Tuesday, March 20, 2018

TO AUSTRALIA

     One evening, as I was on mi way home from riding mi bike around with a couple of pals, I met   the next door neighbor.  As I was leaning mi bike against the wall he said,
"G'day. How are ya? My names Bruce Whipp. We've lived next door to each other for months and I've never really met ya."
"Hello. My names Richard. Where are you from? You can't be from around these parts 'cause you don't speak like everyone else does."
     Mr. Whipp had a good chuckle to himself. Ya noticed it did ya mate. After all these years of living in Yorkshire and being married to a Yorkshire girl, I still can't get rid of mi Aussie accent."
"What do you mean, 'Aussie'?"
"I come from Australia. Anyone who comes from there is called  an 'Aussie'. It's sort of a nickname."
What's it like, living in Australia?", I asked.
"She's a beaut' place mate. Gods' own country it is. In fact, me and the family are going back home in a couple of months. I had a job offer from a firm I used to work for before I came to England."

     As soon as I heard the word 'Australia', it was like magic. It went into my brain and refused to leave.
"I'm going to live in Australia!", I said to Mr. Whipp, before we parted company.
"Are ya mate? Well good on ya.", he said. "If you ever do, I'll leave ya my phone number and address. You can look me up and I'll drive ya around Sydney on a guided tour. Got to go now. I'll see ya's later."

     As soon as I got inside the house, I said to Iris and mi step-dad, who were sat in their usual chairs.
"Guess what mum!"
"Now what?", she said without looking up from her knitting.
"I'm off to live in Australia as soon as I leave school."
"Where did you get that hair-brained scheme from?", she said.
"I just talked to Mr. Whipp next door. He was telling me what a great place it was so I decided that's where I'm going."
"Don't be so bloody daft Richard. Australia is thousands of miles away and you're only 14. You can forget all about Australia. You're not going anywhere. When you leave school at 15, you're going  to start that plumbing job you put your name down for."
"I don't want to be a plumber. I want to go to Australia and work on a farm. You can either help me to do that or not but if you don't help me, as soon as I'm 18 you can't stop me! When that day comes, I'll walk out of here and never come back. So, it's up to you what you decide but my mind's made up. I'm going to Australia whether you like it or not!"
"Don't you talk to me like that lad. Don't forget that I'm your mother. You'll do what I say, not what you want."
"Not this time.", I said as I started to walk up the stairs to bed. As soon as I got to the stairs to the first landing, I yelled back downstairs.
"Hey mum.", I said.
"What now.", she yelled back.
"I'll be in Australia before you know it. That means you'll only have one more Xmas to put up with me, then you and him can live a life of peace. I'll be long gone, out of your life. The only thing that will remain of me will be an old memory. You'll get what you want and I'll get what I want.  So there! Good night everyone."

     That night, as I lay in bed, all I could think about as I stared through the small attic skylight was Kangaroos, Aborigines and wide open spaces.
     The following weeks I kept up a constant nagging campaign at mi mother, just like she did to mi dad, until I got mi own way.

     Mi mum finally gave her consent for me to go to Australia with the Big Brother Movement. I was now in the middle of sending forms back and forth to London. The whole process took almost a year to complete.
     Bruce Whipp, the Australian who used to live next door to us had already packed in his job and taken his Yorkshire wife and three small children back to Australia. Before he left, he said to me that as soon as he had an address and phone number he would send it on to me. Being true to his word, I had his letter in my top drawer in mi bedroom.

     I told some of friends at school,
"I'll be leaving school earlier than you lot. I've been accepted in a program that takes boys under 18 to Australia and finds work for them on farms, out in the Bush.
"You're only joking with us Dick Lad.", they'd say. "You won't be leaving school before we do. You'll be stuck in Sowerby Bridge for the rest of your life, the same as us."
All right.", I said. "I won't say another word about it. You're right and I'm wrong. I'll be leaving school the same day as you lot."
"That's better Dick. It's unheard of to leave school before your time and whoever heard of a 15 year old boy going to Australia on his own! We got to hand it to you Dick, you sure can spin a good yarn. Where do you think them up from?"

     One of the forms from the Big Brother Movement stated that I must have two of each of the items they listed which eventually turned into two large suitcases of clothes. Along with a lot of other items, the list included two pairs of hobnail work boots, shirts, socks, work pants, sweaters, coats, undershirts and on and on it went.

     The days were flying past really fast now and I could see a little bit of light at the end of the tunnel. All the boyhood toys that had given me some comfort, over the years, had to be sold off and before long all that was left was clothes. 

     A week before I was due to leave home I had the sad task of going to mi dads' house to say goodbye to him.
     When I arrived at 36 Jubilee Terrace, I did what I always did, of looking through his window at him before I knocked. There he was, in the same old chair, with his old pint pot of tea balanced on the arm of the chair and the racing page of his newspaper was opened up in front of him. The races were being called on the TV. His legs were stretched out in front of him as he warmed his feet in front of the coal fire. 
     I tapped on his window and he jumped a good 6 inches out of his chair and then made his way to the door.
"You frightened the bloody life out of me.", he said as he opened the old blue door.
"Hello dad.". I said as I made mi way down the same passage where I'd walked hundreds of times before. 

     The old Grandfather clock was still ticking away at the end of the hallway. 
"What the bloody hell have you been up to lad?", he said to me as we made ourselves comfortable in his warm and cosy front room.
"Oh, I've been packing up mi suitcases ready for going to Australia next Saturday."
     I could tell he did not want to talk about me leaving 'cause he knew deep down in his heart that I would not be visiting him for a long time to come.
"How's ya sisters getting on? They never come to visit old Daddy Swindells. I suppose your mother and her new fancy man have brainwashed them into staying away from their old dad!"
"They'll probably come and visit you when they get a bit older."
     They were much younger then me in many ways when we all left here so they were more influenced than I was.

"I'm leaving for Australia next Saturday morning dad so I won't be coming round for a while anymore."
"Ah, you aren't going anywhere lad. You'll be here next Saturday afternoon and if not, you'll be here the following week."
     I could tell by the tone of his voice that he did not want to talk about my leaving home so for about an hour I just sat in his silence and watched him read his paper for the last time. At 5 O'clock, I knew it was my time to leave. I said to mi dad,
"All right dad, I'm going now."
"All right, I'll walk you to the door."

     When we got to his front door, I stepped over the threshold and stood on the top step. It was really hard to turn around and look at him 'cause I wasn't sure if I would ever see him again. As I turned and looked into his eyes, my heart felt like twice its size and a large, aching lump swelled up in my throat. Burning tears flooded my eyes which made it hard to see mi dads' face. I wiped them away as best I could on the sleeve of mi jacket. 

     Fifteen years of knowing mi dad flashed across my mind. Motor bikes, farm yards and Moors shot past at incredible speed. The emotions were now working overtime as we stood there in silence. So many things that were never said to each other and now it was too late.
"Look after yourself dad.", I managed to say. "I'll write to you from the boat and let you know what it's like."
"Neither me nor mi dad were much good at things like this. All of a sudden, mi dads' eyes flooded with tears. I had never seen him cry ever.  It was the first time in my life that I believed he really loved me. It's a shame that scene had not played itself out, a few years earlier. 

