Tag Archives: Runcorn

A Short History Of Tilly Bud In Arcanian

15 Sep
Marc Bolan
Image via Wikipedia

ar·cane  /ɑrˈkeɪn/ adjective

known or understood by very few

Write a power sentence for every year of your life.

This is a surprisingly good prompt so I’m going to take it seriously. 

If you believe that, you must be new here.







1963: I am born in Liverpool, England; President Kennedy is assassinated in Dallas, America.  I’m not saying there’s a connection, but…

1964: I am one year old.  The Hub is born.  My life as a cougar is pre-destined.

1965: My younger brother is born; I learn to wet my pants for attention.

1966: England win the World Cup.  I’m three. I don’t even know what England is, never mind the World Cup; but I am English, and no one can mention 1966 without reminding everyone that England won the World Cup.  It’s the law.  I have started to read.  Star Trek is broadcast for the first time. My geekness is assured.

1967: The 25th Amendment to the United States Constitution is ratified.  I will know nothing of this until President Bartlet’s daughter Zoe is kidnapped and he steps down from office to ensure America cannot be held to ransom.  I have not yet learned to separate fact from fiction.

1968: Something about The Beatles creating Apple; my lifelong abhorrence of insects in fruit is born.

1969: My parents move over the water to Wallasey and open a little grocery shop.

1970: They remember to come back for us.  Our massive Bakelite phone in the stockroom rings; it is a call from Father Christmas.  I have never forgotten it. He has.  Last time I took the boys to see him, I mentioned it and how happy he made me that day, and he looked baffled.

1971: KwikSave open a store just up the road; my parents think about selling up. Profits are down.  I don’t tell them it’s not the supermarket competition, it’s because I send my younger brother into the stock room every night to steal crisps for me.  Laura Ingalls models the character of Nellie Olsen on my younger brother’s big sister.

1972: My family moves to Runcorn.  I have a black & white Runcorn Weekly News photograph to prove it.  Not a lot happens in Runcorn.

1973: I am still living in Runcorn.  Marc Bolan dies.  You join the dots.  I have no sense of time.

1974: Abba win the Eurovision Song Contest with Waterloo and I love it; I have taken my first step on the road to being the uncoolest girl in school.

1975: Unemployment exceeds one million in Britain. Happy days.  The first public performance by The Sex Pistols.  An unknown Hub takes the first step on the road to being the coolest boy in school.  David Beckham is born.

1976: UK drought.  Midges everywhere.  Plagues of ladybirds.  The hottest summer in living memory.  I store the memories because it hasn’t stopped raining since. I have an Abba poster on my bedroom wall.  I am not embarrassed to tell people this.

1977: The Queen’s Silver Jubilee.  The women in our street work for a year playing bingo to raise funds for a street party.  I attend each weekly bingo session with my Mum, who pays all my fees.  When I win a bread board and give it to the first of my elder brother’s many wives, my Mum is a little miffed.  Clearly, she could see into the future and knew that bread board was going to have a temporary home at best.  Marc Bolan dies for real this time.  No one finds that suspicious.

1978: Ethiopia declares the West German Ambassador persona non grata.  Everyone is surprised to learn the Ethiopians speak Latin.

1979:  I am sixteen.  I am sweet.  Literally: my father slices me open and finds I have a malt centre covered in milk chocolate where my stomach used to be.

1980: I become politically aware, rather like SkyNet (or was that self-aware?).  This is not a good thing.  Rather like SkyNet.  The Empire Strikes Back is released.  John Lennon is assassinated. Coincidence…?

1981:  I turn eighteen.  My parents throw me the best party of my generation, all booze supplied free of charge.  To my eighteen year old friends, that’s all that’s needed to qualify for the best party of my generation.  I don’t drink a drop of it, being a good Christian girl.  I finally get tipsy for the first time, three months later, on Christmas Eve.  I fall over a wall and into my house and can’t stop giggling for a week.  I finally see The Empire Strikes Back.  With my Dad, who isn’t talking to my Mum and needs an excuse to get out of the house.

1982: I emigrate to South Africa with my parents and younger brother, much against my will. I sulk.  I meet the Hub on my second day in my new country.  We row a lot.  I could end the story of my life there, because not much has changed.

