Miss Mutter, 1959

You always felt that she was muttering those immortal words, “one to me, lads!”

This was a name we had for an old woman who lived at the top of Appleby Street in North Shields.  She was bent over and to us kids looked to be a hundred years old.  Now her flat was downstairs and second from the end of the street, with no letterbox cover on the front door.  You could look through and see along the passage into the front room.  Often we would be peeping in and she would come stomping along the passage muttering away to herself.  She would start shouting at us through the letterbox but it was water off a duck’s back to us, so to speak.

Mind we did not always get away with our teasing.  Sometimes she would be waiting and as soon as we looked through the letterbox out came a brush handle wagging back and forwards.  You always felt that she was muttering those immortal words, “one to me, lads!”  Another of her tricks was to sneak round from the back and appear round the corner, again muttering away to herself.  When this happened we were away like a bullet out of a gun.

We did not torment her all the time but still, now and again, the brush shank would appear, just to keep us on our toes.  One time she came out ranting and raving like a bull seeing a red flag, so a couple of us just climbed up the lamp post on the other side of the street, laughing our heads off.  In she went and out she came with the trusty brush, but as she could not straighten up she had no chance of reaching us at all.

No matter what anyone says all kids love a chase and to wind the neighbours up sometimes.  Anyway, on this day she was in fine battling mode.  We were just sitting atop the lamp post when a copper walked round the corner.  That was it – the third degree about being nasty etc., but the biggest downer was when you went home that night.  You received the usual clout round the ear for being disrespectful to the older generation.  Sadly, a couple of years later the poor old lass died, but give credit where it is due, we gave her 10 out of 10 for when it came to a chase.

A rumour at the time was that she was related to the family that owned the Stag Shipping Line and that bags of money were found in her house after her death, but I would not like to say yes to this for sure.

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