Friday, 3 June 2011

Book - The Ritz, Redgates and a Tarzan swing – with chips (Sheffield)

Steve Bush’s book, ‘Gee’or Ruwerin’, has topped the local best-sellers in Waterstones in Orchard Square. “I know it has been popular but I never expected this,” says the author, who describes his experiences of growing up in the Parson Cross area during the 1960s and used to live at 387 Wordsworth Avenue.

The book, unashamedly written in Sheffield dialect and featuring rare photos, covers everything from Saturday morning visits to the Ritz Cinema in Parson Cross to ‘wagging it’ from school and spending the afternoon in Redgates’ toy shop.

Steve is married and lives in Gleadless. He has two daughters and two grandchildren.

His book is available from The Star shop in York Street and Waterstones and is published by ACM Retro, priced £7.95.

‘Our field’, Wordsworth Avenue
Across from 387, Wordsworth Avenue, was a large open expanse where we played ‘tiggy’, ‘hiddy’ and a myriad of ball games. We flew kites, lobbed throwing arrows and it was where the Parson Cross Eagles and Devils held their enthralling Sunday afternoon speedway matches. We played around (and in) the stream and we got to know every single blade of grass on ‘our field’. During the long summer holidays, a four-a-side footie game would evolve into 12 or 13 a side by the time we were called in for tea, the tally of goals long since forgotten.

Ritz cinema, Parson Cross
The Ritz smelled of faux velvet and Butterkist. Each seat was covered in cigarette burns which you could feel as you clambered over them to get to the front. The programme was varied and exciting, the noise of 200 screaming kids ear-shattering, as Captain Marvel got the better of yet another baddie and the Three Stooges fell foul of their latest money-making plan. At half time we lined up for the yo yo competition and sucked lovingly on a rocket-shaped ice lolly. Zooom!!

Redgates toy shop
The highlight of any town trip with mum. There I could play Subbuteo, Johnny Seven and even have a bash at Escalado. I could sit cross-legged in a wigwam with a bow and arrow and talk heap big trouble for the cowboy. Action Man accessories and iron-filing drawing kits were in abundance and I would pore over them longingly, making mental shopping lists which would never be realised. And I got to choose my Chrissy pres – a Chad Valley cine projector, with Mickey Mouse and Pluto getting into their usual scrapes on board a paddle ship.

Grenoside village fete
Each spring the village green was adorned with bunting and flags. Locals and visitors gathered together around the rope-enclosed dancing mats and eagerly awaited the programme. There were brass bands, jangly-trousered morris men, a fancy dress pageant and, of course, country dancing, which was our showpiece. When our turn came, we skipped and hopped in time to the brass beat and swung our partners to and fro. The applause was generous and we each got a free ice cream at the end. Result!

Tarzan swing, bluebell woods, Creswick Lane
Once a year, one of the Sheldon family would climb fearlessly into the high branches of a great oak, shin out on to a sturdy limb and, after tying off one end, drop a thick rope down to six pairs of waiting hands. Then, one at a time, we ran up the bank clutching the rope and leapt out into thin air, legs swinging freely, and yodelling like Edgar’s orphaned hero, Tarzan. Exhilarating!

Chip shop, Margetson Crescent
No-one could be sure when the chippy would be open, timings being at best erratic. Word would go around, via a kind of osmosis, and slowly the shop would fill with hungry mouths, clutching tightly at their sixpences and shillings. The smell of battered fish, sizzling in fragrant boiling oil, wafted along Wordsworth, and as service began, lashings of vinegar were shaken over the wares until new odours mingled with the old. Newspaper wrapping and Dandelion and Burdock concluded the menu to unwavering satisfaction and lasting delight.

Mansell Youth Club
We sat casually around the dark disco, chatting confidently to girls and smoking Woodbines from the side of the mouth, to the funky rhythms of Love Grows (Where My Rosemary Goes) and Chirpy Chirpy Cheep Cheep. The mirror ball spun frenetically and reflected its ultra violet light spots around the room. Relationships were born and, in many cases, died, as we dipped our toes into the murky waters of adulthood. Was adolescence ever more fun than this?

Air raid shelter, Fulmere Crescent
In a friend’s back garden, we burnt candles and drank beer from a Party Seven can. It was stuffy and smelly but it was an adult-free zone and we loved sitting among the discarded concrete bollards, childish cave drawings, and the rotting timbers – left behind from who knows when? There was no evidence of Blitz parties, just a few discarded Craven A packs and a broken Mackeson bottle. We didn’t need gas masks.

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