Archive for the ‘St James Hospital’ 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?


My Hero

December 1, 2011

Dave Carncross has kindly allowed us to peep with respect into his epitaph of a true East Leeds Legend – Richard Chappelow.  In our old East Leeds society the virtues we admired most of all were to be brave and to be tough. Rick had both in abundance.  That he was a little injury prone only added to his charisma and made us love him the more

My Hero

By Dave Carncross

By the time we were ten years old or so, we were all veteran cinema-goers – the main venues being the Easy Road Picture House, the Star and the Princess. We liked anything which involved soldiers, cowboys, cartoons and comic book characters. We all had our own favourite film heroes but I had a real one much nearer home – next door but one to be precise. His name was Richard Chappelow.

The Chappelows were a lovely family. Jenny was like an extra sister. She was the same age as me but always seemed older. She was fiercely intelligent and always seemed to regard me with an amused tolerance and affection – as though I was a big, daft dog or something. David was the eldest and a really nice lad. Richard was, well, just Richard. Their Dad, Alf, left them when Richard would have been about thirteen years old and I never heard any of them mention his name again. May, their mother, had an uncanny resemblance to the film star June Allison and was just as nice. She went on in later life to write a few romantic novels and got them published. Jenny married another good local lad, Jim Croll, had a family and found the time to get a BA degree in her thirties through the Open University. David married and ended up inAustraliaalthough I think he had a spell inSouth Africafirst.

Richard was without doubt the toughest, most resilient lad I ever met in my entire life. This is not to say he was a hard case, far from it, he was a gentle, good natured, easy-going sort and universally popular. We junior males in East Leeds at that time always set great store by not being perceived as being `soft` and tried to take the knocks as they came without any outward show of being hurt. This was not always easy even for kids who only had to endure their own fair or average share of misfortune. The difference with Richard was that, if there was an accident waiting to happen, it would invariably be waiting for him. Whatever occurred, he would always behave the same, never cried or whinged and had seemingly bottomless reserves of mental fortitude. When anything happened to him and bear in mind that I had plenty of practice, I would closely watch his face for any sign of normal frailty but never saw any.  Perhaps a tightening of the jaw muscles or a momentary closing of the eyes would be all that escaped his iron control. I was always amazed and mightily impressed by how he dealt with the `slings and arrows` which were constantly besieging him and I always knew for an absolute certainty that I would be found badly wanting in similar circumstances.

The first time I ever visited the dreaded `Dispensary` on North Street it was just to keep Richard company while the medics reassembled whatever part of his anatomy had been damaged that particular day. We were greeted by a groan from the Sister of `Oh no, not you again Richard !! ` He was a regular client there and was probably on first name terms with most of the practitioners there as he was at the LGI and St. James` casualty departments as well.  If we’d had such things then, it might have proved cost-effective to assign a personal paramedic to follow him around at all times. Perhaps a prescription for a full-body suit made of Kevlar for protection against impacts of all kinds, fully wired to afford insulation against electric shocks and corrosive chemicals would have come in handy. There must be many doctors who served their apprenticeship repairing bits of Richard. It wouldn’t surprise me if he had been invited to their graduation ceremonies, been made Godfather to their children and attended the odd retirement party or two.

We decided to paddle in the small lake atRoundhayParkone hot summer’s day just next to the sign forbidding us to do exactly that. Nothing happened to any of us except Rick. He stood on a broken milk bottle which cut deep into his foot damaging a tendon in the process. He had an operation and finished up with a plaster cast right up to his knee to hold his foot in a downward direction. To have to wear a `plaster` was like being the given a Queen’s Medal for Gallantry and all the lads were deeply envious. He kindly allowed us to draw on it and sign our names. Rick had always been very fleet of foot and, although the operation left him slightly flat-footed for a while, it didn’t seem to affect his running speed at all. He was still quicker than me even flat-footed. Mind you, he was quicker than virtually everyone else inEast Leedsat that time. I even tried running in a similar manner just to see if my sprinting improved but it didn’t.

Once, during a stone fight on t`ollers, we were sheltering behind our brick barricade sorting out fresh ammunition. I ventured a quick look over the parapet and saw a roofing slate scissoring through the air towards me and ducked instinctively as you would do. The slate sliced a neat furrow along my scalp but Richard had bobbed up behind me and it hit him dead centre in the forehead with a dull thud. I had a very satisfactory, showy but superficial cut which bled impressively but didn’t hurt really. Richard, however, went off to renew acquaintances with his old contacts at the Dispensary and added further to his ever-expanding stitch collection.

