Sunday, 5 April 2009

Fact is stranger than fiction...

.......It is you know. Many years ago when my mother was a young girl, she lived in the south of Glasgow in a housing complex called tenements. These Victorian red stone buildings were a series of dwellings that house four floors of apartments. The entrance to each dwelling is called a close that has stairs leading to the upper floors. In essence they are vertical villages for they housed many families, often several members of one family, to just two rooms called a room and kitchen. Built in a large rectangle, there was a huge central area out the back where the middens were kept for disposing of household rubbish; where the lavvies, (toilets), were placed, where lines and lines of washing hung in addition to the area serving as a great big play pen for the weans to play in. Games of kick the can, hide and seek, postman's knock and spin the bottle could be heard echoing around the area as the weans laughed and screamed in their play. Everyone knew everyone’s business which was sometimes a good thing and sometimes a bad thing too. But in the 1930’s and the great depression, poverty, hardship and struggle were commonplace. Inside toilets were a thing to be dreamed of and tin baths in front of the fire were the norm for a family of ten or so. The luxury of separate bedrooms for the parents let alone the children was something only the wealthy could aspire to. God knows how people with large families survived but certainly with no National Health Service and a visit to the doctor for a prescription costing more than a wage packet denting shilling, infant mortality was high and family health in general was poor. Even so, with little or no contraception to talk of, families continued to grow, stretching the already thin wage packet that if you were lucky, the man of the house brought home on a Friday evening. Jobs were hard to come by during the depression and the sight of men queuing for work on a Monday morning at the steel works would fair break your heart at the desperation of it all as many were turned away, returning home with an acute sense of worry and hopelessness etched firmly on their weary faces. But as my wee mammy used to say, desperate as those times were, families stuck together, looked out for each other, lent each other money when shoes were needed or a loaf of bread meant the difference between going to bed hungry or not. Often when the man of the house had one too many and spent the wages at the pub before coming home as one local Da was prone to do, a kind hearted neighbour would take pity and lend a frantic mother a shilling tae get the weans their dinner.

It was in this vein that my mammy and her sister Aunt T had the regular task of walking the wee wean for the wee wumman upstairs. Her man was away working and so a bit of respite from being a lone parent was my granny’s way of helping her out. Every day, after finishing their chores, mammy and her sister would gleefully run upstairs and bang heavily on the door for the wee wumman played her radio so loud that she often didn’t hear her door go, as we say up north. Grabbing the weans’ buggy, one at the back and one at the front, they’d negotiate the stairs until finally they emerged into the sunlight and wheeled the wean away down the road at speed, making him giggle at the fun of it all. He was a bright wee boy and fell easily to laughter and for this reason my wee mammy and her sister loved taking him out. A few years went by and my mammy and her family moved to better accommodation in the shape of a new council house in a new development in the south of Glasgow.

In time, they thought no more of that little boy until quite a few years later. At first they weren’t quite sure that it was him, for he had changed his surname and now lived in northern England but as details of his life unfolded in the press, there before their eyes was the confirmation that it was THAT little boy; the little boy with the rosy cheeks who would laugh hysterically as they ran so carefree with him all those years before. There he was as bold as brass - Ian Sloane – now known as Ian Brady, the Moors murderer; a serial killer of young children. My mammy said she was so shocked at such a coincidence that she almost didn’t believe it was him.

In a further twist of fate, some years later my younger sister married the son of a Doctor of Psychology who was the director of the southern region for the Open University. I would see her father-in-law regularly for the Open University hired classrooms at the large education and training centre in Milton Keynes where I worked. Had I done my psychology degree course with them at that time, he would likely have been my tutor. We’d often have a chat as our two sets of students frequented the bar before and after dinner and it was expected that lecturers would join their students on the first night for a welcoming drink.

