111 Places in Fir Vale…Michael Glover

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Baby Michael and his family pictured on the cover of his autobiography
Baby Michael and his family pictured on the cover of his autobiography
Baby Michael and his family pictured on the cover of his autobiography
Baby Michael and his family pictured on the cover of his autobiography

Story by Carrie Hedderwick

Pre Christmas and a whole table in Waterstones laden with silver covered copies of ‘111 Places in Sheffield that you shouldn’t miss’ by Michael Glover – quite a promotion!

So who is Michael Glover? Well, he’s a Fir Vale lad who was born and brought up on Coningsby Road, went to Firshill School, then Firth Park Grammar, and studied English at Cambridge. He has regularly contributed to several national newspapers; he has produced seven collections of poetry, edited Mirror Books and an online poetry forum The Bow Wow Shop. In 2011 he wrote Headlong into Pennilessness, an autobiographical account of his early life in Fir Vale. I came across his poetry six years ago on boarding around the building site of Moor market, alongside photos of Fir Vale from the 1950s. In a subsequent Off the Shelf Festival, Michael gave a talk at Firth Park Library. Well, I had to buy a copy of his book! Headlong into Pennilessness is the story of a boy who grew up without a father in a poor terraced house without a bathroom or an indoor lavatory. In that tiny house, surrounded by a slew of relatives, often at war with each other, he incubated his dreams of becoming a writer. The book brings alive the excitement of Guy Fawkes Night, Whitsuntide parades, annual holidays by coach to Blackpool, seeing the young Dylan, The Beatles, and Roy Orbison at City Hall and of his school experiences.

The structure of the book is interesting – focusing chapters on each room in the house to trigger so many detailed memories. So – In the Kitchen, The Cellar, The Front Room, The Staircase, The Front Bedroom, The Back Bedroom, The Attic. As relatives moved away, the family dynamics changed, as did the fashions in home décor. By the time he left for Cambridge, there was just his grandfather, his mother and himself. The wreckers’ ball demolished the top of Coningsby Road in the early 1980s – long after Michael left. His mother was defiant and stayed on to the last but finally returned to where she had been brought up – near Crimicar Lane. Michael says she was almost never happy in the company of near neighbours anywhere, so the move did not provide the perfect answer to this ‘plucky nuisance of a woman.’ His concluding paragraph states that ‘there is no removing oneself from what one was once upon a time. And what one was once, will remain forever’ So what was your family house like, what dramas were played out there, what disasters, what pleasures? Borrow the 2011 book, or buy the new one….and start to write your own.

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