     I could no longer stand the pain of seeing mi dad cry so all I could say was,
"See ya later dad."
"I'y.", he said through a choked-up voice.
     I turned and made mi way down his steps. The old motor bike was still parked behind the small privet fence at the bottom of his garden. When I reached the front street, I turned and waved to him. He waved back at me, then went back inside his house and closed the old blue door.

     The tears were now flowing at full speed and along with them was a low aching moan which came from the depth of my being. The moan was a very deep, primal sound. It was the sort of sound one would hear come out of an old dog who had just lost his master. 

     By the time mi double-decker bus arrived, the moaning had stopped but the tears still kept trickling out of mi eyes. I jumped on the bus and ran upstairs before the driver could get started. 
The upstairs of the bus was quite empty. I sat down on a left-hand seat so I could get a last glimpse of mi dads' house, as the bus passed between a break in the row of houses in front of mi dads' row.      
     That last glimpse of mi dads' house was the last time I'd see mi dad for about seven years, although at that time I was not to know that.

    The bus conductor was a very sweet and considerate man. He had noticed how upset I was when I got on his bus. He took his time coming upstairs for the fare. When he eventually came upstairs, I said to him, 
"Sowerby Bridge please."
     After I'd given him the money, he punched out mi ticket and said to me,
"Are you alright lad?"
"I'y.", I said. "I'm going to Australia next Saturday. I just came to say goodbye to mi dad."
"Oh that's nice.", he said. "Soon as you get to Australia, you'll be too busy to get upset."


     I've tried many times, in my life to please everyone but it never worked out for me. Going to Australia is the best thing all around. Who knows what destiny has in store for me.

     As I walked home from school for the last time, I was really pleased with myself. No more detention, no more hard floggings with the head-masters' cane, no more inhuman school teachers trying to force their will on me. Ten years of my life had been spent at school and as far as I was concerned it had been nothing but a bad nightmare that I had just woken up from.

     The next morning, after a bit of breakfast, I said goodbye to mi two sisters. It was not as easy as I thought it would be.

     The taxi that mi mum had hired to take us to the train station had arrived, on time, to take us to where I would begin the first leg of a really long journey.
     At Southampton, I got the first glimpse of the biggest ship I had ever seen in my life. The one that would take me into the unknown.

     On board the ship, waiting for the departure of the Aurelia, I waved goodbye to mi mum mi stepdad as they stood on the dock with the other visitors.
'Oh shit! I thought as I watched mi mother start to cry really hard, 'What have you gone and done Richard? You've really done it this time, haven't you. There's no turning back now!'

     I stood against the ships railing, waving and crying until mi mother and mi stepdad were no longer in sight.

I was 15 years old then. At that point, I knew there would be no more childhood for me. I was now on mi own. Destiny had set the compass of my life in the direction of Sydney Australia!






Saturday, March 17, 2018

LEAVING FOR AUSTRALIA

     Mi mum had given her consent for me to go to Australia with the Big Brother Movement. I was now in the middle of sending forms back and forth to London. The whole process took almost a year to complete. Bruce Whipp, the Australian who used to live next door to us had already packed in his job and taken his Yorkshire wife and three small children back to Australia. Before he left, he said to me that as soon as he had an address and phone number he would send it on to me. Being true to his word, I had his letter in my top drawer in mi bedroom.
     It was almost Xmas now. the weather had turned icy cold and it like we were all in for a cold, hard Yorkshire winter. I had decided to make this Xmas mi last one with Elland Silver band because as well as leaving home for Australia, I had lost interest in playing brass band music.
     I told some of my friends at school,
"I'll be leaving school earlier than you lot. I've been accepted in a program that takes boys under 18 to Australia and finds work for them on farms, out in the Bush.
"You're only joking with us Dick Lad.", they'd say. "You won't be leaving school before we do. You'll be stuck in Sowerby Bridge for the rest of your life, the same as us."
All right.", I said. "I won't say another word about it. You're right and I'm wrong. I'll be leaving school the same day as you lot."
"That's better Dick. It's unheard of to leave school before your time and whoever heard of a 15 year old boy going to Australia on his own! We got to hand it to you Dick, you sure can spin a good yarn. Where do you think them up from?"
"Just joking lads.", I said.
     
     One of the forms from the Big Brother Movement stated that I must have two of each of the items they listed which eventually turned into two large suitcases of clothes. Along with a lot of other items, the list included two pairs of hobnail work boots, shirts, socks, work pants, sweaters, coats, undershirts and on and on it went.
     The days were flying past really fast now and I could see a little bit of light at the end of the tunnel. All the boyhood toys that had given me some comfort, over the years had to be sold off and before long all that was left was clothes. 
     A week before I was due to leave home I had the sad task of going to mi dads' house to say goodbye to him.
     When I arrived at 36 Jubilee Terrace, I did my normal little trick of looking through his window at him before I knocked. There he was, in the same old chair, with his old pint pot of tea balanced on the arm of the chair and the racing page of his newspaper was opened up in front of him. The races were being called on the TV. His legs were stretched out in front of him as he warmed his feet in front of the coal fire. 
     I tapped on his window and true to form, he jumped a good 6 inches out of his chair and then  made his way to the door.
"You frightened the bloody life out of me.", he said as he opened the old blue door.
"Hello dad.". I said as I made mi way down the same old passage where I'd walked hundreds of times before. 
     The old Grandfather clock was still ticking away at the end of the hallway. 
"What the bloody hell have you been up to lad?", he said to me as we made ourselves comfortable in his warm and cosy front room.
"Oh, I've been packing up mi suitcases ready for going to Australia next Saturday."
     I could tell he did not want to talk about me leaving 'cause he knew deep down in his heart that I would not be visiting him for a long time to come.
"How's ya sisters getting on? They never come to visit old Daddy Swindells. I suppose your mother and her new fancy man have brainwashed them into staying away from their old dad!"
"They'll probably come and visit you when they get a bit older."
     They were much younger then me in many ways when we all left here so they were more influenced than I was.
"I'm leaving for Australia next Saturday morning dad so I won't be coming round for a while anymore."
"Ah, you aren't going anywhere lad. You'll be here next Saturday afternoon and if not, you'll be here the following week."
     I could tell by the tone of his voice that he did not want to talk about my leaving home so for about an hour I just sat in his silence and watched him read his paper for the last time. At 5 O'clock, I knew it was my time to leave. I said to mi dad,
"All right dad, I'm going now."
"All right, I'll walk you to the door."
     When we got to his front door, I stepped over the threshold and stood on the top step. It was really hard to turn around and look at him 'cause I wasn't sure if I would ever see him again. As I turned and looked into his eyes, my heart felled like twice its size and a large, aching lump swelled up in my throat. Burning tears flooded my eyes which made it hard to see mi dads' face. I wiped them away as best I could on the sleeve of mi jacket. 
     Fifteen years of knowing mi dad flashed across my mind. Motor bikes, farm yards and Moors shot past at incredible speed. The emotions were now working overtime as we stood there in silence. So many things that were never said to each other and now it was too late.
"Look after yourself dad.", I managed to say in a voice I could no longer recognize. 
"I'll write to you from the boat and let you know what it's like."
"Neither me nor mi dad were much good at things like this. All of a sudden, mi dads' eyes flooded with tears. It was the first time in my life that I believed he really loved me. It's a shame that scene had not played itself out, a few years ago. That's the movie of life isn't it? Most of the time, we find out things when it's too late. 
     I could no longer stand the pain of seeing mi dad cry so all I could say was,
"See ya later dad."
"I'y.", he said through a choked-up voice.
     I turned and made mi way down his steps. The old motor bike was still parked behind the small privet fence at the bottom of his garden. When I reached the front street, I turned and waved to him. He waved back at me, then went back inside his house and closed the old blue door.
     I met mi dad in silence and I left him in silence. The tears were now flowing at full speed and along with them was a low aching moan which came from the depth of my being. The moan was a very deep, primal sound. It was the sort of sound one would hear come out of an old dog who had just lost his master. 
     By the time mi double-decker bus arrived, the moaning had stopped but the tears still kept trickling out of mi eyes. I jumped on the bus and ran upstairs before the driver could get started. 
The upstairs of the bus was quite empty. I sat down on a left-hand seat so I could get a last glimpse of mi dads' house, as the bus passed between a break in the row of houses in front of mi dads' row.      
     That last glimpse of mi dads' old blue door and the large front window next to it was the last time I'd see mi dad for about seven years, although at that time I was not to know that.

