Continuing my life in a Bombshell

At my stage in life, memories of the past don’t seem to be that ‘long gone’. As a matter of fact, it seems like only yesterday, as the old Irish song goes. I can bring to mind, quite easily, the surnames and some of the first names of the occupants of every house on Branch Street, starting with the Co-op House at the top of Branch Street which was demolished in the early 90s. The Taylors, formally Mrs Mildenhall, who incidentally burst our John’s plastic football, which he bought from hard earned paper round money.  We accidently kicked it into her back yard. She returned it to us but made certain that she put a fork through it before she threw it over into the alley way. As you can well imagine, this didn’t suit us one little bit, so we lit my Dads blow lamp down the cellar and burned a full panel of paint off her front door. Costly for her, was it not?   Revenge was sweet at the time.  Mr Bannister had just finished painting her front door about a week or two previous to our Burned wood decor design .  For months afterwards we would always kick on her door as we ran past.   
        As I was saying, the Taylors lived at # 1. Walsh’s at #3. Spencer's with Sandra, Sarah, Susan and Stephanie at #5. (we called them the SS girls).  My first cousins the Cooks at #7. Before the Cooks moved in, Winnie and Jack Duffy lived here along with their son John who was one little tear away. The Horans and their son David “Fat Sos” and the black spaniel at #9. On David’s “sos” tenth birthday, half the street was invited and we all had fruit salad in glass bowls for desert. Mrs Horan noticed that John Duffy was separating all the small white grapes out and leaving them on the side of the plate and asked why he was doing this to which Duffy explained that he 'didn’t like pickles Mrs Horan'. He thought that they were the silver skin pickles that come in a pickle jar. Imagine putting pickles in with pears and cherries and peaches and the like. Talk about showing you up, mind you, he was only about six at the time. We all fell about laughing at the thick buggar. You wouldn’t think that he would finish up a School teacher would you? Talking of all the kids around, and being invited places. I remember once going up to the ‘Tin Mission" one day to some kind of a party. It may have been the year that Queen Elizabeth was put on the throne in 1951 and we had loads of jelly which I gobbled down and was almost sick. Another kids ‘get together’ was at Christmas time when thousands of us used to go with little pink tickets on our lapels to the ’Pantomime’ down in Rawtenstall. Two shows I remember well was’Dick Whittington’and’Mother Goose’. I think that the people who worked for The Bacup Shoe factory used to get the tickets free and we probably got ours from the Ashworth girls who lived next door, but then again. it may have had something to do with ‘all’ school kids getting them.

This is the back of Bacup Shoe Factory where my cousins worked.

What I do remember most about it was that we caught a bus from Farholme Lane. The Council must have dug these double decker buses up from the scrap yards because they were in an awful state and as old as the hills. The regular bus was still on it’s normal schedule and as we could see a bus leaving Lea Mills and come into view, we would be guessing if this was one of ours or not. If it looked clean and painted and shiny, then it wasn’t ours, but if it had a slight lean, filthy dirty and looked 'top heavy’ then it was ours.  Some buses were already filled with kids from up the Valley and would not stop and us kids would boo and scream at it as it drove passed. When I say slight lean, it was more of a definite tilt and the roof was only barely missing hitting the lamp posts at the side of the road. I can’t for the life in me remember the name of the cinema. I knew it as ‘The Rawtenstall Picture House’ and maybe that was the correct name for it. Before I get side tracked further, there was, the two Hargreaves woman at #11. Phyllis and Tommy Cooper at # 13. Us The “Tribe” at # 15. Another cousins house the Ashworths next door at # 17. Norman and Barbara Hicks at #19. We used to refer to Mr Hicks as 'five too' because my mother used to set the clock when he passed our house at five too 8 in the morning to catch the 8-0-clock bus at the top of the street. He wore iron railed clogs and you could hear him quite easily on the pavement as he passed our house. The first time I ever rode pillion passenger on a motor bike was when George Hicks, took me up the back street, down the front and round Connelly’s back.  I was probably around 10 years of age.

