Saturday, December 27, 2008
Mi chickens had stopped laying eggs by now so the small amount of money I'd made out of them had all but dried up. It was probably the best thing all around because it was not long before I was due to leave home and go to Australia. There were no more forms to fill in and I'd already been for my medical and was pronounced fit and in good sound health.
The agreement I had with Jim Bailey was to return his money that he had invested in the hens as soon as I killed and dressed them and sold them off to some of the school teachers.
Around this time, Trevor Davies had a friend who wanted to sell one of his Lurcher dogs. He only wanted 10 bob for it. Somehow I managed to scrape together the money. Thinking about it now, I probably sold off some of mi old toys that I would no longer be needing. Trevor said one of his friends would deliver the Lurcher dog at my hen hut on Friday night so I would have to get busy cleaning out the hen shit and scrubbing the walls down so as to make it a suitable home for the Lurcher to live in. Mi mother still had Raja, the Springer Spaniel so there was no chance, whatsoever, that she would let me keep it in the house.
By the time Friday night arrived the new doghouse was spotless and a bag of wood shavings had been thrown around the floor to make it nice and comfortable for mi new Lurcher. As I was waiting for the boy to show up with the Lurcher, I was thinking about how good it would be to walk over the hills again, looking for rabbits and hares. When the boy arrived, I gave him the 10 bob and took possession of the Lurcher. The Lurcher didn't seem to want to stay with me but the boy said, "It's only because he's used to living with other dogs in a shed, just like this one. Don't worry about his trying to get out, he'll get over it in a couple of days."
That evening, I spent a good 3 hours sitting in the new dog shed with the Lurcher. No matter how much love I gave it, the dog just kept right on scratching at the door, trying to get out. In the end, I locked the door so no one could steal it and went off home to have a cup of tea and off to bed.
On Saturday morning, I got up early and went down to me hut to check on mi new dog. Everything looked normal and quiet as I approached the front of the door. I banged on the wooden door a few times to see if the Lurcher was a good guard dog as well as a hunter. After 3 or 4 loud knocks there was no sign of barking so I opened the lock and pushed the door in a little ways so the dog would not bolt through the open doorway. Sticking mi head around the side of the door, to my shock and amazement there was no Lurcher dog in sight.
'Oh Shit!', I thought. 'He's escaped somehow.' When I made a detailed investigation of the shed, I found that he had forced his way through the backside wall of the old shed. In the back wall of the shed was a large piece of tin, which had been nailed on the wall from the outside. The Lurcher must have been jumping up at the tin all night and finally broken the nails out of the old rotting boards and forced his way between the gap and was now long gone!
I had no idea where Trevors' friend lived so I would have to go up to Trevors' house and tell him what had happened. After I found Trevor and told him the story, he said "The dog has been living with other Lurchers for 2 years so it will be difficult to keep it in for a while but it should get used to it. I'll go over to mi friends house. For sure it will have found its way home by now."
"All right Trev.", I said. "You go to your mates place and I'll fix up the shed where he got out and I'll wait for you at the shed. You can bring the dog back there and tonight I'll chain him up so he can't get out again."
All afternoon I worked at making the shed more dog-proofed and by the time I had finished fixing it up much better, it was getting late and no Trevor had arrived. Just as I was about to leave, I saw Trevor walking down the front of Boston Street towards my newly converted doghouse.
"Hello Trevor, where's the Lurcher. Did you find it?"
"No Dick. I went down to mi pals dog hut and they said it had not come back there, but as soon as it does they'll let me know and we can go and pick it up, alright?"
"All right mate. That's about all we can do."
That Saturday evening as I was sat at home, watching the Telly, a knock came on the door. I jumped up and said, "I'll get it. It's probably for me. I'm expecting mi friend Trevor to call." When I opened the door there were 2 strange boys standing there with a large grain bag at their feet. I closed the door behind me so Iris and Jim couldn't hear anything.
"Your name Dick Swindells?", said the biggest boy.
"Yeh, why? What do you want?" I said to him.
"We brought the Lurcher back for you.", he said.
"Oh, that's real good of you, but where is it?"
"It's in the bag, dead.", said the other boy. "Got run over by a car when it was trying to get home to the other dogs."
"Oh shit!", I said. "But why did you bring it here if it's dead!"
" 'cause you bought it from our pal and he says it's your problem now, so here it is. We'll see ya later."
They left the large sack, with the dead Lurcher in it, on mi mums' step, then turned around and walked away, up Boston Street and out of sight.
