by Mary Morgan

Chapter 1 page 8

Journeying back home I would be able to let the trolley run on its own, down past the Town Hall in North Street over the top of Darlington Street and into Victoria Street again. Going home was the easy part - it was all downhill from there, the trolley's own weight propelled it along. All I had to do was to hold on for dear life and steer it properly. I would lift myself up, balancing on the handle and have a ride most of the way. I used to reach the top of Merridale Street in no time.

When I look back now I realise how lucky I must have been as far as the roads were concerned. The trolley buses would have started around six thirty every morning, although, with the exception of a few lorries and vans going to and from the market, there was not much traffic. I don't remember ever having any trouble like that. A few grazed knees perhaps now and again, when the trolley was too heavy for me and I had to run it into the gutter in order to stop it. But when it snowed in the winter, the trolley would get stuck in the great big banks of snow that had built up after the shopkeepers had cleared the pavements outside their shops. I would end up having to empty the trolley - and get it going again in another spot, then reload it. My fingers and feet would be numb by then, but there was always someone around to help and have a laugh with.

After getting home the fire would have been lit and my dad would be up. My sister would be getting ready to go to the Queen's Business College in Queen's Square. My brother, would be leaving the house on his way to Griffith's Brothers, the builders in Pool Street, where he was an apprentice carpenter. He'd be carrying his big brown carpenter's bag full of tools on his shoulder. His favourite remark to me was "I hope you have warmed the streets up for me?" To which I would reply "Good afternoon, shirker!"

But I was nearly always in too much of a rush to stop and talk. I had to have a wash, and change into my school uniform by ten minutes to nine. Dad would have boiled the big kettle on the grate for a cup of tea - and a bowl of steaming hot water for a good wash for me most mornings (no hot water taps in those days). He would also polish my shoes until I could see my face in them.

I would dress - in a green blouse, red tie, navy pleated tunic, navy knitted cardigan, navy gaberdine mackintosh, navy woolen beret with red school badge on the front, navy knitted gloves, black shoes, white ankle socks in the summer or black knitted full length stockings in the winter - and look out if you were not in uniform when you turned up at school. I had my long hair done in two plaits and I loved to have the best ribbon I could find at the end of each plait, plus a curl - which I would get by wrapping the hair around a steel curler on the end of each plait. That was until the day I forgot to take the steel curlers out before getting to school. I not only got "bad marks" for lateness, but untidiness too that day. At Graiseley Girls Secondary School - if you got five bad marks or more, a month - you ended up having the cane in front of the whole school at assembly, and I already had four for lateness!

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