Godfrey learned when very young, not to complain. I believe we must all remember a dreadful article of clothing we were forced to wear. There are many stories out there, this is another tale of The Mulgrew Trousers.
Godfrey had two kind Aunties, Lefty and Blue. With parents who struggled to tell them apart, one’s cot was by the door to the left of the stair, one always wore a blue ribbon, in her fair hair. Lefty and Blue, the only names the two sisters knew.
At the age of 15 both left home for the city, choosing Woolworth’s as a career, Lefty in smalls and sundries, Blue in pets, shoes, and then men’s wear, socks, ties and grundies. Twas Christmas time, Ma decided they’d all go, spend the holiday with the family in Glasgow.
Sister Alice, at 17, a brash young lady, caused the usual car trip fiasco. Count cows, shut-up, quit chewing in my face, Ma, he’s looking at me!, The radio music is poxy, turn it down, turn it up, turn it off, stop here I need to wee, look at all the beets in your presents, shut-up Godfrey.
Before the hugs and welcomes were done, and Godfrey passed bosom to bosom by everyone, landing in the iron grip of large Auntie Blue, who confided in him, “I abhor beets just like you. Ma did not have to ask, for a swig of sherry, warm from deaf Uncle Hamish’s flask.
He was an impish wee thing, in a dreadful pair of trousers, threadbare,faded, held up by a string. He said, “I much prefer my kilt, Ma says I am to wear these trousers on my holiday. “They are Mulgrew Trousers, and will not go away.
Aunt Lefty said, “Those trousers will be warm picking Whelks from the seashore, we will go later on”. Godfrey was thrilled, one toss into the outgoing tide and the trousers would be gone. Oh the winter wind, it rosied his cheeks, for there is no finer place to explore, when a curious lad than rock pools and kelp heaps by the seashore.
Aunties Lefty and Blue gathered Whelks for tea, and winkles in a canvas sack. Godfrey stuffed his pockets with treasures, like dead crabs and Whelks and shells, before they all strolled, singing back. The trousers were soaked through, the tattered cuffs of his horse sweater to. Hang them to dry behind the hot water tank, in the upstairs loo, told him Hamish, Lefty, and Blue.
Happy in his kilt, he did. Oh, what a fine feast they had! Roast Goose, whelks, and a sneaky sip of Hamish’s home made beer. On Boxing Day sister Alice griped, that the upstairs toilet smelled”queer”. No one paid Alice much heed or glance, records were dusted off, all but surly Alice joined in the dance. It was the trousers stank- those terrible pants. Hung two days by the hot water tank. Pockets full of rotting winkles and crabs, no one could enter the upstairs loo, thrilled at the chance to be rid of the pants was Godfrey.
Oh the kebbie-lebbie, the stramish in that upstairs loo! The screaming of Alice, the gagging of Lefty and Blue. Ma was bowled over when she stormed down the hall, as noses covered the family fled. Catching Godfrey by the scruff, Ma used her shoe to slap him about the head. Then prying the toilet window ajar, and with a mop handle passed from brave Auntie Blue, Ma tossed out the window the foul smelling trousers Mulgrew.
This is the story as told to me, all winter the trousers hung frozen high in an oak tree. Washed by the snow and rain, and hail, in spring Uncle Hamish hooked them down, and returned them to Godfrey in the weekly mail. He never really outgrew the trousers, they seemed to expand as Godfrey did grow, and every Christmas the legend is told, over winkles and whelks, by Aunts Lefty and Blue, in far off Glasgow.