School Days

Chapter II

 

On Saturday afternoons, an old boy would come round the houses with a horse and cart, selling fruit and vegetables,  and on this first day of the blitz, he had just called at our door, when bombs began to fall, at the same time as the sirens went off. The noise made the horse a little  agitated,  especially as the aircraft were more or less overhead, and bombs were dropping fairly close. At our front door was a small porch, and Mum told the greengrocer to unhitch the horse, and tie him to the front door, so that the nags head was under cover. Once he had done that, he, Mum, and I, took refuge under the living room table, staying there until the all clear sounded. He then went outside, fussed the horse, put him back in the shafts, and continued on his rounds. 

Once the air raids had started with a vengeance, the air raid shelter at the bottom of the garden was used, and as the Talley's did not have one of their own, they shared ours.

Anderson Shelter -3

Mr. Talley, and Dad, built 3 bunks on one side of the shelter,  for the 3 youngest, with Betty on the bottom one, me in the middle, and Geof on the top.

anders

The shelter was about 6 foot by 4 foot, and the room not taken by our bunks was shared by the 4 adults, sitting in fold up chairs. How they slept I've no idea. as you can imagine the cramped area they had.

Every night, just as the News came on the radio, at 6pm, the raids started, and all we would hear was "Here is the 6 o clock news, and this is Alvar Liddell (Or another announcer) reading it", then the siren went, the ack ack guns were firing, and the steady drone of enemy aircraft was above.

As I made my way down the garden, I would give the Talleys a call, although Mr. Talley would then be on his way home from his shop, his wife and daughter came out, ducking under their garden fence, and join us.

Because of the 7 bodies in the steel shelter, a lot of condensation would form, Dad set too, and cut a round hole in the top, inserted a piece of piping through the hole, the pipe being long enough to reach through the thick layer of soil,  placed over the shelter. The other end of the pipe poking up above the shelter by at least a foot. He then capped it with a dome to allow air in and out but no rain.

The doorway was just an opening in one end wall, so again, Dad made a wooden door, on which was bolted a thick steel plate, then fitted it in the gap. This did help to keep some of the noise, that was going on outside to a minimum, and also keep the warmth in, and the rain out Mother had a paraffin lamp, which would provide us with light, standing on a shelf that had been fitted, and on this shelf was our thermos flasks, food for the night, i.e.,  sandwiches, with another small box containing some tinned goods in the eventuality of an enforced stay down there.

To keep ourselves amused we would play cards every night,  mainly a game called "Knockout whist".

The shelter, as I said, was at the bottom of the garden, and was placed very close to an apple tree, named, very appropriately, Cox's orange. When there was a lull in the raid,  especially before everyone was ready to sleep, the ladies would go out the door, and crouch down, under the tree,  for natural purposes, then the next lull, and Geof and I would go up, followed by the fathers. The next day, the shelter would be cleaned up, and a couple of buckets of water, with a drop of disinfectant added, would be given to the base of the tree. 

With it being so far away from the house, going to the toilet would have been extremely hazardous, especially as scrapnel from exploding anti aircraft shells was constantly falling,  hence the use of the shelter of the tree.

My schooling went to pot, yet again, as if there was a raid the previous night, we would be allowed to sleep in, and start school at 10 am, and if a raid took place whilst we were at school during the day, those of us who lived close by, were allowed home. until the raid finished. Considering that the Blitz had started, with a raid every night, and most days, I was hardly ever at school.

Before we were allowed to go home during the day, and a raid took place, we would all troop to the surface shelter, a brick built, room, with forms in to sit on, and here we would start singing, this tune, which never changed "The animals went in 2 by 2, fevre la companie". If a bomb dropped near our refuge the blast alone would blow it down, so was not considered safe, hence the decision for us to go home.

