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Saturday, December 9, 2023
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I wish I’d paid more attention to mum and dad

Helen Blaby reflects on some things she wishes she had asked about when she had the chance…

I really wish I’d paid more attention to things that Mum and Dad told me about their past, and the history of our home town.

Recently I was thinking about places that Dad had worked. I have a vivid memory of going to a shoe factory with him that made ballet shoes. No great surprise that we went to shoe factories here in Northamptonshire, but extensive internet research….well, putting “ballet shoes 1970s Northamptonshire” hadn’t come up with where we’d actually been.

I seemed to remember that this place had made shoes for some rather famous people, and that there was a shute in the reception area that we would shout up to get a man to come down to see us. Please bear in mind that this was probably more than 30 years ago, so my memory isn’t that great! I talked about it on the air and a few people called to say they thought they knew the place I was talking about, but couldn’t remember exactly where it was. Now, I think it was called Fried’s – and I know that Fried’s are actually a London company, who have been making ballet shoes for the rich and famous for a long time. Does anyone remember a branch here in Northamptonshire? Someone has told me that they think it might have been somewhere over Wellingborough way.

Dad had a series of jobs when I was a little girl, and I seem to remember he also worked at a place called “Rushden’s” driving the minibus to pick up the ladies who worked there. Lots of lovely older ladies who spoiled me rotten (I was quite an angelic child, I have no idea what happened!!) Again, extensive internet research hasn’t been particularly helpful. I have no idea where this place was, or what it does…just that it had a minibus and a canteen with vending machines that I think Mum was in charge of cleaning!

The “wish I’d asked” has come to a head though after I find myself with a box full of photographs of people that I might be related to, but have no idea who they are.
Some of them have names written on them, and I’m sure Mum told me who they were at the time, but now I don’t know if they’re uncles, cousins…..you know what I mean.
I did recently find some new relatives, when I said to a lady at the bowls club that if she was related to the Harpole Frosts then she and I must be family. Turns out we are second cousins.
So, I might just start smiling at everyone I pass in the street, just in case it turns out we’re related!

I'm the editor and owner of The NeneQuirer.

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