Bromsgrove writer who penned ‘Brummie Musical’ Wallop Mrs Cox brings main character back for COVID-19 isolation blog

Euan Rose

THE BROMSGROVE writer of the book for the ‘Brummie musical’ Wallop Mrs Cox has written COVID-19 isolation blog from the point of view of the piece’s main character.

Wallop Mrs Cox, penned by Euan Rose in 1998, told the story of a Bull Ring market trader family as seen through the eyes of its tough Brummie matriarch, Emily Cox (nee Partridge).

Emily was born in Summer Row at the end of the First World War and was the only surviving child of seven siblings – all of the others died in outbreaks of various diseases. She married a young greengrocer Lenny Cox and together they sired a dynasty of 13 children.

The story, a tale of resilience against all odds over many decades, was spoken directly by Emily to the audience in a series of monologues. Lenny is sadly killed-in-action in the Second World War somewhere in the desert, leaving Emily to run the business and bring up the family on her own.

Her first-born son Lenny Junior also loses his life in the 1974 Birmingham Pub bombings.

Featuring memorable songs written by local songwriter Laurie Hornsby, Wallop Mrs. Cox started at the Crescent Theatre where presenter and historian Carl Chin played ‘the narrator.’

There followed two sell out runs at the Birmingham Rep featuring BBC Hereford and Worcester’s Malcolm Boyden as the third generation and grandson Lenny and then a few years later in 2010 a new version ran at the Birmingham Hippodrome featuring Ed James of Heart FM.

Euan Rose directed the original production at the Crescent with multi award-winning director John Adams taking up the mantle for the REP and the Hippodrome. The musical director and arranger was Alan Warner. Many of the members of the huge casts have gone on to enjoy very successful careers in theatre.

Every performance from the first at the Crescent to the last at the Hippodrome sold out and always received long standing ovations from proud Brummies – The Times in its five-star review said ‘…London has ‘Me and My Girl’ Liverpool has ‘Blood Brothers’ and now Birmingham has ‘Wallop Mrs Cox…’ Never before had Birmingham received so much attention and ironically it even featured Emily having a run in with the Peaky Blinders – 15 years before they became a worldwide gangster phenomenon.

‘Wallop’ continued to be the most talked about Birmingham show over the last two decades – though it was never performed in its entirety since the Hippodrome. A concert version of it was used to open the newly-refurbished Birmingham Town Hall.

Euan wrote the story to be so relevant that Emily’s final speech is always made on the day she dies. With the challenge of Coronavirus facing us, he wondered how Emily would deal with the isolation, so has started a series of ‘blogs’ from the 101-year-old from her home in Bromsgrove where the Cox family have moved her a few years earlier.

Point blank refusing to go in a home, the centenarian shares her views on her isolation.

Here is the first instalment.

The Remarkable Mrs Cox Blog – Lockdown Day One

OH LENNY, wish you was here with me, mate. Never thought I’d be doing this ‘isolating’ as they’re callin’ it!

Isolation – just a posh word for separation if you ask me! Also known as ‘keeping yourself remote’ or just plain lonely. Truth is, I’ve been in isolation in me heart for the last 75 years since I lost you back in the war. Somewhere in the desert – never got to find out where. The family went out to Normandy to that Bayeux cemetery – didn’t go meself – tomb of the Unknown Soldier. Could do that from here – close me eyes and there you am, with me – like now.

Isolation indeed! What’s in a name, ay? Actually – and you’ll be surprised at me knowing this – isolating’s what Robinson Crusoe did on that desert island he was cast away on, ‘cept of course it worn’t by choice, he was shipwrecked see when his boat capsized. He worn’t on his own neither – he met a chum ‘Man Friday’ he called him – cause he found him on a Friday, see.

Some folks who were going to stick him in the stew pot with a few carrots and eat him for Sunday dinner had dumped Friday there. He made off and hid afore they got the top off the pepper pot though.

I know all this how? ‘Cause I’ve just read the book by Daniel Defoe – yes me! It were given to me as a nipper one Christmas by the Summer Row vicar – he wrote on the first page: ‘Dear Emily hoping your adventures prove to be a little less precarious than Crusoe’s. With best wishes from Reverend Forester, December 25th 1926’.

I’d have been seven and suppose old Forester felt sorry for me ‘cause we’d buried two of me brothers that year too. That was a bug – or a ‘bug-ger’ as me mum called it – got them both. Had five brothers and a sister ‘bugger-ed’ over the years. Lot of folk did – s’why we had big families. Just like yow and me – bakers dozen we had – down to the magnificent seven now – lost count of the number of grand and great grand kids but know all their names when I see ’em, which of course I won’t be for three months what with this isolation malarky.

Any road that book ‘us moved with me from hos to hos and I’ve never had time nor the inclination to read it ’til now. I thought ‘Emily Cox yow’m Crusoed too and mebe yow could pick up a few tips from Robbo’.

Well that was a bit of a waste of time as I won’t be mekin a grass hut or roasting a wild boar over the next 12 weeks. Nearest I get to a man Friday is Elvis the postie. He knocks the door and retreats out the gate and shouts at me through his mask ‘You alright Mrs Cox?’ I say ‘Yes thank you bab’ And orf he toddles.

