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Manchester 1957

My Aunty Minor had pestered my uncle Harry into buying her a sweet shop, so she would have something to do whilst he was away all week working in Blackpool.

They had no children of their own, just a ginger cat called Homeless.

My Mother was working at Kendal’s in Manchester, so after school I went to my Aunts for tea.
Moss Side was very different from Chiswick and with my silly southern accent I was viewed by the local kids as something of an oddity but they were never unkind and I soon made some good friends.

My Mother had rented a flat in Whalley Range, which was two buses and a short walk away.
Once a week my Aunt would insist, despite my tearful protests, that I carry home a pyrex bowl full of watery stew for my Mother’s supper.

Knowing my Mother hated it, only made things worse.

To prevent spillage my Aunt put a piece of grease proof paper over the top of the bowl and secured it with a rubber band. I tried to tell her this was no good but she never listened and by the time I reached the end of the street , the greasy mucus was seeping out and down the sides.

The first bus, took me as far as the Flea Pit cinema and I sat on one of the long seats, with the now slippery bowl cushioned in my lap. The jerky stop and start motion of the bus caused the stew to slop violently in the bowl and leak out big time. My grey woolly gloves soaked up most of the liquid but enough got through to form an oily slick down the front of my navy blue school raincoat. When I got off at the Flea Pit, the bowel was icky sticky and the contents much reduced.

The smell was dreadful.

Frightened I’d drop it, I clutched the bowl against my chest and queued for the 48. I was very conscious of people looking at me, but pretended not to notice. The second bus was no less jerky than the first and by the time I got off at Wood Road I was in a pretty sorry state.

The stew had reached my trousers.

My Mother, not long in from work, went berko and having got a grip on the bowl, poured what remained of the gluttonous mess straight down the sink. Sponging, soaking and a bath went some way to repairing the damage but I was not happy at the thought of a repeat performance the following week.

I think my Mother also realised something had to be done and whilst I lay soaking in the bath, she went out to phone my Aunt from the box on the corner. She didn’t look too pleased when she came back, but she said I wouldn’t have to do it again.

The following day my Aunty Minor told me I was a clumsy ungrateful child and should be ashamed of myself for causing so much trouble, not to mention wasting all that good food.

She said it was a sin.

Ian Miller © 2007 | Fragment: Broken Diary

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