I Predict A Quiet

17 Jun
Sketch map of Runcorn, Cheshire, showing railways.

Image via Wikipedia

What would cause you to protest or riot for something?

Apart from the false imprisonment of my children – and possibly my husband, if I was in a good mood – nothing.  I’m British: I don’t do apologetic complaint, never mind protest.  I write a strongly worded letter and feel much better for it.

I bumped into a riot once, by accident.  I can’t say I liked it.  As a teenager, I went to Manchester to audition for the Manchester Youth Theatre with a friend.  It was the time of the nationwide riots against something or other.  I can’t remember what, but I bet it had hatred for Mrs Thatcher at the heart of it.  We had a summer of exploding protests, when staid young men and women became screaming thugs for the afternoon.  We are seeing something similar at the moment in Bristol, because of Tesco.  It’s not quite the breaking of the unions or the poll tax, but a supermarket too close to your back yard is certainly a reason to lose all common sense, I’m sure.

We had been to the auditions and decided to visit the Arndale Centre for some retail therapy (or ‘shopping’, as it was called in Days of Yore when I wurra lass).  As we walked up somewhere, a screaming, running gang of young gentlemen ran down, straight at us.  I grabbed my friend’s hand and dragged him onto the nearest bus, going anywhere.  When we got to anywhere, we had to walk back again, to catch the train home.  No shopping.  What a wasted opportunity.

Trains and a long walk featured once again in my teens.  I went with different friends to Liverpool.  Plenty of shopping and no riots – Scouse youth being better behaved than Mancunian youth.  So much shopping was done, we were late for the train, asked which was ours, and jumped on it just as the doors closed.

I think I was in charge of the travel on that day as well, which explains why we ended up in Widnes instead of Runcorn.  We explained to the man in charge that we had been directed to the wrong train and he said well, in that case, he wouldn’t fine us, but we had to get off there and we couldn’t get on another train without buying a ticket.  Did I mention we had been shopping all afternoon?  We didn’t have the fare for one of us, never mind three.

Did I mention this was in Days of Yore when I wurra lass?  No mobile phones to call parents who didn’t own cars to not fetch us.

Fortunately – fortune being a relative term – Widnes is right next door to Runcorn.  All we had to do was walk home.  Loaded with shopping bags.  In heels.  A mere three hours or so.  I was ready to start a riot.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Home

14 Mar

In all of the sadness this weekend, I had my own little ray of light when Tory Boy phoned to ask if he could come home.  This is his home, he knows that and never has to ask…unless he needs us to pay the train fare.  We never say no: having both children at home is when we are happiest.

We had a lovely weekend.  Tory Boy and the Hub got through it with only several arguments – almost as good as none at all.   I made pancakes for lunch and roast pork and turkey for dinner.  I spent so much time in the kitchen I hurt my back – proof, if I needed it, that cooking is a Bad Thing and I should avoid it when possible.

Tory Boy is still having sleep issues.  He arrived home at eight on Saturday morning, leaving his digs at six because he had been awake all night so thought he might as well catch the early train and let Mother make his breakfast.  He stayed awake all day but was in bed for eight p.m.

Yesterday was good as I was able to make leftovers and chips for dinner, and I can do that from my armchair while playing Tetris on the computer and listening to The Now Show on the BBCiPlayer. 

After dinner, we all watched Iron Man 2.  Not a bad film, if I avoided looking at Mickey Rourke’s hideous mouth.  There is a scene early on in which a parrot drinks from a glass.  It reminded me of growing up in Runcorn.  My parents liked to hold parties whenever possible.  Family parties: I come from a big family and once you’ve invited the siblings and their children there’s no room for anyone else (except the neighbours – if you’re going to hold a lot of parties in your home, it’s wise to always invite the neighbours).

My parents also liked to enjoy themselves, so they didn’t worry about cleaning up until next morning. 

We had a budgie called Bobby.  His cage door was loose and sometimes fell open.  When we got up the morning after one party, Bobby was on his perch, banging his head against the cage bars.  It took us a while to figure out what was wrong…Bobby was hung over.  His party piece was jumping from cup to glass to bowl and taking a sip of everything on offer.  Not a problem when that’s tea or lemonade; not so good when there are half-empty glasses of alcohol left standing overnight.  While we were in bed he must have come out when his door fell open and helped himself.