I watched part of the Battle of Britain, as it is now called, from the back garden of No 47, It was thrilling to see, our Spitfires, and Hurricanes gunning the Heinkel, and Dornier bombers, watching them spiral to the ground, noticing the odd airman bale out, suspended on his parachute, and often arrested on landing by an unarmed policeman.

There were several of our fighter squadrons. with foreign pilots, such as the Free French, Polish, Danes, etc, and on one instance a Polish pilot had to bale out, and on landing, was met by a group of farmers, brandishing their pitchforks, the poor devil kept telling them he was Polish, but as he said it in Polish, no one understood him, and it wasn't until a policeman came onto the scene that the farmers released him. (Anyone who didn't speak English, was eyed very suspiciously).

In the shelter one night, we had a visitation from a beetle called a Devils coach horse, something like an earwig, but much, much, bigger, about 2 inches long. It crawled up the shelter wall, until it reached the peak, where it's own weight caused it to fall. Mrs. Talley was sitting in the position that was directly under the insect. Now she was a very buxom lady, and always wore a blouse with a good cleavage, and down the thing dropped right between her large breasts. She screamed, then jumped up, scrambled out of the shelter,  unfastening her clothes as she went, being followed by her husband. By the time she reached the stairs in her house, she was nearly undressed. Getting to her bedroom, she cast off her remaining clothes, and out came the beetle, her husband put his foot firmly on it, whilst she then dressed herself, but putting on a high necked sweater, before returning to the dug out. Whilst this was going on, the air raid was at it's worst,  but it did not deter her. She was still in a state of unease for quite a while after that.

One night, about 10 o clock, Dad thought he could hear someone in the distance shouting, so he left the shelter to see what was going on, to find an air raid warden, about 3 gardens away, telling us to leave our place of safety, as a parachute mine had dropped and had caught on the peak of a house's gable end, and if it were to touch ground it would flatten an area of a quarter mile radius, and we were well in that dimension. The man told us to go immediately to a rest centre, these were often church halls, and community centres,  used mainly for those made homeless from the bombing, so we put on our warm clothing, and the 7 of us started towards the designated place. Ironically, we had to pass within a 150 yards of the bomb. We arrived at the rest centre, only to be told that it was full, we were then directed to another, that too was full, we went to a third, no luck there. All this time we could hear bombs falling, plus shrapnel from our exploding anti aircraft shells dropping, not a pleasant experience.

Where to now, says Dad, and Mr. Talley said in here, looking at a police station. The officer at the desk was told by Mr. T. to put us in the cells, as it wasn't right for 3 kids to be wandering the streets whilst an air raid was going on. The P. C. said he couldn't do that, but told us to follow him, he led us across the road, and stamped on a hatch on the pavement, (The sort of thing that pubs have to allow barrels to be stowed in a cellar). He then stood clear, and the hatch opened up, to reveal a man, the P. C. asked him if he had room for the 7 of us, which he did, and we went down steps to a large room. Once inside, we saw quite a number of people of all ages, all doing their best to get some sleep. We were offered paliases to sleep on, and shown where the toilet facilities were, and made welcome.

I needed a pee, so made my way to the toilet, basically a metal dustbin, enclosed by a wooden frame, covered with sacking. The bin had not been used so it was completely empty, nothing there to muffle the noise of water being dropped, and it seemed to echo around the cellar, everyone who was awake, must have heard me. On my return to Mum, she told me  hat noise I had created, and told me that she was embarrassed and next time I was to use it to pee down the side of the bin. 

The next morning, when daylight flooded in, we realised that our hosts were Jewish, we thanked them for their kindness, and we made our way outside. First things first, the fathers looked for something to eat, and drink, and once that was accomplished, it was back to the police station, to enquire if it was safe to go home, which it wasn't, so the Talley's left us, and we made our way to Forest Gate, to the Davis's,  who invited us to stay with them until we could go back to Mortlake Road. which, when Dad checked up with the local ARP, was the very next day.

