Mick Westhorpe (Gerald Edward) – 27th November 1930 – 11th April 2016

Mick Westhorpe, 27 November 1930 - 11 April 2016

My father has died.

For me it started with a phone call from a shopkeeper in Brecon on Friday morning, 1st April. For my dad, it started a few minutes earlier when he fell and hit his head on the kerb outside her shop. She told me that he was conscious but had probably broken his nose and the ambulance was taking him to Merthyr Tydfil. After liaising with my brother Mike, I set off for Merthyr expecting to take Dad home to Brecon, make him a meal, and generally try to cheer him up.

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My mum’s wonderful sewing machine

Here it is! A classy old sewing machine, with a bakelite light fitting (on the other side) and a motor too!

A couple of months back my dad gave me mum’s old sewing machine. It was in the way at his place, and my sister-in-law didn’t want it as she has her own mothers – sewing machines are obviously things to hand down.

I wasn’t sure I’d ever use it, the spirit being willing, but time and the requisite skills and experience were all lacking, so it sat in the conservatory doing service as a table (it all neatly folds up in its own cabinet).

… and this is all the gubbins below. Flywheel, treadle, and a neat little half moon box for spare needles and bobbins and things.

THEN … the zip on my trusty jacket failed me. I do tend to get attached to my clothes. This jacket was a Christmas present from Pam, Caerthan’s mum, a couple of years back now and has been worn almost continuously, bar the hot days, since then. So as well as being a great article of clothing, and supremely practical for Pistyll Gwyn, it has sentimental value. So the time was right for the sewing machine to come out of its cabinet and shine, and it did!

It is a beautiful piece of machinery, and the way it sits in the cabinet, which has its own little box for things like the bobbins and oil can etc is just a delight. And it is SOLID. And iron. And ornate. It’s operated by a treadle, but it has had a motor fitted, so you don’t have to keep treadling continuously, and also a little light added – all mod cons. The electric cable is that old furry stuff you used to see many years ago so it was nostalgia hits all round.

I hadn’t got a clue where to start of course, so I got out the ancient, and rather tiny, instruction book and started at the beginning … how to thread the bobbin … how to thread the needle … I was up and running in no time and after a bit of practice I decided to go for the zip.

I’d found a replacement zip the day before on eBay  (£3.99 from a place up north, with free delivery that arrived less than 24 hours after I ordered it, so  they get my vote – Pro-Sew-Darlington), and I’d already carefully removed the old zip leaving the jacket all gaping and horrible, so well past the point of no return.

And I just did it. It hadn’t helped that Caerthan had sucked in air between his teeth saying how notoriously difficult zips are – well what does he know! I now have a jacket with a brand new zip and I know how to my work my mum’s wonderful sewing machine. She’d be proud, I reckon.

I then went out, skidded on the hillside and landed flat on my back in a muddy puddle, so the jacket got a wash as well!