On my way to my desk one morning I stopped at reception to pick up my daily newspaper. In an instant I was drawn to the headlines and photograph on the front page of the Sun newspaper; a red top tabloid noted for its sensationalism in news reporting. There in full Technicolor was my sister's father-in-law presenting Myra Hindley with her psychology degree. To say you could have knocked me down with a feather is an understatement. It struck me as quite strange that first Ian Brady’s connection with my mother and aunt and then his female partner in crime being associated with my sister’s in-laws. It was bizarre and sometime later when I saw my sister’s FIL I asked him about the experience. I can’t tell you what he said as it was a confidence he shared with me and not mine to tell. I can say that he thought it was to be done in private but that Lord Longford, a long time sympathiser and supporter of Hindley had arranged for the press to be present. I can also tell you that it was an experience he was none too fond of. The fact that Hindley was born on the 23rd of July doesn’t thrill me either as we share the same birthday....AAAARRRGGGHHH! Hopefully, that’s where the coincidences end......And, as himself has just read this, he says, hopefully that's where the coincidences end too.

And finally, just as an aside, my sister’s F-I-L is the direct descendant of the man who shot Archduke Franz Ferdinand on the 28th of June 1914, thus technically starting World War 1. The 28th of June is the day I got engaged to the man who was to become my first husband and one of his given names is Wilhelm, same as the archduke.

Strange old world isn’t it?!

56 comments:

softinthehead said...

Fascinating reading MOB, we do live in a small world don't we!

Midlife, menopause, mistakes and random stuff... said...

I do agree......the truth is always stranger than fiction. Just can't make these kinds of things up, no?
Every time I visit your blog and see your caption to "The Scream" it makes me laugh :)

Steady On
Reggie Girl

Cheryl said...

WOW! This was so interesting, what a small world! I LOVE reading your blog, it is better than any book I have ever read. I mean it. This is truly amazing! You just never know.....

How are you? Sending you lots of hugs and love.
XXXXXX

liZZie said...

Goodness me! I suppose coincidences have to be, but it's synchronicity that messes with my head. Wonder what you reckon to Glasgow these days.

Kathy's Klothesline said...

Wow. Sometimes a fleeting memory of a brief friendship from childhood makes me wonder what might have become of that person. Maybe I really don't want to know after all!

menopausaloldbag (MOB) said...

Softinthehead – I am sometimes amazed at how small a world it is. I have had other coincidences happen and I am always amazed at them. Talk about six degrees of separation!

Midlife – the fact is that sometimes fact is just too weird for fiction isn’t it? You couldn’t get away with it if you tried to write a novel around it! That picture of the scream was exactly how I felt when I hit the menopause full throttle! Glad it makes you laugh.

Cheryl – you are so good for perking people up as you are such a sweetie with your comments and so kind. My mother was always shocked at the way Ian Brady turned out and she was desperately sad that he had come to this as he was educationally bright and could have gone on to better things. She was just as amazed as I was that her daughter’s F-I-L had to present that degree to Hindley. He is a great guy and quite eccentric and used to turn up at my mother’s house in Glasgow in his Rolls Royce to take her and my step-dad out to dinner! She loved it.

liZZie – welcome. All those things like coincidence, synchronicity, fate are quite fascinating at times. What about Glasgow now> It is an amazing place full of amazing people with a humour to crack your ribs as you die laughing. I love the place and the people. I have plans to perhaps return one day but we have other things to do first. Now the kids are grown we plan to travel a lot more, do a lot of walking with our two dogs and inject a little excitement into our lives.

Kathy – I know exactly what you mean. I guess that’s why Twitter and Facebook and the like are thriving as people rake up the past. Gosh, bet there is a great plot for a story there.

LittleBrownDog said...

I do like a coincidence, but some can be just a bit spooky. Love your descriptions of Glasgow in the 30s - it does make me wonder how families came to be so big, though, with everybody in the same room. I would have thought the idea of so many children sleeping alongside you would have been fairly effective as contraception.

Mopsa said...

I love the six degrees of separation concept...so often the degrees are fewer than that.
My Mother used to say we were direct descendants from King David. You know, the one in the Old Testament! Lord love us (and all that - said in an atheistic fashion), every Jew is probably descended from him. Or was that Abraham?

Maggie May said...

Wasn't life hard in those days?

And fancy your sister marrying into the family of some one who was responsible for starting world war one!

Mean Mom said...

I got most carried away there for a moment and was convinced you were going to say that the little chap turned out to be Gordon Brown! Silly me! Wrong era, for a start!

I found that story chilling and it gave me goosebumps!

Edward said...