On our return, to No. 47, Dad bought a local newspaper, in which was a picture of the mine, a long tube, filled with high explosives, about 8 foot long, a diameter of at least 2 foot, with sensitive spikes on the bottom, these would trigger off the bomb on touching the ground. Another foot to one side of the gable end, and I may not have been writing this.

When we first used the shelter, often I would be first up, in the morning, and make my way either to the house or the outside toilet, but I soon learned the folly in being the first, because of the spiders. The garden was made up of small islands, each with an array of plants, and getting to the house on the laid out narrow paths, meant dodging the webs, which had been built overnight, stretching across the paths, anchored on flower plants. Often with the spider sitting there about my eye level, now these were not ordinary spiders, these were big, longlegged, and spotty, (Actually I only found these in London), and I would walk straight in to them, often getting them on my face, or in my hair. Once this had happened a couple of times, I let a grown up be the first to the house.

Geof had a narrow escape whilst he was delivering groceries one day. A daylight raid was going on, and as everyone was so used to these, people became a bit blase, and would only take cover at the last moment. Geof stopped outside this house, got off his trike, picked up the groceries, and made his way to the door, when a bomb dropped nearby, much too close for comfort, he was blown off his feet, the goods were scattered on the path, and his trike turned headover heels, he picked himself up, and then gathered the spilt parcel of groceries,  delivered them to the house with his apologies, then returned to turn his trike right way up, and carried on his rounds.

The biggest gas storage tanks, in London, received a direct hit one night, and London was without any means of cooking or heating, unless you had electric stoves, which were a rarity in the city, as everyone seemed to cook with gas. Mother, in her wisdom, had brought up from No. 12, a paraffin stove, which she would cook on during the warm summer months rather than have the heat of the coal fire going all day, and had been kept down the cellar. This was carried up, cleaned, and placed on the kitchen table. Dad went all over Ilford to get some paraffin, but he was out of luck, they had either sold out, or they did not stock it anymore. He mentioned the problem to Mr. Talley, who said he would try and find some. He came home that night with a gallon, and said he could get more tomorrow if we had a container for it, one was duly found. Mum filled up the reservoirs of the stove, and with the aid of a match, we were away.

On this stove she not only cooked meals for us, but the Talley's, and the old ladies next door, provided that they supplied any foodstuffs that were rationed.

I think we had to cook this way for over a week, before gas was restored. In a way Mum was quite pleased to use this form of cooking, as she was never happy using gas.

Betty Talley was Geof's age, and Geof had an afternoon off work once a week, and when Betty too was at home from school,  the three of us would play in the garden, normally at hide and seek, but it was always my turn to play the seeker, and they always hid in the shelter, and bolted the door after them. I knew where they were, although no sounds would emit from inside. I was a naive 12 year old, and the only thing I knew about the birds and bees, is that both of them flew, and one of them stung, I'll not comment any further. My knowledge of those matters would come about later, when I was evacuated. 

As our shelter was a bit overcrowded, Mr. Talley decided to make his own, and set too, digging a deep hole, and making a base, and walls, with solid, reinforced, concrete, the hole,  naturally, filling with water, when it rained, before he had chance to roof it, and the inevitable happened, a frog decided to hop in. That night, in the shelter, Mrs. T. seemed extremely worried, and mentioned to her husband that he ought to try and get the frog out, as it might drown, this went down well with him, asking her what frogs was supposed to live in, she had not got an answer to that, but that was Mrs. T.

He did eventually cover it up to stop any more water getting in, which gave him the additional work of emptying it. Once he had built the walls sufficiently high enough, and the roof completed, he then lined it with wood paneling. The concrete,   and wood were more or less, unobtainable, for the ordinary working man, but not for Mr. T, he could lay his hands on most things. He had an advantage over others, by his trade, if someone wanted a new suit, etc. he would provide the material,  cut it, and put it together, and if he wanted anything, it was a case of you scratch my back, and I'll scratch yours. Such things as whisky, gin, rum, even salad cream, (Heinz's factory was across the road from his shop)were all the sort of things he could get, whereas, we couldn't.