    The bus conductor was a very sweet and considerate man. He had noticed how upset I was when I got on his bus. He took his time coming upstairs for the fare. When he eventually came upstairs, I said to him, 
"Sowerby Bridge please."
     After I'd given him the money, he punched out mi ticket and said to me,
"Are you alright lad?"
"I'y.", I said. "I'm going to Australia next Saturday. I just came to say goodbye to mi dad."
"Oh that's nice.", he said. "Soon as you get to Australia, you'll be too busy to get upset."
     Once the conductor had gone downstairs again, I lit up a cigarette and contemplated all the good times that I'd had growing up with George, Richard, Henry, Walter Swindells.

     When I got back to Boston Street, Iris and Jim were making Saturday nights' tea. Mi mother could see how upset I was about leaving mi dad so neither of them said anything to me, for a while. After some time, mi mother said,
"You know it's still not too late to change your mind about going to Australia. You don't have to go if you don't want to."
"I'll be alright.", I said.
      It's the right thing to do. Anyway, what choice do I have in the matter? As far as I'm concerned choice is a total fantasy.
      
     

Friday, January 19, 2018

ONE STAR TRUMPET ~ INNGS FARM ©

     I can't remember how long it was until Xmas but I stuck to my word. On and on and on I went,
"I want a trumpet mum!"
     As it got closer to Xmas, mi mum said,
"What do you want for Xmas, Richard?"
     She  must be dafter than me, I thought.
"I want a trumpet!"
"You're not getting a bloody trumpet! Why can't you get that through your thick head?", she sez.
"Then I don't want nowt!"
     On and on the battle went. Every time she asked me what I wanted for Xmas, the answer was the same. It was now getting dangerously close to Xmas. Sheila and Sandra had put their orders in to Father Xmas and they had been accepted.
     Mi mum even tried to palm mi off with a plastic one. We saw it in a toy shop window in Rochdale. it was hanging by a piece of string.
"Let's go and look at it.", she sez.
     It had 4 valves and was made of plastic, covered in horrible gold paint and made in Hong Kong!
"No way!", I sez. "I want a real one!"
     Outside the shop, mi mum gives me the usual facial expression and sez,
"You'll get nowt for Xmas now lad!"
     Now, at long last, I could see I was gaining ground, in the long and bloodless war. The week before Xmas, mi dad came home, a bit drunk, from his local pub. He was in a right merry mood. Pre Xmas spirit, he'd been drinking. It comes in a large pint tankard with a whitish froth on top!

"Let's go to Halifax next Saturday and get him that bleeding trumpet wench, before he drives me bloody mad!"
     Hurray! I run round the house like a man man. Then I did a couple of laps around our field and then back inside.
"Mi dad says I can have a trumpet mum!"
    She just stood there looking at me.
"You can have a trumpet, but the first time yhou get sick of it, I'll wrap it around ya bloody head! Furthermore, you'll have to practice it every day and go for lessons once a week!"
     How could I refuse!
     The following Saturday we go to Halifax. All day we walked around looking for a music shop that sold trumpets. Eventually, we come across one called Flinder and Sons Music store. 'Ding-a-ling', the bell went as we walked in, mi mum, dad and me.
"I want a trumpet for this lad of mine."
"Yes Sir!", the man sez.
     He opened the glass case on the wall and proceeded to put all the trumpets on the counter top.
"Are these trumpets any good?" mi dad sez.
"They're mostly second-hand ones but they're all in good working order. We'll guarantee them against defects for 12 months. We have our own repair shop in the back."
     I picked up a couple and tried to blow them. I got a sound out of them the first go. The man behind the counter sez,
"That's very unusual. Most people take ages just to be able to get a sound out of one and not as good a sound as that!"
     By this time, I was much higher than that old kite of mine ever flew. Just then, the shopkeeper said,
"Oh, I almost forgot, I have a very good second-hand one here."
      He reached up, back into a cabinet and pulled out a gold-lacquered trumpet. It had a beautiful green star set in the gold lacquer, right on top of the bell. The shop-keeper said,
"It's called the Green Star Model, made by Rudell Carte and sons, made in America. A professional trumpeter traded it in on a new one."
     It was love at first sight. The shop-keeper handed it to me and said,
"Try this one."
     I blew the same obnoxious sound, but I could hear it was a quality, obnoxious sound. The valves sprang up and down with ease. The valve caps were fitted with mother-of-pearl tops. It had a beautiful yellowish gold finish and not one ding in it.
"Can I have this one?", I sez to mi mum.
"Don't ask me. It's your dad who's buying it for ya."
"Can I have this one dad?"
"How much is this one?", mi dad sez to the shop-keeper.
"23.19/6d"
"23.19/6d! That's almost five bloody weeks wages man! Who do you think I am? Bloody Rothschild? Do you think I'm made a' money or just bloody mad?"
     The shop-keeper looked quite shocked now as mi dad was a big man and he had a very powerful voice. He'd worked with tough Irish Navies on dams most of his life. Mi dad pulls his Trilby down over his right eye a bit and sez,
"I'll give thee 20 quid for it and not a penny more!"
     The shop-keeper looked at mi dad and decided not to argue. Mi dad sez,
"Here's 5 quid and I'll pay rest off on hire-purchase at 15/- bob a week."
     Mi dad gave him his name, George Richard Henry Walter Swindells. He signed his name on a form and gave the shop-keeper a crackly blue five pound note. The shop-keeper gave mi dad a folded payment card with 5 pounds written under the paid column. He then said to the shop-keeper,
"Don't worry about ya money. I'll see tha' gets every penny of it!"
>>>>>>>>

     I wasn't allowed to have the trumpet till the following morning. Xmas morning!
     I woke up about 4:30 and there it was, sitting in its case at the bottom of my bed. There were lots of other bits and pieces in mi Xmas stocking. Chocolates, sweets,  plastic toys from Hong Kong, some pens and pencils for school, water color paints and coloring books.
    I only had eyes for my trumpet. Little did I know then that the love affair with the trumpet would be one of the longest and most intense affairs of my life!
     Click, click. I popped the locks on the brown case and they sprung open. Slowly, I opened the lid and looked inside. It was still there, lying on its side on the bed of green velvet. The gold lacquer was still shining as it had been in the shop. The mother-of-pearl valve caps were facing me, just waitin g to be pushed up and down.


