Graham Middleton remembers his grandparents buying him a rabbit
Resource Type: Audio | Posted on 2nd October 2014 by Jenny Porter
Graham wasn’t allowed pets in the block of flats he lived in with his parents so his Grandparents kept a rabbit for him. His Grandad unfortunately died suddenly in his sleep leaving his Grandmother very frightened to sleep on her own. Graham would spend every weekend there, 25 Chatsworth Street, helping out with household decoration, gardening and eating fish and chips. He recalls the horse-drawn bin-men and the rag men.
Interviewee: Graham Middleton
Interviewee Gender: Male
Date of Interview: 14th August 2014
Graham: Then we moved and my Nan was put out of the shop and the accommodation there and she moved to 25. When I used to come down, my Grandad passed away, and not long before he died.
I always wanted a rabbit but, because we lived in a council flat it was not really practical, but at the time, I didn’t see it quite like that. And I happened to just mentioned it to my granddad – he was a lovely man – and I remember saying to him: “You know mum and dad won’t let me have a rabbit.” And he used to say: “That’s alright son. We get you a rabbit and we can put it in the yard.” And I had a couple of rabbits there, and also fireworks. We weren’t allowed fireworks, because my dad would say – and I look back now and it was quite sensible, in fairness, but we didn’t see it like that when we were kids – we weren’t allowed fireworks. Not because they were dangerous, they were a waste of moeny. And we lived in the middle-floor of a block of flats and we would always stand at the window and all the other looked at idiots with fireworks. And we get, I’d get a dinky toy instead. Something else, but not fireworks. And again, the was a bone of contention, so I said to my granddad, you know: “We won’t have fireworks.” And he said: “Next year you will son.” And he’d get some fireworks.
Well, unfortunately, he passed away. And when he died, unfortunately my nan and he, they went to bed, and when she woke up, he’d passed away. So that frightened her. I think that would frighten anybody, but, she was unusually frightened about it. Whether it was a bit of conscience, I don’t know. But, she, I was then, I think about twelve/ thirteen, I was told to come down and stay with my nan, because she wouldn’t sleep on her own. And literally he died one day and I was sleeping next to her the following day in the same bed. Always had to turn my back when she was getting undressed. I could never see what was going on, but the sounds and the noises of the corsets, and I remember all that, vividly [laughs]. But I remember that, and what I remember about it is that I used to stay with her and come every weekend, and I would cycle from Deysbrook, on my bike and I would – it sounds stupid – but I would pretend to be a bus and stop at every bus stop on the way and drive it, as if I was driving a bus and when the bus was taking off, I would ring my bell. I used to ride down my bike and the reason I liked that, was that my nan would almost let me do everything. So, I could have fish and chips when I wanted, I could stay up late, cause my nan didn’t care, she just sat there watching the television, but she would also let me decorate her house. And that’s where I practiced or learned painting and decorating, you know, and stay up all night, painting or whatever. I did her garden for her. Now on the side of Chatsworth Street where she moved, the 25, they had small gardens. And I dug it over and planted grass seed and I cut the grass with scissors – she didn’t have shears – with a pair of oily scissors.
So that’s what I remember, really, prominently. I remember certainly, the room that we lived in and the furniture and exactly where it was sitting. I remember being bathed on a table, in those little tin-bath thing and the tablecloth were newspaper. Now that was mainly to soak up any splashes. And being sent to the doctor’s, Dr. Husar. I remember lots of things. I remember sitting in a pram, I remember the bin men coming and they were horse-drawn bin lorries. They had open backs and they were grey because that used to be the Liverpool Cooperation, they used to be a Battleship-grey colour, and the horses would pull them and they would just empty the bin into the back the whole lot would go into the back. The horses would have bags of oats around them. Ragmen, I remember the ragmen coming, getting balloons and goldfish.
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