He hadn't quite finished his shelter when we left Ilford, but what we saw was a palace compared to ours, complete with electric light, heating, carpets, etc. As I wrote earlier, Mr. T. was a fighter pilot in the first world war, but try as I might, he would never talk of his wartime experiences then.

The old ladies had had enough of the blitz, and decided to leave, finding a home in the country, miles away from London,  and because of Dad, and Mum's treatment of them, they asked us around their house, so that they could say their farewells to us over a cup of tea.

Where they were moving to were much smaller premises, and could not take everything they had in this house with them. Whilst we were saying our farewells, they offered Mum some items of furniture, and gave Geof and I, a travelling writing box each, I still have mine. Plus a huge pile of books, dating back to 1895, through to 1905, such as the bound copies of the Strand magazine, 4 books on the story of the Boer war, even a brass bound family bible, which Geof has in his keeping.

All the books came in a mahogany bookcase, that stood from floor to ceiling, this too we had. Two sewing machines, now up in my loft, and various other small items, which included a small cupboard, this was inlaid with different woods, and would be worth a fortune now, (This perished in the North sea floods of 1953). As regards the books, I think I was the only one to read them all, I even brought them back to No. 4, and were here until last year, (1999) when I sold them to a bookstore. One of the old ladies pride and joy was a grandfather clock, made completely from wood, which they took with them.

Mother kept in touch with the old ladies, after they left, and for many years after the war had ended, the blind sister would send Mum, every Christmas, a crocheted table doily, or crocheted face flannel, which she had made herself.

Dad had to report to work, at St. Catherine wharf most days,  and on one occasion, a bonded warehouse had got hit with incendiaries the previous night, and Dad managed to salvage some tobacco leaves, which had escaped damage. These he brought home, and laid them on the kitchen table, removed any large stalks, sprinkled a drop of rum on them, wrapped them in some cloth, then using some thin rope, bound them tightly, into a sausage shape, hung it up to dry, just below the dining room ceiling, and when he thought sufficient time had elapsed, he took the 'sausage' down, unwrapped it, cut off a piece of the finished product, rubbed it between his palms, stuffed it into his pipe, applied a match, and commented that it wasn't a bad bit of baccy.

  As Jerry had started his blitz on London, and was losing quite a large number of aircraft, he decided that maybe he should put off his invasion plans, and decided to turn his attention to Russia, throwing all his resources at them, this not only took pressure off London, but also removed the threat of possible conquest, of the U. K. via the East coast.  Although one newspaper ran a story about an attempted invasion, and we, using oil pipes that had been laid out to sea, near our shoreline, stopped the act by virtually setting the sea alight. The article in the newspaper stated that 50, 000 Germans lost their lives. This story was never corroborated.

The head serags of the Trinity service decided that it was safe to return, and reopen, the base at Yarmouth, and Dad went off to search for a home for us, as No. 12 had been rented out to Doris Waters, and her husband. He eventually found a place to rent, No. 10 Lichfield Road, which was many years later bought, by Mum and Dad.

On his return to Ilford, we started packing up, for our journey back to Yarmouth. On our last night, in No. 47, we were invited around to the Talley's, for supper, and although there were plenty to drink, for the adults, we, the youngsters, had to make do with various flavours of soft drinks. The table was stacked with foodstuffs, especially with tinned fruit, cream,  in fact all the things that we had been unable to buy, but Mr. T could get.  As we left their house, Mr. T. offered me a tobacco jar, made from the boss of a propeller of a Sopwith "Camel"(a first world war fighter plane), and asked me whenever I used the jar, would I spare a thought for him. I still have this.