Like most drunks and student children, however, he still managed to find his way home, and we had the bumps on his head to prove it.

A Few Unanswered Questions

12 Mar
Tap dancer at Tokyo Disney Sea

Image via Wikipedia

Because I’m anal retentive and can’t leave any out.

What’s your hidden talent?

I can tap dance.  Shuffleballchange.

Describe the town where you grew up.

No.  Done that already.  Here’s an extract (actually, it’s the wholetract):

I have been thinking about the place I grew up, Runcorn.  Most of the people on the council estates were Liverpool overspill so we all had Scouse accents despite living in Woollybackland.  We moved to Runcorn in 1972.  We had been there a couple of weeks and Mum had only met one neighbour, Ruth next door at number 12.  She had not met Lila on the other side at number 10, or any of the neighbours across the way. 

Early one morning there was a knock at the door.  Mum found a strange woman standing there, holding a plate containing one rasher of bacon.  There was no introduction or polite small talk, just straight to the heart of the matter.

Strange Woman: Hiya.  Have you got a sausage I can have to go with me bacon for me breakfast?

Mum: Errrrr…

Mum dug out a sausage and the strange woman went on her way.  Chatting to Ruth later on, Mum told her about this odd incident.  ‘Oh, that’s nothing,’ Ruth laughed.  ‘She got the bacon from Lila and came to me for the egg.’

The strange woman and her family later moved into a big house in a posher part of town; I wonder how they were able to afford it?


What’s the longest you’ve been without sleep?

All night, every time I’ve flown to and from South Africa and the UK.  I can’t sleep on planes because I’m always waiting for the crash.  My favourite hymn?  ‘Nearer, My God, To Thee.’


When is it better to be sorry than safe?

When answering stupid writing prompts so I don’t get kicked out of the WordPress club.


If you could bring one fictional character to life for a day, who would you choose?

Ender Wiggin, so I could show him that someone loves him.


Name a book that changed your life.

The Bible.  Sorry to go all predictable on you.


The Laughing Housewife And A Cast Of Minions Proudly Presents: Who-He?

3 Feb
Toilet Paper Roll

Image via Wikipedia

Something that keeps coming up lately is back history: when I’m new to a blog I like to know something about the writer, such as age, family, hair colour, bank details.  The usual stuff.  Many blogs have running gags or themes; many writers have history that it’s necessary to know in order to fully enjoy what I’m reading so, prompted by Cin (not ‘sin’; I’m a good girl, I am.  Cin left a comment the other day about just this thing), here’s the story so far. 

Once done, I’m going to have a bash at making another blog page where this info will be stored.  Wish me luck and if you never hear from me again, know that technology finally killed me and I love you all, each and every one of my dear readers (that’s you, Tory Boy; and Robert).

The Laughing Housewife

That’s me.  In my late forties at the moment (how did that happen?).  Born in the capital of Ireland (Liverpool); grew up in Wallasey and Runcorn.  Emigrated most reluctantly with my family to South Africa at age eighteen.  You can read all about that at my other blog South Africa – A Love/Hate Story.  Don’t expect funny though; I wasn’t a laughing teenager.  It’s mostly poetry and angst and angst-ridden poetry: you think Spiderman was miserable?  Meet me.

I lived there fourteen years and came back to the UK in 1996.  I’ve got a degree in Literature from the Open University.  I’m married to:

The Hub

He’s from the capital of Crimeland (Wythenshawe, Manchester) but spent three years at my school in Runcorn, where we didn’t meet.  He lived in South Africa for eight years; had three years back in the UK; and then went back to South Africa in 1981.  We met in a car park in a tiny dorp in the middle of nowhere.  Ain’t life strange? 

We were engaged after three months and married three years later.  It’s lasted twenty-five years so far but I figure, if the three motif recurs, one of us will be free in eight years’ time.  Or even five, because we will have been together thirty-three years in 2008.  You maths wizards out there might be scratching your pencils right now but factor in that we married in the middle of a year and that you really don’t need to care about this stuff, and just take my word for it.