'Bloody hell, now what do I do? I've lost mi 10 bob and now I've got a dead dog in a sack sitting on mi mums' back step. If she finds out, there will be hell to pay for this. I opened the back door and said to mi mum, "I'll be back in a few minutes, I'm just off down to mi hen shed."
"Don't be more than a quarter of an hour or you'll be in trouble when you get back!", said Jim Bailey.
'In trouble.', I thought. 'I can't get into much more trouble tonight, even if I tried!'
I grabbed he end of the sack and threw it over my shoulder, then made mi way up the street and down to the hen shed. Halfway down the front of Boston Street I ran into a boy called Ernest Hargraves. He was about 18 years old and had red, fiery hair and a face full of freckles. He also wore thick bifocals, which made him look like a real geek. Because he was so big no one ever teased him or anything.
"Where are you going with the sack, Dick? You look like a real burglar", he said.
Earnest was always in trouble with the Police and they came after him for all sorts of crimes, but he was too smart for them, most of the time.
"Hello Earnest. I'm in real trouble now. I've got a dead Lurcher in the sack and I don't know what the hell to do with it and if mi mother finds out, she'll bloody well beat me!"
"What the fucking hell, are you doing with a dead Lurcher in a sack?"
After I explained the whole story to him, he said, "Tell you what I'll do with ya Dick. You give me half-a-crown for some fags and I'll get rid of the dead Lurcher for you."
"I haven't got half-a-crown Earnest."
"OK, you can owe it to me. Pay me in a week or so, I may be really broke by then and half-a-crown will come in right handy!"
As I contemplated it, half-a-crown seemed really cheap. It was not much money in comparison to the big dead problem that was slung across mi back, in a bag.
"It's a deal, Earnest!", I said as I handed him the bag. "But what are you going to do with it?"
"Oh, don't you worry about that Dick. It's my problem now, not yours."
"All right Earnest if you say so. I'll have your money sometime within the week."
We shook hands and parted company.
'What a great bloke Earnest is.', I thought as I walked off back up the street. 'He solved all my problems for half-a-crown and to me that's well worth it'.
A few nights later, I'd been out playing with a few friends and was now on mi way home. I always had to be aware of the time because Jim Bailey was sat at home, just waiting for me to be late so he could say, "What time do you call this Lad?", but tonight, I had time to spare as I shoved open Boston Street door. As I walked inside, I saw there was a stranger sat on one of the guests' chairs and the house was unusually quiet.
"Hello everybody.", I said, in a rather cheerful voice.
"This gentleman is a Railways Inspector." said mi mum, whose voice was in the fire mode.
"Oh, that's nice." I said. "It must be a really interesting job you have, is it?"
"I'y, it's a great job. There's never a dull moment. I get to investigate all sorts of crimes. Take, for instance, today. About 2 O'clock this afternoon one of the Engineers mates was filling up one of the steam engines with water out of the large overhead water tanks and what do you think he found floating on the top of the water?"
Now he had aroused my curiosity, so I said, "It could be anything, so I've really got no idea at all."
"Well, in that case let me tell you. The Engineers mate found a dead Lurcher dog."
The shocked look on my face must have been obvious as Iris, Jim Bailey and the railway inspector all stared at me.
"Would you like to tell me about it Richard?" he said.
There was no choice but to tell the inspector the whole story, after which he said, "If I was you, I would not have any more dealings with Earnest Hargraves. We know who he is because he's been stealing things from the railways' yard for years but we haven't been able to catch him at it, but seeing as you are supposed to pay him for getting rid of the dog, we may still be able to get our teeth into him at long last."
After the Railway Inspector left, mi mother hit the roof!
I never saw Earnest again after that because there was only a few more months to go before I left for Australia, and he never came around the area where I lived anymore.
That was the last I ever heard of Earnest and the Lurcher.
Friday, December 26, 2008
One day, as I was walking down Sowerby New Road, I met Geoffrey, who was coming up the road towards me.
"Hello Dick", he said, as we met. "I haven't seen ya for a while. What have you been up to?"
"Oh not much Geoff. I've had lots of paper work to do and interviews to go on before I get accepted into the Big Brother Movement."
"So you're really going to Australia Dick, are ya?"
"I'y. I don't talk about it much now 'cause all mi other pals think I'm telling lies, so it's best not to say nought about it."
