Clarke’s Pie


          It’s often strange what our brains can find to trigger a memory – a smell, a song, a picture ?  The pie in this picture pulls my memory in all sorts of directions. 

          One of the memories the pie dredges up is from my childhood, from my secondary school years.  It’s a memory sitting quite near the surface after a conversation I had with a customer in the shop today, being a non-smoker, the customer was amazed at the price the person in front him in the queue had paid for cigarettes.  He couldn’t understand why anyone would start smoking at all, let alone want to spend that much money on it.

          I smiled with my best customer smile and made the appropriate noises in the right places for polite conversation but my mind had wandered back to my school days when I had started smoking.

          It probably won’t surprise you to find out that I didn’t really fit into most of the categories in school.  I most definitely wasn’t cool enough to fit in with the popular people, I didn’t have enough sporting talents to be considered fit and I wasn’t brainy enough to be a real nerd.  One category I found myself forced into far too often though was that of “bullied”.

          One group of girls in particular would seek me out for their entertainment and I would spend my time in school hanging around near teachers, in need of protection, and my break or lunch breaks hiding, often arriving late for lessons, not wanting to enter the classroom until some sort of authority arrived first.

          Arriving late got me into trouble a few times and I was sent to detention after school.  This is where I realised that another group of people existed in school too, I suppose you’d call them the misfits. I was a good girl and didn’t get into trouble very often, but they just seemed to accept that I was there in detention for whatever I’d done and they weren’t interested in what, or why, I just was. 

          After a few times I searched them out one lunchtime and found to my relief that the bullies didn’t even look in their direction, I started spending more time with the misfits, they would leave the school grounds and wander into the lanes around the area to smoke at lunch and break times and I tagged along, eventually trying smoking for myself.

          I became quite close to one of the girls, of course my mum didn’t like her, and probably blamed her for the trouble I was getting into at school, but hey ho, we became good friends for a while.

          My mind wanders again, I used to have school dinners, I’d be given my dinner money on a Monday and I was to buy five dinner tickets for the week.  My friend used to have free dinners and would report to the secretary’s office to collect her five tickets.

          I would buy just one ticket and so between us, we’d use our six dinner tickets for three days school dinners but on the other two days we would go out of school and I would use my dinner money to buy our two day’s dinners at the local shops. 

          In one direction there was a pub on the corner who sold pies and pasties through a small kiosk window, and on the opposite corner a post office shop where we would buy a packet of crisps to complete the meal.  In the other direction there was a bakery. They sold the pies in the picture, made from a thick crusty pastry and a gravy-like meat filling. They were hot, from underneath a glass counter, and combined with an iced bun, this was always my favourite dinner of the week.

          Years later, the bakery where I used to buy my lunch is no longer there, but the pies are still made and sold in the indoor market in Cardiff.  Mum-in-law has brought me some home from a visit to Cardiff before, and at the moment I have a supply in the freezer brought to Weymouth with Hubby on his last visit to Cardiff.

          Oh, just incase you’re wondering, I stopped smoking over thirty years ago before trying to start a family.  

          More from before : Delving into the murky depths of my “Memory Vaults


Ivor Gunn


          We’re not quite at the moving stage of moving house, but we’ve definitely entered the pre-packing stage.  As a hoarder, this stage is painful to me.  Hubby clears things out regularly and so most of the things in our house belong to me and since we’re downsizing, I’m supposed to be being ruthless.  I’ve never been ruthless at anything, maybe that’s why I was never any good at sport and why I very seldom get annoyed at losing at cards, not that I lose very often mind you.  I thought I was doing well, I’ve already thrown out a pile of old calendars from as far back as 1998.  One for each year we’ve lived here, but Hubby apparently thinks not and keeps offering stern words of encouragement.

          I’ve been busy digging into all the little corners and cupboards where I’ve hidden away things in case they were needed later.  And as for the shed… well, I blame my grandfather, Pop, for that, “It’ll come in useful it it’s never used”, he used to say, and very often it did come in useful as it was used.  To be fair, although it’s become a bit of a joke, “Mum’ll have one in the shed”, the contents of my shed have saved the day on many an occasion.

          I’ve been up in the attic today, passing down boxes and boxes to Hubby who seemed almost too happy at the number of bags and boxes which I sent straight to the back garden for a trip to the tip with Youngest Son-in-Law this afternoon.  He ended up doing two trips for me, taking the first load himself while I set about an old set of shelves from the back of the shed and piled up my reserve bits of wood and piping.  I still have to sort through my tools and a few more boxes of bits and bobs but that’s a job for maybe tomorrow.

          Youngest Daughter is coming round tomorrow, after her ,”mandatory weekend lie in”, I’ve got a few boxes, and bottom drawers of old broken electrical stuff that needs to be sorted out.  You know the type of stuff, old phones, remotes for TV’s we no longer have, chargers for phones which don’t exist anywhere other than in a museum anymore.  I do like moving house, but all this “ruthless” lark can’t be good for me.

          I’ve still got a few more places to sort out, also a few more things that I can’t find.  At some time or another I think pretty much everyone has had a go at writing a book, I know I did when my girls were small.  They were particularly frightened of wasps and so one year we bought Eldest and Middle Daughters a little soft toy each in the shape of a wasp, it’s wings zipped together to form some sort of cocoon around it and I wrote them a story about Wendy Wasp who lived in a cake shop.  I’m not too sure where they are at the moment, I’m sure they’ll turn up. 