We fight a lot.  Squabble, really.  All day long.  Who said what to whom about when and why and where.  Stupid stuff, but we are both easily irritated; and irritating.  I hang onto him because he fixes the computer and even does it without moaning if it wasn’t me who broke it.  He moans a lot.  What I really love about him, though, is his ability to put down the toilet seat and replace the toilet roll.  Things like that matter after twenty-eight years.  He is forever leaving love notes for me and being romantic, but I try not to mind.  I must have not minded it at least twice, because we have two children:

Tory Boy

Born in Johannesburg, he is the first fruit of my loins and Conservative Prime Minister-in-Waiting.  Currently in his last year at Lancaster University, where he’s studying Politics & Philosophy.  That’s kind of our fault: the Hub was telling him while he was still in my womb that he was going to university.  The Hub and I are great believers in getting an education and thinking for yourself and all that junk. 

Tory Boy spent his whole life listening to his parents argue about politics and issues of the day and who put the toilet roll tube in the wrong recycling box, so I suppose a career in politics was inevitable, given his megalomaniac tendencies: the first thing he’s going to do when he takes over the world is send all the teachers to Antarctica and put the toilet roll tube wherever he feels like.  There should have been a swear word-well in that last sentence [put the toilet roll tube wherever he swear word-well feels like] but he’s scared of his father and respects his mother so there isn’t.  He’s also a good big brother to:

Spud Bud

Like Princess Diana, I, too, have an heir and spare.  He was born in Alberton, South Africa and cost us a fortune because we didn’t have medical aid at that point and it wasn’t a natural birth.  It would have been cheaper to adopt.  Still, we decided to hang on to him.  Well, he’s family.  He worked out as a good deal in the end because he’s on a full bursary at an excellent grammar school here in Stockport, where we now reside.


Features a lot.  As does the Viaduct, the railway station and the Stockport Express.  

Toby & Molly

Our dogs and the cutest Yorkies on the planet.  We have a fish tank and thirteen fish, four shrimp and two butterfly loaches.  Until recently, we also had gerbils.

Also, you will find that a lot of dead pet references tend to appear in this blog.  Pay attention because I may set a test at any time.  We have three cats and seven gerbils buried in our garden (my brother says we are on the RSPCA’s hit list).  We loved them all, but the Hub is daftly ridiculous about animals.


There are only two that I mention with any frequency:

The Boy Nik

An ex-addict who isn’t really a boy but talks and acts like one, and who I first met when he knocked on my door just before one Christmas to ask me to phone the nearest prison so he could visit his mate; and who has never stopped knocking since, for a hammer, a bin bag, a spade…umm, I’ve just made a connection here.  I’ll get back to you on this one.

Next Door

Housewife whose husband works away and who spends all her time hammering nails into our shared wall.  I think she’s building a secret extension in my lounge.

A Few Important Facts

Necessary for comprehension.

  • Maltesers – probably the single-most important influence in my life.  No Maltesers for Christmas sets the tone for the following excruciating (for my family) year.
  • The hub has severe CFS/ME and a host of other ailments which means he spends all his time in pain and a lot of time unable to do stuff; and by ‘stuff’ I mean if he takes a shower then that’s it for his day. 
  • As a result of his illness he hasn’t been able to work for many years.  He became ill when I had a baby and six-year old on my hands.  Before he learned to manage his CFS he would spend weeks in bed, unable to get up, so we ended up on benefits once our money ran out.  It’s one of the reasons I got my degree, so I could go back to work once the boys were old enough.  That plan didn’t work out so well because I graduated at the height of the recession.  Timing is everything.
  • Christmas and Maltesers must be done to excess; everything else is showing off.
  • We live in a council house on a council estate.  Expect a lot of posts about crime.
  • Poetry – I write it.  Deal with it.  Or ignore it, if you like: this is the internet, after all; how would I know whether you read my poems or not?
  • I’m not soppy.  Mush embarrasses me.  What can I say?  I’m British.  I’m so un-soppy that I even have a special category – ‘Feeling Sentimental’ (see right under ‘Category Cloud’) – for days when the hormones take over and a nice thought bursts out.
  • I make up words.  Did you spot the one under ‘Toby & Molly’?  I figure if Shakespeare could do it, so could I.  Pity I don’t have my own theatre in which to try them out, but them’s the breaks. 
  • My motto: you can never have too many Maltesers (the roof of your mouth is raw from eating seven boxes on Christmas Day?  Suck it up, you wimp!)