Would you believe it Lenny, this germ that’s doing all the hos wrecking here is called ‘Corona’ – used to be the pop man Corona – American cream soda, dandelion and burdock and others.

Got me telegrams from the queen on the wall, one for reaching the ton and for making it to 101. I’m determined to make it to 102 too – not just to get another telegram but to hold all our grandkids again.

Nice here in Bromsgrove – miss the city of course and miss not going down the Bullring most of all. Family tekin’ phone orders and drop it in the carboot when the punters come to collect. Inventive as ever, us Coxes!

Meks me laugh to see that Peaky Blinder series – as you know I saw the real ones off back in the day when they wanted money off the pitch. Sliced an ear off one I did – took the razor from his cap and sliced his lug-ole clean off.

What a life eh – oh now I’m gonna ‘av a brew and get ready for Charlie and the Aussie convict Cox’s to Skype me – Skype indeed – rhymes with tripe – like Redferns in the BullRing back in the day – took your own plate in to get it filled up remember?

Any road up no more memories for now whilst I tackle this technology.

The Remarkable Mrs Cox Blog – Lockdown Day 2  – Our Queen and our Stephanie

MRS COX continues her isolation by chatting with her husband Lenny who died 75 years earlier – just at the end of the Second World War.

Hello mate – first orf I must tell you I watched Lizzie last night and ‘er brought a lump to me throat – sprightly young thing she is a 93 – eight years younger than me. Wonder if she’ll send herself a telegram when she joins the three-figure club?

Wonderous speech though – just the right tone – made me feel I was together with everyone not just ‘ere on me own and to top of it all ‘er says “we’ll meet again”. Well I was singing me ‘ed orf and sobbing at the same time. Reminded me of our Winnie banging it out on the front room joanna when we all come out of the Anderson that night Kings Norton got flattened in the Blitz.

We’ll meet again – Don’t know where – Don’t know when – But I know we’ll meet again some sunny day. ‘Cept we were never gonna meet again were we, mate? Well not this side of Peter’s waiting room.

Loads of folks must be feelin’ better after listening. I told our Stephanie to listen – ‘ope she did? She rang me about an hour before – I was watching sommat about sharks – like them nature programs.

Any road Stephanie – she was the first born of Gladys (one of the twins, other being Doris of course) rang to cheer me up she said – well all she did was goo on about how terrible the news was and that her neighbour’s cousin had been taken in and was on one of them venta-watchyamacallits.

I said “Stephanie your great Grandad  – my Lenny – allus said when someone come out with something like that; ‘I once knew a man –who once knew a man who saw purple ‘orses ridin’ by’ “. ‘Er paused to cop her breath and it was obvious she dain’t ave a clue what I was on about so I said “Worry about what yer know- not what you don’t. Fix what you can – forget about what you can’t. Family first  our Steph – family first. Yow worry about your Olivia”.

“I am Gran-Grans I am”  ‘er says givin’ it that full on Brummagem whinge.  Olivia’s pregnant see and I knew what was comin’ next so I says “Now Stephanie afore you go off on what’s occurring – just remember I had three on yer in ’39, ’40 and ’41 – with bombs droppin’ and allsorts. Our Doreen – our last one, Lenny, and the one you never got to hold – why, she came out in the shelter with Mrs Patton from number 46 acting as midwife with a bucket of water and a towel wrapped up in an ‘ot water bottle.

So I concludes as forcefully as I can “whatever your Olivia’s  facin’ at them maternity watsits mek sure she does it joyously – like a Cox allus does. Why when ‘er babbie’s time comes in a few months – it’ll be real cuddles again you mark my words”.

Think I sorted ‘er ‘ed out – hope so anyway. ‘Nite Lenny – daft I know but I feel you’re actually ‘ere.

The Remarkable Mrs Cox Blog – Lockdown Day 3 – Boris, Spanners and Curry on Wheels

Mrs Cox continues her isolation by chatting with her husband Lenny who died 75 years earlier – just at the end of the Second World War.

Gordon Bennett they’m droppin’ like ninepins, Lenny. Everytime I turn on the wireless and there’s someone else gone down with the pop. T’aint choosy neither – even copt Prime Minister Boris – in intensive care he wus; touch and go poor mite. I mean, allus got him down as a bit of a clown – but since he got elected and ‘ad to face this lot he’s certainly grown a pair.

He wus really statesman-like when he talked to us from the podium the first time. D’aint lecture – though some of course thought he should – no he tried to mek us part of the answer if you follow me?

Came across as a regular bloke, norra toff. I mean he daint sign up for this really – he was expecting it all about that Brexit malarkey and he’d be battling about fish and stuff, not bugs – all that seems a million miles away now.

No there’s a lot about Winnie in Boris – ‘Cometh the hour – cometh the man’ it seems. Why, he was outside number 10 clappin’ his dannies with the rest on us – well I wasn’t clappin on account of the arthritis in me fingers but I was a banging a biscuit tin with a wooden spoon. Looking back though– he did look more than a mite peaky. Anyway seems he’s on the mend thank ‘eavens.