 Old Fairy Rawson lived alone at #21. We used to torment her something rotten. I threw a full jug of cold water all over her one day. I hid underneath her backyard wall and John started singing “Fairy Fairy Rawson” and when she came out I got her a great shot right in the gob. What really surprised me was at a later date she must have gone out the front door and left her front door key in the house and only had the back door key with her. She asked me to go over her back wall into the yard and unlock the bolts on her back gate so she could get in the house via. the back door, which I did and she gave me a large bar of Bourneville Chocolate. God this was a real treat for me, as sweets were still on ration after the war. I sat on the pavement with my feet in the gutter outside Calverly’s and ate the bloody lot and it was lovely. This was more than likely the first time I had even had or seen a full bar of chocolate at the age of about ten. I remember that the back street was, or seemed to be, much higher than the gutter right at this point. The Calverly’s at #23 with Tommy and Mary, or was it Annie or was that the mother? I know there was an older brother who was a Petty Officer in the Navy. I think his name was Peter but I do remember that they had a black and brown and white mongrel dog named’Rex’, who we pestered the bloody life out of. At a much later date I met a lad at day school when I was working by the name of Rex Haymer. I asked him why the hell did his mum name him after a dog. Well, I thought it was a dogs name. I had never imagined it to be the other way around. After the Calverleys left #23, Silly Billy Ashorth lived here. Last, but not least, came the Connelly’s, a great set of lads my favorite being Peter. My Auntie Biddy used to give me six pence a week to take Brendan to school and I used to run off on him up the lane, but I used to hold his hand up to that point. I figured that he could find his own way up to School after I had got him safely across the road.

This is St Josephs School which I attended from 1946 until 1956

Peter and Jim Connelly were both great cyclists. One of the bikes was a’Claud Butler’, probably bought from Charlie Parsons bike shop in Rawtenstall. My sister Margaret lives in this house today. I recall that Bernard Howcroft used to throw chunks of coal from the steam train onto the railway bank and the Connelly lads would scale the railway wall and collect it for the fireplace. Bernard did eventually marry my cousin Kathleen Connelly, a lovely woman I thought. How massive the Steam train looked as it slowed right down for this operation to take place. Some trains looked really superb, newly painted dark blue and red, their tenders piled high with large shiny chunks of coal and the steam exhaust blasting out around the large cast iron wheels, one awesome sight which I will never forget. We would sit on our outside toilet roof and wave to people that were going on their first leg of a trip to Ireland for the summer, on their way down from Bacup to Manchester. They would wave handkerchiefs out through the open windows of the passing carriages as half the street were out to see them off. Incidentally, for anyone who has never had the opportunity to smell, a coal smoke and steam mixture, which these’Iron Monsters’ would kick out. It was an odor which got implanted in your brain, never to be forgotten. Wonderful, wonderful memories.

Connelly gable end and the Railway wall where Bernard
would throw the coal from the steam train.

The one large flowered spoon which we would all fight for in the morning when we would be having our porridge for breakfast and the time my mother got that sick and tired of us balling and shouting, yes, and even crying for the spoon, that she ran outside with it and slung it down the street over the railway wall. I searched for that spoon and when I found it I made certain that I kept it and I still have it to the present day. God knows, I wasn’t having another spoon taken off me. ‘That bloody Rita H*****’. ‘Talking of cheeky girls, there was one little girl about two or three years younger than me  who lived on David Street at #8 or #10. Their back door faced onto our back street around the ginnal area which was the side of Walshes house. We used to shout to her to show us her arse because she never wore nickers and she took great delight in lifting her frock up and dancing around the back street for us lads.  One day her mother saw her dancing with her frock pulled over her head and she knocked hell out of her arse with her bare hands. What a laugh. I think her name was Gilian M***. 

I once had a game of ‘Doctors and Nurses’ round the garages with a girl named Barbara *** who lived in our street. I was about ten and she would be about eight and she went and told her Mum on me. I had her almost stripped off while I examined her. When her mum came to our front door and my mum shouted of me, I knew the game was up. My mum saw the guilt written all over my face, she chased me along the lobby and straight up the stairs with a bread knife. I almost died with fear in case she caught me. I thought she was going to cut my willie off. Well I had seen Barbara’s and someone sure as hell had cut hers off, so I thought at the time.

Pike Pond above Robinsons farm was a place where my mother would take us on a picnic and the pond skaters which were a large insect that would skate across the smooth surface of the dark algae infested waters. The pond was surrounded by bull rushes.

I am not sure which one but Robinsons Farm was one in this cluster of farms buildings.

The large Dytiscus beetle that I saw for the first time in the lodge up Lea Wood. It almost frightened the wits out of me and I never swam in that lodge again.

