Alan, Jim, and I, were good friends, although we had our 'fallings out', but then most kids, and adults for that matter, go through these patches. Jim's mother was the only person in the passage that would swear in front of the children, her words were mainly damns, and blasts, but occasionally we would hear bloody, and bugger, so it was no surprise that we would copy her, especially as it would make us sound 'grown up'. We would stand at the end of the passage, and say all these naughty words, repeating, and repeating them, over and over again, until one of the grown ups came along when we would stop, though if we were overheard, the parent would clout her son, and tell the other 2 off.
Sometime later we were on the beach, the 3 of us, with others, and something caused Jimmy and I to fall, out. We started fighting, and on this occasion Jimmy was the loser, and he went back home. When he arrived in the passage, Mother saw him, and asked where I was, "He's on the beach, and he's been swearing, Mrs. Osborne". Eventually I turned up home, and the first thing Mother asked me was if I had been swearing, I naturally lied, and told her no, she asked me again, telling me if I told her the truth, then no punishment would be forthcoming, again I told her no, and she informed me that Jimmy had told her that I had, and because I had lied to her, she was going to punish me, with that she picked up the copper stick, a piece of wood, shaped like a policeman's truncheon, but smaller, and laid it across my backside, telling me that that was what I get for lying to her. I was then sent off to bed. I went, tail between my legs crying my heart out. Needless to say, Jimmy wasn't flavour of the month for some little time after that. His mother heard me crying, and asked her son the reason for my punishment, he told her. Now whether it was because of me and where I had heard the words, or the fact that this was just after she gave birth to her second son, Ronny, I've no idea, but she seemed to control her language when she thought that kids were in earshot.
Jim and I would be about 10 years old, and one winters morning we had a walk along the beach. The previous night had brought a hard frost, and the sand was frozen, it was like walking on paved ground, we would pick up flat stones to send 'skimmers' out to sea, counting the times they bounced off the water, occasionally talk to the odd fisherman, foolhardy folk, sitting there on their little fold up stools, by the waters edge, occasionally casting their fishing lines out as far as they could, often catching very little.
Whilst walking, we would beach comb, looking for anything of any value, maybe something dropped by the now returned home seasons holiday makers. We especially strained our eyes for anything shiny, which, when found, would often turn out to be a piece of tin foil that once covered a slab of chocolate. Sometimes a ha'penny, though a find that was of any value was a rarity. As we approached the Harbours mouth, we discovered a trawler had been driven on to shore, the bows were well up the beach, though its stern was still in the sea. No doubt high winds, and strong sea currents had caused the disaster. It was evident that it had happened some time ago, as it was completely abandoned. We looked for a way to get on to the deck, and found a piece of rope hanging over the bows, with a series of knots in, about 15 inches apart. This was our ladder, and we were soon on board. We went along the deck, with me leading the way, and I walked straight into a hole, where a manhole cover should have been. I landed with a thump, into something wet and soft, I had fallen into the bilges. I looked around for a door, which there was, but this was rusted solidly shut, and found that my only way out was the way I came in. Jim had presence of mind to untie the rope ladder that we had just used, and dangled it down the hole, I tried to climb up, but because of the greasy substance on my shoes I couldn't get a purchase on the rope. If I managed to get up by 2 knots, I would slip down again on the third. All the time this was going on, I could feel the ship move, as each incoming wave hit it, of course my fertile imagination made my situation worse.
Common sense came to my rescue, I cleaned what I could off my shoes, by scraping them on a piece of the ships framework, and tried again, this time I got up to the knot that would allow Jim to grab me and help me up the rest of the way. Once on deck, we retied the rope to the bows, and we were on the beach again.
We did notice once we were free, that the tide had come further up the beach. I don't know how long my 'imprisonment took, but it seemed years. We both took our shoes off, and cleaned them as best we could, and I got Jim to swear he wouldn't tell anyone what we had been up to, especially our parents, as we would both have been in trouble from them.