Come the next day, and early in the morning, along came the removal van. It was all hands to the pumps, and we soon had the house emptied, and the van full. We said our goodbyes to the Talley's, and off we went. I know Dad traveled on the van, but I just cannot remember how Mum, Geof, or I got there, I know it was dark when we got to our home town, and as we needed daylight to empty the van, (Blackout restrictions) it was decided that we find digs overnight, then move in the next morning. Dad found us a bed and breakfast place on the South quay, above a shop.

More or less, at first light, we made our way to our new home,  we all thought that Mortlake road was spacious, but now we were moving into a 9 roomed house, 4 up, 4 down, and a bathroom, the houses were getting bigger.

Once the lorry had been emptied, and sent on it's way, and things had been roughly put in the rooms, I had chance to explore the place, and got to opening up all the cupboards and doors, in one of which I found a bowler hat, similar to my find in Ilford.

No. 10 had a small front garden, and a not much bigger rear one, part of which was taken up by an Anderson shelter, just like the one we had spent so much time in, in London, during the blitz, and hoping that we would not need this one.

It was back to school for me, and a return to the Greenacre,  which had lost a great number of it's pupils, some who had taken advantage of the evacuation scheme, some killed by earlier enemy action, but there were still some of my old mates there, one in particular, Ray Stone.

The Head and a couple of the old teachers were also there,  and several new ones. Geof managed to get a job at the Co-op, just across the road from Grannies, on Blackfriars Road, and shortly afterwards he transferred to the shop on Lichfield road, and all was quiet on the home front.

Dad was sent back to sea, stationed on the Haisbro, doing his month on, month off stints. This was one of only 2 lightships now in the North sea, although they were now equipped with a light anti aircraft gun. Dad, whilst in London, had been on a course learning how to use it, though it was only to be fired if the ship was attacked.

We had only just started to settle in our new home, I don't think that it was more than 6 weeks, when Adolph decided to let us know his whereabouts, and started to bomb the East coast ports, seemingly, to favour Yarmouth. Heavy bombers at night, and fighter bombers by day, kept visiting us.

We tried the outside shelter, but it often had a few inches of water laying in the bottom, so we used one of the cupboards under the stairs, supposed to be the safest place in the house. This cubby hole was not big enough for a bed, or bunks, so we had to take our rest in the house, until the raids started, then we would sit under the stairs, waiting for the raid to finish, when we could return to our beds,  returning to the cupboard only if Jerry gave us another call.

Later on during the war we were given what was called a "Morrison" shelter, this took the form of a large table about 6 foot long, by 3 foot wide, made of steel, with a steel mesh covering 3 sides, and would be situated in our dining room. We would endeavor to sleep under this, rather than use the understairs cupboard.  At school we were introduced to logarithms, and try as I might, I couldn't get the hang of them, Ray Stone, who sat next to me, couldn't either, and the rest of the class were not much better. Often our lessons were interrupted by an air raid, when we would all go to the surface shelter, but unlike in Ilford, instead of singing "the animals went in 2 by 2"we sang"10 green bottles hanging on the wall".

Each morning, the roll would be called, and often as not, some of the boys would be missing, killed or injured in the previous nights raid, and gradually the class size went down.  The rest of us would accept this with a certain amount of stoicism, but eventually it got to you, wondering who would be next.

I met Ray Stone one evening, and we walked along the front, we were, naturally, too young to call in for a drink, unless it was coffee, as we were obvious to all what age we were. As we approached the now closed Pleasure Beach, not to reopen until the war finished, we decided to climb over the fence, and made our way to the Scenic railway, another fence to climb, and we were on the railway, Keeping to the tracks we went to the very top, getting a good view of that part of town. The owner had left it just as it was, nothing had been removed,  especially the decorative lighting, so Ray and I pinched a couple of the coloured bulbs, as a memento of our visit. When I returned home, I put a green lamp in one of the bedrooms,  which was only removed when, in later years, Geof and I,  cleared out Mothers house. The lamp is now at No. 4, as good as it was all those years ago. 

