Mother Putting Son To Bed


When I was a boy I can remember that warm woolly feeling of being tucked up into bed by my mum each night. I shared a bedroom with my sister and I can remember waiting for our mum to come and kiss us goodnight. I don’t think duvets existed in the seventies and you slid under layers of sheets that needing “tucking in”.


Before going to sleep I’d consume The Tiger & Scorcher comics, Ladybird books or Enid Blyton’s Secret Seven / The Famous Five novels. I’d have one last look at my Evel Knievel poster before turning to the wall and falling asleep. If I heard (through the wall) the closing theme to The Sweeney or the donging bell of The News At Ten it was very late. I still have that Even Knievel poster and was so mad on him I used to write to him at PO Box 505, Butte, Montana about my jumps and wheelies I did on my Tomahawk and Grifter bikes. I couldn’t believe it when he returned a signed photograph (see bottom of this screen.)


Being three years older my sister usually stayed up reading but I can remember power cuts in the 1970's and her reading by candle flame. There was no central heating then and the room was warmed by a smelly mobile gas fire that puttered as the gas expired. If it was freezing outside we were allowed all three tiles on. It was sometimes freezing inside and I can remember frost on the inside of the windowpane. One summer we were going to Brixham in Devon for a week. We were setting off in the middle of the night and I can remember my dad pulling back the bed sheets, lifting me out of my warm bed and carrying me down to back seat of the Ford Escort (registration plate ATU 183K.) Travelling down the motorway in my pyjamas was heady stuff.


I still have dreams set in that bedroom. I didn’t even have a real bed – it was a large wood panel with a mattress on it. If I had a blocked nose my mum would wait for me to fall asleep then rub some Vic on my chest. If a tooth had fallen out she’d put 10p under the pillow from the fairies (for 10p you could buy a packet of crisps, a wafer and a Wagon Wheel). Golden days they were. Being a kid cocooned in a womb of cloying security and love was gratifying. Everything me and my sister did was interesting, life orbited around us, we were top priority. These days I’m nobody’s top priority - the whippets I walk and the fox I feed over the road nightly might miss me - and the Tax Man seems to think I’m important.


Up to the day before my mum went to Christie’s and died she would bob her head into my bedroom and wish me goodnight. It was a settling full stop to end the day. Here here is a painting of a woman tucking in her son. I’ve put the woman in a dress as I can’t recall my mum wearing anything but a frock or skirt – ever. In her world there was no androgyny. I also painted the dress a dark blue for, after she’d died, my dad found about 20 blue skirts in her wardrobes (mostly Marks & Spencer.)


With barely any detail to paint this one came together quickly. I wish I had recorded my mum’s voice as she said goodnight but I can still hear it in my head. Yes, golden days they were.












My mum who put me and my sister to bed every night (circa 1970.)