Great blog! Loved reading about Glasgow - I remember my father (a Scot living in England) taking me to the tenements many years ago. And that thing about Ian Brady gave me goosepimples!

Crystal Jigsaw said...

Blimey! Never a dull moment!

CJ xx

Valleys Mam said...

wooooooooooo what a series of connections.
Do you think sometimes the universe tries to tell us something

i beati said...

Is that Jung's theory of synchronicity or just the fickle finger of fate do you presume?Loved this post

She's like the wind said...

Love when you talk about good old Glesga, what a great post, apparently there is no such thing as coinsidence, everything happens for a reason, not quite sure right enough what that reasoning would be in this case!!! xx

menopausaloldbag (MOB) said...

Littlebrowndog – I think the Catholic church had a lot to do with large families and their rather weird approach to contraception. The Pope insisted that Catholics use the ‘Rythm Method’ – can you imagine it? A flippin brass band playing away in the corner of the bedroom whilst you attempt to have sex without procreating?! And God help you if you missed a beat!

Mopsa – yes I agree it’s often less than six degrees. More like three in Glasgow where it is one big village really.

Maggie – Life was so incredibly difficult and yet they survived so well. Such hardship against such hope.

Mean Mom – It is such a weird coincidence and to be so close to a serial killer made my mum quite banjaxed by it. She couldn’t believe that little boy turned out the way he did – but then she didn’t know him as a teenager when he was burning small animals – a clear indicator that someone is pathologically unsound. Many arsonists’ kills small animals, set them alight and can go on to be serial killers. Maybe if she knew him at 13 she would have had a different opinion of him.

Edward – thanks – yup it’s a story that enthralled and yet horrified me when my mum and aunt told me it.

Crystal – not in my family!

Valley’s Mam – God knows what the universe was telling us here!

I-beati – the fickly finger of fate probably! I like that term.

SLTW – nope got me on that one too!

® ♫ The Brit ♪ ® said...

Hi MOB,
I've been doing a "disappearing act" lately (as my Nan would say) and am behind with your posts...
It's always so great to read your new ones and this was no exception!
Wow that was chilling to read about the connection with the moor's murderers...
When I started my job at the newspaer in London it was the time when the press were given the tapes and manuscripts of Myra Hindley and Ian Brady. I remember having to stop reading as they told of the childrens screams and begging for them to stop.
What an evil world we live in... or rather: what evil people inhabit this beautiful world...

By the way I visited Glasgow twice with my work in the 90's when I had to cover the home-town concerts of "Wet Wet Wet"! wonderful place Glasgow, I loved it! Such wonderful, warm people! and I returned there some time later for a "real holiday" and also visited Edinburgh and all it's castles...
Big Hugs!
Donnie X

Eddie Bluelights said...

Crumbs! What a series of co-incidencies. Unfortunate the links were all to 'baddies'. And, it was a lot tougher in the 1930's with th Great Depression even though we are on a knife edge right now.

Lane said...

Cripes MOB, those are quite some coincidences!
Your title for this post just sums it up!

menopausaloldbag (MOB) said...

Brit – how lovely to hear from you. I hope you are coping well with all your upheaval. I know what you mean about the cries for help from the children. It is sickeningly so low that if I were in the same room as Brady and Hindley I would have wanted to rip them apart. I don’t believe in capital punishment but I can understand those who want it where murder and torture is concerned. I’ve heard that male and female detectives sobbed openly on listening to the tapes. I think I would have thrown up with the horror of it all.

Re your trip to Glasgow – glad you had a good time and Edinburg is beautiful but the thing about being up north is the people truly are welcoming and warm. We have plans to have a place up there but not just yet.

Eddie – yup good point, the links were al to baddies! Thankfully it’s in the past!

Lane – too close for comfort!

auntiegwen said...

Have you ever read "Shoes were for Sunday " by Mollie Weir ? You would recognize your Glasgow from that, I read all her books as a girl, absolutely loved them, def worth a rainy day to read them. And July 23rd ? my wedding anniversary

Lori E said...

It just goes to show that you never know who you are dealing with. You say you are the menopausaloldbag but you could be the crazy cat lady from the Simpsons. No wait, that is me. Never mind.

Daphne Wayne-Bough said...