I was getting a bit nervous, and Mother took me to see Dr. Blake, who suggested evacuation, which I was not terribly keen to do, as it meant leaving Mum, Dad, and Geof, and of course, my fast diminishing group of friends, but things got worse, and so did I. Mum decided to take the necessary steps,  for my health's sake. Within a few weeks after she had done this, I was on my way, to pastures new.

On the appointed day for my departure, Mum packed my suitcase, and took me to the Railway station, where several others were going with me. A label was tied to my lapel, and with a few sandwiches, plus my case, I was put on a train. The small group of us kids were escorted by a lady, no doubt to make sure that we all got to our destination, and didn't do a runner whilst in transit. I don't remember much about this sad journey, but the train eventually arrived at Retford, mid afternoon. From the train we were met by another lady, who escorted us to a bus, and once all of our details were given,  the bus set off. Once outside Retford, the bus would stop,  names would be called out, and those children would get off,  to be met by another lady. After a while the bus stopped at South Leverton, and off I got, to be taken to meet my new foster family, Mr. and Mrs. Johnson, and their son, Charlie, about my age, and his sister Margaret, a couple of years younger. My new home was at Meetinghouse lane.

I was to sleep with Charlie, and was shown the bedroom, that we would share, and shown where I could put my clothes. After unpacking I went downstairs, and tea was on the table, which I tucked in to, No sooner was that finished, when there was a knock on the door, and in came Alan Waters, and Jimmy Love, who were also living in the village. They had been evacuated earlier. I asked Mrs. Johnson if I could go out with them, she said by all means, Roy, and the 2 of them took me around the village.

As we walked over a large field we found quite a number of sheep occupying it, so we moved slowly at first, the sheep seemingly to take an interest in us, so we walked faster, the sheep also walked faster, we took to our heels, and the sheep started to run. Being a town boy, I got concerned, as did my two partners, so all 3 of us looked for some means of escape,  as there did not appear to have a gate this side of the field, we had to throw ourselves over a hedge, just in time,  for the sheep, which were being led by one with very large horns, was about to catch up with us.

On my return to the Johnson's I told them of our near miss,  and they had a good laugh, telling me that the sheep were inquisitive, and that if we had turned on them, they would have run away.

Alan and Jim went to Retford to school, catching a bus each morning, but I, for some reason, was not allowed this, and had to go to a Parochial school, two miles away, at Sturton Le Steeple. As I had not brought my bike with me, that was being sent on to me, I had to borrow Mrs. Johnsons.

At my new school, I found that Mr. Cheeseman, was not only the headmaster, but our main teacher, apart from a lady, who dealt with the very young children. We had the usual 3'Rs', but as it was a church controlled school, we had a fair bit of religious instruction, insomuch as learning quotations from the Bible, two of them well embedded in my mind, "Consider the lilies in the field" and "Lay not up for yourselves treasures on earth". And because it was in the very depth of the country, he taught us how to recognise the leaves of trees,  various animals, birds etc. these things didn't seem to sink in with me.

I, with others, occasionally got the cane, for sometimes talking, or fighting, in the school playground. The fights were mainly between boys who had been evacuated from other areas of the country, mainly Sheffield. On one occasion, I had 3 lads start on me, only because I was from Yarmouth, and possibly because I was a bit bigger than them, so I was more of a challenge. When you are surrounded by opponents, every blow you could throw hit home, whereas they had to watch that they didn't hit a mate. I eventually won the day, but failed to notice Mr. Cheeseman, who caught the tail end of the fight,  ordering all 4 of us into the front of the classroom, telling the assembled class what we were about to be punished for,  then giving us 5 strokes of the cane on each hand, Once the stinging had stopped, he made us shake hands. After this incident, we became the best of pals. During our punishment, a piece of the cane broke off, which, one of us picked up, and the 4 of us had a go at smoking it later, passing it around from mouth to mouth.

