by Michael Hill
I remember Bilston in the 60s because it was dark and light for
someone like me, who would walk around the town and stood there
looking at uncle Harry in his England shirts and khaki jeans with
hob-nail boots 6-4 tall with no hair and chubby faced, greyish eyes.
Drinking tea from an enamel cup, this is where the nick name came
in, uncle T because he loved a cup of tea, worked on market stalls
with hands clapping and flashing of ten pound notes with gathering
of crowds, he would shout “Come on you lovely people gave us the
money” with patting of palms and all his charms.
The throwing of stones and the walking on rail tracks with thoughts
of food, music on radio and father down pub, coal for heating of
fires, mother’s job and car accidents. Sammy and big Gladys as tall
as a bus.
13 children in one house and Victorian fireplaces, that blazed like the
sun and those stars in the skies and those late summer days sitting on
What I seen was Harry and England shirts and children’s drawings,
birds songs and of black around him, guns of war and that’s all I
remember and games with ball, holes in walls and rain that fell,
voices that called.
Workers on stalls and places of law, boxes of tomatoes on floors and
people kneeling on knees, gardens full of peas, sandwiches made of
lettuce and cheese to please and things to kill fleas, girls with pony
tails and old wives’ tales,
Ships that wouldn’t sail and shops with things for sale, bread that
was stale, prisoners in jails. On Sundays it hailed, letters in mail and
broken panes and teachers’ canes and picture frames, schoolyards
and report cards and dodgy jam jars and toy cars.
Lionel that sold vinyl and Larry the rat with his plastic rats and
Halloween mask and thermos flask
Sex, drugs and rock and roll and poor old Harry on the dole his stall
sold bowls that were stole, gypsies with potions and fortune-tellers
“Yes this was Bilston in The 60s, and children with penny mixes, cold
Wednesdays and mild Thursdays where l stood and flogged them all
and all that was left an empty stall.