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The memoirs of Cissie Ewen


Life in service


I remember while working there, one day Bobby noticed I was wearing a nice collar on my dress and he said, "You have Mammy's collar on. Take it off". At that moment, his mother came on the scene and explained to him it was no longer hers; she had given it to me.

I also remember another time while there; I was wearing a lovely long-sleeved blouse I had got from her. It was a fine, soft sort of material, and while busy at the gas stove adjusting the pots over the gas rings, I reached over the front one (which I had on high) to see to the pot on the back ring. The flame ran right up my arm to my shoulder and down again and the sleeve did not burn, nor turn black, nor even smell of smoke. It looked just the same, but I got a big fright. There was no one else in the house, and I had been in a hurry to get the dinner started. There was another time when I was alone in the house, it was a big two-storey one, and I heard a voice saying "There's someone at the door." I thought I had imagined it, but I still went to look; there was no one there. The same thing happened a second time. I began to feel nervous on my way to the back of the house where I had been busy. I passed through the kitchen, and heard it again and found it came from a relative's parrot that they were taking care of. They had not mentioned it could talk. After that, I heard it saying quite a few sentences.

I also bring to mind when they were preparing to move to Wallsend. Mr Bradbury had their only car to travel to work in Newcastle, and they wanted to go up to clean and get their new house ready for moving their furniture in to. Mrs Wood, her daughter, Bobby and I went by bus, each of us taking with us something that we would need while there; I took the kettle. It was early morning, and the bus was crowded with people on their way to work, so we had to stand in the aisle. Each time the bus stopped or started, I noticed the chap in the seat near me giving me black looks. I had no idea why until Mrs Bradbury said, "Cissie, put the kettle down on the floor." She told me when we got off the bus, that each time the bus stopped or started, the kettle had spouted water down the back of the man's neck! Once they moved to Wallsend I found it was too far and too expensive to travel each day: I started looking for another job.

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