and telling parents how their child was doing at school.” Mum was good at giving looks that would freeze hell over but said nothing.
I’m sure Dad was also intrigued to know if other fathers had been contacted and if not why was he the only one.
He asked again if there was anything unusual about Miss ??? he should have noticed so he would be able to spot her if she ever came into his lift at the store again. I asked what sort of thing was unusual. He said some people do things when they are nervous and Miss ??? had taken off and put back on her gloves a dozen times before speaking to him. Had I seen Miss ??? do anything when she thought no one was looking.
I giggled. He waited and I giggled again. He asked again what she had done. I said some of the girls in the class said Miss ??? is always looking at herself when she thinks no one can see her. He said he didn’t know classrooms had mirrors in them. I said they didn’t and she looked down at herself. He asked a lot of questions, did she mumble to herself? Did she laugh out loud for no reason? Did she stare and look as if she was day dreaming? I said no she didn’t do anything like that but she knew what everyone in the class was doing even if she had her back to them.

He asked me to show him how she looked when she was looking at herself. I felt silly having to show him in front of my mum and brothers. Never the less I stood up looked down at my chest, hitched some imaginary thing on both shoulders, looked at my chest again and smiled. Said “If you see somebody doing that Dad it will be her ” Alan let out a laugh that the whole street must have heard. Dad said not to let Miss ??? see us giggling and Mum said ” What do you expect, she’s a spinster. And you’d better tell me if she comes visiting you at work again and I’ll have something to say to her ” I never knew why Alan had laughed so loud and hoped Miss ??? never went into Hitchin’s store again because I didn’t want Mum to come to the school and shout at my teacher. I didn’t know what a spinster was either so looked it up in the dictionary. That’s what you do when you’re a quiet kid. Try to find out answers yourself before asking anyone and risk getting laughed at because you don’t know. So, Miss ??? Wasn’t married. I knew that because she was called Miss instead of Missus. Why did anyone laugh at the word spinster? It wasn’t until a few years later and Miss ??? had left the school I realised what she’d been hitching up and why she’d been looking at her chest and I felt sad for giggling at my spinster teacher who’d had a crush on my Dad.
Dad never mentioned the episode again but Mum asked frequently if anyone interesting had been in his lift. She got annoyed at him the day David Whitfield had been in the store. He’d been to the record shop to sign records of his latest hit. I can’t remember the name of the shop or the name of the street but it was off Briggate higher up than Hitchin’s, between Matthias Robinson’s and the Empire theatre. Every teenager knew it as they had little booths where you could hear the record played before you bought it. He’d also been into Hitchin’s store which was a surprise to all the staff. Dad was not pleased at all the girls stampeding through the place screaming their heads off and told mum she wouldn’t have liked it either. She said she thought David Whitfield was a lovely man and wished she could have seen him. Dad said she was crackers and not a teenager anymore.
Dad never did understand teenagers of any era and although Mum didn’t dress or act like one he didn’t like hearing her singing along with the radio to tunes she found entertaining. She thought Rock around the Clock was a catchy tune until she saw a photo of Bill Haley and wanted to know why an old man like him acted like a teenager.
Who said looks aren’t everything? To my Mum and Dad entertainers had to be perfect in every way. God knows what they would have thought with all the scandals that they reveal now, which everyone is bored with hearing. They do make a lot of money though by dressing up stupid and yelling out words to some sort of electric music.
Is it only me that is becoming like my parents condemning modern music that to me is only a thumping noise? Who cares I still have my old L.P. vinyl records of Count Basie, Sinatra, Tony Benet, Ella Fitzgerald, Ray Coniff and heaps of others and an old stereo that plays them nice and loud when all my neighbours are at work.
Still a teenager of my era when it comes to ballads that meant something and you could hear every word….and still knitting items you can wear, only these days I give them to others in need.

Great tale Audrey