Near Dad's shorebase was a storage area for roadstones, this was piled high, well high enough to make it a challenge for us kids, it mainly consisting of small granite chippings. The kind of surface that if you took 3 steps up, you would slide back 2. It was the first one to actually reach the summit, who won the day. We had the added sense of excitement as the pile of chippings were close to the river, which had a very low wall, on it's bank, mainly to stop the granite from falling in the water, this wall was not high enough though, to stop us, and when tumbling down from the top, you had no grip on the moving chips, and had to swerve yourself over to one side to avoid getting wet, or at worst, drowned. None of us could swim, but the thought of falling in never caused us any concern. Once our parents knew where we had been playing, we were banned from the area, whether it was because of the danger we were exposing ourselves too, or that we were ruining our shoes, I like to believe it was the former.
The Pleasure beach was also an attraction to us, this is where the slot machines, dodgems, roundabouts, game stalls, and the Scenic railway was. There was also the Tunnel of Love, which didn't interest us, at the time, that would come later. We would try all the slot machines to see if anyone had left either some cash returned, or a free go, until we were caught by an attendant, who would tell us to "bugger off". Then we would hang around the dodgems, hoping that someone wanted company in their car, this did happen on the rare occasion when a relative, or friends relative, may treat us, and we always kept our eyes open, hoping to find a lost coin.
Experience told us that the best day to go around the Pleasure Beach was on the Friday, the last day of those spending their annual holiday at Yarmouth, as a lot of the people didn't think they should go back home unless they had spent up, and if they had any money left in their pockets, now was the time to blow it.
On Good Friday, and if Dad was at home, and it was a fine day, Mum would pack up a picnic, and the 4 of us would walk to the river ferry, and catch the boat across. The ferry boat was manually rowed by the ferry man. who would chat to Dad, whilst he was pulling away on his oars. Once over the other side, we would walk to Burgh Castle, the ruins of an old part of the fortifications, built by the Romans, to defend the area.
There we would eat our sandwiches, before trying to climb the walls, ensuring that we were out of Dad and Mum's sight. Of course all this playing made us ready for an ice cream, and a couple of hundred yards from where we were sitting, was a small shop, run by a Mrs. Brown, and after a lot of persuasion, Dad would give us each a penny, and we would run over to "Old Mother Brown's". Although the area was called Burgh castle, it would often be given the name of Old Mother Browns. After eating our treat, we would start our return home, again catching the ferry, and if I was lucky, Dad would give me a 'piggy back' ride for some of the way. This was a yearly ritual for us, and many other families, and always happened on Good Friday.
Most summer evenings, when Dad was home, He and Mum would meet Geof and I outside church, after Evensong, when our choirboy duties were over, and the 4 of us would stroll along the sea front for a mile or so, until we reached the Nelson public house, Mum and Dad would go in, and shortly afterwards she would come out with a bag of crisps, which she would shake up, dividing the bag into 2 halves, then tear the bag into two, and give us half a bag each. Once their thirst had been quenched, which was often a pint of bitter for Dad, and a glass of stout for Mum, they would rejoin us, and we would make our way home, past the Pleasure Beach, which would be closed, it being Sunday, and once home, a cup of cocoa for us, and bed.
With regards to our association with the church, and singing, Mum and Dad wanted us both to go to Sunday school, when we were old enough. Geof started first, going to the Primitive Methodist chapel, I followed him a little later. The superintendent, and teacher, of the school, was a Mr. Hogg, who would capture our imaginations with his interpretations of the parables, but better still was the perk, that happened once a year, in the summer, when all the Sunday school children would be taken, by horse and cart, out into the country, for a picnic, where we were allowed to run free, to behave like children should, romping over hay bales, running through long grass, and generally chasing about, to finish off the day, after we had spent our childish energy, and were exhausted, with sandwiches, jellies, cakes, and lemonade. After which we would get back on the carts, and make our way back, singing our heads off, arriving home tired out, and ready for bed.