     My eyes went from there to the green star sitting right in the middle, on the top of hte bell. I pushed the lid completely open and sat there in bed just looking at it.


BELLEVUE ZOO ~ INNGS FARM ©

"Maybe we'll go next weekend then.",  I hear mi mum say.
"Go where?", I sez, as I stomped into front room with mi clogs on.
"Get those bloody clogs off. Put em in entrance porch where they belong!", mi mum sez.
"Go where mum? Where are we going next weekend?"
"You won't be going nowhere if ya don't get those clogs off inside house. Ya sound like a bleeding draft horse stomping around place." 
     With mi clogs off, I make me re-entrance.
"Where we going mum?" I sez.
"Ya dad and me are thinking of going to Bellevue next weekend."
"What d'ya mean 'you and dad'? What about me?"
"It depends on your behaviour lad.", she sez.
"What's Bellevue anyway?"
"Bellevue Zoo."
"What? We're going to zoo?", I sez with great excitement. "How we all getting there? On mi dads' motorbike? there's only room for 2, 3 at most."
"Sometimes Richard, you make me bloody wonder.", she sez."We're going on a coach for the day."
     I was beyond miself now, with excitement.  BelleVue Zoo! All those animals. I loved animals very much as I'd grown up with farm animals mi whole life.
     The following week, I was on mi best behavior. Nowt was too much trouble for me. I done all mi jobs on time and even asked mi mum,
"Anything I can do for ya mum?"
"What the hell has come over you?", she sez. "Have you gone looney or aren't ya feeling too well?"
"I'm alright. I just thought I might be able to help a bit."
"Maybe we should go to BelleVue every weekend."
     I didn't fall for this one as I knew she couldn't possibly have meant it. 
     The week seemed to drag on very slowly. I kept asking,
"How long before we go now?"
     This was starting to but her so I had to drop it, for a while.
     At last! The day finally came. Saturday morning, the morning of all mornings. No more school for two whole days. I hated that place now, with a passion. The school Xmas party had a negative affect on me for my entire school days.
     Dressed in Sunday best, armed with a thermos of tea and packets of sandwiches, we all walked down field and made our way along lane to church at end. It was Saturday morning and very early. Except for the mooing of cows, it was very quiet. 
    I saw one of neighbors, Spencer Sharp, walking his milking cows along the road. He did this most mornings. Once milked, he would march them back up road and put 'em in field with most grass.
"Don't get in way.", mi dad sez. "Stand off to side a' road." 
     Too late! One of old cows dropped a' squirt of sloppy cow clap. It splattered on mi sisters' new dress. Well that was it! Best behavior or not, it was just too much for me to handle. I cracked up laughing so much so mi belly was aching and mi eyes were drowning in tears. So was mi sister, but not tears of joy, hers were tears of disappointment. 
"Stop that bloody laughing Richard or you'll go right back home this instant!", sez mi mum.
     Threats or no threats, it was too late now. I was beyond the point of no return. It was so perfect that it would have been hard to imagine. Mi mum set about cleaning it off with handfuls of wet grass but it was no use. The more she rubbed the more it spread, the more mi sister cried, the more I laughed!
"Morning George. Off with the family for day?", sez farmer.
"I'y.", sez mi dad. "Just waitin' on Sherabang to come."
"It's no use.", mi mum sez. "Come on Sandra, we'll have to go back home and change that dress for you." 
     With that, mi mum and Sandra go back along lane. Mum flat out, dragging Sandra behind like a dog who doesn't want to go somewhere. Mi mum yells out to George,
"Tell driver to wait for me. I'll only be a few minutes."
     My laughter subsided for a minute or so, then it would erupt again. Even mi sister Sheila saw funny side of it. All mi dad could say was, 
"That boy's village bloody idiot!"
     Luckily enough, mi mum and Sandra were back in time for bus. 
"Here it comes!", I sez, as the double-decker Sharabang pulls up outside graveyard. 
"Morning everyone.", sez bus driver. "All aboard for BelleVue Zoo!"
"Sit where ya likes, there's plenty of room. Some people didn't show up."
     We all sat upstairs so as to get a better view. Soon as we were well on our way, I started to tease mi sister about cow clap, telling her,
"I can smell cow muck somewhere!"
"Keep that up lad and I'll have ya put off bus. You can walk home then!"
     Mum gave up with her threats as she knew that I knew she couldn't do that.
     Over the hills and far away, traveling in style we were. Dad was reading a newspaper he found on bus. Mi mum was trying to sleep but to no avail. Four hours later, bus driver yells,
"Bellevue Zoo, coming up!" 
     Out of window, I could see lots of different-looking Sharabangs' single and double-deckers. All sorts of different colors, red ones, blue, green and white ones. It was a very colorful site. I read the names on front of 'em. Some came from Sheffield, Bradford, Huddersfield, Liverpool and Blackburn. Every major town seemed to be represented. The bus driver pulled in to parking lot and we took our place right alongside of other coaches.
"Back at 6 O'clock everyone. Those who are late'll get left behind!" 
      Bus driver kept shouting his message out as we all got off bus. As I was getting off bus, he winked at me and said,
"Don't get left behind lad. It's a long walk home."
"Least I'd get some peace and quiet for a while!", mi mum sez.
     Soon as we were off a' bus, mi mum gave us a message,
"Listen to me you three and listen good. First time you misbehave and show me up, I'll tan your backsides and back on bus you go."
     With that word of warning, off we go on a bright and clear day, Mum, dad and 3 kids! Through turnstiles we go. There were hundreds and hundreds of people milling around. The place was noisy and full of excitement! In contrast to where we came from, it was like a looney bin. We followed the crowds to where the animals were and soon came to first cages. I was excited to see them all but not behind bars.
"Why do they have 'em all behind bars?", I said to mi mum.
" 'Cause some of them are dangerous."
"I don't like seeing them behind bars.", I sez.
"Nowt ya can do about it. That's what Zoo's are like."
     After I put the bars outof mi mind, I started to enjoy misen. We saw Giraffes, lions and tigers. We even got to go on an elephant ride. That was good fun as the elephant got to walk around outside same as everyone else. This was good fun too.
    A sign read, DO NOT FEED THE MONKEYS. Mi sister Sheila saw that some people were leaning over the railing and feeding the monkeys peanuts. She decided to go under the railing and give her sandwich to this big old monkey. As she held out the sandwich, the monkey stuck his arm out of the bars and grabbed the sandwich. At the same time, he grabbed her hand and tried to pull her into the cage! 
     She let out a scream. Just then, one of the groundsmen run up and grabbed hold of her. He tried to get the monkey to let go. The monkey seemed to like mi sister better than her sandwich. After her had was freed, the groundsman gave me mum a right telling off for not watching her kids. This pleased mi mum no end. Mi sister got a few good cracks on her bare legs and was made to hold mi mums' hand for the rest of day.
"Hey mum, look at that monkey sat over there? Why is he playing with his willy mum?"
"Trust you to see something like that Richard! How the hell do I know? Just be careful he doesn't grab your willy!" she sez as she took a swipe at me and missed.
"Let's go over and sit at those tables over there.", sez mi dad.
     We all sat down and mi mum gets tea flask out. As she starts to pour, mi dad sez,
"I'll be back in a minute wench, I'm just off to toilet."
"If you're not back from that bar by the time were finished George, me and kids are going back to bus. I've had enough of this today, already!"
     
