21 February 2011

Sally, Nottingham Newspaper Seller and Pavement Artist. And Friends

Pome

Sir Micheal McMinn made a rule,
Which applied not to Scrabble nor Poole,
He said,
        Practical Christianity,
        Leeds to insanity,
& Solumnly slid off his stool.
                                          Boom Boom.

The 'Pome' and the sketch are by Sally, whose surname I forget, but who was once a noted figure on Nottingham streets selling first the rebel weekly Nottingham News, and then selling the regular Nottingham Evening Post. She was noted by most people who passed because they found it rather incongruous to hear a female voice (I think all had previously been male) calling out 'Post' in a delicate, highly 'posh' sounding accent. Later, she graduated to pavement artist, making highly elaborate (and really rather clever) chalk drawings on the street around Lister Gate, Nottingham. She has long been gone, and judging by a few Nottingham nostalgia forums, no one knows where, although they certainly miss her.

The person in the idiosyncratically spelt poem and the diagram is Mick McMinn, who was also known as 'Luton Mick' after his town of origin to avoid confusion with a surfeit of Micks, and he was a friend of mine and a very close friend of Sally's and her partner Sam's. The drawing points to Mick's love of pool, scrabble, and alcohol, moving from upright position on a bar stool to a skeletal heap on the floor, still clutching his drink and reaching for the last letter of the alphabet. Mick told me that all of Sally's chalk drawings were about him or him and Sam, and as I've no way of proving otherwise I'll have to believe it. On several occasions, I had a drink in city center pubs in the company of the three of them, and I remember at least one evening being with Mick, his partner Polly, Sally, and my ex-wife at Mick's house. Sally was usually quite quiet, but when she did speak it was often with a wit that was impossible to match.

And Mick told such stories about Sally and Sam. How about their day trip to Skegness, when they boarded the train out with an empty wheelie bin, all the Nottingham folk on the coast were in generous holiday mood seeing Sally do her pavement artist routine, and of course the merry pair had great difficulty hauling the bin onto the return train as it was full to the brim with money.

But Mick was obviously in awe of both of them, fascinated by their antics, and was evidently distressed when his own partner Polly barred them from visiting their house in Sneinton, although I forget why. He said that the following evening, Sally and Sam both stood on the doorstep drenched in tears and begging forgiveness. They were, of course, forgiven.

Do I believe all this?

Well...fictionalized biography makes for interesting stories, and these are just a few of many Mick told me about Sally (and Sam), but then, we are talking about people who seemed larger than life.

As for Mick, it's many years since I last saw him, but he wasn't drinking at all then.


A seated Sally selling (or rather reading) Nottingham Evening Post.

Finally, I recently noticed this fine shot of Sally which Dave Armstrong has very kindly given me permission to reproduce here. It's a lovely photo of her, with the apparent incongruity of the flamboyant hat mixed with the duffel coat accurately capturing the way she was. And her face registers the timidity, the fragility behind her eccentricity. A superb portrait.

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

thanks for this nice post 111213

Anonymous said...

Umm.

Anonymous said...

thanks for this tips

mixsy Mcminn said...

This poem is about my dad