I Gotta Horse

Saturday was our day for visiting the market with mother to get supplies for the week.  Our local market was in Ridley Road and I have written about street markets before – if you are interested in my meanderings here is the link – Down Memory Lane.

But Sundays we were taken to another market by father and  here we discovered Prince Monolulu and his catch cry “I gotta horse”.   Prince Monolulu (real name was Peter Mackay) was a huge, larger than life West Indian gent togged out in his finery and offering tips on the horses to anyone who would listen.  He made his money selling tips, handed over in sealed envelopes.  As there were few immigrants in London at the time, and this flamboyant person in both speech and dress was a figure of great interest to the three little girls and I suppose, most of the other people who came into contact with him.  He was a well recognised character at most of the racetracks from the 1930s to the 1950s but of course we never were taken to the racetrack.

Petticoat Lane was where we first came across him and where he was to be found most Sundays.  He was easily recognisable in his outrageous clothes and usually sporting a hat of high feathers.  All the colours of the rainbow could be seen in his clothing.  While Petticoat Lane has become a tourist destination for those visiting the capital, for us it was place to be taken by father while mother prepared the Sunday lunch.  The stalls here were full of clothes, shoes etc a delight to three young girls who could look enviously but not buy.

But more exciting for us was the nearby Brick Lane market – often confused with Petticoat Lane.  Here were the costermoners selling their wares.  Everything from beautiful fresh fruit and vegetables to clothes, china, kitchenware, jewellery etc etc.  And there did seem to be a lot of stalls selling bath towels and sheets and pillow cases.  Of course the fruit and vegetables were fresh as they only sold what was in season.  No transporting of produce around the world then or at least not for those of us who lived in the East End.

There were always puppies and older dogs for sale and in fact when we moved from the flat to the house this is where father bought our first dog – Tex the Alsatian.  I am not sure that this was such a good choice at first.  Three little girls who were unused to having pets and suddenly we had an Alsatian.  But we quickly grew to love him and to realise that he wouldn’t hurt us but woe betide anyone who came too near when we were out with him.  He was a very large, gentle animal and while I don’t remember how long we had him it seemed that he was our constant companion while we were growing up.

We must all have been living at home when Tex died because I recall my elder sister going to the Lane and buying Micky a Heinz 57 Variety dog whom we all immediately fell in love with.  However Mickey turned out to be Michelle and subsequently had a litter of beautiful pups.  There was great consternation when it was discovered “he” was pregnant and many hours spent wondering when this happened as “he” rarely went out without us.  So we had to find homes for all these puppies – I think there were 4 or 5.  They were so cute that we had no trouble re-homing them but mother declared there would be no more pups and had the dog neutered.  But my how mother loved that little dog who was her constant companion when the girls and father were all out all day at work or at the weekends, at play.  There was a series of dogs that followed in the footsteps of Tex and Micky after we left home but I don’t think any were as loved as were those two.

I do remember that father had a Dalmatian who was deaf and so was kept on a short lead when father walked him just in case..  And mother had a particularly bad-tempered Corgi who would nip at the children’s’ ankles whenever it had the chance.

So many memories of an East End childhood that I want to share as things are so very different now and if we don’t record our memories they will be lost as are the memories of my parents and grandparents.

“Circumstances or people can take away your material possessions, they can take away your money, and they can take away your health. But no one can ever take away your precious memories.
So, don’t forget to make time and take the opportunities to make memories everyday.”
Judith Baxter Mother, sister, blogger and friend
1938 –

 

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34 thoughts on “I Gotta Horse

  1. I was strolling with you on Memory Lane…I lived in London for one year near Nottinghill Gate and very close to Portobello Road, which then was much like Brick Lane Market. Perhaps it still is? Delightful story about Mickey/Michelle reminding me of a similar situation with my three daughters and their pet rabbits! lol Love your Mother’s quote at the end! So true! Delightful memory!

    • I am glad that good memories were revived when reading this. thanks for the comment and by the way the quote at the end is mine, not Mother’s.

  2. I lived in Hackney for a while in the early 70’s and Petticoat Lane was a Sunday treat. Fresh doughnuts from the Jewish bakery and all the stalls to look at. I well remember the pet shops and stalls selling birds which may have been Brick Lane.
    Going to Soho and having coffee or lunch in a bistro was great and a visit to Carnaby Street which was still going strong was exciting as I was only twenty back then. There were things in London I’d never come across before, cider ice lollies, pease pudding, pie, mash and liquor shops and of course things I couldn’t buy which got puzzled looks when asked for in the shops like Barm Cakes ( bread rolls) and Dandelion & Burdock pop.
    Memories eh ?

    • I had left there well before you arrived. But always on visits “home” we went to the market on Sunday. I love just strolling quietly down memory lane.

