Wendy Jones

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Election blues ­… and reds

A political chasm ran through 19 Gladstone Avenue.

We lived with my grandmother. A strong woman, an army cook on the Somme, supporter of the Jarrow Marchers. Now barely five feet tall – osteoporosis, I later learnt.

My dad was different. A charmer, a tease. Not a drop of worker solidarity in his veins, said my gran.

Election time. I was six. Billboards, loudhailer vans, boring men making boring promises. At least I’d get a day off school.

One morning my dad stuck his Tory poster in our front window.

My gran removed it and put up her Labour poster.

My dad raised the stakes. He got a really big poster, climbed up and attached it to the outside of the window.

Up went my tiny gran and down came the very big poster.

Truce.

My mum, wise woman, kept her head down throughout.  She may have been a secret Liberal.

From map to memory

When I sat down to draw a map of where I lived aged 0-7, what first came back were memories of infant crime and punishment.

Of being forced to apologise to the lady across the road for calling her ‘Mrs Candlesticks’ – not her real name but close, and hilarious to four-year-old me. Or Eleanor’s mum locking the gate between our gardens because of that brilliant game with mud.

But in the end I decided my best memory was about grown-ups misbehaving. My grandmother is long dead and my parents more recently so. I wouldn’t have dared write this otherwise.

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