Also once a year we would receive a prize, if we had had good attendance's at the chapel over the past year. Each visit to the chapel would give us a star, stamped on our attendance card. The gift was never any religious book, but normally an adventure story, such as "The Knights of the round table, or Robin of Sherwood". On the fly leaf Mr. Hogg would write his name, with a 'this book is presented to. . . . . I still have mine.
For some unknown reason we stopped going, it may have been that we were not Methodists. Nevertheless Mum and Dad, still wanted us to go to church, and as 'Saint James's was the closest Church of England, we were routed there, to continue our religious instruction.
Geof joined the church choir first, whether he joined because he liked singing, or the fact that he was getting paid for it, I've no idea, it could have been a bit of both, and in a short space of time I followed him. As the church was only a couple of hundred yards from home, it was quite convenient. It meant choir practice one night a week, unless the choir master had decided to go for something rather than hymns, such as a special anthem for Easter, or other peak church festivals. I believe we got a penny a week for our services, plus another penny for weddings, and funerals, and another penny when we walked to the Jetty, where a Rogation service would be conducted, to bless the sea, and to pray for safe sailing's for fishermen, and give them good catches. This service would be very well attended by the townspeople, and in particular those who made their living by fishing.
In all modesty, Geof and I were blessed with having good singing voices, inherited, no doubt, from our parents. Our choir master was an extremely nice man, except that he did have one disconcerting characteristic, he liked feeling little boys privates, whether it was to find out when a boys voice would break, or a turn on for him, I'm not sure, but after he had done it to me a couple of times, I told Mother, who said that if he should attempt it again, I should tell her, and also that I was to tell him that I would tell her. Needless to say, his hand started going towards my boyhood, and I relayed Mother's message to him, he stopped straight away, and never tried to feel me again.
Mr. Easton was a teacher at the Greenacre senior school, and he sat in front of his class on a high seat, at the back of a high desk, which had a modesty screen in front of it. Geof told me the tale of Mr. Easton calling one of the boys to his desk to discuss the boy's work, and whilst the boy stood next to him, Mr. Easton decided on grope him, the boy, not to be undone, groped the master. He never tried it on the boy again, whether any other boy felt his hands around them I don't know. but this story went around the school like wildfire.
Many years after, in fact I was then a father, Mr. Easton's name cropped up in the local paper. He had become a headteacher, at a school in the country, and evidently was still up to his old tricks, as he groped a boy. The boy told his Mum, who, in turn, informed the police. This resulted in Mr. Easton being sacked, whether he went to prison, I've no recollection.
During the summer months the choir would be invited to sing at various churches in the county, another penny for this. We all seemed to enjoy these outings, not only for the bus ride, the singing, the supper, and of course the cash. Geof left the choir when he started work, at 14, so I was on my own, except by this time, Alan and Jimmy had joined.
The lead boy soprano was Harry Sparham, a very fat boy, son of a fish and chip shop owner. The choir were rehearsing an anthem for Easter, "Lift high ye gates" etc, when Harry's voice broke(I wonder if Mr. Easton had early warning of this) as I was the stand-in, I was asked to take over the solo part. It took Mr. Easton a great deal of brainwashing, to try and overcome my embarrassment, to get me to stand up in front of a church full of people, and sing. I eventually succumbed, after getting a promise from Mum that she wouldn't attend the service. Come the evening, I did my part, although it meant keeping my eyes on the ceiling of the church, with my voice faltering only when my gaze dropped.
Death reared it's ugly head, twice, whilst we lived in Camden Place, the first one was Mrs. Bately, who was a widow, and lived at the end of the passage, leaving two daughters, the eldest one was at work, whereas Kathleen was my age, who I would play with, if there were no boys available. Mrs. Bately had been ill for some time, in fact I believe she was confined to her bed. The neighbours got involved, helping out in the house when needed, and looking after both Mother and girls. When the good lady eventually died, they, the girls, were taken in by the neighbours, on a full time basis, until they could be adopted by relatives.
Kathleen stopped with us, fortunately Dad was at sea, so she would sleep with Mum. I think Mother enjoyed Kathleen's stay with us, and, if we had had a larger house, I feel she would have attempted to adopt her.