"I'y, ya right Dick. Most of the kids in Sowerby would be jealous of the fact that you're getting out of this place but I'm real happy for you. It will be great to go to another country and you'll probably make a lot of money Dick."
"How's your printing job going?" I asked him.
"Oh really great Dick. Do you want to see a sample of my work?"
He put his hand inside his coat pocked and pulled out a small booklet and said, "I printed this up in mi lunch hour. Not a bad job, eh?"
When I opened the book, I saw at once that it was a pornographic comic book. It was about a young girl about 16, who came home late one evening after her father had told her to be in the house at 9 O'clock. As I turned the pages and read the captions, the father said, "Now, I'm going to put you across my knee and give you a good spanking for being a naughty girl and disobeying me." The next page, she was across his knee and the next page he had pulled her knickers down around her ankles. The next page, he was spanking her bare bum and the picture showed a large tuft of pubic hair sticking out and the father had a gleeful look on his face. The comic porn book went on and on, showing the most descriptive pictures I had ever seen.
The porno comic book amused my 14-year old brain, so I said to Geoff,
"Have you got anymore of these?"
"No, but I can print up as many as I like now 'cause I've got it all set up."
"How much does it cost you to print up each book?"
"Oh probably about half a crown."
"Tell ya what I'll do with ya Geoffrey, you print up 20 books for me and I'll give you 5 bob a book. That's 100% profit, alright?"
"I'y, but what are you going to do with them Dick?"
"I'm going to sell them to the kids at school. It will be no problem at all to get 10 bob a piece for them. Have we got a deal Geoff?"
"When will I get my share?"
"Soon as I've sold 'em, I'll give you your share. I can't give you any money up front 'cause I'm broke but I'm very trustworthy Geoff and I won't rob you, alright?"
"OK. I'll have 20 books for you tomorrow evening. Meet me up at Beachwood Estate at 7 O'clock. See ya later Dick", he said as he walked off up the road.
"See ya later Geoff."
I walked back home thinking about mi new business that was about to bring me in a lot of money.
The next evening I met Geoffrey at Beachwood Estate and he handed me a small package covered in plain brown paper.
"Thanks Geoff. I'll get your money to you as soon as I get rid of all these books."
I'd already decided that I would lay all the books out flat under mi mattress so mi mum wouldn't be able to find them, 'cause if she did she would hit the roof!
As I got close to Boston Street, I went down the front of the house and put the small package of books behind a couple of ferns in the front garden and then I walked around the top of the street and down to our back door.
Iris and Jim were engrossed in a TV series when I walked in so it was easy to walk through the front room (which was never used), open the front door and retrieve the brown paper package. Once I got them upstairs, I stood mi mattress on end and laid them out flat then let the mattress down into place so they were hidden from view. I always made mi own bed in the mornings before going off to school so mi mum would never find them under the mattress.
The next morning I took one of the books to school so I could show it around, very discreetly. That way, once the boys saw a couple of pages, I would get rid of 20 books, no problem at all. By the end of the day I had taken orders for 26 books. I would have to get Geoffrey to print up a few more.
The delivery date was set for Friday, that would give the lads enough time to come up with 10 bob, which was the going rate for a 'fresh-off-the-press' pornographic comic book.
'13 pounds!' I thought to myself. 'The old Stepfather only makes 8 pounds a week for 40 hours work, in a factory. By the time Friday comes, I'll have a lot more money than mi mum and him put together.'
On Thursday evening, the night before I was due to make my deliveries; I'd contacted all the boys who had ordered a book. Each one of them had got their money together and the deal was to take place early Friday morning before school started, because I didn't want to be carrying around the small brown paper parcel all day.
As I walked down Boston Street that night on my way home, I was whistling a merry tune. Everything was going like clockwork as I had planned. When I pushed open 25 Boston Streets door and made mi grand entrance, I said to Iris and Jim, "Right on 9 O'clock eh."
"I'll give you 'right on 9 O' bloody clock!" sez mi mum.
"Now what's wrong? I've only been in the house 20 seconds and you're at me already!"
"Where did you get those filthy, bloody pornographic books from?" she said.
"What pornographic books?" I said, with a look of innocence on mi face.
"The pornographic comic books I found under your mattress!"
"I don't know what you're talking about."
"20 bloody pornographic books, all neatly stacked up under your mattress Richard! That's what I'm talking about. 20 filthy dirty, bloody porno books that are now stacked and burned up in the fire. That's what I'm talking about!"
