How did we ever sur­vive child­hood with th­ese say­ings?

Wilmslow Express - - BARLOW’S BRIEF -

THE wind and rain rat­tled our bed­room win­dows last night and I re­mem­bered my mother say­ing: “God bless the sailors on the sea,” when­ever there was a storm.

I had no idea why un­til I heard my aunt say it and dis­cov­ered it was a common ex­pres­sion dur­ing the war when U-Boats were sink­ing many of our mer­chant ships.

“I’m not as daft as I am cab­bage look­ing,” was another strange ex­pres­sion my mum used when she thought I was telling fibs.

I have no idea where she learned this or, if I’m hon­est, what it ac­tu­ally means. She had a lot of odd ex­pres­sions did my mum.

She told me I’d crack the mir­ror if I looked in it too of­ten. I didn’t comb my hair un­til I was a teenager just in case the mir­ror ex­ploded.

I was a very wellinformed child. Thanks to my mother I knew ex­actly what starv­ing chil­dren in Africa wanted to eat ev­ery sin­gle day. They craved prunes, sprouts, semolina, broc­coli, in fact any­thing I left, which was an ex­tra­or­di­nary co­in­ci­dence.

One of my mother’s most bizarre ex­pres­sions was, “Bring the cat in… I want to put him out.”

In any other fam­ily that in­struc­tion would have raised men­tal health con­cerns but not in our house. My dad would wan­der down the street look­ing for our cat Sandy who would be un­cer­e­mo­ni­ously car­ried home only to be taken straight through the par­lour and chucked out of the front door.

Putting out the cat was part of my mother’s bed­time rit­ual. She wanted to be cer­tain Sandy was out­side (be­ing at­tacked by bad­gers) rather than inside claw­ing the sofa.

If I made any noise in my tiny bed­room my mum would yell: “Go to sleep I’m tired.” Which, when you think of it, is like mak­ing you eat all your din­ner be­cause a child some­where in Africa is hun­gry.

Of all the weird and won­der­ful ex­pres­sions my mother ut­tered, “Don’t go wan­der­ing off and come back lost,” had to be top of the list.

By the time I worked out what she meant I was mar­ried with kids of my own.

‘Don’t go wan­der­ing

off and come back

lost!’

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