After a while she, and her sister moved away from Yarmouth, ending up in Portsmouth, our paths never to cross, except for a fleeting visit she made to her now married sister, who had by this time moved back to Yarmouth, and was living just across the road from No. 10. This was after the war had finished, and whilst she was staying there, her sister brought Kathleen across the road to visit Mum.
On my return from work, Kathleen was still with Mother, and had been invited to stay for her tea. Mother asked me if I would like to take Kathleen out for the evening. I could not refuse, so she and I walked down to the Pleasure Beach, even took her on the Tunnel of Love, and although she had grown into a very attractive girl, there was no spark kindled, which I think, disappointed Mum, and the next day Kathleen returned to the South coast.
The other death was of Joyce Brown, only daughter, and sister to 3 brothers, who lived just across the passage. Mr. Brown was a shipmate of Dad's, though he was a crewman, and Dad had got to being a Master. His 3 sons, Herbert, was in the Navy, George, a professional football player for a northern club, and Harold, Geof's age, worked at the local Co-op shop. He, Harold, worked his way up to be coming a manager of the largest Co-op in the town. Eventually joining Anglia television as a manager there. But I digress, Joyce, who was my age, was rushed into hospital, for some reason I'm not clear about, and died in there. Her body being brought home, and placed on the front room table, within her coffin, I said that that was one of the reasons for the use of the front room.
The house was constantly visited by friends, including her schoolmates. Mother gave us the choice of whether to view the body or not, though, as she said, it was the right thing to do. She also told us that if we did, we should kiss the corpse, as then we would only have pleasant memories of her, and death in general, whereas if we didn't kiss her, we could be plagued with unpleasant dreams about death.
Whether Mum was right or wrong, has never been proved to me, as whenever a sad occasion like this has happened, I always kiss the body.
Later on, and not that much later, I was to hear and see, much more of the subject, though these two, my first encounters, I remember as if they happened yesterday. . .
Perhaps I had better add a paragraph or two, about my parents, starting with my Mother, she was born, in 1899, to Selina and William Dye, in a house in St. Peters paved Row, long since demolished. She was one of many who actually were delivered there, although a few were either stillborn, or died at an early age, nevertheless she was one of 15.
One of her brothers, Sidney, lost his life in the Great war, and was awarded the Military medal for bravery, posthumously. Her other brothers became either shipwrights, or printers, though one, Uncle Percy, the comedian of the family, was unskilled, and had various jobs such as labouring, lorry driving, etc. But all of them, with no exception were called up, and fought in France during the first world war, and came back safely. All living well into their 80's.
Her father, a skilled shipwright, lost his life through gangrene, when she was a young girl. It seems as if he was working on Yarmouth Jetty, when a sledge hammer fell from above, breaking his leg, and causing a gaping hole in his flesh. The medics in those days could mend a broken leg, but had no cure for the resultant blood poisoning, that the accident caused.
She attended St. Peter's school, and then, at the age of 14, started work at the local Co-op canning factory. One of her jobs was to 'top up', with gelatine, tins of meat, destined for 'our lads in the trenches'. When old enough she went to dances held on the Brittannia pier, and it was here that she met her first, and no means last, boyfriend.
One of these boys, Bill Docra, on leave from France, fell for her, hook line and sinker, however his feelings were not reciprocated, and he eventually married someone else.
Once the war was over, he returned home to the family sweetmaking business, and in particular, making seaside rock, which was sent all over the world. He ended up a very rich man.
One evening, during this war, Mum had planned to go out dancing. Once she was dressed in her clean white frock, her mother asked her to go to the post box with a letter. She had just popped the letter in the box, when she heard a droning noise overhead, looking up, she saw a German Zeppelin, and actually saw a bomb leave the airship, making her to fling herself on to the ground. The bomb dropped, and exploded, just up the road from where she was, She found out later that the bomb had demolished some buildings, killing one man, the cobbler, who repaired the families shoes, he had his head blown off.
