My Mother told me this story earlier this week. I've written it down verbatim, I think it's storytelling perfection. (For context, she was 19 when she had me, she was unmarried and living in social housing with my Catholic grand parents, in Liverpool).
"My Mother hadn't knitted for years until I told her I was pregnant with you. She said,
'Go over to number 27 and ask Margey McQueen for some patterns and some knitting needles.'
So I did. I went over to number 27 and I said,
'Margey, me mum said, can I have some patterns and some needles?'
She said, 'What do you want with them then girl?'
I said, 'I just found out that I'm pregnant Margey.'
Margey said, 'Friggin' 'ell! What did your Mother say like?'
I said, 'She said "'Go over to number 27 and ask Margey McQueen for some patterns and some knitting needles."'
Isn't that THEBESTSTORYEVER?
Margey McQueen is a familiar spectre from my infancy. Though I don't remember her at all, she stalks through nostalgic remembrances like this one; council estate queen, kind-hearted, generous, tough as old boots. She was a cleaning lady and used to ride on the back of her husband's moped to work each day. Seems fitting for a McQueen to ride a motorbike, no?
I swear, on Spring days I can SEE her on that moped, whizzing by in her navy crimplene slacks, flat sandals, oversized cardigan with pockets stuffed full of fags and lose change, a pink round neck t-shirt over a bulging bra, hands full of sovereign rings, glinting like a magpie, decked out, necklaces upon necklaces spelling out MUM and MARGEY. Half Roman Holiday half Greaty market, partial to half a stout, a martyr to her back pains, handy with her fists when she needs to be, shoulder pads saturated with all the tears that had been sobbed on her shoulder over the years. I think about her saving up for Christmas, putting money in the toni, teary-eyed at her grand daughter's first holy communion, threatening to throw her husband out if he made a show of her one more time.
She couldn't have known that she'd be remembered decades down the line by someone who's first pieces of clothing came from knitting patterns she'd kept in plastic sleeves in the magazine rack at the side of the couch, for just such a situation to arise, could she? These every day acts of kindness, support without judgement, keep the world on its axis, and make me proud and grateful to have been raised by working class women. God bless you Margey McQueen! <3