I used to work for one of Lord Longford's many children. I won't say which one, 'cos he was a git.

My grandad grew up in the Gorbals too. How many more weird coincidences can we fit into one blog post?

I'm so glad to learn that Ian Brady was Scottish. I've finally got something to wallop my Scottish lodger with next time he starts raving drunkenly about how everything great comes from bonny Scotland. See me, see you, see that windae?

Retiredandcrazy said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Amanda said...

Hi, just found your blog. What a fascinating post. I'll be back. :-))

Fat, frumpy and fifty... said...

Crikey, strange world innit? LOL

menopausaloldbag (MOB) said...

Auntie – I have ordered the books and got them for a penny from greenback books. Couldn’t believe it as they recycle books for next to nothing! Thanks for the reminder – I have been meaning to get those books for nigh on 20 years now but kept forgetting. So the 23rd July – spooky huh?!

Daphne – oh how fascinating, I am intrigued to know more!

Amanda – welcome and thanks. I shall pop by your blog for a look see!

FFF – aye it certainly is hen.

KAREN said...

I love stories like this - life's full of odd coincidences. It must be hard to reconcile the face of a killer with a happy little boy who seemed "normal."

Fascinating stuff :o)

Flowerpot said...

Coincidences are amazing arent they? It always bugs me that publishers are so against them when they happen so much in real life!

wakeupandsmellthecoffee said...

I think this is very scary and if you come up with any more coincidences, well, I'll be leaving the country! Just kidding. Fascinating.

Eddie Bluelights said...

Hi MOB
I cordially invite you to collect your Zombie Chicken award from my place of residence. Dress informal. You are joint winner, one of five, for this highly prestigious award. Please don't let your trophy go cold. Eddie

Robynn's Ravings said...

So are you saying then that to know you is to experience great risk to one's person and/or, at the least, reputation? ;P

LOVED the post and the story you told so well. Fascinating history there.

Found you through Eddie Bluelights. Congrats on the award! Eddie and I received ours together from Janine at Sniffles & Smiles. I have yet to post mine. I always procrastinate when anything is difficult. I was pregnant with each of my children for three years.

Casdok said...

The six degrees of separation is an interesting concept. We do live in a very small world.
Fasinating post!

Sandi McBride said...

Your posts always amaze and delight me. This is my first full day sitting at the computer since coming home from Hospital and it's been a delight! You have a way of telling life! Thanks so much for all the loving concern while I was "laid up"...
hugs
Sandi

bittersweetmess said...

I've tried to leave a message here a few times since I've returned to blogspot (recently) and it won't let me!

So I thought I'd try again.

(old blog, rebeckajane)

I always like your writings. x

tartetartan said...

Oooooh la la. Very strange. Fascinating read. TTx

menopausaloldbag (MOB) said...

Karen – I too was fascinated by the smiling happy boy my mum and aunt described and who became the killer of children. A very bright but twisted psyche that lived amongst us. You just never know who your neighbour is!

Flowerpot – I guess we can expect the reader to suspend belief but as in the case of real life – it is sometimes just too weird to be believed.

Coffee – I’ll be heading off out of the country long before you do if I have any more odd coincidences like that!

Eddie – thanks, have collected it with humble aplomb! Very nice it is too!

Robyn – ah procrastination is the thief of time! I know, I have a gold standard in it!

Casdok – I am still mesmerised by the story and my mother loved telling it even if it did make her blood run cold.

Sandi – welcome back, glad to see you are recovering. Thanks for the nice comment, you are too gracious.

Bittersweetmess – welcome back. I missed you. I will link to your site as I follow your progress with your grief. I hope you are able to have some light in your life from time to time to ease the burden you are carrying.

Tarttartan – ta hen!

Lena said...

Sometimes the coincidences in life are startling. I have my own set that I might blog one day, but it is not nearly as powerful - just daft names and birthdays ect.

And I couldn't help the images of The Broons flashing through my mind. They were my first vision of 'tenements life'!

Lena said...

Coincidences at times are certainly startling. I have some too that I may blog about one day, but they're nothing as powerful - just birthdays and names ect, but still quite wierd!

And I couldn't help flashes 'The Broons' as you were describing tenement life. They were my first vision of it - as daft as that may seem!