With that, she grabbed the cane and came after me like a mad woman, letting fly with the rod. She attacked me from all sides. I got a whack from the cane for each word she yelled at me and a double whack each time she said the word, 'pornographic'. By the time she finished, I was wishing I had never seen those porno books!
"Next time you ever bring such filth and trash into my clean house, I'll bloody well kill you!"
"You shouldn't have looked at them!". I said. That was the only defense I could think of at the time.
"I didn't look at them. I'm not interested in such crap. I've got my good name to think of."
"Then how did you know what was in them if you didn't read them?"
"I only turned a couple of pages and that was enough for me! What the hell are you doing with 20 bloody, filthy, vile porn books anyway?"
"You've just ruined my new business. I've got orders for all those books and now you've burned them. I'm 10 quid out of pocket!"
"You were going to sell those books for 5 bob each?" she said as she flew at me with the cane again.
"Well, you don't give me enough pocket money to live on. What else do you expect me to do for money?"
"There are a hundred and one bloody things you could do besides selling bloody filth like that! Who the hell did you get such vile filth from anyway?"
Just for spite, I said to her,
"Geoffrey Thorpe printed them for me. Do you still wish I was a good clean lad like him now?"
"You cheeky little bugger!" she sez, and flew at me with the cane again. "I'll give him a piece of my bloody mind if I ever see him again! Now get up those bloody stairs to bed! You haven't heard the last of this my boy!"
"Come on Luv." sez Jim Bailey. "Don't upset yourself luv. You know what happens to your blood pressure when you get excited."
"I'll give him bloody blood pressure if he ever does anything like that again! I've got a good mind to stop you going to Australia now."
This was mi mums' latest form of emotional blackmail these days. So I made misen scarce, just in case she meant it this time.
The next day, my credibility as a good businessman had gone down the drain when the disappointed lads found out what had happened. When I told Geoffrey about how the books had ended up in the fire, he was not too pleased because he was now quite a few pounds out of pocket, from his printing costs. He never spoke to me for at least a couple of months.
So ended my career as a pornography distributor. In later years I looked back on it and thanked Iris for the beating she gave me. Had it not happened that way, I may have very well been writing this book from behind bars now. This book would have been called;
MEMOIRS OF A COMIC PORN DISTRIBUTOR!
Tuesday, December 23, 2008
Mi mum had given her consent for me to go to Australia with the Big Brother Movement so I was now in the middle of sending forms backwards and forwards to London. The whole process took about 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 3 small children back to Australia. Before he had left he said to me that as soon as he had an address and phone number he would send it on to me and being true to his word, I had his letter in my top drawer in mi bedroom.
It was almost Christmas now. The weather had turned icy cold and it looked like we were all in for a cold, hard Yorkshire winter. I had decided to make this Christmas mi last one with Elland Silver Band because as well as leaving home for Australia I had lost a lot of interest in playing Brass Band music. I would be 15 soon and the thought of going to Australia consumed the interest I'd had in the Brass Band.
I would tell most of mi friends at school, "I'll be leaving school earlier than you lot because I've been accepted in a program that takes boys under 18 to Australia and finds work for them on farms and 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, so why do you persist in spinning us all a big yarn?"
"All right. 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! But, we've 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.
"Yeah, let's play 'closest to the wall'.
As it got closer to Christmas, Elland Band got ready for the Christmas Carol Busking day. Every 25th of December we would all get together as a band and play Christmas carols in the streets and this 25th was no exception. One of the older band members picked me up in Sowerby Bridge 'cause the double decker buses did not start to run till late on Christmas morning. When we were all ready, present and organized we set off up the road, marching and playing in our bright red & gold uniforms. Against a background of pure white snow, no one could miss seeing or hearing us as we stood at the top of the terraced streets and played everybody's favorite Christmas carols.
We always took about 10 band friends along with us and their job was to walk down the streets with the collection boxes and knock at the doors.
"Merry Christmas from Elland Silver Prize Band!", they'd say as the people smiled and put a couple of shillings into the collection box.
Now, prior to the 25th, I had decided to do some busking around the streets with mi trumpet to see how much money I could make for Christmas. I said to mi pal, Steven Powell,
"Do you want to make some money tonight?"
"What do I have to do for it?", he said.
"I'm going out busking with mi trumpet so if you want to come along here's what we'll do."
After I explained the procedure to him, he liked the idea. We decided to meet halfway between this house and mine.