One dark winter’s night, we were engaged with loads of the lads in a vigorous game of Relieve –Oh when he took a bad fall on the cobbles. He got up holding his arm and immediately asked me to go home with him.  For him to ask for any sort of help was a first so I asked him why and he said “ I’ve dislocated my elbow“. I asked how he knew and he said “ I’ve done it before“. We walked back to his house but his Mam and Dad were at the pictures and his brother David didn’t believe him. We went to our house and my Mam took one look at his ashen face and told my Dad to ring for an ambulance. The ringing had to be done from the local call-box so we all went down together and waited for what turned out to be a car driven by an ambulance driver. Dad had to go to work (on nights) so I went to the LGI with Richard by myself. Bear in mind that I was about twelve, he was a year or so older and it was about 10pm by this time. The doctor in Casualty had a quick feel through his jacket and said `X Rays – wait here`. Rick said `Carny, quick get me shirt off! ` I asked why and he said `cos me vest’s black bright`. I managed to get his shirt and vest off and nearly fainted when I saw his arm at the elbow. It looked as though the bones had been moulded into a figure of eight and it was grossly swollen. I think by then that I must have looked as bad as he did. The doctor reappeared and ushered him off into the next room leaving me profoundly glad to follow his instructions to sit there and wait while they put the arm back into place. I heard the odd muffled, stifled whimper and they came back about 20 minutes later and Rick’s arm was in a sling. He already looked better and we were just deciding what to do next when Rick’s Mam arrived so we all went home together – me with the offending vest still stuffed up my jumper.

During the school holidays us kids were more or less free agents because our parents were all at work. In some ways I think we very quickly became aware that we were responsible for ourselves and the independence from virtually constant supervision that prevails in these days made us better at risk assessment in general. From the age of about eleven, we used to go all over on our bikes – Otley. Ilkley, Wetherby, Collingham and the like and never gave it a second thought. I often wonder if my Mam and Dad ever really realised just how far afield we wandered.

Collingham was a favourite venue for swimming. We used to go to one of our secret places which was reached by much fence climbing and running crouched down like Indian trackers alongside hedges, all the while dragging our bikes along. It just occurred to me now to wonder how we knew how to get there? Perhaps it was received knowledge passed down from generation to generation of East Leedsers. We used to sneak our swimming trunks out from home and, if we were lucky, a towel as well. If no towel, it was get dried the best way you could – usually on your shirt or wait until the sun did the job for you. Fate decreed one day that it was time for Rick’s next accident. He told me he would show me his newly acquired racing dive technique and prepared to launch himself off the bank. Now, swimming and diving were the only athletic pursuits at which I was definitely better than him so I stopped him, pointing out that the water was far too shallow at that point. He wouldn’t have it, argued that a racing dive only took you just under the surface and launched himself out energetically almost parallel with the surface. He seemed to stop dead as soon as he hit the water and I heard an unearthly, gargling underwater shriek at the same time. He stood up slowly, turning towards me with the water lapping gently just under his knees. He looked as if he had just been wrestling a wolverine or had had a lively encounter with a honey badger which was particularly out of sorts that day. All down the front, from forehead to feet, he was one giant graze – spitting out a mouthful of bloody gravel through busted lips with small stones dropping at intervals into the water from his numerous lacerations. In a very matter-of-fact voice he said `You were right about that, Carny` and retired to lick his wounds. We always thought it was best to leave him alone at these times as long as we were sure he hadn’t actually broken anything again. Later on he came to the conclusion that the water should have been deep enough but that he’d made a minor miscalculation on his angle of entry.  I felt that `minor miscalculation` didn’t quite cover it – a bit like setting off due west fromLiverpooland somehow managing to miss Ireland but we didn’t fall out about it.

In brief, there were the times …………………

When he was wrestling with his elder brother David and brought his head up sharply so that David’s top teeth cut a perfect semi-circle into his forehead.  He explored that wound with expert fingers and pronounced conclusively that it didn’t need stitches.

When, in our early 20`s, we were both playing for one of the Leeds and District rugby league open age teams. He was a marvellous player and completely fearless as always. He was at full back and came weaving through at pace after collecting the ball from a kick through. Suddenly, without being tackled, he hopped to a stop and put the ball down carefully. He sat down on the pitch, rolled down his elastic knee bandage and there was a clean cut right across his kneecap. We had no idea how it had happened but, of course, stitches were involved again. The following Thursday night at training he turned up complete with his bag containing his playing kit. I said there was no way he could train with the stitches still in but he said he was having them out on the Friday and wanted me to take his bag home with me so that he could play on the Saturday without his wife knowing. As it happened, there was no game because the ground was too hard due to frost.