Eric’s eldest, Alex – or ‘Spanners’ as I calls ‘im – on account of him bein’ a tradey of course – an all rounder when it comes to fixin’ homes and gardens too for that matter – where was I? Oh yes he rang us this mornin’ to see if I was alright. Good Cox family spirit – look after each other and everything else will look after itself – s’what you said and what I allus told ‘em all.

Anyways, Spanners is a cheeky wag – always there with a a witticism to lighten the day. I was feelin’ down after hearing about Boris but Spanners says “I’m just checkin Gran-Grans you ‘ent got yourself a toy boy moved in. Not allowed – unless yow kep your social distance”

“You’m a cheeky begger Spanners and no mistake!” I retorts and then we talked about his family – Amber his wife’s an ‘airdresser but she ain’t doin’ none of that coiffuring at the moment and so ‘as turned ‘er ‘and to baking. “Got a slice of Victoria Sponge with fresh cream to drop off to you and Amber says you alright for bog roll?”

Well, I was down to me last two as it happens and apparently it’s rarer than rockin’ horse poo in the shops but Spanners bein’ Spanners ‘knows people’. I think it’s what they call a new paper currency. That’s what Spanner said – unless of course he was jesting me?

Anyway he comes round with me cake and a pack of nine loo rolls – he put ‘em on the doorstep and then steps back outside the gate and we ‘ad a nice little chat about how his kids are passing their days. “D’you know Gran Gran they’m goin’ to be beggin’ to get back to school when the time comes.”

Oh another thing happened – nice thing – chap from one of them Indian places came at the same time as Spanners was gesticulating. Kept ‘is distance like and spoke from his van window. He’d took it upon ‘iself to bring free curry suppers to us golden oldies. ‘Course Spanners tries to nob one too but he sens Spanners on ‘is boike – they shared a laugh and I had the curry for dinner. Not sommat I’d do as routine – but it was much appreciated.

In fact wee’m all startin’ to appreciate things again Lenny – we miss what we ‘ad – yus, me ‘an all –what I miss is the family hugs – that more than anything. What we took for granted.

The Remarkable Mrs Cox Blog – Lockdown Day 4 – The Aussies, the Mask maker and the Editor

Mrs Cox continues her isolation by chatting with her husband Lenny who died 75 years earlier – just at the end of the Second World War.

I think you’ll be proud on me Lenny – two reasons – fust I was sittin’ in me chair at the bedroom windoo as I do of a mornin’ ‘avin a contemplate – when I clocks these kids a yaharing about on the bench across the rowad.

“Oy braindead” I shouts “keep ya cowin’ distances”.

“We’m exercising missis” the one whelp says. “Well exercise yaw common an’ keep apart – better still – bugger orf back indoors afore I call Dixon of Dock Green”

They left wid their tails ‘tween their legs but I did feel loike I was the sourpuss at the knees up – gooin’ around stoppin’ folk from havin’ fun when all they wants is a bitta crack to relieve the tedium. Nippers corn’t be nippers at the mo – t’aint natural.

‘Ere do you remember that New Years Eve when we did that conga down Livery Street? Must ‘av been nigh on a hundred of us arms round the one in front ‘on ya and a woodbine in yer mouth. “aye aye conga aye aye conga, do-do-do ado a conga-do…” Ooh, me back! Quite enough of that.

Where was I? Oh yez this FaceToime malarkey! Just call us ‘Heinstein’ Lenny, yow wouldn’t cop yer breath – I only gorn and mastered it! Got the voice before but now oy got pictures un all. Wondrous stuff – Charlie ‘n Suzettes clan. Yow’ll recall as he and that floosie wench Gloria h’emigrated on that Arcadian ship for a tenner back end of the 50s? Lot of water gorn under the bridge since then – Gloria ditched Charlie for a sheep farmer within weks. I knew it Lenny – tried to tell Charlie but he wouldn’t av’ it – any road Charlie soon found this Aussie wench Suzzette – or rather she found ‘im when he cum to work for ‘er Dad doin’ swimming pool maintenance. Well, she soon realised he wornt cut out for that – only swimming pool Charlie ud ever sen wus at Smethick Baths.

So they started a Cox-style market stall together– only the best produce unpolished to shine. Dun well out onit un all they ud four beautiful kids together – ‘course he’s a sprightly septuagenarian now and so’s ‘is Suzette ‘cept she ‘ent so sprightly on account as ‘er ‘ad a stroke last year.

Any road t’was the first time I’d seen ‘em live – videos yes but this was live. Marvellous this FaceToime thingy Spanners got me. Kids and Grandad kids all wavin’ and sayin’ “Hi Granma Cox!” Suppose I should ‘ave med the effort and gorn really – but never been on a ‘plane. If the good lord ‘ad wanted us ter fly ‘eed gid us wings – said it then, say it now. Call me stubborn, if ya like! Then you allus did. Loike when I wouldn’t give inta dem blinders. Peaky ‘bugger ended up wid one ear after I Vincent Van Gough’ed ‘im that day back in ’29. Taught them blinders not to mess wi’ the Coxes.