          I did find my original handwritten versions of my attempt at writing a novel though.  “Ivor Gunn”.  He was my private investigator and I had a whole string of stories ready for his character and a variety of others.  I even wrote a sequel.  That was before I realised that since my reading age hadn’t got very far above thirteen, then my writing age couldn’t be expected to be very far from the same number.

          Still, everyone can dream and my dream of semi-retirement at the seaside is so close I can almost hear the seagulls.  A new home in Weymouth, not quite a stone’s throw away from the beach, but less than a five minute walk from the boats.  And the semi-retirement bit … I can see the tunnel, but cant quite see as far as the light at the other end yet, but “One day.

          More from before : Delving into the murky depths of my “Memory Vaults

The boxing

          I knew Hubby really wanted to watch the boxing on TV but we were away for the weekend, the B&B we were staying at was run by two “little old ladies” although this had its benefits… extra biscuits with the tea and coffee facilities in our room, plenty of butter for the toast at breakfast…  Unfortunately,  Saturday night boxing on TV didn’t quite reach the menu.  With this in mind I suggested that Hubby found somewhere to watch the match.

          This is how I found myself in the middle of a noisy crowded pub on a Saturday night, I can’t even begin to describe how far out of my comfort zone I felt.

          I have this ability, be it a blessing or a curse, to detach myself from my surroundings and retreated inside my head. I guess that’s how I can fall asleep so quickly, obviously a blessing in that case.  Hubby’s world moves at a much faster pace than mine and if we’re in a hurry my mind can’t keep up with him but I’m confident enough in his ability to manoeuvre us both that I don’t even try to keep up with his world, I just reach out for the firm grip of his hand and away we go.

          This is basically how I planned to make my way through on Saturday night, we’d find a table where Hubby could watch the match and a protective seat where someone like me, who has no interest what so ever in watching two grown men beat each other to a pulp in the name of entertainment, could log onto the Wi-Fi and spend a few hours at a much quieter, slower pace online.

          There’s one of those four lettered words again… PLAN… I’m not usually one for a hard, fast plan, I usually go more for “progressive planning”, otherwise known as “make it up as you go along”, so really I should have expected the quiet table to be non-existent, I should have expected the sea-side, food-serving pub to have booked in a party or two on a bank holiday Saturday evening, an 80th birthday?  an 18th?  a hen night?… Or, as was the case here, all three.

          Hubby found us a space next to a post where he could see a TV through the archway and I could stand in close to the… banister rail would be the best way to describe it I think… Three gentlemen of short, stocky stature…  (although, to be fair, they might not have been that short, they were seated)… were seated in front of us, their chair backs up against our banister rail and in their musical Welsh accents they discussed the entertainment to come.  All was not well with the world, but in my little part of it, it was well enough for my bodily existence to feel secure enough for my mind to wander elsewhere.

          The hen party, whether by design or accident, left shortly before the boxing match started and somehow we secured two chairs at their vacated table.  The new position wasn’t quite as safe feeling as our little banister in the archway, but after our day’s wanderings between Weymouth and Portland, my feet very much welcomed the chair.  My chair, not a straight up and down backed dining chair, was more of a cupped shaped seat, with my own little bannister protecting my space so I stretched my feet out under the table and unlocked my phone.

          Hmmn…  No signal.

          Ok, no problem, the main part of the pub was at basement level, under the tall buildings above, not below sea-level,  but definitely below street-level so I accepted that my phone’s signal might not make it through. I’d use the pub’s WiFi.

           No WiFi…  Or at least, not enough strength in the WiFi signal to reach to this end of the building… No signal… No WiFi…  No escape…

          The crowd around me thickened and became louder as the fight started. Chants of “hit him” filled the air as waves of anticipation and disappointment took hold.

          I pulled my chair tighter into the table and huddled nearer to Hubby.  A bad move on my part as the crowd behind me moved forward for a better view. 

          I tapped into my phone and pulled up the one game I have stored on its limited memory.  Mahjong, a sort of pairs game played with tiles and strategy.  There was no strategy at all as my fingers poked at random tiles, searching for the calmness of the hidden world in my mind, the world I slip into all too often with no effort at all.

          With the cheers of the ever thickening crowds ringing in my ears I found the way in, I made a conscious effort to dull the sounds of reality and my mind took a sudden lurch towards the hidden world inside my head…

          … “Hit him!”…

          … The words drifted in with me…

          … “Fight… Fight”…

         My mind jolted, as if hit from the side and with another lurch landed in another, all too familiar place.

          …”Fight… Fight”…

          … The crowd closed into an inescapable circle and at the centre the school bully laid into an altogether weaker personality…

         … Cheers filtered through to my mind, the crowd started to disperse.  My hand hurt from the white-knuckled grip on my phone, but I had no cuts or grazes, no torn school uniform or broken glasses.

          I remembered to breathe, I put on my jacket and Hubby steered me through the much quieter pub and out into the night air.

          We emerged onto the promenade where the wind wrapped my hair about my face and the waves crashed into huge white horses on the tiny pebbles, for once it was more peaceful in reality than in the hidden world which is my mind.


          I wonder if the school bully has any idea of what she did to me, after the scrapes and bruises faded, the only scars left were inside my mind.  The shame of not being able to protect myself, the fear of stepping outside of my comfort zone, of risking a situation I can’t control and of not having the strength to change it.

          These feelings and thoughts are part of my everyday life, mostly, they’ve become small, insignificant thoughts and feelings over time.

          I grew older and had children of my own, the mother in me now over-rules the small pathetic child.  The need in me to protect my girls has shown me that I am often much more than I used to be but I do worry from time to time, as I slip towards old age and a “second childhood” that the scars are still there. 

          More from before : Delving into the murky depths of my “Memory Vaults