I was born in Hull on the east coast of England in November of 1971. My mother was one of eight and my father one of three. I was the first grandchild born into what would eventually be a family that numbered somewhere between sixty and seventy, though it is often hard to recall all the names and connections witha family so vast.
The fishing trade was still the heart of Hull and very much at the heart of my mothers side of the family. My mum’s father was a trawlerman as were a number of my older uncles, with my other aunts and uncles only 7 or 8 years older than me. My earliest memories seem to be dominated by that side of the family for some reason and I cannot really recall my fathers side at all or even our own smaller family of just mum, dad and me.
My mother tells me how my grandad and uncle would return from months away at sea and turn out their pockets and invite me to help myself to whatever money they had – which was often a lot. Casting my mind back I can vaguely remember my uncle taking me to the toy store and telling me that I could have whatever I wanted, and I headed home with a blue scooter which had the most fantastic tassles which hung from the handles.
I also remember Queen. No, not the queen but the band. Even now so many of their songs trigger memories or shadows of memories that take me somewhere almost now lost to me.
Memories of coming downstairs at my granparents house and the smell of stale beer and cigarettes are also still quite vivid after more than forty years too. Curiously I can even still see the ash tray on a stand in the middle of the floor with the push top opening mechanism that I was often told to leave alone.
Even before then though I remember being in a pram outside a house on the other side of the street looking back across to where my mum’s parents lived on the Greatfield council estate in east Hull. It is quite clear to me still and I described it to my mother, pointing out the actual house when we visited forty years later. She insists surely I could not be rememberin gthat because I was probably only three at the most, but I remain quite certain that I remember it quite clearly even now…