I came from a northern working class background. A council house with an outside toilet and a dark coal bunker. Luckily the house had a big garden so Dad could grow loads of vegetables and fruit. It wasn’t until 1980 when the Council renovated the house and we got the luxury of central heating and an inside loo. We had to move out into a caravan for a few months so the house could be gutted and the roof replaced. It was bizarre looking at you house without a roof on. I will always remember sitting in the caravan playing with some lego when the little TV brought news of Lennon being shot.

The phrase my parents would always use was scrimp and scrape. They did an amazing job and Dad was always happy to talk about the hard lifestyle. Is it bad but these days that memory always reminds me of Monty Python doing the sketch about the Four Yorkshireman competing for who had the toughest childhood. We were so poor we lived in a box. Or in my case We were so poor we didn’t have a roof.


All those years later and I’m carrying on the tradition of scrimp and scraping. The return to school has brought significant additional costs to an already tight financial position. But as a good buddy said today – we make do. It does mean that you take some calculated risks. Son has an old raincoat which still just about fits him. It’s really well battered. It needs changing but I was hoping to put that off for a few months more.

Well today the calculated risk backfired. He went to pull on the old coat and the sleeve ripped apart at the seems.

Dad it’s not just Bruce Banner who can do that.

So he’s gone off today without a coat and yes it’s pouring down. Absolutely chucking it down. I feel really awful about it. Poor kid is going to be like a drowned rat. Anyway I’ve gone out and bought him a new one. Well at least he can now carry on the tradition. When he’s older he can do his own Monty Python sketch.

We were so poor I had a raincoat with only one sleeve. We couldn’t afford two sleeves.

57 thoughts on “So poor

  1. Is it terrible that I am laughing literally out loud? But I do sympathize. I was the seventh of nine children in our family. I remember my younger brother opening the fridge door (it was pretty much empty) and asking our mother, “Are we poor again?” LOL So I get it and we did our share of scrimping as well, but as my sister says, it built character. We never did get running water in the house and we also had an outdoor “Loo”. We called it an outhouse. After Dad moved the family to Ontario we had all the comforts – flushing toilets and running water from a faucet – no more hauling water from the well. I love how you use homour to describe what is a hard life at times. Perhaps your son did get soaked, but I think he will remember a father who did his very best more so than the raincoat with one sleeve. God bless you both and thank you for tickling my funny bone once again. You really should write a book! I do hope life gets easier financially, and in every other way for both you and your son.

    Liked by 3 people

      1. Wow – no fridge, that would be the end of me! LOL I have no idea but I know back in the day many people kept root cellars they lined with straw (sometimes sand) to keep things cool. Did she have such a thing?

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Carol said it all.
    Soooo…all your food experiments have turned your son into the Hulk, eh? 😂 I grew up poor too, so did my kids. There was a period when mom was married to step-dad that we were upper middle class… went to school with rich kids. They had more problems than the poor kids.
    Monty Python is a good way to think of it.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Terrible things happen in this world and the difference between those who survive them and those who are swamped by them is attitude. You consistently find a way to keep your sense of humor and I can see this optimistic attitude being handed down to your son in spite of factors in his life that could be dragging him down. Your lives are an inspiration and keep us all here rooting for you.

    Liked by 5 people

  4. My husband and I went through times in our childhood of drinking powdered milk and eating food storage. We talk about how our kids don’t have to do that, but then we also feel the kids might be better off building some character like that…

    Liked by 3 people

  5. Hawthorn in the hedgerows – beautiful! 🙂

    I spent the first 4 years of life living with me mum and dad – in my mother’s mother’s 2 bedroom terrace house, with my grandma, and her invalid brother (shell shock from WW1 !) and my mum’s sister! Outside loo and coal bunker as standard and with the back alley where the night soil cart would be pulled by a horse to collect the day’s ‘deposits’. There was also a cellar cum air raid shelter. (Mum’s sister lived her entire life in that house – died in 2005)

    Any wonder why we left for Australia??

    Those senses of humour of yours are seemingly in for a good workout – just don’t get your son mad… 😉

    Liked by 2 people

      1. It was…………….. comfy. 😉

        I remember having a bath in the tin tub placed in front of the kitchen hearth on ‘bath night’ with 6 of us in the small room.

        Liked by 1 person

  6. Your son cracked me up and so did you with your foresight 🙂 I was raised to be very aware of every dollar. I saw all the kids around me with their fancy stuff – but if I didn’t absolutely NEED it, or like with shoes – make do with a cheaper version – then that was that. My kids even know – you don’t go to my parents for random presents or extras. And they will totally gift you socks and underwear at Christmas – cause hey, you always NEED them.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. When you have a dog like ours gifts of socks and pants are greatly appreciated. The kids in his class see to all wear designer stuff or things from Nike. Son doesn’t seem to care about labels so happy with cheap stuff like Primart. As long as tops have hoods – that’s his only stipulation.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Your sense of humour radiates in that last line Gary.
    I was born in a council house in 1956. It had an outdoor loo though we did have indoor plumbing but no central heating, just a coal fire in the lounge. Mum and Dad were careful and managed though I never really realised their struggle until it was my turn to bring up a family in the ’80s.
    I bought the boys new clothes and shoes every term but the one lad would deliberately scuff and ruin his within the first week, so I took to buying shirts and trousers from charity shops. I never skimped on shoes or outer wear, though most times the latter were second hand. We do what we have to do. Hope your lad likes his new coat.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Long story, but basically he played one divorced parent off against the other and their families to boot. If he put holes in his trousers or wore out his shoes, someone would buy him new ones every time. It was a never ending battle of wills with me being the evil ‘step parent’ although I wasn’t married to their dad. Don’t get me wrong, neither of those kids went without and were always tidy and presentable, but the youngest was ruined and liked to get his own way all the time. I never danced to his tune and he hated me for it.

        Liked by 1 person

  8. Well, the Monty Pythonesque view seems apt.
    Poorness isn’t great and it certainly hinders comfort living, but it can never take away the love you and son have for each other.

    I know that fateful time when you lost your other ‘love’ is coming. Stay strong. You have to laugh at missing sleeves… Perhaps the old coat can find new life as a ‘gillet’ (if you remove the other sleeve). 😉

    Liked by 1 person

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