“Talkin’ about My Generation”
(A memoir for the family)
Well, the first thing that springs to mind is the one Enid Blyton didn’t write: “Five Rise above Their Station”. That seems to tell the tale of the Moloney Children - three boys and two girls lucky enough to be the progeny of a factory worker/boxer who punched above his weight, and a traveller-turned-dinner-lady; growing up through the ‘fifties and ‘sixties in Birmingham. How dull does that sound? Only it wasn’t quite like that. It never is as simple as the words on the page make it seem. How can words convey the magic of childhood that fades away so imperceptibly that we are left to wonder if it was ever really there? But we know it was magical. We lived the magic, and some of us remain to tell the tale.
So many memories – so where should I begin? Perhaps we need a little background? Yes, but only a little. Sue is the family historian, so she will fill in the details. I am the dreamer, the fantasist, so I will deal with the impressionist backwash and let Sue apply the fine art.
I’ll start with Dad – a compendium of snapshots to describe him. He was dark-haired and handsome in a truly Irish way. He had twinkling blue eyes, a wicked sense of humour and at times a very quick temper. He was the master in his own house and he deserved to be. He and Mum went without a lot in order to do what they thought was right to give us a good start in life. Sending us to St. John’s Convent cost a fortune in those days, but it is thanks to this that all five of us gained grammar school places at eleven years of age and the chance to move onwards and “rise above our station”.
Dad was a hero as far as I was concerned. I remember him getting ready for work in the mornings. He used to ride to Reynold’s Tubes in Tyseley on his push bike. He had a belted, gabardine mac and a beret, and of course, bicycle clips. If it hadn’t been for his stocky build and intelligent eyes he’d have given Frank Spencer a run for his money in the style stakes. He took his sandwiches in one pocket and a screw top bottle of milk in the other. I never really understood what he did in those days, but I knew the world would collapse if he ever stopped doing it. Later, I learned that he was a setter-operator. Apparently that meant he set the measurements and operated a machine that cut metal tubes to size.
When he got home from work each evening, Mum would have his dinner waiting for him on the kitchen table. We kids would have eaten earlier, but if we were around, Dad always insisted on giving us a taste of his dinner. Sharing was a really big thing in the Moloney household.
The Moloney kids - all grown-up - circa 1995
Me, Martin,Sue, Frank,
Then there were three
Frank, Sue and Me