Dytiscus Beetles  (Net photo)

Probably the most dangerous but the best swimming hole was the Devils Lodge over one man path in Ratcliffes stone quarry. Many a days swimming and messing was spent by me and my friends in the Devils Lodge. A nearer swim hole was Acre Mill lodge which was a great body of water to swim in. I remember that I tried out my first and only pair of orange coloured flippers in this place. Acre Mill boilers would pump warm water back from the steam driven turbines into the lodge and at one spot near to the mill, the waters were nice and warm. Some of the largest gold fish I have ever seen were in this place. Some may have been Koi Carp. I remember Tony Hayhurst ( a St Josephs older boy) used to be in the water along with lots of other lads older than me. In fact half of Cutler Lane Greens Estate used to spend many happy hours during the summer in and around the lodge, hard to believe that a lovely beauty spot even existed here when you see it today. The mill lodge was just behind my childhood sweethearts house. Her name was Anne Hindle and I have thought of Anne on and off throughout my life since I first met her at school.

Anne lived in one of these houses which backed onto Acre Mill swimming lodge.

Anne was a clean cut wonderful girl. Full of fun with the loveliest smile you ever saw. We would smile to each other during playtime at school and walk home together from our local Youth Club in Stacksteads. We would kiss a tight lipped kiss on each other as we parted at the end of our walk home. I would leave her at the bottom of the steps which led up to her avenue at the top of Brunswick Terrace near to the graveyard. I really did like Anne and we spent many happy times together. A gang of us would roam the pennines when the snow was on the ground and I would see icicles hanging from her plaid skirt. Oh to re-walk those days of our young lives. I would give anything. I met Anne much later in life in a local pub and my God she was a doll and a half to say the least. I didn't recognize her on first meeting but when she smiled, that gave her away, I never forgot her smile and can see her now as I type. (Where did I go wrong I wonder? only joking). Do you know, I still have a soft spot for Anne. I think I have for all of my young sweethearts.    Love settles into a boys heart and stays there for the remainder of their lives.  At least thats the way I feel it.

The steps where me and Anne would have our goodnight kiss.

The summers then seemed much hotter and longer than they do now and we would be off school for five whole weeks and one day during the summer holidays. Jimmy and Louis Riley, two brothers, Louis who’s birthday was the day before mine 8-10-41 spring to mind now. They emigrated to Vancouver, Canada around 1950. Louis told me that his father would go out first, build a log cabin and then send over for the family to follow, which they did. Flash memories now quickly come to mind which I must mention should I forget. Willie ******, a scruffy little buggar who went to our school and lived down Taylor Home somewhere. Big Brian Heaps or Heapsy as he was called by the older lads. Jimmy Barnes, Tarzan or Tazan as he was referred to, who moved into Pickovers fruit shop. He once complained to my mother for our John calling him ‘Tazan’ along the Street. When we would see him, we would shout at the top of our voices “TAZAN”.  Jimmy was at least 10 years older than me.

Another who would get called after was Betty *******. “Sweaty Betty” we would all cry out in glee. The look on her face and if she could have caught us she would have ripped our heads off I’m sure, but we were fast little buggars them days and would have taken some catching up and down Third’s and Pickovers backs. All the bolt holes were ours alone. Up and over the railway wall, around the rink, although that could be fatal unless you hid behind the garages because there was no escape once in past Seville’s Bakery.

Thirds back. One of our many bolt holes and the start of the landing which led to 'Clara Cluck Clucks house'.

I used to fancy Judith ****** who lived across from our house in the front street. Judith was slightly younger than I and thoughts came to my head of maybe having a game of Doctors and Nurses with her around the rink after I saw her accidentally flashing her nicks when she was sat down in the gutter of our front street. When I thought of my Mother and that bloody bread knife, I decided to go to Bacup Baths for a swim and a cool off instead.