Any road, as I was sayin’ (got distracted – me age an’ I’m allowed) Charlie’s gotta lovely ‘owse on the beach in place called Newcastle somewhere north of Sydney, a coal-mining town jus’ like our Newcastle yus to be. They all look looked normal – not like convicts at all. We’ll be Facetsittin’ every Friday now – night-toime for them, morning ‘ere. Not as it makes much difference ‘ter me.

Ooooh update on Boris – he’s beaten the pop Lenny, wi’ the ‘elp of them wonderful NHS frontliners. Out of isolation and back on the ward. Brung a tear it did – reason to be cheerful as Doreen’s eldest Josie’s always sayin’.

“What’s your reason to be cheerful today gran-grans?” “Dunno pet” I says – mebbe because I saw Yer Uncle Charlie on Facething this mornin – what’s yorn?”

“Well there’s cowslips and forget-me-nots growin’ where the council ain’t bin cutting’ the grass, it am so good for the bees ‘un the butterflys – like nature tellin’ us to be thankful” ‘er says.

“All things bright ‘un beautiful” I says. “Used to sing that with my mother – I’ll be smiling all day rememberin’ that – thank you Josie, pet”

“S’alroigh’ gran-gran”

Honestly Lenny, she’s so much like Doreen her Mum – bit of a dreamer but hardest worker on the pitch as I recall. Josie’s a grafter too. Since she cor work at ‘er normal job – due to it bein’ furlonged or whatever they call it – ‘er set to work makin’ face masks for all the folk in ‘er road and beyond.

No point in me ‘avin one though as I cor go out for three months. Mebbe selfish but breks me up a bit that I cor goo shoppin’ for meself since the pop – then again folk standin’ in line with their trolleys for an hour wearing masks ‘ent my idea of fun neither.

Mind yow that’s become a bit on a farce – folks out foraging from the crack a dawn waitin’ for supermarkets to open. I’m sure they’re just hoardin’.

That’s the bit that t’aint like the war at all Lenny – there we daint have much so we med do – now they have too much! Them’s all becoming lardy pants through stayin’ in and scoffin’ nine meals a cowin’ day – I kid you not mate.

I sen pictures of the queues outside Morrisons and ASDA on the Bromsgrove Standard website – Spanners showed me how to computer it afore the lock in. Local news and a break from all the gloom and doom on telly. That bloke with the poncey name runs it – Tinkerbell or sommat – Tinkerbell ‘Arris I think. Nice chap despite ‘is name – “I’m very committed to the community” he says when he cums round to see us when I was one hundred and one.

Brought me a bag of doughnuts – which he proceeded to eat ‘iself.

“What’s the secret of you longevity Mrs Cox?” he asked me

“Well I rub parsley seeds in me ‘air to stop it fallin out and gargle every day with elderflower and vinegar” I told ‘im!

Night Lenny – another day dun mate, another day nearer the new D-Day – deliverance from the Pop.

The Remarkable Mrs Cox blog – Lockdown Day 5 – The Chugger and Captain Tom

Mrs Cox continues her isolation by chatting with her husband Lenny who died 75 years earlier; just at the end of the Second World War.

You’d loike this little place I live in Lenny – cottages they call ‘em but more of a block of nointeen forties maisonettes. They’m were some sort of tied ouses for Salt workers kin, from what I’ve gleamed from Elvis the postie.

Four little blocks of four all set in one garden with a few benches and a rose gardin. I’m upstairs at number four and from me back winda Oy can see roight across to where the canal gus through the field – can even see the tops o the barges. From the front oy cops the main road to where there’s a bench on the pavement on the other soide.

Up the road one way is a gardin centre with a posh tea room, which of course is all closed up at the moment. Down t’other way is a post office a garage and a pub.

Normally I can sit in the window at the back for a bit of tranquillity and sit at the front and watch folk a gooin up and down – now it’s got the traffic of a cemetery.

We’m all in the twilight of our lives, us as lives ‘ere and I suppose I’m the most anti-social one of the bunch. Happy with me family chats on the blower and with me memories. You know me Lenny, never one to mince me words. Number of times I had to put that naire do well brother of yourn Ernie in his place – ‘Uncle Ernie’ as everyone referred to ‘im. Ran the book in the Bullring back in the day and made a nice black market profit outta the war whilst yow lorst ya life – never could forgive im for that. Med me bitter.

Anyway what I’m getting round to ‘is Florence Nightingale as I calls ‘er that lives downs stairs at number two is up at ‘er window like a rat up a drainpipe wherenever I as a visitor till I’m sick on it.

I’m talkin afore the lockup of course. “Yo’llright Mrs Cox” she’s shout out of the window she’s open which is just a foot from my front door. “Yes thank you Mrs Wilson,” I’d respond delighting in not introducing ‘er. “How many times have I said, call me Flo?” er would comment. “Dunno” I’d say as pow faced as I could muster “Yow tell me?”

Er still din’t tek the ‘int! Now of course on the rare occasions that I ‘as a visitor, ‘er cor open the winda on account of keepin’ her social distance as they call it. Stupid title if yow ask me – nuthink social about it – anti-social more loike!

