"When I was growing up in a large Catholic family on a West Yorkshire council estate during the 1950's, our parents used to walk all the children to church in Cleckheaton and back each Sunday; a round journey of some three miles. We would walk down 'The New Road' and always pass the most beautiful of privately-owned properties that were occupied by doctors, accountants, police inspectors, retired army colonels and the like.
There was one house half-way down which was different to all the others, and which oozed charm by the bucket load. It was much smaller than the rest of the large 1940's/1950's red-bricked properties that had grown up around it and had been built in the previous century. It was mid-Victorian in age and had roses growing around its porch that framed the old lintels of its frontage.
This was my mother's favourite property of all the houses our walk to church took us by each week, and as we approached the cottage she would say, 'One day, Billy, we'll live in a house with flowers around its door. It will be our own little cottage.'
My mother was never the material type and having given birth to seven children, she had always been poor, yet remained unstintingly generous until the day she died. As a rule, she didn't covet things belonging to another and I suppose that the little cottage represented a dream it pleased her to have, although she knew in her heart of hearts that the dream would never come true. Had I ever won the lottery in my lifetime (or rather the football pools that was then the nation's weekly flutter), I was determined that the very first thing I would buy for my mother was that little cottage. I had visualised the purchase on many an occasion over the following years. I would approach the little cottage in question, knock on its door (as idyllic cottages display no vulgarities at its entrance such as doorbells), and make the owner of the property an offer they couldn't refuse, even if I'd to pay three times its value to persuade them to sell! I'd then wrap a huge ribbon around its chimney with a gigantic message that mum would read the next time she walked past the cottage on her way to church. The message would read, 'To the best mum in the world from her children.'
My mother died at the early age of 64 years in April 1986, and until the last three years of her life when she and dad moved to a small council flat, she lived in the family home; a three bed-roomed council house on Windybank Estate, Liversedge. Mum never did get to live in her little country cottage, but if you are listening in up there, Mum, be pleased that I now do. It doesn't have a garden, but my Sheila frequently fills it with flowers inside and I grow roses around its door entrance. We also have a lovely allotment nearby and every year we plant a red rose in your memory.
The good thing I learned from mum, among the many valuable lessons she taught me was that dreaming is never a waste of time. I now know that no dream was ever designed to be owned by one person only and that the beauty of one person's dream is that it will always come true, if not for them, then for another." William Forde: December 13th, 2017.