MEMORIES: THE WAY WE WERE
Sinead is a teacher in North East England. A few winters back, a ban was put on throwing snowballs in the schoolyard. One lunchtime, a colleague was on yard duty.
"She saw a Year 6 boy (aged 11) with s snowball in his hand," Sinead said. "She shouted over to him to drop it."
"No, ‘but miss’. Drop it."
"Drop that snowball now."
Reluctantly, the boy did as he was told.
The teacher shouted over. "Good. Now I want you to stand on it and squash it into the ground."
"Do as I say. Squash it."
Again the boy did as he was told.
"Now run along and get your lunch," the teacher told him.
"But miss, that was my lunch – it was my sandwich."
ALL AT SEA
Laura was a member of the Women’s Royal Naval Service (WRNS)* - the women’s branch of the Royal Navy. They were known as Wrens. She has a few tales to tell about being stationed at HMS Collingwood, a land base at Fareham, Hampshire.
"You had to be back from a night out at 10pm. We would come back, sign in at the regulated office, go to our dormitory, then immediately climb out of the window and go back to the pub. Someone would stay behind to let us back in. Everyone did it.
"One morning I woke up and someone had replaced the Royal flag on the pole with women’s underwear. I don’t know who did – but it wasn’t me."
*The WRNS was formed in 1917 during the First World War and was integrated into the Royal Navy in 1993.
Derry and her husband George were driving on the east cost of Scotland about 20 years ago when they came across a car that had left the road and crashed into a boulder.
"There was only one person inside, the driver. She was slumped over the wheel, unconscious with blood pouring from her face," Derry said.
"George told me to stay with her while he went for help. He came across a farmhouse and there was a doctor there. I don’t know if he lived there or just happened to be there. He came back with George and looked after her. I don’t know what happened to her."
But for a room needing airing, Lilian might not have been around to tell this next tale.
As a teen during the Second World War, she was evacuated from Gateshead in the North East of England to Wenslydale. Her school (Gateshead Grammar School) decided that the pupils could come home for a weekend visit because there had been no major attacks in the Newcastle area. But as luck would have it, there was a raid.
"The bombers came up the River Tyne looking to bomb the Vickers Armstrong tank and gun factory," she said. "I remember I was lying in bed. We lived in a three-storey house and my room was on the third floor. But because my room hadn’t been aired, my mother put me in a room on the second floor and my room on the third floor was empty.
"A bomb came through the roof and landed on the mattress but didn’t explode. My mother got me out and we went to the shelter.
"It was a small bomb, I think they called them incendiary bombs. If I’d been sleeping in the upper room, I could have been killed.
"My father, who was an Air Raid Warden, got a bucket of sand and put the bomb in the sand and put it in the back lane. The next day, he took it away and disposed of it.
"As I was going out the next day, a bomb went up near Saltwell Park and I had to duck to avoid the debris.
"You couldn’t get repairs done so we had to put tarpaulin over the roof. It was like that for months and the rain kept coming in."
Louise’s local Morrison’s supermarket has a wall showcasing photographs from years ago. One day, she happened to spot one of a group of people sitting on a bench on the seafront at Whitley Bay (NE England).
"I knew it was my family," she said. "And it turned out they were.
"There was a name of an organisation that specialises in local photographs across the UK. I made enquiries and found out the people in the photograph were my father’s parents and his sister.
"The photograph was taken two years before I was born. I was just browsing, looking at the photographs when I spotted them. I’ve no idea how I knew they were my family. I had this feeling and was absolutely sure.
"Now whenever I go into the store, I go and say ‘hello’."
THAT SINKING FEELING
About two years ago, Margaret was playing golf on Tyneside, in the North East of England. Her ball went into a bunker (as those pesky little things often do).
"I noticed the sand had been taken out of the bunker and the surface looked like soil," Margaret recalls. "The bunker wasn’t cordoned off and there was no sign so I walked in to retrieve my ball and began to sink.
"It was like quicksand. I sank up to my ankles. I was terrified because I was still sinking. I couldn’t move, I tried to get out and put my hands down but they got stuck as well.
"I was in a total panic. Fortunately I wasn’t alone and was able to shout to my two partners. They dragged me out. My feet came out of my shoes, which were left submerged. I was covered in mud from head to foot. I went back to the clubhouse barefoot. Someone later retrieved my shoes.
"Later, I found out they were re-sanding the bunker. Water had become trapped under the soil and left it like a marsh. If I had been playing alone, I don’t know how long I would have trapped. It was really frightening because I was sinking further and further in."