Flo’s a chugger y’see Lenny and a course she cor do any chugging at the mo as there’s no chuggers allowed outside the supermarkets no more. Flo ‘ud med a vocation out of chuggin’ – Mondays and Thursdays ‘er chugged for the Lifeboats, Tuesdays and Fridays t’wer the Dogs ‘om and if yow wus wonderin’ about Wednesdays why ‘er volunteered at the Sali Army shop on the ‘igh street.

Inerferin’, dogoodin’, busybody chugger in my opinion – ‘cept un yow allus sed to me to not judge a book by lookin at it’s colour – or did yow say cover? – cor remember – slipped me mind. Not important really, ‘cept yesterday I wus doing me little walk we’m allowed once a day – just up the rohd loike. Well on the way back I clocked the chugger lookin’ all forlorn at ‘er winda. Looked like ‘erd been blartin’ so I stops a respectful distance away and gesticulates for ‘er to open the winda – which she does.

“Y’all roite Mrs Wilson?” I asks as we do knowin’ their not.

“Not really” ‘er says. ‘Just had a phone call to say that my niece who’s a nurse at the Royal Worcester has been put on a ventilator. Touch and go whether she will make it”

Well Lenny I thought to meself that I’d ben a bit ‘arsh in ‘er direction. We chatted for quite a while and I did me best to get her pecker up. Seems er’s never been married and er only family is ‘er brother and ‘is two daughters. They’m both nurses one of which is bad with the pop.

Med a point of callin’ ‘er Flo when I left and told ‘er t’call us Emily. I’ll say a little prayer for her niece tonight – but don’t tell no-one moind as I’m not really that way inclined.

Now we ‘ave us a new ‘ero that’s captured the nation in the most unlikely way Lenny. He’s a sprightly ninety-noine and is pushin’ ‘is zimmer round his gardin’ in his blazer and war medals to raise money for the NHS. Set out to raise a grand and would yow believe it – only passed the twenty million smackeronny mark now. Captain Tom he is and he’s quoit roightly the nations pin up boy.

Must get Spanners to tell me ow I can make a donation meself. Or there again I could ask the chugger – she’ll know for sure.

Coco and kip now so I’ll sign off mate.

The Remarkable Mrs Cox blog – Lockdown Day 6 – The Pop Charts and the Great Cox’s Bake Off

Lenny. Yow remember how we used to listen to the radio every day during the war for encouraging words from Downing Street? Well it’s pretty much the same thing now every day at foive on the telly yow gets a minister at one podium and scientific chaps on either soide. Honest to gawd some of them look like they’m straight outa school – the politicians that it – the science folks ain’t in white coats which I think they should be if they’m real scientists but am in scruffy old sports jackets – like they’ve been dressed by Oxfam.

If you ask me, it’s created an ‘ol new language n’all this pandemonia business – loike when the politicians ‘r asked a question they says they’m “Followin’ the scientific evidence” that means – they aint got a cowin clue in my opinion!

Then there’s that furlonging – I ask you what kinda word am that? Apparently it means’ payin’ folk to stay at ‘ome . Which of course am the roight and proper thing to do for the working mon. When I say mon I mean woman un all – think I may be rambling a bit, Lenny. I’m a bit mithered today but let me just say – used to be eight furlongs in a mile when I was at school so I don’t ‘old wit this smart arse epeak – causes consternation!

Then there’s these charts – ‘Top of the Pops’ I calls it. Pop being as we understand the word Corona man a course – Any road it shows how many more people’s been hospitalised it un ‘ow many poor souls av lost their lives that day to the pop, So sad Lenny. They’m all somebodies Mum or Dad or Gran or Grandadad or son or daughter and even babbies–pawr babbies who never did no ‘arm to anyone and ain’t hardly had a chance to kop a breath.

After the speeches comes the wors’ bit – the press start on’em like a pack of unleashed hyenas – modern day Lord Haw Haws they am. “Apologise for this” they scream and “Aren’t yow ashamed of that”. This to folks as am doin’ their best and barely gettin’ an ‘our of kip a day. “We’m supposed to be in this together yow morons” I scream at the telly. Meks me sik, Lenny, Sik on it so I am mate.

Enough maudlin’ – goo barmy if yowm not careful – un I may be many things Lenny but barmy taint one in ‘em.

Oh good news – Boris is back – bit breathy and lorst a few pounds which won’t do ‘im no ‘ arm at all. Humbler too – seconds away from bein’ tekin away by the pop man wud ‘ave a profound effect on anyone.

New leader of the labour party too Sir Keir Starmer – he seems a good chap n’all – don’t need no red robbos at the moment – Keir and Boris could be as successful as Morecombe and Wise given a chance I reckon. ‘Ope so.

I know you had no time for politicians of any colour which is why I’ve never voted for noone ever except of course for our son ‘Orace but that wus different cause he was family. Poor mite took years to get selected un win the seat for Selly Oak first goo – then pops ‘is clogs when shekin ‘ands with Neil Kinnock on is first day in the hos! Should of stuck to workin’ in the markets and Brummagem – no good ever cum from a Cox gooin down the smoke.

