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.