Archive for the ‘Leeds City Varieties’ Category

Muriel’s tale

January 1, 2015

Muriel’s Tale Mrs Muriel Parkin (nee Bailey) attended South Accommodation Road Primary School in the 1940s and later Ellerby Lane School. As Muriel’s tale this month is quite short it gives me space to tell you about my Cousin Teddy. (My un-hypnotisable Cousin Teddy) Muriel’s Tale Lost in Leeds aged five When I think back to my school days I recall that when I came home on Mondays the washing would be being done – ironing Tuesdays and so on yet my mam always seemed to find the time to get on the sewing machine to keep us in winter clothes or summer dresses, all made from other things that we had worn out, she was a marvel. Baking was always on Friday, we could smell the flat cakes cooling on tea towels when we were half way down the street. Life must have been hard for women during the war years but you didn’t hear them moaning. We kids would play out in the street as long as there was daylight and never get bored; there was always something to do or somewhere to go. Going to the picture house was alright during the winter when it was dark and you couldn’t play out, but summer Oh! We did love the summer we were never indoors. I even got lost for eight hours when I was just five years old! I had been on the local park with two of my friends and we didn’t know the meaning of time. The park keeper was shutting up the park and he turned us out but he didn’t turn us out from the usual gate – the one that we knew he turned us out of another gate which must have been on the other side of the park and we didn’t know our way home from there so we walked and walked asking everyone we met, ‘Can you tell us the way to South Accomm?’ but no one seemed to know. Then we saw a lot of people at a tram stop – dare we ask? But before we could get the words out a lady came up to me and mentioned my dad’s name and asked if I was his daughter? She took us onto the tram with her and got us home. It seems everyone had been out looking for us. We had ended up outside St James’ Hospital – how I’ll never know but we were lucky the lady worked at the same place as my dad and must have recognised me. But for three five year olds to get from Clarence Road in Hunslet over to the Becket Street area was quite an adventure. As you can imagine it was quite a while before I was allowed to go to the park again.  

     Cousin Teddy

       You’ll like Teddy – Not a lot There was no sadness in Teddy’s ‘lack of marbles’, indeed he went out of his way – and was never happier than when an opportunity presented itself for him to prove his daftness.   My first recollection of him is of a walk we had in the garden beneath the hawthorn trees on a balmy summer’s evening long ago in Knostrop. He poured out his heart to me as to how his marriage was falling apart and what would I advise him to do? Not so strange a request one may think until one considers that at the time he was an adult and I merely a five-year old child. His bizarre antics however, the least savoury of which were spared my tender ears, did not endear him to the rest of the family, they obviously knew more of his history than I. Should he appear in the vicinity word was quickly passed round to give the house an appearance of ‘emptiness’. Early memories then centred around hiding under tables and the like because ‘Teddy was around’. His favourite tale for many a year, which he would relate to any ear who would listen, concerned his employment as a dishwasher at a five star hotel. It made front- page headlines when the managing director of the hotel was fished out of the river. What the world didn’t know, according to Teddy, was that on the previous evening he’d given his notice in and that was why the MD had ‘done himself in’. Later, now as a teenager promenading with friends and eager to catch the eye of the girls my plans would often be baulked by the arrival of Teddy, now middle aged, sparse and balding. He seemingly found it necessary to tag along with us at a loping ‘Grouch Marx’ type trot. Lads will be lads of course and it was the done thing to good naturedly put each other down at every opportunity. Teddy became a perpetual ‘Achilles heel’ for me, should I try to set up a date with a member of the fair sex the lads would say, ‘Don’t go out with ‘im love, he’ll bring his cousin Teddy along, there’s madness in ‘is family yer know!’ Teddy however, saved his best performance for a packed house at the Leeds City Varieties where a world famous hypnotist was performing. His advertised claim was that he could hypnotise anyone of sound mind. The show had run for a full week and tales of the hypnotist’s extraordinary powers had filtered through the whole of the city by the time we filed in for the Saturday evening’s performance. Midway through the first half the hypnotist called for volunteers and a gaggle of the public from out of the audience were persuaded to line up along the front of the stage. The sparse figure at the end of the line seemed ominously familiar. I searched frantically for a means of escape but I was in the middle of the row, the exits were far away and anyway the lads had already sensed something was up by now and they weren’t going to let me out on principle. The hypnotist repeated his claim that he could hypnotise anyone of sound mind. He then said, ’In a moment I’m going to put you all to sleep.’ Immediately the figure at the end of the line detached from the rest and dropping onto the boards began to snore with great intensity. This was all before the hypnotist had actually started! The ominous notion I had harboured for several minutes, became manifest, it was Teddy! This realization quickly became apparent to my friends too, who joyfully acclaimed in vocal unison – for all to hear. ‘It’s Teddy!’ Well, now aware he had an audience Teddy really went to town, He quacked like a duck, flapped around the stage like a bird – all without being asked. He threw himself all over the stage. The audience was in stitches. Not so the hypnotist, who finally had to ask Teddy to leave the stage as ‘un-hypnotisable’. He took his leave of the footlights to a great ovation milking the audience with a great many bows. It was the highlight of the show, after that the rest seemed to fall quite flat, nothing could follow Teddy! The last time I saw him he’d hitched his bandwagon to a rich old aunt who was almost as eccentric as he was. She wore a hat with curls attached to the edges. When she removed the hat the curls came off as well, which was a great source of amusement for the children. ‘He’s after her brass,’ they all said. Well I hope he got it, for she certainly made him work for it. Aunt Ada, as we called her had at one time been a woman of property, whether she still was or not I’m unsure, she talked money in telephone numbers but wouldn’t spend a penny. She would make poor old Teddy push her around for miles, in and out of the traffic, in an ancient bath chair rather than pay the bus fare. To add to the show she was deaf but still talked a great deal in a shrill voice. While this was going on teddy would stand behind her, where she couldn’t see him and contradict everything she said; ‘the mean old b…’ he would mouth, ‘she never did anything of the sort!’ After that I lost touch with Teddy, I never did find out if he got her brass. I hope he did! Sometimes when I hear a tale about an eccentric millionaire, I wonder – could that be Cousin Teddy?