It was a really cold night and the snow was falling in large fluffy flakes as we trudged through the snow to an area I knew of a few miles away. When we eventually arrived in the high-class area, I said to Steven, "We come here because terraced-houses only contain poor people. In this area they're all rich 'cause they live in semi-detached houses or bungalows, so here's the plan. We go to the first door and you knock and as soon as they open it, I'll start to play a Carol on mi trumpet and you start to sing. While you're singing along with me, take this tin I brought with me and stick it under their noses. Make sure you smile 'cause I can't smile and play trumpet at the same time. Oh, and try to look cold and shivery. That's a good one. It always sucks 'em in!"
By the time an hour had passed we had quite a few bob rattling up and down in the tin. Steve and me had a great time that evening, even though it was freezing cold and we were covered in snow. It was so cold that at one point we knocked on a door and waited. As soon as it opened, I put the trumpet to mi lips and played the first two G's to Good King Wenceslas. When I went to push the first and second valves down to make an A, the valves on the trumpet had frozen up so this horrible noise came out of the Bell and we heard a baby start to cry from upstairs. As the door fully opened, an angry young woman appeared. Out of fear, Steve stuck our collection tin under her nose and kept singing. Steve was not much of a singer so the woman said, "Shut that ghastly noise up! You should learn to sing before you go out busking and as far as your friends' trumpet playing goes, he'd have been better off leaving it at home, 'cause all he's done with that noisy, obnoxious thing is to wake up my baby!! Here's 2 bob.", she said as she gave us both a dirty look. "Now bugger off and don't come back here again or I'll call the cops!"
I couldn't help myself so I started to laugh at the situation. "Come on Steve, the lady does not appreciate good music when she hears it!"
"I'll 'good music' you two rascals if you come knocking on my door again this Christmas!"
Let's go down the road a-ways Steve. There's some more bungalows that I know of. I'll have to take mi trumpet valves out first and spit on 'em to get 'em going."
"Why don't you put some oil on 'em Dick. It'll save you spitting on them?"
" 'Cause valve oil is no good in cold weather. It makes 'em stick worse. They'll be all right in a minute and as soon as I've got 'em freed up I'll just have to keep them moving as we're walking along. Let's go to that big house at the end of that street.", I said to Steve as we trudged on through the cold evening.
"All right, same procedure Dick?"
"Same procedure Steve. As soon as the door starts to open, we'll play. 'We wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year, then smile and rattle the tin and don't be shy about rattling the tin. The noise of the tin reminds them we're not just here for the good of our health or to play for free. That's how Elland Band does it and it always works, so give it a good hard rattle. Are you ready?"
"All right, knock now. Wait till they come. I can hear their footsteps but don't make a sound yet."
The large ornate door handle started to turn.
"Now Steve!", I said.
I struck up the first few notes of 'We wish you a Merry Christmas', and Steve was right with me. He was also in key, which made a change for him. As soon as the big door swung open Steve's mouth fell open and he stopped singing. I had the habit of closing my eyes when I played so I opened them to find out why he was not singing and rattling our collection tin as we had planned. I almost stopped playing myself when I saw who was blocking the light from the open door. It was Mr. Miles, our school Headmaster! I don't know who got the greatest shock, him or us. 'Screw him.' I thought. 'It's Christmas'! I stamped on Steve's toe and he immediately came out of shock and started to rattle the tin and sing at the top of his voice, in another key.
"All right, you've made your point!", said Miles. "How much is this little prank going to cost me?"
"Most people give as much as they can afford Sir.", I said.
"I should have known you'd say that Swindells before I asked!"
Miles was now well and truly hooked. If he didn't cough up, he knew that I'd tell everyone at school what a Scrooge he was. He put his hand in his pocket and pulled out a handful of money. He took a half crown and dropped it through the rough cut-out slot of Steves' tin.
He was just about to put his money away, when I said, "Sir, there's two of us." He gave me one of his famous 'school Headmaster looks' and then dropped another half crown into the tin.
"Would you like us to finish the song Sir?", I said.
"I don't think so Swindells. I think my Christmas holiday has been well and truly ruined enough."
"Well, thank you very much Sir. I hope you have a very merry Christmas."
He wasted no time closing the big, expensive door. As soon as me and Steve got out of earshot, we burst into sidesplitting laughter.
That evening, cold as it was, we were now 3 pounds each better off and for all the canings we'd each received from old Miles over the years, we now felt like we were one-up on the sadistic old bugger!