     It was a long day and quite hot for that time of year. As we were walking around, I heard some music playing. I sezs to mi mum,
"What's that music mum?"
"It's coming from over there. Let's go see."
     It was a sight to behold! There were crowds of people standing around in long rows.
"Lift me up dad so I can see!", as mi dad hoisted me up I could see.
     A band of men in red jackets with gold trim on their sleeves and collar. They were wearing black trousers with a red stripe down the outside of each leg. On their heads they wore big furry hats with a gold and black braided chin strap. Each one was playing an instrument.
"What are those hats called dad?"
"They're Busbys."
     Just then, one of them caught my eye. He was on the front row and fairly close to me now.
"What's that instrument he's playing dad?"
"It's called a Trumpet."

     All the way home, I could think of nothing else but that trumpet! 
"Do you want some pop and crisps at the half-way rest stop Richard?", mi mum asks.
"NO! I want a trumpet!"
"I'll trumpet you in a minute. I'll trumpet you all the way up those stairs to bed soon as I get you home  mi boy!"
"I don't care how many thick ears I get form now on, just as long as I get a trumpet!"
     When we got back home to Parrok Nook, Inngs Farm, as I was getting off a' bus, I said to bus driver,
"Thank you Mister. I'm getting a trumpet for Xmas."
     He gave me a smile and a wink and said,
"I hope you do Sunshine. I hope you do!"



Thursday, January 18, 2018

DRIVING LESSONS FOR MI MUM ~ INNGS FARM ©

     A strange black car come driving along our lane way one afternoon. I say strange because only one man had a car in our area, that I knew of. This, no doubt, aroused some interest not only from us kids and mum but also from our neighbors. Along the Lane way it chugged. Surprise of surprises, it stopped at the bottom of our field, right opposite the big old iron gate. All three of us started running down field to see who it was, slowing down as we neared, not knowing what to expect.
     What a shock when mi dads' working pal, Jimmy Crossly, got out of car. Upon closer inspection, I saw it was mi dad sitting behind wheel.
"Where d'ya get car dad?", I yelled out over top of motor.
"I bought it for tha' mum so she can learn to drive."
"Take us for a drive dad."
"Take us for a drive.", we all said, twice in unison.
     With that, mi dad opened back door and we all climbed in. All three kids and Dinah as well. With the gate now closed, we drove up the field. Jimmy said to mi dad,
"It probably won't make it up field on wet days George."
"I'll leave it parked down bottom when it's wet.", sez mi dad. "All right you kids, sit down and keep your clogs off a' upholstery."
     Up the field we go, in style this time. Dad parks car right out front of farm house door.
"Look out dad!", I sez. "You'll go right into front room!"
"It's all reet.", sez mi dad. "Your old knows what he's doing."
"Where d'ya get that bloody car from?", mi mum sez to him.
"I bought it for thee lass. Tha's been whittering about learning to drive so ya don't have to walk everywhere. Well now's ya chance wench."
"Where did ya get money from for a car George. Far as I know we're poor.", she sez.
"I won some moneyh on races wench. I put a couple a pounds on an 100 to 1 long shot and it come home first! Old George Swindells nobodys' mug."
     With that, mi dad and Jimmy jump out a car and walked around it.
"Don't you kids touch ought in there or you'll not get in car again!"
     For once we were all content just to sit in back looking around.
"It's an old Lancaster wench. It's got a good motor and dashboards, all walnut. The seats are genuine leather." sez mi dad.
"Jump in lass.", mi dad sez. "I'll take ya for a ride round field."
     Very nervously (or maybe shyly) mi mum gets in passenger side front.
"Close that door and we'll be off wench."
     Dad pushes the stick shift into gear, lets his foot off clutch slowly and revs' motor a bit. The car moves forward, smooth as ya please.
"There's nowt to it lass. You just push clutch in, double it and off into another gear."
     The car picked up speed now as mi dad drove around field in long grass. Over a few bumps we go. Down a few holes we go. The old car never even felt it.
"Jimmy's gonna learn ya to drive wench. He's a good driving instructor. Besides, tha' never listens to nowt I say woman. By this time mi mum and dad had started having a few rows. Round and round we go. It was great fun!
"Can I have a go dad?", I pipes up.
"Alright. Wait till we stop. You can sit on mi knees and steer it."
     When the old car stopped, I jumped out and round the front I go, straight up on mi dads knees, clogs and all!
"Bloody hell! Watch where you're putting those clogs lad! You'll bloody cripple a man!"
"Let me put it in first gear dad.", I sez.
"All right. Push stick over there and then push forward."
      rrrrrr! The gear box makes a crunching sound.
"Wait till I got clutch in, ya gormless sod!", he sez. "Alright, now steer it over yonder along wall side."
      Soon as it started going towards wall, he'd pull wheel back around. What a great time we had. Sheila and Sandra both got to have a steer of car. When we'd all had our turn, it was mums' turn. She was too big to sit on his knee so mi dad sits in back with us three. Jimmy sits in front with mi mum.
"Hurray, Hurray! Mum's going to drive!" We yelled.
"Come on mum, go fast around field!"
"Oh shut up Richard! I can't concentrate with you yelling and screaming in mi ear hole."
     Jimmy sez to mi mum,
"Alright Iris, don't worry. There's nowt to it. Just push clutch in, then push gear stick across and forward into first gear, rev engine slowly and let foot of clutch slowly."
     Mi mum pushes clutch in, revs engine like hell, lets clutch out too fast and the old Lancaster takes off like a kangaroo with buckshot in its' bum. It lurched and jumped for about 25 feet  before Jimmy got it out of gear.
     Me and mi sisters were shouting and yelling,
"Come on mum! Go faster mum, go faster!"
"Will you kids sit down! I can't concentrate with all that racket going on!"
     Jimmy gives mi mum instructions again. Low and behold, same thing happens, only this time we were quiet.
"Hey mum.", I sez. "You did better when were yelling and screaming. Maybe we should start up again?"
"I'll give you something to yell and scream for in a minute."
"Don't worry now Iris. Try it again.", Jimmy sez.
     Same thing happens again and again and again. Mum didn't drive around field, she jumped around field.
Mi dad says, "There'll be no bleeding gear box left in a bit wench!" That's enough for today. Better try again tomorrow. Ya might do better then."
     My mum was not amused, to say the least. Better not to tease her about her driving till she gets a bit better. Mi dad gave Jimmy a couple of dozen eggs for his teaching time and asked him to come back on weekend.