Robynn's Ravings said...

Dear Mob -

You can't imagine my elation at seeing your comments and knowing you had stopped by my blog. Either that speaks to how greatly I admire you or how pitifully desperate I am. The former is absolutely true and the latter is intermittenly true depending on whether or not I have taken my hormones.

Hope to see you again sometime and I just recommended your writing to my 18-yr-old daughter. Your side bar alone is worth reading ten times. Just read it again this morning and when I saw Albert Einstein, I thought I was looking in the mirror!

ethelmaepotter! said...

Strange old world, indeed! Very nice blog - you have quite a gift. Will be signing up to follow.

LittleBrownDog said...

Psssst! I've just tagged you for a meme on my blog...

Eddie Bluelights said...

Hi MOB
Ypu may be interested to know you have just run the race of ypur life in The Grand National. Hope you are well ~ Eddie

david mcmahon said...

What a fascinating post.

tale of many cities said...

by way of david @ authorblog.. enjoyed your blog very much. don't much believe in coincidence.. as i am pretty big on everything happens for a reason- though mostly blind to those reasons at the time, it usually reveals itself sooner or later. yeah, i realize some of us may never know or understand those reasons..LOL ;) great life story.. i am a new fan!

blessings,
Tracie

Sniffles and Smiles said...

David is right...this is absolutely fascinating!!! Terrific post! Congrats on POTD! ~Janine XO

Daryl said...

What a great post .. over from David's to say: congrats on POTD!!!!!

Eddie Bluelights said...

Well - it took an age to get spotted but I always knew a lad from Melbourne with a camera would arrive at this post eventually.
I've already said how much I enjoyed it and repeat it and now I congratulate you on your well deserved POTD.
Thank you for your kind comments about my Grand National - and I hereby serve notice that our next communal gathering will be when we are ALL running the London Marathon. So get into training!! And no more sleeping in the chair! Love Eddie

Daryl said...

I would have emailed but I dont have your email .. just wanted to say I will be back here too ... you write good! LOL. Really you do.

♥ bfs~"Mimi"♥ said...

Strange, crazy, small world. Congrats on POTD!

menopausaloldbag (MOB) said...

Lena – I grew up with ‘The Broons and ‘Oor Wullie’! They certainly sum up Glasgow lifeof old..

Robyn – I doubt you look anything like Albert, but I do with additional menopausal face hair! Hope your daughter isn’t shocked by my language in this blog!

Ethelmaepotter – welcome and thanks for such a great comment.

LBD – Ta hen, I will get around to doing it soon but I am not a very interesting person so will probably bore far too many to death if I have a go!

Eddie – what a tome you wrote re the race! Where do you get your energy from?! Very entertaining and you deserved your post of the day too.

David – Thank you yet again for the POTD award. As usual you humble me with your award and raise my readership! You are very kind.

TOMC – Welcome and I too subscribe to the ‘everything happens for a reason’ theory but sometimes coincidence just can’t be ignored!

Sniffles – Welcome and thank you – life in itself is a fascinating thing although mostly it can seem quite ordinary!

Daryl – Welcome and thanks for such nice comments, I’ll be over to check all you recent commentators out!

Eddie – Marathon? Nope not me! Well not yet anyway! I dream of being fit enough to go on a fun run!

BFS – thanks – David is too generous..

Robynn's Ravings said...

Was so excited to see you came by for a visit. Thanks for the comments and laughs!

rickps said...

I was quite chuffed when you visited my site. Now that I know you are a fantastic writer the chuff factor becomes astronomical. Even got a Blogger account so I could comment. :)

Love your work.

Lena said...

Just passing by with a quick hello!

menopausaloldbag (MOB) said...

Robyn – Oh I enjoy a good cup of tea and a trip by your blog. It is so good. Thanks for popping by again.

Rickps – welcome. I was truly captivated by your blog – you are a fantastic writer yourself. Thanks for such a nice comment.

Lena – Hi hen and hello yerself!

MBNAD woman said...

Hi - I came to your blog from wakeupandsmellthecoffee. wrt: dogs (and their kin), James Thurber had this to say:

If I have any beliefs about immortality,it is that certain dogs I have known will go to heaven, and very, very few persons.