COLUMN: Memories of winter in Mansfield

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Living to the north west of Mansfield as a child and close to open country, always seemed to make the winters colder.

You would wake in the morning to windows frosted on the inside.

The bedroom was like a fridge, although we knew nothing of fridges then. Our fridge was the cold floor of the pantry. The windows on many council houses were single glazed and metal framed, never a good recipe for insulation.

The draughts would blow the curtains about. Talking of insulation, our bed insulation on cold nights was dad’s heavy coat.

Mother used to say it was an eiderdown with sleeves. I’m sure most around my age will recall the army type blankets that were about as comfortable as sleeping with a hedgehog.

Then you had to have your wash before school, if you were lucky the water was hot, if not tough luck. “Get yer sen washed it’ll toughen yerrup lad.”

Breakfast was in a usually freezing dining room, no sitting watching the telly at breakfast then in the lounge. The tea-pot would be on the table wearing its cosy. Mum would pour the tea, it was proper tea then. Meaning tea leaves spooned into the pot and brewed, “mashed” if you understand the local dialect.

We never had a strainer, so if you were not careful you got tea leaves in your mouth. I still gag at the thought, and even now I cannot drink the last dregs in the cup.

Two phrases I recall with fondness and which are still prevalent around Mansfield. “Aye yer mashed” or “Aye yer got kettle on?”

You got little choice then for breakfast, either mother’s choice or nothing.

Everything was a rush to get to school on time; the penalties for being late were to me terrifying. So it would be bolt your food down, or as mother would say: “Gerrit down yer and get gone sharpish.”

Coming home from school was a little better in winter as there was usually a lovely coal fire burning, although in the draughty houses then you had to sit close to get the benefit.

Some nights if we were lucky, mum would let us toast bread on the coal fire. In those days you could spread pork or beef drippin’ on it, delicious.

Unfortunately nowadays drippin’ is considered a health hazard.