There was one other Yarmouth child in the school. a girl that I knew from the Greenacre, Daphne Watts, she was staying with people in the village of Sturton, but apart from during the school hours, we never met.

Charlie and I would cycle home each dinner time, and when the apples were ready to pick in the field next door to his home, we would, after we had had our meal, climb over the fence, and raid the orchard, which was owned by the local blacksmith. We would maybe take 5 or 6 apples, stuff them down our socks, which were covered by our long trousers, and cycle back to school. selling them for a ha'penny each to our fellow classmates. The blacksmith nearly caught us one day, and although he didn't recognise us, he had a good idea who was doing the scrumping, we must have laid a trail a blind Indian could follow. He had a word with Mrs. J, who then took it upon herself to monitor our dinner break.

The blacksmith had his workshop a little distance from Meetinghouse lane, and if I had some spare time, I would go and watch him at work. If he was in a good mood he would allow me to operate the bellows that gave air to his fire,  but other times he would tell me to 'bugger off'. I was fascinated when he made a coffin (He was also the village undertaker) watching him make the bend in the sides to fit the shoulders of the deceased, and polish, and stain the wood.  Sometimes I would catch him shoeing a horse, and wondered why the animal didn't feel the nails as they were knocked in to the hoof.

3 or 4 houses away from him, a miracle occurred, or at least that is what I overheard other women saying. It seems as if this lady was expecting a baby, and what I heard was the women discussing this event, "it must be a miracle having a baby at her age". What the woman's age was I've no idea, as anyone who was over thirty, was extremely old, in my 13 year old eyes.

Across the road from this lady was the village hall, which had a snooker table, and was also the venue for the odd dance, or meeting. Sometimes Mr. J. would be the duty caretaker and when it was his turn to be in charge, he would allow us to use the table, provided that there was not any once else wanting to play, and that we behaved ourselves.

When they had a dance in the hall, everyone, including the kids, even babes in arms, went to it. If there was a soldier on leave, he could possibly stay all night, getting beer bought for him, so long as he allowed the old soldiers to tell them of their war, often giving him advise as to how Churchill should run the present one. No doubt he was bored silly, but he was getting his ale paid for.

Once my own bike had arrived, I could leave Mrs. J's at home, but I often had a problem with mine, caused through having well worn tyres, frequently getting punctures. It was almost impossible to replace them, as all the rubber produced in this country was wanted for the war effort.

Although Mr. J. would mend them, he didn't always have the time, at night after work, I could not use his bike, as he needed it for his work, besides I would have felt a right Charlie on it as he had a motorcycle seat fitted, instead of the usual small cycle saddle. The large saddle was because he had some form of arthritis in his hips, and the normal size seat aggravated his problem. So it would be back to using Mrs. J's, which again I was not happy with, as it was a 'sit up and beg' type ladies cycle, which had provoked a lot of mickey taking from so called friends when I had previously used it.

I'll describe the surrounds of Meetinghouse lane, the Johnson's had quite a bit of land, which. stretched about 30 foot from the front of the house, to the road, with not too much at the back, On the right of the house, facing the property, it must have been well over a 100 feet, to another road. You came out the front door, turned left for about 30 feet, in this first part was the kitchen garden, plus the pigsty, complete with pig, next to the sty, rabbit hutches, and the garden shed, then came the house lavatory. This was what can only be described as a shovel back toilet, (everything you passed went into a pile, which after a while was shoveled back, to an area where the access to clear it was around the back of the toilet. Once, every so often, the local council? would arrive to take away the effluent, I presume by lorry. How they did this I've no idea. (Some people have some really good jobs). In front of the toilet was an open space leading to the lane, possibly 15 foot wide and 30 foot deep, this area was were the goose was kept. Then on to the end of the garden, which was the fruit area, gooseberry bushes, apple, and pear and plum trees, (another plum tree was just outside the house front door), it was also where the bee hives were, about 10 of them. It was also an area that I kept out of, initially.

 

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