On picking herself up, she found that her dress was filthy, and as she had not got another one good enough for the dance, the kibosh was put on her evening out.
She had piano lessons as a girl, and became quite a good player, but more about that later.
I don't know when she met Dad, but they married in 1925. Their first home was a flat on the south quay, it was here that Geofrey was born.
One of the tales she would tell us, (When we were grown up), was about her early married life, Dad was at sea 6 weeks then home for 2 weeks, and on his first Saturday ashore he would meet other crew members for a drink, as they also had had a 6 week abstinence, and had a lot to make up for. Mother would ask Dad what time did he want his dinner, and would cook it to meet that time. But once in the pub, his dinner went completely out of his head. Time after time she would have a dried up dinner in the oven, just waiting for his return.
After a few of these late returns, and wasted meals, she could stand it no longer, and made her way to his drinking den, walking into the pub, she grabbed his arm, and told him she wasn't going to cook him another wasted meal, and once she had had her say, she walked out, being followed within a moment by him. He kept to his promised time after that, although I can imagine he would have been livid with Mum after that escapade. They had enough of living in the flat, so decided to buy 12 Camden Place, this gave her another couple of rooms, and it was in this house where I was born.
With more rooms, and another child, she found her days extremely full, especially with me in nappies, and constantly wanting feeding, plus having Geof to look after.
I'll try to explain what her week was, starting on a Sunday, bearing in mind I would be 4 or 5 years old by this time. This was her lightest day, although she had to be first up, clean out the ashes from the previous day's fire, laying it, then lighting it, and boiling the water for our morning's cuppa. Once the room was warmer, she would get us out of bed, make sure we dressed ourselves, washed our faces and hands, cleaned our teeth, then we would sit down to breakfast, this normally took the shape of 2 shredded Wheat biscuits, (these came in a cardboard packet, and printed on it's side was the statement" Britons make it, it makes Britons), these would be topped with Bemax, (Wheat germ) then sprinkled with glucose powder, drenched in full cream milk. On odd occasions, we would vary our breakfast by having Mr. Force's cornflakes, and in winter, porridge.
Also, in winter, after our breakfast, we would each be given a desert spoonful of Malt extract, (This was often supplied by one of our uncles who worked at the Edme malt factory in Mistley). To try and keep us clear of colds, Mum would put a lump of camphor, placed in a little cloth bag, around our necks. I don't know if it was successful. I also used to suffer from Croup, which would cause me to cough, which sounded more like the bark of a dog.
Mentioning Shredded Wheat, also on the packet were coupons that after you had removed, and collected a certain number, you could send these off to claim a special dish, with the Abbey pattern on, suitably shaped for the breakfast cereal. which I would have my breakfast in. On my mothers death, I brought this back from Yarmouth, and started off your Mothers craze for collecting pottery of that style.
She, my Mum, after our morning meal, would clear the table, wash the used dishes, go upstairs and make the beds, come back downstairs, and clean and polish the stove, using blacklead, then start preparing our dinner. With her chores done, she would take a few minutes break to have a glance at the "News of the world". Then it would be time to set the table, and have our dinner, after which, she would wash the dirtied pots, and pans. Make a cup of tea, and have another look through the paper, this would occupy her until it was time to get tea ready. After we had had our tea she would, again, do some more washing up. With all meals over she would maybe play cards with Geof and I, or Ludo, or another board game such as Snakes and ladders, til it was time for us to be washed, prior to our bedtime, give us our usual cup of cocoa, put us to bed, tuck us in, kiss us goodnight. As she did this she would say, 'Goodnight, sweet repose, lay on your belly, and flatten your nose". She could now return to her paper, to get all the scandal and gossip that the "News of the world" was known for. If, and when, Dad was at home, the same sequence would take place, except Dad may prepare the vegetables for our dinner.