  3. I remember Prince Monolulu – he would never have got anywhere under his real name! – and his slogan. I always thought he really was a genuine Prince, so exotic! Thanks for the memories …

  4. Oh yes bringing back so many memories and Prince Monolulu who to us young children very ezxotic and a bit scary having never seen anyone quite lie him in our lives. There were so many dogs and puppies but the older dogs were really very sad had definately been mistreated according to our Dad. Remember the Jewish Bakeries the only bakery open on a Sunday getting bagels to take home to go with our tea later along with the salad cockles,winkles and prawns etc. This of course was after having one of our Mum’s wonderful roast dinners at lunch time. No take away like now. The only take away would be fish & Chips on friday for our evening meal. Happy Days.Tex brought the memories flooding back he was little as a pup and us three was so scare of him what a wonderful dog. I may have a picture of him somewhere. Our first pet.

    • Thanks Marianne. Aren’t we lucky to have these great memories of growing up. Is Brick Lane still as colourful? I haven’t been there for so many years. And if you could find a photo of Tex that would be fantastic.

  5. For me too, memories of the Pearly Kings and Queens and the man who sold dinner sets with a whole row of dinner plates lined up on his arm. We used to come into London from Loughton, Essex, on the Central line. Also fish and chips were the only take away we had – cod or plaice and chips. Unfortunately I am forgetting all these things as I get older so thank you for the memories. Joy

    • O yes, the dinner plates ont he man’s arm and the patter – “I’m not asking for five pounds etc”. Great memories of really quite innocent days.

  6. Lovely to read about your memories. And I agree, it is so important to record all this. I often wish I`d listened more carefully to my grandparents and their memories when I was growing up. Now most of their memories are lost forever.

    • I am working on keeping my memories in this blog or in my memory book for my grandchildren so they will know something of life so different to theirs.

  7. Your memories are so clear, Judith. I envy you for that. I wish I could remember more about my life. Once in awhile something will trigger a memory, but those times are fewer and fewer. Love hearing about your life, and I’m so glad you are writing this down for your family.

    • Hello Susan. Something brings a place or person to mind and then I am off down Memory Lane. I suppose it’s an element of getting older. Probably one of the good things about getting older.

  8. I can only remember two dogs who were family pets while we were growing up. First there was Nick, a collie type dog, black and white and born on Christmas Day – hence his name. He used to cause trouble at the local park when he used to get out, he would round up all of the children into one corner like sheep by nipping at their heels. I remember one day my Mum caught him by his collar and pulled him back up the hill from the park towards the house. He objected and gave her quite a nasty nip on her arm, then I remember he wasn’t there anymore.
    Next there was Toasty, a brownish coloured dog with the head of a bull terrier and the back legs of a whippet, strange looking dog but she was as dosey as anything. She used to lie down so close to the fire that her fur used to get singed, hence the name toasty.
    I remember we had Toasty twice … the first time she came she was really really naughty and we had to send her back to my Uncle who had Toasty’s mother as his pet. He got Toasty’s mother to train her, every time Toasty was naughty, he mother was told off and so after a while Toasty’s mother made Toasty behave.

    • Hi Sallyann thanks for dropping by. It’s amazing how these memories pop up from the depths. And each dog has a special place in our hearts. When we lived in Scotland we had a spaniel who too used lie too close to the fire and we would smell the hair singeing.

  9. Once again Judith, we connect. My memories are of puppies and dogs. They were “family.” We did not have a Brick Lane though. This is such a charming post with wonderful descriptions of the market, and with insight into why you are a dog lover now. Ditto!

    • Thanks Dor. I love sharing these memories from so long ago and really love that people such as you take time to read and comment. Oh yes, we do have a lot in common.

  10. Inspiring post my friend and yes, this I agree and I hope to remember always, “Circumstances or people can take away your material possessions, they can take away your money, and they can take away your health. But no one can ever take away your precious memories.
    So, don’t forget to make time and take the opportunities to make memories everyday.” Have a wonderful day.

  11. This was an interesting write. I love ‘memory lane’. It utterly utterly fascinates me that where I take up space right here and now, someone else will in the future – and how will things have changed then, etc etc.

  12. Thanks, Judith, for sharing your precious memories. Memories like these are precious indeed. I have these memories too that kids couldn’t have everything that was on offer. Kids seem to be treated somewhat differently these days – – –
    Here in Australia we liked to go with the kids on holidays at Sussex Inlet where there were always a lot of kangaroos about. The kids favourite was ‘Broken Nose’. He was an outstanding kangaroo and seemed to be the leader in the group. Then one year all of a sudden we noticed that the ‘He’ was really a ‘She’. Broken nose did have a pouch and carried a young one in it! We knew it was definitely ‘Broken Nose’ for the shape of the nose was the same as it had always been. Surprise, surprise: This tall kangaroo, which we had always regarded as a male, was actually a mum.

  13. When I first left home at 18, I lived in the East End of London for a couple of years and my regular haunts were Plaistow and Bethnal Green. As you say, it’s all changed now. 🙂 Nice to look back sometimes.

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