    Eventually, mi mum learned to drive round field between hops and jumps. Finally the day came when Jimmy said,
"All right Iris, we'll go out on road now."
"I don't think mi dad was too keen on that idea but Jimmy was in charge of driving lessons. The big bottom gate was opened and the jumping kangaroo was let out of field. Three kids and mi dad in back, mum and Jimmy in front. We're off!
     Out the gate and hard right, narrowly missing a 5 foot high stone pillar, on the lane way we go. Mum was doing quite well until she tried to shift gears. Each time she did the gear shift she would look down to see what she was doing and the car started heading for the stone walls.
"Look out mum, wench, Iris!!" (she was a woman known by many names, was my mother)
"Don't worry.", she sez. "As long as you watch me Jimmy I'll be all right."
     Out to end of lane way and past graveyard and church. Everyone, except Mum, took particular notice of graveyard. Everyone was praying, except me and mi mum.  Round front of church and out to main road. (Now then, some main roads in Yorkshire hills are not real wide, so bear that in mind.)
     Mum was going great till Jimmy turned round and started talking to mi dad.
"Who owns that place George?"
     Mi dad was just about to tell him when the car starts to 'bump'. As Jimmy turns around, his side of car is running alongside gutter in road. A calm and collected man was our Jimmy. (We called him Uncle Jimmy). He slowly reached out and turned the steering wheel out into road again. He never batted an eyelid. In the back seat, three kids were screaming and George was cursing under his breath.
     I don't know how we got home that day, but we did. It was lucky for all of us there was not much traffic on those roads.
     Mum was sort of improving a bit but still needed watching while she drove. The kangaroo hops were all but gone now so Jimmy sez,
"Next weekend, we'll go to Littleborough."
     Littleborough was Jimmys' home town so he knew the way to get there.
     The weekend arrived. We all pile in and off we go. The seating arrangement was always the same. Dad and the kids in back. Jimmy and mum in front.
     We got there in one piece. Mi dad and Jimmy decide to go into pub for a beer. They were gone for quite a while. When they got back, they were smiling more than usual and having a couple of jokes together. Dad brought us all some Smiths' crisps and bottles of pop. He brought mi mum a Shandy. Jimmy said,
"Let's go back another way as it's very beautiful scenery."
     Mum finishes  her drink and away we go. Off in the distance I saw a large lake. I pipes up.
"There's a big lake up ahead."
     Jimmy sez,
"We have to drive around that lake to get home. That's why we're going back this way. Mi mum started to get nervous.
"Maybe you should drive Jimmy."
"Not me Iris, You're doing right well you are. Just keep your eyes on road lass."
     Jimmy was turning around more than usual on the way home, still laughing and joking with mi dad. We'd started driving around lake road now and mi mum was getting more nervous.
"Just keep your eyes on road Iris. You're doing all right."
     Talk, Talk, Talk, that's all they did on way home. I think it was beer talking.
     All of a sudden, SPLASH! SSSSSS! CRUNCH!  The old Lancaster ground to a halt.
"Bloody hell!", Jimmy sez.
"Oh Shit!", mi dad sez.
"Ahhhhhh!" three kids scream.
     Mi mum had run off road into lake! The front end of car was stuck in mud right up to front axels. The water was coming in front door at bottom.
"Everybody our back doors!", yells Jimmy.
      He wasn't' so calm now. Mi dad swearing like anything, not under his breath either. Dad and three kids exit car. Jimmy mi mum crawl over back seat.  There was steam coming out of front of car as we all stood and watched.
"Will it sink dad?", I ask/
"No.", he sez. "But it won't have done it much good."
"It wasn't my fault!",  mi mum says. "You should have been watching where we were going!"
"Now what!", sez mi dad.
"I'll hitch a ride back to town." sez Jimmy. "I have a friend who has a tow truck. You just wait for me here. I won't be long."
     By now, mi dad sobered up and he wasn't in the best of moods. Mi mum only had a shandy and she was in a worse mood.  Me and mi sisters sat on a big stone by side of road and played 'Eye spy with my little eye.' Frst one to see Uncle Jimmy was the winner.
     Mi mums' driving career sort of fizzled out after that so she had to go back to Shakes Pony. Dad sold the car and bought another motor bike.
















XMAS AT INNGS FARM ©

     Xmas time is always a joyous event in Yorkshire.
     In those days, it was always a white Xmas. In the 1950s' , the weather was quite reliable. Winter time snowed. Spring brought light showers and some sunshine. Summer brought along a little more sunshine and scattered showers. Autumn time, the leaves fell, more rain and winds and then back to winter.
     I enjoyed all the seasons. They each had something unique to offer and the events of life were moulded around the seasons. Prior to Xmas, the snows fell right on time. A snow white blanket would cover the fields and when the North winds blew they would blow the white fluffy snow right up to the wall tops. It covered everything. The trees would be sagging under the weight of frozen snow. Sometimes the whole front of Inngs farm would be covered in a snow drift.
     One morning, I remember putting on warm clothes and Wellies. I was the first out of bed. As it had been snowing hard the night before, I couldn't wait to get out in it. When I tried to open the big frond door, I couldn't even turn the old brass knob. Try as I did, it just wouldn't open. I went to call mi dad, who was by this time getting up to stoke the front room fire again. Every night, he'd put some coal dust on fire before going to bed. This would help the coal fire to keep going till morning otherwise it would have burnt out, leaving the house freezing cold. Cold damp farm house walls were not considered a luxury by anyone's standards.
"Hey dad, front doors stuck and it won't open. I can't even turn knob."
"I'll come and have a look in a minute."
     After some flames were now dancing up the back flu, mi dad came to door. He tried to get it open but it wouldn't budge.
He sez, "I'll go and get mi pinch bar out a' barn. That'll fix it."
     When he got back with the bar, he gave the old brass know a good whack and tried it again. Nothing! It didn't even budge. It was a regular practice to keep buckets of water in kitchen overnight for times such as this. Mi mum was up by now so he told her,
"Put some water on boil, wench!"
     There was only 2 taps in house and both were frozen solid. (Lead pipes froze in wintertime and sometimes they burst!) When the water was nice and hot, mi dad threw some on hinges and all around door knob. He then gave it a good, solid whack. The handle started to move. It turned slowly. Some more hot water and it was now free. He grabs his pincher bar and stuck it in gab between door and frame. It was a big gap so it was easy to get bar in.
     Old farmhouses have big gaps everywhere, especially between bottom of door and floor. Mi mum used to take old nylon stockings with ladders in 'em and stuff each one with old rags and newspapers and stick 'em in front of door to keep draughts out.
     Mi dad kept prying away with his pinch bar till door slowly opened. What a sight I saw! Nothing but snow. A wall of snow. A wall of snow where the door had been. It looked like a snow door.  The wooden door impression was left in the snow wall.
"What now day?", I sez.
"We'll have to shovel our way out. Go and grab that old shovel from feed room."
     I found shovel and give it mi dad and he starts shoveling snow into entrance room. By the time he broke through to outside there was a lot of now in house.
"Look at mi entrance doorway.", mi mum sez.
"Don't start bloody naggin' now women!", he sez. "Can't ya see I'm up to mi bleedin' head in snow?"
     Once outside, he dug all the snow away from door.
     It starated snowing again. The more he shoveled the more it snowed. He shoveled his way down field so he could get of field to go to work. I stood in doorway watchin' till mi mum came and closed door. I could see him out-a' side window a bit. He'd dug a trench right down to gate. When he got to gate and turned around it was snowing so heavy there was almost no trench left. I watched him make his way back up to house, thigh deep in snow.
"No work today!", he sez as he come into entrance porch.
     That Xmas was one of the heaviest snows for years so the old boys said.