Come Monday, this was a different ball game, and I think this was her hardest day, as Monday was washday, never, ever, any other day, but Monday, so not only did she do the chores that she had on Sunday, she now had to fill the copper, situated in the back yard, by carrying buckets of water from our one and only tap, light a fire underneath the copper, to boil the water. Once it was up to the required heat, she would add her washing powder, and a tablet of Mazo, I think this was a mild bleaching agent, put in all the dirty clothes, bed linen, towels, etc. The amount of clothes determined how long the wash would take. This washing she would do even if it were raining, which didn't help much on washday, as the backyard hadn't been roofed over in my earlier days. She would agitate the washing using the copper stick, the very one she used on me, when she found out about me lying to her. When she was satisfied that the washing was clean, she would lift it out, into a small galvanised bath, carry this bath over to the sink, rinse all the washing, under the cold tap, doing this several times, eventually, when she thought that all the soap had been rinsed out, she would give them a twist, getting as much surplus water out of them, take them over to the mangle, and offer each item in turn to the rollers, the squeezed out water from the wringing being caught in a strategically placed bucket beneath the mangle.
From there they would be hung on to the clothes line, which would be tied to opposite end walls of the back yard, occasionally using a line stretched across the back passage walls. If the weather was wet, she would give them an extra wring through the mangle, and hang them on lines tied to the living room walls. Once they were almost dry she would take them down, fold them, and if she wasn't too tired, she would then iron them, but often she left them to the next day. Whatever day she ironed, the iron would need heating up, this was done by placing it on the top of the stove. The iron was made of castiron, shaped like the sole of a shoe, the front coming to a point, and topped with a steel handle. The iron, naturally, getting extremely hot, as did the handle. It's readiness was checked by lifting it off the stove, with a thick piece of cloth, turning it upside down, and spitting on it, if it sizzled it was ready, it would then be placed on a chromed, brass cover, giving it a smooth surface for the pressing. Most women would have at least two of these irons, one to use, and one to heat, constantly changing them, until all the pressing was done, which would be done on an old towel, laid on the kitchen table, there being no such thing as an ironing board, in those days. Tuesday was also the day, or one of the days, that the stove would be 'blackleaded', using some stuff called Zebo, this would be put on with one brush, and polished off by another, much the same as shoes were cleaned, except when you got 'Zebo' on your hands, it really took some removing. The brushes used were specially made for the purpose, with a handle to prevent your hands getting soiled.
If your stove was unpolished and someone called at the house, you would feel as if a cardinal sin had been committed, as a good housewife never neglected her duties. The afternoons of these days would often be spent in the company of her Mother, who lived just up the road.
Wednesday would be spent much the same way, without the ironing. On Thursday, the usual morning chores, then she would go to the market, to buy fresh produce, Friday a repeat of Thursday except she would go to the Co-op, and not the market, to order the weeks groceries, which would be delivered later that day. Saturday, usual mornings work, though she would have a partial break from cooking, as we would have Fish and chips, from Frazers fish shop, which was on Camden Road. Occasionally I would ask her if instead of fish, could I have corn beef, which she would send me for, with a penny, to Ives's shop. He would slice me off a pennysworth from a larger piece. But whether it was fish or corned beef, it was always followed by rice pudding, that had been baked in the oven. Geof and I would each ask for the 'skin' which had been slightly burned, giving it a nice flavour, though we would not argue the point, as the cane was above her head.
Whilst eating our meal, the radio would be on, and, as if timed to the minute, just as Mother was dishing up the rice pudding, the announcer would state, "And now for our weekly brass band concert, and this week it's the Black Dyke, or Coldstream guards, etc", who ever was playing, we always ate our rice pudding to the sound of brass instruments.
After dinner she would bribe me, by promising me some fruit, if I would accompany her to the market, to buy more fresh produce.
I would be her donkey, to carry her purchases. Of course, she invariably met an old workmate, and I would be introduced as her baby, meaning I was her youngest, I would cringe at that, and I still cringed, later on in my life, especially when I was in my forties, as she would still introduce her baby. But as a child I did get my reward for my carrying duties, normally a pound of Victoria plums, and if they were really cheap, (I've known them 2 lb for threehapence)I would get more, Mother knew my weakness, I would do anything for fruit.