That’s another thing I thought on – back in the 50s we had the flu and the smog. The flu wus every bit as nasty as the pop in my opinion and the smog was so thick yow couldn’t see or breathe. Someone said over 100,000 folk died in that palaver. Survived – that we did – and survive this we will. Least the yung uns will and so they should. Lots of young Cox’s with lots of dreams to live out.

Speakin’ of the family they’m all inta baking cakes and buns at the moment then they talk to each other on the computers on sommat called Zoom and ‘av mad Cox’s partys drinkin’ tay and chompin cake wid Spanners leadin’ the witticisms

Talkin’ a Spanners – he brung us some rock cakes he’d made iself this mornin’ but to tell yow the truth I nearly bust me jaw bone on ‘em. Give one to Flo downstairs at my request he dun an’ all – ope ‘r don’t crack ‘er dentures

No my Cox’s Bake Off award goos t’ Stephanie’s Olivia – er as is due to bring a new Cox into the world come Joune – not that I’ve tasted ’em, but the pictures of e’r brownies look the business.

Bluebells are out in the back gardin Lenny – beautiful they am – skies um blue too – a bright blue – sort of bonus for no planes and cars about. Weird and wonderful world this world – just gos to show – naire mind save the planet – as that wonderous Attenborough chap says “The planet will allus look after itself” – its us as needs savin’ – in more ways than one.

Night Lenny – love you mate

The Remarkable Mrs Cox Blog – Lockdown Day 7 – Bullring Memories and camping out in Evesham

“Get your leeks ‘ere girls – lovely leeks – tek a butchers at me tatters too – fresh up from Evesham they am – apples a-pound a pair”

That wus the furst words I ‘erd you spek Lenny. That day in the Bullring market all them years agoo. Yow looked like Rudolf Valentino to me – the Prince of the Bull Ring

“D’yow fancy an apple?” you said. “They do look noice” I replies, all tongue tied

“Ave this one on me –it’s a Cox like me – I’m a Cox – Lenny Cox”

Oh Lenny you wus a charmer and no mistake– There wus me barely 16, nevr ‘ad a boyfriend – allus been a bit of a tomboy till I met you. Then we wus married not seven months later.

They say young love don’t last but ours did – through thick and thin – good and bad – un I still love you as much today as I did the day we tied the knot that day in Saint Martin’s.

Yow remember them young market wags made us an arch of honour with their little wooden two wheel barras. Best roses from the gypsy girls who spit on them so they shone, even a bottle of champagne purloined from somewhere by your brother Ernie the bookie. The kids followed ‘im loike ‘e wus the Pied Piper – “The birds do the singing and the bees mek the honey –The mugs do the puntin’ and the bookie teks’ the money!”

Ha ha Ho ho – ‘appiest day of my loife.

“Do yow Emily tek Leonard to be your lawful wedded husband to have and too hold to love honour and obey as long as yow both shall live?”

Never bin more certain than anything in my life – though the obeying bit went a bit astray for all the best reasons of course and I never ‘erd yow complain.

Weddings ay? Should be joyous and where are we with ‘em today?

So many weddings ‘ave ‘ad to be postponed or cancelled altogether – another sad consequence of the Pop Lenny – can’t even ‘ave a proper funeral at the moment neither – no more than a couple of people allowed to be there and no hugs.

Life ‘as changed in a matter of weeks. D’you know what Elvis the postie told me today when he brung me a parcel of biscuits from Stephanie? Pikeys ‘ud set up camp on Evesham high street. Caravans, ‘oses, camp fires the lot. Roight in the middle of the High Street “Well I don’t think that’s such a bad thing” I says.

“Un they sound proper travellers not loike some on them motorised pikeys. Genuine travellers add a bit of colour and are part of our ‘eritage.

We used to have gentlemen of the road as we called the back then too – solitary travellers. Lived under the stars and passed by mebbe once a year – knocked on your door and told your fortune or sold you a bit of firewood, a bunch of ‘eather or a few clothes pegs. No trouble and fascinating tellers of tales if yow cared to listen.

They’s long gone – no gentlemen today – Last toime I was up in town ther wus a load of scruffy beggers ‘just sittin’ in shop doorways – not nice ones – druggies – even their dogs seem drugged. Well I hope they’ve got cleaned up and rejuvenated during this visitation of the four horsemen of the Pop – I mean there’s so much more to loife than tekin nasty drugs – I’m sure they’ve all got a story – lets ope its now got more off an ‘appy ending.

The ‘bring out yer dead toll” am gooin down now – day on day. Seems loike it’s the end of the beginning as opposed to the beginning of the end which give us all the wobbles seven weeks ago. The big ‘ospitals they built overnight ‘ave barely got anyone in them and that’s got to be a good thing – even though the be-grugers are sayin’ it was money wasted. Better to plan for the worst and pray for the best –someone said – and they was spot on. Everyone can be an expert after the event.

Mind you, we have the wost figures in Europe apparently when it comes to countin’ up the number of poor folk as av died of the pop. That depends of course on ‘ow they counts the figures is the politicians response – don’t give a monkeys either way – just sad for the mites as left behind.

Haha that captain Tom got promoted to Colonel on is birthday and they even giv’ him a fly past of Spitfires. Oh that was a joyous sound – the Spitfire engines in the war. Over 30million is raised now. Could do with more Colonel Toms and less moanin Mini’s.