We decided to make some toffee. It was his idea and we were in his house alone during the school holidays. I didn’t know how this was done but he said he’d seen his Mam make it and produced a jar of treacle and a bottle of vinegar. I liked treacle and was all for eating it straight out of the tin with a spoon but he went ahead and mixed it with vinegar into a stiff paste somehow. This was spread into an old enamel baking dish. Their old black cast iron range oven had a gas element at the back and he tried to light it with a taper made from newspaper. The time lapse between turning the gas on and reaching in with the lit taper was too long however and there was an almighty bang and rattling of the cast iron oven plates as it exploded. It blew Rick backwards clean over the sofa. He scrambled up and shocked though I was I remembered to turn the gas off. His eyebrows, eyelashes and the front of his quiff had disappeared and his face was studded with grime and tiny pieces of rusty cast iron but he was still clutching the taper. He had a good swill in the sink and, after tidying up as best we could, he felt that we might have gotten away with it. Looking at his new bland, featureless face with its faintly curious expression and unique hairstyle to say nothing of the remains of the treacle mixture here and there on the wallpaper, I wouldn’t have put money on it but kept my thoughts to myself.

I was stung on the index finger of my right hand by a wasp in 1997. I remember it quite clearly because it was the first time in my life it had happened and was very painful. Being 57 years old at the time, I managed not to cry (well, not much anyway). During the summers of our childhood, it was a daily, sometimes hourly occurrence for Richard to be attacked by wasps, bees or any other insect which liked biting or stinging people. The cure then was to apply a dolly-blue bag or a dock leaf. I personally thought a mainline injection of morphine might have been more effective but the stings didn’t seem to bother Richard much or indeed at all so maybe he had developed some level of immunity over the years.

Richard’s brother, David, had a beautiful J.T. Rodgers` racing bike. Metallic blue with chromed forks. Richard was under a permanent but ineffective instruction never to ride it. Came the time when we crashed together at speed attempting some intricate manoeuvre and the lightweight alloy front wheel of Dave’s bike was buckled into an `S` shape. As usual, Richard was impervious to the cuts and miscellaneous contusions which he and I had suffered but we both realised the enormity of the problem we now had with the wheel. I had a spoke key at home but had no idea how to use it. By trial, many errors and intense concentration we virtually dismantled the wheel and rebuilt it. Few things in my life have given me as much satisfaction as seeing it spin straight again when we put it back on the bike. Dave never found out (unless he ever reads this).

There was a time when he had his chest heavily strapped to the point where it was difficult for him to breathe. I can’t remember now how he had broken his ribs and I’m tempted to invent some bizarre set of circumstances which brought this about such as being run over by the cricket pitch roller or a chance meeting with a water buffalo which had escaped from a private zoo somewhere. It was probably something more mundane such as being head-butted by the Co-op milkman’s horse.

I have dismissed the assortment of broken fingers, cuts, bruises, torn ligaments, broken noses which adorned Richard’s daily existence as being too trivial and numerous to mention. Falling in rivers, out of trees, trapping toes; fingers etc were just an everyday thing for him and not worth recording here. These things happened to all of us but not as frequently as they did to Richard.

Richard left school at fifteen. I had another two years to do because I was about eighteen months younger than him and also at grammar school leaving at sixteen. He joined Andrews Flooring and Tiling as an apprentice. I did think that entering a trade which inevitably involved working with sharp, pointy metal tools, glassy materials and powerful abrasive machinery might just be tempting fate a bit too far but, as far as I know, he stayed at that company which is still on the go for the rest of his working life. Perhaps he used up all his accident quotas in his earlier days. We lost touch completely by our mid-twenties. In those days, National Service, moving to another area ofLeedsand employment or social patterns could mean you would just never bump into each other again.

Rick died a good while ago from a lung complaint, I believe. Jim Croll, his brother-in-law, told me that the doctors never seemed entirely certain what the illness actually was. With Rick’s luck it would have been a unique alien ailment brought to Earth from the Andromeda galaxy by a speeding speck of meteoric dust which managed to travel for 2.5 million light years just to hit him and him only. Mind you, I don’t think he would have been much help to the Doctors in that he wouldn’t have allowed himself to tell them just how rough he felt. There was a marvellous series of comedy TV programmes many years ago called “Ripping Yarns“ and Michael Palin was the star. In one episode his character caught bubonic plague and was covered in running sores and scabs. He passed it off as “Nothing to worry about – just a touch of the bubos“. Through my laughter I thought of Rick immediately. That was him to a T. My hero.




                      And anyone who knew Rick would concur with that!