To make ends meet, Mum would take in some holiday makers, provided that it didn't clash with Dad being home. By holiday makers, it was just one family, Mr. and Mrs. Norris, and son, Jack, he was my age. They were from London, and Mr. Norris would scrimp and save the rest of the year to spend this week at Yarmouth, as Jack was a sickly child, and never looked well, although after a week on the East coast, he seemed to improve in health. They slept in the front bedroom, all 3 of them, Geof and I in our usual bed, where Mum slept, I haven't any idea, I can only guess that it was on the settee in the front room, but she was always up before us, bright and breezy.
Mr. Norris was a keen fisherman, and his favourite fish was eel. They would travel from London to Yarmouth by bus, bringing with him, as part of his luggage, his hand line, and wicker basket. Most mornings would see him along the banks of the river, whilst Mrs. Norris would take Jack on to the beach, occasionally asking me if I would like to go with them, as company for her son.
Once, Jack and I went fishing with his father, he giving us each a hand line, which he would bait for us, and show us how to cast, but after a time without a catch, we both got bored, and we would wander back to the beach to find his Mother. Any fish he caught he would throw back, he just wanted eels, which, when caught, he would bring home to Mum, who would gut and clean them, and cook them for their tea.
On their last day, Saturday, Mrs. Norris would pack, ready to catch a bus back to London in the afternoon. and whilst she was doing that, Mr. Norris would have his last attempt at catching an eel, or two, by the side of the river. On one of their visits, he managed to catch a very large one, which was safely imprisoned in his fishing basket, which had a lid that was fastened by a piece of round wood through two eyelets. When they got on their transport, their cases were put in the baggage compartment, but Mr. Norris kept his wicker basket by his seat, placing it on the floor, in the gangway. The journey, for some particular reason was quite bumpy, and they hadn't been travelling far, when a woman suddenly shrieked her head off, complaining that there was a snake loose on the bus, the driver pulled the coach up very quickly, Mr, Norris glanced down at his basket, which had slid a little way down the gangway, and saw the top lid was open, the fixing rod missing. The 'snake' was his eel. Feeling about 6 inches high, he retrieved the fish, found the rod, and securely sealed the culprit in, offering profuse apologies to the lady, fellow passengers, and the driver. He told us, in a letter, that after that, he never took his eyes off the basket, until they arrived home. The previous evening, to their departure the next day, the Norris's had, as they had done in past years, treated Mum, Geof, and I, to a ride, on an open topped coach that carried about 20 people. and was pulled by 2 horses, the vehicle was known as a "Brake". We arrived a little time before departure, and climbed aboard, but I could not sit still, and started skylarking about. My messing about caused me to fall off the 'Brake', a distance of about 5 feet, and on the way down I grazed my leg on a wheel. The wound started to bleed profusely, Mum, and Mr. Norris got off the "Brake" both taking me to the first aid station, which was nearby. I thought that they, the St. John's first aiders, would take me to hospital, and I pleaded with both Mum, and Mr. Norris, not to take me there, my pleas were ignored, I was still taken inside the room, even though I was sobbing my socks off. Again my imagination was having a field day, as something like that had happened to a man, just the other week, and they took his leg off. The first aid attendant, cleaned up the wound, then bandaged it, finally pulling up my sock to cover it, and back we got on the coach, me sitting there the rest of the evening, quite subdued.
The "Brake" would take us out to a pub, on the edge of a Broad, known as Eels foot. Those who wanted a drink could have one, those who didn't went for a walk. At the appointed time of our return, and all were safely back on to the "Brake" we would make our way back to the Jetty. Someone would start singing, and then most of the rest would join in. Singing mainly the Pop songs of the day. On arrival at home, Mum put me straight to bed, after my cocoa, and apart from my experience with my accident, it had, as usual, been a nice outing. Once the war had started we saw no more of the Norris's though Mother did keep in touch with them, and once the conflict was over, and we were living at No. 10, they were, more or less, our first visitors.