Last night was the Thursday night clap and knees-up to cheer on our front liners and I’m proud that everyone on our block now turns out. We bang our pots and pans and cheer and wave to one another – Gran’s Army I calls it.

Spekin’ of which good news on the Flo front – her niece is orf the ventabulator thingy and is breathin’ on ‘er ‘own. Er’ll be back ‘om soon I reckon.

‘An Flo – er says to me last noight at the end of the clap “Emily – I was thinking of organising a socially distanced whist drive in the back garden for all us ladies – what do you think”

Well what I thought was “I cor think of anythink I’d rather do less yow annoying little midgit’ but what I actually said was “Oh Flo what a lovely idea!

Noight Lenny – love you mate

The Remarkable Mrs Cox Blog – Lockdown Day 8 – Telephone Porkies and Uncle Ernie’s shenanigans

There’s no denying yower late brother Ernie was no saint – medda few bob in the Bullring Lenny and yow know I daint approve of some of his black-market moonshines especially them fake fivers – but I cor cop me breath about what happened this morning. ‘Onest to gawd there’s some slippery beggars afoot.

There wus I ‘avin a nice brew afore I started on me contribution to our VE Day garden party food. I wus planning on mekin coronation chicken sandwiches with the crusts cut off – thought the ladies in these flats would like them like that on account of them lookin’ a bit lardi-da and also easier on those as am a bit gumless. To be fair yow can count me in that number – gumless. Only got four of me own teeth left now and the rest am all feke.

But gumless I mebbe Lenny gormless I’m not – so when the blower goes and interrupts me plans I was disconcerted as I daint recognise the voice

“Am I speaking to the lady of the house?” a bloke asks

“You am – why? I asks

“Ah” he says “that’s good – now can I just check your name.

“Mrs Cox” I tells him “Emily Cox”

“That’s correct Emily” he says. “This is the Government Department of Pensions and I am pleased to tell you that there has been a bank error in your favour and you are due a payment of £500. We just need to confirm a few details.”

Well for a minute me heart leapt for joy an I wus about to give ‘im me pension number which I know orf by ‘eart – then I remembered us old ‘uns ‘ad bin warned to be on the look out for scammers

“Yower nom Ernie?” I asks ‘im.

“No it’s not its Hugo – now Emily if we could just take your bank details so I can process the money”

“Well Hugo” I says “It’s Mrs Cox to you and I think your bank error is about as real as the one on the Monopoly board. In fact I think yow’m a conivin’ little toerag and to chose this toime of isolation to try and con an old lady am more than criminal – it’s cowin’ wicked! Yow mek me sik –if I could see ya – I’d deck ya – done that afore to many a bloke – now retreat beneath whatever stone you cum from under”

Of course Hugo ‘ud gawn long afore I’d finished me piece but I cor stop – you know me Lenny.

Any road today that nastiness aside tomorrow is May 8th and 75 years ago back in 1945 Winnie told us all our efforts ‘ad paid orf and we’d won the war. He declared a public holiday in celebration and my word did we party.

Victory wus something we all believed would ‘appen despite the odds. Like the Pop now – we believe some clever clogs will wave ‘is or ‘ers magic wand and give us a vaccine and soon and be nice if it um British – share it of course – but we do seem to ‘ave bin a bit behind other countries in the pop wars so far – so be nice if we could ‘ave a BVV day – that’s what Elvis the postie called it when he was pontificating to moi from his six foot social distance. British Vaccine Victory Mrs Cox – that’s what we need. Now Flo thinks Elvis is a bit jingoistic as ‘er calls it – but I loikes Elvis’s patriotism – why he even had a Union Jack brooch pinned on ‘is turban.

Well the sandwiches um dun – cut the crusts orf in the morning. Must admit I’m excited about tommorrah.

Night Lenny love ya mate

The Remarkable Mrs Cox Blog – Lockdown Day 9 – Celebrating VE Day then and now

You know Lenny today wus supposed to be a repeat of 1945 with street parties up and down the land. Course as we’m all in lockdown and that put paid to any repetition of the boisterousness. But rather than lettin’ the pop spoil all our fun – two fingers wus raised and we all did as we wus encouraged – mek merry but kep yower distance.

Back then a’course I celebrated loike a fiend along with everyone else. Told you I was doing it for us both I did Lenny and imagined you wus dancin’ with me in Victoria Street. No social distancing then there worn’t – packed loike sardines in one giant can, bouncing up and down a’ singing un a’ shoutin’ till we wus horse and the sun ud come up.

There wus bonfires in the streets and a lot of kissin’ and hugging and other things which we won’t go into – suffice it to say yower Ernie fer one wus loike a pig in clover. Shouldn’t be still resentful that he cum back and you dain’t but all he did was cop a bullet in his bum and they sent im ‘ome. Probably running the other way he wus at the toime if you ask me.

No sooner back then he was a carrying on with half a dozen wenches who’s chaps was away and he worn’t seen for three days from VE day – jack the lad he mebbe but it daint amuse me then or now. Although of course he ended ‘is days in a wheelchair a mumbling an’ grumbling ol’ bugger.

