Sunday, 29 July 2012

See the monkey...

See the monkey? No, it doesn’t belong to my little sister Della - it belongs to the man taking the photograph – well, when I say man I mean hyena. Let me describe him…

He was one of those men that paced the promenade, an imitation caged lion, looking out for us unsuspecting young families, and once he’d spotted us… he’d pounce. Sometimes he had a teddy bear, sometimes a monkey – once he even had a real monkey that chattered and gnashed his teeth and made my sister Caroline cry. That's her with the pudding basin hair cut and the dress made from kitchen curtains - no really.

Holiday time; Skegness I think. Plastic beach sandals, the best clothes that we could muster, another camping holiday - some time away for our whole extended family... as we did back then. We had no money at all really, but my Dad always managed to take us, and as many other members of the family as he could afford, away to the sea for a week - sometimes even two. We camped usually, all crushed in a trailer tent and a Bedford camper van, having a laugh, excited to be beside the sea.

A family holiday. Just look at us. 

“Photograph of your lovely family mister? Only five bob.”

Five bob, twenty-five pence, back then you could work for half a morning to earn that much money. You could buy a Sunday joint, two gallons of petrol, forty fags, do the pools for a month, five pints of beer…

I watched my Dad hesitate before saying; “Okay,” as he reached into his pocket and counted out his hard saved holiday shillings into the hand of the greasy haired, striped blazered, light-grey-flannel trousered scavenger.

“Say Cheese!” He slimed through his high hyena laugh.

And just look at how we did; my Mum, my Dad, my Gran, my sisters Della and Caroline, Auntie Muriel, my Uncle Charlie’s daughter Gina, me, and of course... that bloody monkey. Did you ever see such smiley smiles?

“I’ll post it to you.” He said over his shoulder - as he walked away from the kill, still hyena laughing and already looking out for his next feed of unsuspecting meat.

And surprisingly… he did.

So here we all are on a summer’s afternoon, having our photograph taken at a price that hurt us all for weeks afterwards; but look, look deeper, see us all so simple and happy and able to keep the memory. We were all so close back then - aunties, cousins, Gran - we just spent our lives together, a family, no expectations of each other. People.

And as for the five bob stolen by that hyena? Well, maybe we had the last laugh after all.


  1. Kevin Parrott on FB:
    Andy, five bob, sixty good old real British pennies, eight family members, seven pence halfpenny each for this photograph. The equivalent then of the price of a Wall's choc ice.
    The hyena did you a favour.
    Without him you wouldn't have this wonderful, indeed beautiful & irreplaceable piece of family history.......
    By the way way, your doing it again...... complaining about cost, and not appreciating the value.
    Yes, 5/- was a lot of money then, but your Dad realised the opportunity, was worth it and how right he was.
    You probably weren't any worse off at the end of the day, and what an investment!

    1. He did, didn't he Kev? We didn't have a roast for a couple of weeks though.

  2. Vicky Sutcliffe on FB:
    Did you know Mr B spent his youth taking holiday snaps of people on Scarb beach? ...

    1. Kevin Parrott on FB:
      I think you've possibly seen this, but I'm sure you might recognise me towards the emd of the clip.
      Mum & Dad, Auntie Emily, brother Nigel in bobble hat (now our drummer), our dog Paddy & me.

      Abersoch North Wales 1960
      Aunties, Uncles & Cousins, Mum & Dad my brother & me at Abersoch during the summer of 1960.

    2. I have Kevin and it is brilliant. I'll watch it again. Thanks.

  3. Cloe:
    Family photo cracked me up!!!
    The monkey one

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