     Next morning was Xmas morning and the snow had eased up a bit. Father Xmas had already been and gone. What a job he had in all that snow. He had left me a train set. An electric train set at that!
     A couple of  months back, mi dad had the old house wired for electricity. One of his mates at work come over and done it for a couple a' extra bob.
"One day they'll build a Booster Station and we'll buy a tele.", said mi dad.
"I'll believe that when I see it!", mi mum says.
     It was fun having an electric light bulb in house. No more smelly gas.
     I had that train set out of box within minutes. Once I knew how to put the track together and connect the small transformer, it was off! Round and round it went, a small black steam engine pulling two passenger carriages and a coal wagon. The track made a 4 foot circle. I sat in the middle and watched it go round. Round and round it went. I cranked up the speed with the transformer hoping I could derail it but it was flat out at about 4 miles an hour. After an hour of this I was getting bored. I took the train and carriages off and put them on the tracks in reverse. Round and round it went. I followed it with mi head. In the end, mi neck was so sore, I thought mi head was gonna' fall off.
"Hey mum, is this it or can it do summit else?"
     She read the instructions and said,
"If you flick that switch it goes in reverse."
     Still sitting in middle of track, I flick the switch at full speed and the wheels spin to a halt and backwards it goes. Round and round it went as I followed it with mi eyes. I thought,
'Now mi heads gonna' screw back on.'
     After another hour of this, I'd well and truly had it! This didn't look like as much fun out of box as in it. I had a bright idea. (I was always full of them.) Mi dad called 'em Brain Waves!'
     I got some matches and put them on the track, like logs, cranked up the transformer to full speed and Bingo! Right off the track it went taking the carriages with it. Now this was more like it!. Everything was going well till mi dad saw what was happening.
     He shouts out to mi mum in kitchen cooking breakfast.
"Come out here wench and have a look what this destructive little breeder of yours is doing!"
"If you do that again my boy, back in the box it goes." says mi mum.
"But it's boring mum. There's not enough track!"
"Where do you think I get money from lad? Do you think it grows on trees."
     I decided to pull tracks apart and join 'em together like a snake. Once this was done, I put the box under one end and the train on other end. 'Poo Woo, Poo Woo' as it goes at full speed along the zig-zaggin track, up the steep box and off the end dragging the carriages behind it.
'Now it's getting interesting', I thought. 'That's much better!'
"Come and have a look what this imbecile son of yours is up to now wench!"
     Soon as she saw the train and carriages crashing off the track onto the stone floor, I got the warning.
She sez, "One more stupid trick with that train and that's it! I'll take it off ya!"
     After I'd put the track back together in it's boring circle another brain wave came through.
'I wonder how it works, what makes it move and I wonder what's inside it?'
     The temptation was too much! After finding mi dads' screwdriver it didn't take very long before I had the engine in pieces. Now, all that was left was an exposed engine on wheels.
'Well, that makes it look more interesting!', I thought.
     I put it on the track, hooked the carriages on and turned the transformer know and away it went. It looked different. I could see small electric sparks coming from inside the engine. I liked it although it didn't look too expensive anymore. Soon as mi dad looked up and saw it,  he yells out for mum.
"You're not going to believe this wench. Better come and have a look what he's up too now!"
     This time, she was at lost for words (that was most unusual for mi mum).
     After ducking a couple of wild swipes, she pulls the track apart, put the track and pieces in the box and that was it for the day. No more train set!
     A couple of Xmas's later they bought me a pocket watch. That lasted till Boxing Day, before the back 'accidentally' popped off and the main string got stretched to 3 times it's normal size.

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

KITE FLYING ~ INNGS FARM ©

     This was the most traumatic experience of my life.
     It all started on a windy autumn day. At the end of our lane-way was an old church. I had been going to Sunday School every Sunday morning for some time now. On this particular Sunday, I arrived home to find mi mum with dress patterns strewn all over the floor. The old treadle sewing machine was out in the middle of room.
     The sewing machine was her tool. It also served as my source of fun. When she wasn't around, I'd pull it out from wall, roll the belt on to the wheel then take cover off top. I would then proceed to peddle the footplate as fast as it would go, pretending it was a bicycle or racing car. I was hoping I hadn't smashed the needle or something.
     Standing there, watching her cut out patterns, she said "Get your Sunday best off and go out and play."
"Now't to play with.", I sez.
"You're not staying inside and pestering me. Now, get those good clothes off and get outside or you'll go to bed for the day!"
"It's real windy out and there's now't to do."
"There'll be sum't to do in a bit lad. I'll find some jobs for ya."
     I made mi exit right on cue. After changing out of mi Sunday best, I come downstairs and just stand there watching her. Right then and there I had a brilliant brainwave!
"Hey Mum."
"What now?"
"Can you make me a kite?"
"I'm making winter dresses for your sisters. Where do you think I got time for making kites?"
"Go on mum, it's real windy and I haven't got now't to do today."
     After some good-old persistent winging and whining, she finally agreed.
"Go upstairs, in my bottom drawers and bring an old sheet."
     Off I flew, up the stairs, three at a time. Grabbed a sheet and down again, 4 at a time. I carefully put it in front of her, trying not to disturb her.
"Not this one, ya gormless bugger. It's me best flannel sheet!"
     Back up the stairs I go. 'This one's got to be it. It's got a hole in it." Down the stairs again, 4 at a time.
"This one mum?"
"Ay lad, that's it. Give it to me."
     Now the excitement was building. Even mi mum looked interested as she opened the sheet, looking for a spot with no holes in it.
"Go into the kitchen and get me a piece of dowel rod. There's some behind door."
     I looked behind door and saw two pieces. One piece was the one she used for my legs when I got her real mad. The other was a spare. I grabbed the leg-smacking one and took it out to her. She was cutting the sheet up by now but when she looked up and saw the leg cane, she sort of smiled and said,
"Not that one lad!"
     Mi mum was nobodies fool, not even mine.
     First she cut out an oblong shape from the old sheep. Then she measured the shape out sho it looked like a kite. She measured the stick and showed me where to cut it with mi dads rusty saw. When this was done, I took it back to her in two pieces. She saw a speck of blood on one of the dowels.
"Show me your finger."
"It's now't.", I sez and proceeded to lay the blame on mi dads' rusty saw-blade,  seeing as he was out in his garden.
    She cut 4 small triangular shapes of material and one larger triangle shape. She then went over to sewing machine and took lid off. After pulling the bobbin slide back, she turns to me and sez,
"Have you been playing with my machine again lad?"
"Who me mum?", came the reply.
"Yes, you lad. Who else do you think I'm talking to, the bloody cat?"
"Not me mum."
"Then how come the needles broken?"
     Mi heart sunk as I saw my kite disappearing before it was even made.
"Bring me that sewing box over here and look sharp about it. I haven't got all day to sit here making kite, you know."
     Phew! What a relief, She has some spare needles. I resolved not to peddle her machine after that. Well, maybe not as fast. After filling the bobbins, she proceeded to stitch the hems of the kite shape. Then she stitched the small triangles on the corners. When this was done, she stitched the larger triangle off-center in the middle of the other side of the sheet.
     Now it was looking like a kite! When she inserted the 2 pieces of wooden dowel, it really did look like a kite.
"Go and get a ball of string from your dads' tool box."
     Inside his feed room, the only string I could find was attached to the end of his plum bob. I decided to cut the plum bob off with one of his old chisels. I hid his plum bob in back of cupboard drawer so he couldn't find it. I'd deal with that later, I thought.
     Mum attached the string to the larger triangle on the front. She then tied a long string to the bottom of the kite.
"Go and get me some old  newspapers.", she said.
     She then folded a piece of paper in half and rolled it up into a thin tube. She tied it onto the bottom of the kite with the long string. Repeating this 4 or 5 times, the kite now had some weights on the end to balance it.
"Take these extra rolls of paper with you. You may need them to make it heavier. It it's too heavy, take some off."
"Thanks mum.", I said giving her a quick kiss on cheek, while stuffing the spare weights in mi pocket.