Ha Ha – wonder how he’d be with the ladies here if he was still around? Not doin’ the monkey walk ‘ere would he? More the mobility line dance!

Any road enough about Ernie – given ‘im far too much ‘ed space.

Yow moight ‘av guessed who elected ‘erself the cell block organiser for our golden girls party – Flo the chugger! “May I put myself forward as the co-ordinator ‘er says – I was in communications in the war after all.”

“Un’ oi wus pedlin the land gals produce in the market I tells ‘er – plus getting’ scrap metal on an ‘and cart wid me kids to melt down to mek guns. But O’im happy for yow to coordinate Flo – tek it you’ve talked to the others?”

“I have Emily and I’ve got pies and puddings being made, I’m doing a lemon drizzle cake and I was hoping to put you down for sandwiches.”

“That’s foine Flo – though they should be beef dripping sandwiches un homity pie if we was doing it correctly” I retorted.

Well we all deposited our food on a trestle table in the centre of the lawn and sat a respectable distance from each other in a circle and took it in turns to go up and grab sommat. We drank Mrs Banhams from number eight’s rhubarb wine, which was surprisingly pleasant and listened to Winnie’s aold speech on the wireless at three o’clock.

This wus followed by a good old chinwag as we all went down our respective memory lanes. Outsoide for nearly three hours in the end we wus – then we sung ‘We’ll Meet Again’ – badly – and dispersed.

In the evening there wus another speech from Lizzie – D’yow know Lenny ‘er ‘ad ‘er’at o ‘er desk as her wore when she worked in the ATS during the war. Stayed in London during the blitz ‘er did too.

Lizzie’ll be an ‘ard act ta follow – ‘ope they survive the Royals – aint been the best of years for ‘em – lot of folk say they’m an irrelevance in today’s world and maybe they ‘am but ‘er words brung me and many other folk a bit of comfort tonight – just like her dad’s, did back in the war.

Been an exciting day Lenny – I think oi’ll sleep well – love ya mate

The Remarkable Mrs Cox Blog – Lockdown Day 10  – Lop-bop-a-loobop-a lop-bam-boom

Oh Lenny this won’t mean so much to you as it was a bit after your toime but a chap whose music was always being sung by our Eric and Ernie on the pitch died today. Little Richard as he went by – not long ‘ad is 87th birthday.

‘Lop bop a loo bop a lop bam boom’ wus ‘is lyrics to his first big hit Tutti Frutti back in 1956 when a course he was 23.

Breath of fresh air he was un all and he sort of heralded in the end of the war austerity- along wid Elvis the Pelvis a course – who I loved un all – but not as much as Little Richard.

He dain’t do ballads, just boisterous stuff that jus med you wanna move loike you got ants in yer pants. Amongst others he sung  ‘Long Tall Sally and ‘Good Golly Miss Molly’ as I recall. Used to like a good bop to them with the kids.

I seen ‘im loive at Brumaggem town ‘all – Lenny Junior got up a Cox shara trip as a treat. I think Jerry Lee Lewis was on the bill too ? or wus that another toime?

I know that the be-bop- a – lula chap was – that Gene Vincent, and ‘is band the Bluecaps.

Little Richard had a white satin suit on that was loike,  three toimes too big for ‘im and he banged on that Joanna as if he was a wrestling a grizzly bear. He wus what young Lenny called a piano pounder see – whereas Jerry Lee was more what you’d call ‘intricate’.

Rock ‘n’ Roll ey Lenny – you’d ‘ave loved it. I mean yow loiked nothin’ better than to ‘ave a jitterbug down the Casino back a Lewis’s when we ‘ad an occasional night out.

Then a course we went to Tony’s, the Palais de Danse and even that Madame Amy’s – but that wus a bit too serious for us that one – we were strictly come dancin’ for the fun you and me. Course we dain’t go that often and more often than not I wus pregnant but that dain’t stop us day it? Oh there’s nothing loike dressin’ up as the belle of the ball and goo’in uptown on the arms of your mon!

We saw that Henry Hall and  Jack Hylton – wondrous band leaders they was. And of course we dain’t see him but we both loved that Glenn Miller as disappeared when his plane went down somewhere on December 15th 1944 – funny how yow remember dates. Cor remember what I did yesterday but remember when Glenn Miller copt it  – loike it were yesterday

Barabadup dup dooda – rup pup a doda rup pup a doodle diddle dum

That was my version of American Patrol by the way Lenny.

H’any heave-nin – hany day – you’d find uall a-doin the Lambeth Walk.

And that wus the Lambeth Walk- which we did – yow un me

H’any heave-nin – hany day – you’d find uall a-doin the Lambeth Walk

Ha ha – Ho-ho – oops a daisy easy does it Emillee.

Well Little Richard you cheered me up then and thinkin’ on ya bucked me up a treat today. Rest in Peace chap – though I’m sure you’ll be a Lop Bop a Lu bopping up in ‘eavan given ‘alf a chance.

Not really much else to report today Lenny, Just another day in Lockdown Popland

Noight Lenny

Day 11 Coming Soon