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A few nice people have commented on those two little stories about the walk, and poor old Jack,

My Wife reported that one man had said, what’s happened to him, has he got a mental block?,

I wanted to write once more, just to clear up a misconception, those early days sounded hard, and they were, but I loved it, and any idea’s I may have given that my Dad was cruel to me, was misconstrued, the only part I hated, was going to School, I loved writing, but was hopeless at maths, and every time I opened my mouth, I stuttered,

So if you can put up with me, I would like to tell you about Saturdays,

I always loved Saturdays, two whole days from School, time to lay in a lovely warm bed, saunter down to a bacon and egg breakfast, put on your football boots and have a good game,[ I played football Sundays,]

The first sentence is the correct one, two whole days from School, as for the bacon and egg breakfast, this was in the mid thirties, bread and jam was the usual morning meal, but if there was a fire hot and a deep enough red, then you could stick your slice of bread,[ much thicker of course than the pathetic thick sliced bread of today,]

Onto the toasting fork, sometimes it would fly afire, but if we had beef dripping, then it was a feast indeed,

I was lucky, I had no Brothers or Sisters to fight over who got the lovely brown jelly at the bottom of the bowl,

I didn’t saunter down later either, my Dad was an early riser, and liked to be up around six am, and as I wasn’t going to School, I could help him in his hungry skirt land fields that lay twixt Fen and Highland to the south and west of this farming village, so one warning time call, and I was out of my lovely warm bed, and shivering down the stairs, this particular time I remember was in November, the fire didn’t look good enough for toast,

My Dad had lit just enough kindling to boil a kettle for our tea, we are taking sugar beet up today he said, and if we get enough done, you can go to the pictures, I was so excited I could hardly wait to eat my breakfast,

We set of down the Fen, we mostly walked, crossing the fields, Dad had a car, a ford eight, which was used to transport us down to the edge of the fens, to the little meadow that housed a cluster of small ramshackle sheds that comprised the buildings of our tiny farm, but if funds were low, as they often were, then we would walk instead, the mile and a half journey,

The sugar beet was taller those days than they are now, expert plant breeding has reduced the colossal amount of leaves of the older varieties,

The winters then were much sharper, and lasted longer than today, I would be about ten years old then,

I remember the sugar beet were taller than me, this particular morning it was very frosty, and clad in a thin shirt and the ever present short trousers, I was shivering in this early morning air, grabbing hold of the beet leaves that were white with frost, I started to grzzle with the pain of penetrating coldness, stop that grizzling, demanded my Dad, get stuck in, and you will find after a few minutes you will be as warm as toast, I bit my lip, had my doubts, but got stuck in as he suggested, after a while, a wonderful warmth penetrated my body, I felt good, and I was going to the pictures tonight if we got enough done, the ever present carrot dangling on the stick, just out of reach, kept me going, I grabbed the tall beet, tugged and tugged, [nothing was lifted those days, well not by small farmers] and threw them down in the straight row, ready for chopping the roots of with a sharp sugar beet hook, about 12 o'clock midday, Mum came biking down with sandwiches and a lovely flask of tea for our lunch,

My mates would be setting of to play football, but I didn’t mind, for I was with me Dad, and I felt ten feet tall, when he started to discuss the crop with Mum, and how much we had done, as he had often said to me all those years ago, if you like your job, then you never will work a day in your life, and I loved my job, and it is true, have never worked a day in my life, and have never been unemployed,

We walked home about 4 o’clock that afternoon, dirty and tired, but with a wonderful feeling of having done something worth while, a hot meal, a quick lick, more on the towel than in the soapy water, and I was ready for the most fantastic part of the day, a real trip to the pictures,

Trembling with excitement, my pal and I sat in the back of the tiny car, we chugged along at a steady 25 mph, the car rattled and creaked, and often belched out blackish smoke, and had the distinct smell of young pigs, chickens, and our dog, as the car was often used as a van, and if it ever got washed, I feel sure it would never have run again,

Well we got to the railway station, and the gates were closed, my Dad fretted and fumed as we waited the few minutes for the train, whose pushing the bloody thing?, my Dad said angrily, as the train thundered through at a tremendous speed, us two young lads sitting in the back, remembering the groaning creaking 25 mph journey, looked at each other and silently chortled,

My friend and I sat in the sixpenny seats [2 ½ p] at the front, and watched in breathtaking silence at the incredible bravery of Kit Carson fighting the cruel Apache, or sat with strange emotions as Dorothy Lamour crooned over a handsome shipwrecked man, as she combed her long hair with an animals bone, on this incredibly beautiful tropical island, us two kids travelled home in a daze, each of us living out our fantasies on that almost reverent journey home,

Yes, I always loved Saturdays.

Gordon Langley

  Last Update: Tuesday 29 March, 2022 21:03
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