And Finally…God

I’m a Christian – I know, incredible, isn’t it?  I wouldn’t have believed it if I’d been reading me, either.  I have a strong and enduring faith, but that’s not what this blog is about.  This blog is about poking fun at life: if something funny happens in church, you’ll hear about it; but otherwise, no preaching.

On the strong and enduring faith bit: the Hub reckons if it was that strong I wouldn’t have married what he calls an ‘agnostic’ and I call ‘a rabid atheist’.  The Hub is really annoying sometimes.  We have learned not to argue about religion (much), but everything else is on the table.  Unless he feels like winding me up and we fall out over the monarchy (he’s against it) and I swear I really am killing or leaving him this time.

Happy reading!

RIP, Mr Postlethwaite

4 Jan

You may have seen in the news yesterday that the actor Pete Postlethwaite died, aged sixty-four.  The media has been full of his movies and his Academy Award, but his most memorable performance, I think, was in Lost For Words, a tv movie from 1999 in which he played a son dealing with his mother’s dementia.  He was superb.

Postlethwaite was born in Warrington, just up the road from Runcorn, where I grew up.  I never met him, of course; I just thought I’d throw that in.   He started his career at Liverpool’s Everyman Theatre, where my own one-act play was performed (starring students, not Oscar [copyright]-nominated movie stars).  I did pass him on the street once, however: he was appearing as Prospero in The Tempest at Manchester’s Royal Exchange Theatre.  I badly wanted to go but couldn’t afford a ticket (to see why I didn’t throw a hissy fit about that at the time, read today’s post on my other blog).  I was in Manchester for the day, for a thing Spud did with his school at The Royal Exchange, and PP passed us as we entered the building.  Amazingly, his nose was bigger and more purple than it looks in the photos.

How One Dad Made Us Spend His Day

21 Jun

Yesterday was a big day; one Spud and I had looked forward to with real dread: annual gardening day.  Every year there comes a point in the Laughing Housewife’s household when we open the back door and find ourselves re-enacting The Day of the Triffids. It is the day we realise that if we let Toby out to do his business, we may never see him again. In a post-apocalyptic future a modern Livingstone will be hacking through the jungle that is our tiny back yard and come across a forlorn four-legged skeleton, clinging to a weed and with scratch marks on the grass around him, as if he was desperately trying to find his way out and failed somewhat.

It being the third sunny day of the year and Father’s Day, and the Hub being the Father of the house and thus claiming seniority in a feeble attempt to wrest control from my delicate hands, he put his foot down with a firm finger in the direction of Stockport’s equivalent to Birnam Wood and declared that it was No Longer Need To Feel Ashamed At The State Of The Garden Day, and made us clean it up.

I say ‘us’ but he got stuck in as well. Trouble is, he will insist on being in charge and that leads to a few cross words and a few bundles of weeds being chucked across the garden and into his face. His CFS/ME means that he can’t do as much as he’d like to and he has to stop; it makes him frustrated and irritable with Spud and me. He knows – and we know – that he could do things better if he could do them at all, but that’s how he ended up getting ill in the first place. No danger of that for Spud and me, who did what we had to do but don’t care enough to do it to the Hub’s exacting and illness-inducing standards.  Particularly once the slugs showed up.

That reminds me of my Mum and her first garden; she had always lived in homes with no gardens until she was 37 and we moved to Runcorn. It was a small garden but she was excited to get out there. She bought herself some little tools and a hat and bubbled over with the joy of it. We watched her dig happily with her little trowel for a while, then went to watch telly. A few minutes later, Dad found her standing in the kitchen with her trowel, looking around as if she didn’t know what to do. ‘What’s the matter?’ asked Dad. Mum blushed a little then said, ‘I found a worm.’ She had run into the house in a panic, and never gardened again.

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