Stone Toes


Joe Cool (1760-1833), Jay Cool’s Great-Great-Great Grandfather, from  Myddle, Shropshire



I don’t recall having too many conversations with my Grandad, Arnold Cool, as I spent most of my time during family visits to Single Lane, taking a wide berth around his armchair, for fear of my leg being grabbed and my foot tickled.
I think Arnold thought that the sole purpose of a Grandaughter was to be a victim of torture, but I hated having my feet tickled, so much so that I brain-trained [1] myself not to be respond – with the phrase: I am not ticklish, I am not ticklish, I am not ticklish …. on repeat play. This did eventually work and was a long-term success as, to this day, I can honestly say that I am not the slightest bit ticklish.


But although one-to-one conversations with Grandad were few and far between, I do remember, with some clarity (due to the volume) his rants, mainly aimed at my mother,[2]about the idle youth of today (or more precisely now, the idle youth of the 1980s).  During our stays at Single Lane, Albrighton, Grandad would descend his self-made-masterpiece-of-a-virtually-vertical staircase, having forced himself out of bed just before midday, and only just in time for his dinner – and proceed to hurl derogatory statements about his grandchildren around the sitting-room.


“What you all sitting around for doing nothing, you lazy good- for- nothings? Your Nan’s in the kitchen working hard, making sure you have food on your plates and what are you doing? When I was your age, I was out at work earning my keep. Scroungers – that’s what you are!


I’ll have you know that My Great- Great Grandfather got out of bed at five in the morning, walked nine miles to Shrewsbury, completed a whole day’s work shifting great big stones for Lord Hill’s Column (3), and then walked the nine miles back to his home in Myddle.

And what are you lot doing? Nothing! Just lazing around being waited on ……”

My brother and I didn’t dare point out to Grandad the irony of his statement; he himself had only just got out of bed. My Nanna, Joan Cool (nee. Tossem), had been up at half-past five clearing out the hearth of yesterday’s ashes and re-laying it with coal and wood, with the last day barely completed.
I loved watching her sweep out the white ash with a brass handled brush, and arranging twisted rolls of newspaper in between fresh coals and logs to give the new day a heads up. But, I wasn’t so keen, on accompanying Nanna, in the freezing- cold-winter weather, on miserably-dark mornings, to fetch coal from the bunker, or logs from the wood store adjacent to the outhouse.

[1] Why modern-day Nintendo game designers have claimed the concept of ‘Brain Training’ for themselves and made lots of money out of it, has given me cause for major concern; in fact, I have considered suing them for copyright. I may, possibly put this idea to the next cold-caller who persuades me to pick up my phone and respond to their declaration that I have suffered from an incident for which I can claim for. (I will let you know their response!)
[2] Nothing much changes. Even today, parents-in-law, perpetually torment their daughters-in-law about their complete lack of parenting skills.
[3] If only my Great-Great-Great Grandfather, Joe Cool, had known that his Great-Great-Great Grandaughter was going to blog about his efforts, he would have thought that every little pang from his aching feet was a moment like none other, a moment to be inscribed into stone – a moment to be immortalised! 
Copyright owned by Jay Cool, 2017
Images: The photo of Lord Hill’s Column was taken by Keith Havercroft, is Creative Commons Licensed, and is available at: The ‘stone foot’ is a Creative Commons image from Pixabay.


Published by The Silly-Savvy Salopian

Freelance writer and descendant of the cave dweller and outlaw, Humphrey Kynaston. Banished from Shropshire for my eccentricity, I have made my home in Suffolk. I write poetry, short stories, travel journals, comedy gig reviews and non-fiction articles. My wish is to write my way back into the heart of my birth land. All writing commissions (and free holidays in Shropshire!) considered.

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