     Coat and clogs on, kite in hand, away I went off up back fields where it was hilly. What a great day this was turning out to be!
     Over the back wall I go.
"Dinah, you stay here today. I'll be back soon."
     She never liked being left behind. Her face always had this hurt look on it at these times.
"I'll be back soon Dinah", I sez as I go running off away from her.
     Sometimes she'd find a way around the wall or sometimes if she really wanted to go, she'd scramble up and over the top. On this day, she sort of accepted it although I could see she was none too happy about it.
     Up the hills I ran, letting the kite out behind me. The kite kept swinging and twisting around. I thought, 'Ah well, I'll tie some more weights on it when I get further up the hill.' The wind was blowing very strongly now so I decided to stop running. I pulled the paper rolls I was going to use for weights out of mi jacket pocket. I tied one under the one mi mum had put on. Throwing the kite up into the wind, I tugged on the string a few times. It soared to about 10 feet, then spun around and nose-dived into to the ground.  Picking it up, I examined it. Nothing broken. So I put a couple more paperweight tails on it. Launching the kite in the air, I ran backwards with the string, tugging it as I went. The kite hovered in the air for a while and then twisted around in circles and finally nose-dived  into the ground again.
     By this time, I was getting a bit upset to say the least. I made 2 more paper tails and put them on. I decided this time to run down hill and get up some more speed but the faster I run, the more the kite spun around in circles, eventually crashing to the ground.
     I was getting really frustrated now so I decided to tie a smallish branch onto the tail string. I launched the kite again. Up it went high, hovered for a while and then slowly decended. On and on this procedure went hour after hour. I suddenly remembered on of the Sunday School teachers saying that God helps those who believe in him. So, as a last frustrated resort, I got down on my knees, put my head on the ground, hands together and prayed.
"Please God. My name is Richard Swindells. I'm a young boy and my kite won't fly. Please help me to make my kite fly!"
     After a few times saying this prayer, I got up and took the small branch off the kite, launched the kite and started running. Up and up the kite went. 10 feet 20 feet 25 feet and then, all of a sudden round and round it spins. Down and down it comes and finally crashes, head first into the ground, knocking one of the cross sticks out of its' pocket.
     Now I was really mad! Mi mums' madness had nothing on mine now. At this stage, I was nearly out of control! Down on mi knees I go again. This time I put mi hands together and instead of bowing mi head down, I looked up with mi eyes open onto an almost perfect blue sky. I repeated the prayer again, this time for much longer. I was doing more praying than flying now. 'Two paperweights  off and one small twig on. Launch the kite and run, run like hell', I was thinking.
     Round and round I go, up the kill, down the hill. 10 feet - 15 feet, then all at once the kite spun around and made a perfect nose-dive!
'That's it! That's bloody it!' At that point I could take no more. I grabbed the kite, threw it back down on the ground, screaming and yelling, cursing and swearing, more cursing, jumping up and down. In a fit of rage and temper, I smashed the kite to bits! I jumped  up and down on the cross sticks till they were completely splintered and smashed beyond recognition.  There was no one around for miles so there was no stopping me now. It was far too late for that!
     I found a large stone. Screaming and yelling obscenities, I smashed it down into the crumpled piece of matted string, paper, twigs and cloth. Then I tore the bed sheet material into shreds. More cursing and more swearing!
     All the no-no words I'd heard the old farmers use when they thought no one was listening. I threw myself down on my knees in complete exhaustion. Now, instead of putting my hands together in the prayer position, I clenched my fists together and looked up towards the blue sky. I continued to curse, yell, scream and swear at God. I said everything that I could imagine and everything unimaginable until I was probably blue in the face! I was totally out of my mind! As I shook my fists and cursed, everything started to fade away. The cursing and swearing seemed to drift away, off into the distance. It now felt like someone else was doing it and I was just faintly hearing it from miles and miles away.
     That was it! Everything went dark and I disappeared into the darkness. I became the darkness. I was no more!
     I have no idea how long I was in that state.
     The first thing I remember was seeing a small boy on the ground, curled up in a ball. Next to him was a pile of broken wood, knotted string, rags and paper. His face was covered in dirt and his eyes were red. It looked as though he'd been crying. As I watched him, I felt tremendous compassion for him. At that point I decided to help him for as long as he lived. I have stuck to my word form that point on. I watched him slowly come around, then sit up. He turned to look at the mess of string, paper, wood and cloth next to him. Some of the string was tangled around his clogs. He ripped the string from his clogs, stood up and started to walk away. I saw him look up to the sky and heard him say,
"Fuck you God! You let me down in my hour of need!  I don't need you in my life anymore!"

     He ran down the fields and back to his house. As he jumped over the wall, he said to the dog who ran to meet him,
"Come on Dinah, we don't need him, do we lass!"
     As he walked into the house, his mother said,
"Where've you been? I've been worried sick about you, you little bugger! What have you been up to?"
"Nowt", he said.