I remember a holiday in Morecambe when we stayed at a lodging house owned by a Mrs Towel, Everyday she would forget our family name Grogan and call my mum Mrs Brogan, Croakin or Coogan so we bid farewell to her by shouting, “Ta ta Mrs Dishcloth” and my mother almost had a fit. Mrs Towel had a son who was a weight trainer. He had a great body and he gave me a set of chest expanders to bring home. The expanders had three springs on but I could only pull two of them full out. Pulling them out was O.K. but they would nip your chest if you let them in too fast. My Dad was showing off to us kids in the front room one day with these expanders and he put one end of them underneath his right foot. The other end he gripped firmly with his right hand and pulled up hard with a vicious look on his face but the end under his foot rolled out and shot up past his face and smashed hell out of the pink bowl chandelier above his head in the ceiling. Known in Lancashire as the 'Big Light' of a room. Glass flew all over the front room. It was a gorgeous front room, at the time. I remember Mr Bannister had just painted and decorated it for us. My dad was again using the expanders but this time in the back room and we had a budgie cage sat on the top of the kitchenette cabinet. The same thing happened but sideways, as the contraption was being used with only the thumbs of each hand. Bragging that he (my father) could pull it open with two fingers.  The tension was on and my dad's arms were at full stretch when it shot out of one hand, straight passed his face and crashed full wallop into the budgie cage scaring the poor little bugger half to death. There were feathers all over the kitchen. The bird did eventually stop fluttering all around the cage and crashing into everything in there.
    We all used to whistle back to the budgie whenever it would whistle and one day as I sat in the back room next to the kitchen where my mother was working, the budgie whistled and I whistled back. My mother thought I was the budgie and whistled back. My Dad who was in the front room heard my mother and thought she was the budgie and whistled back to her. She heard him and whistled back. Neither me or the budgie were whistling by this time but the two of them were whistling to each other for ages before I eventually shouted to them that they were whistling to each other and they both had a good laugh about it. My Mother thought this was hilarious but my Dad just 'tutted' and threw his head back with a disgusted shy grin on his face as he sometimes did in these embarrassing circumstances. Far be it that he would ever whistle after a woman. This even made my mother laugh more, she had one of the best senses of humor I know.

The name Frank Manning and Tommy Moran spring to mind now. They were designated by Father Guinan to train us up in the use of the Latin Language which would be used on our initiation onto the Altar as new Altar boys. There was thirteen boys all told being trained in the first rows of St Josephs Church. One day Frank was taking us and in a part of a prayer was the words “through my fault, through my fault, through my most grievous fault”. This had to be said in Latin, which was “Me aculpa, me aculpa, me amaxima culpa.” One of the new boys Jimmy T**** was singled out to recite the full latin prayer by heart and when he came to that part, he said, “Mi apple pie, Mi apple pie, Mi maximum apple pie”. He made him say that part again very slowly and he was in fact saying apple pie. instead of “aculpa” and we all fell about laughing in the front benches.

One day I went with the kids on Saturday morning to Confession and when I had finished, Father Guinan asked through the curtain in the box how many more children was there of us and I thought that he meant at home so I told him four. You know, sometimes old women would ask me on the milk or paper round, how many more kids was there at home and I had made a genuine mistake that morning in the Confessional box. I didn't realize that he was asking how many kids were waiting to go to confession and there was at least four dozen after me that morning. I bet he thought, the lying little buggar when he popped his head out to check every so often, as he used to do, and saw that lot. The Altar boys were instructed to buy cassocks and cottas which we wore on the Altar, but to order a couple of sizes larger than we would need as we would grow into them along with big pumps for footwear. Well we were staggering all over the Altar trying not to step on the long vestment which reached and trailed onto the floor. During Mass one Sunday, me and Jimmy D**** were serving and a time comes when the very large Bible is transferred by Jimmy from one side of the Altar to the other. During this operation we had to genuflect together in the middle, at the bottom of the Altar steps. Jimmy was struggling with the Bible and wooden carrier and I can assure you that it is a very heavy thing for a small boy to handle. The other eleven boys were all kneeling behind us inside the Altar gates. Jimmy, unknown to him or anyone else, was stood on his vestment and as the heavy book took him swiftly down onto his bended knee, he ripped the vestment straight round the whole front as his bare knee shot through and he fell forward and threw the book and carrier halfway up the Altar steps. With this superb athletic move on his part, a stifled or muffled snort came from one of the boys behind which kicked everybody off in tucks of laughter. Father Guinan swung around and if looks could have killed, we would all have been in hell that very second or at the very best, in purgatory. He was shushing us at the top of his shush. He was absolutely flabbergasted (in fact his flabber had never been so gasted) when he saw little fat D**** lying there like a beached whale and sprawled all over Gods steps.  I thought that the Priest was going to do a Jesus on us and whip us out of the Church, you know like Jesus did when he saw all the Traders selling their Wares and Tares on the Temple Steps. We had many a good laugh at school over that incident.

We once tied the same Jimmy D**** to the window bars on the school yard with his tie. The window was underneath our classroom and when Miss Stewart was calling out the register, she came to D**** name and paused. It was then we could hear him shouting through the open window which was directly above his head and we were all laughing and giggling inside the classroom.

At a later date and still at school, we went on a trip from school to the Lakes District of Cumbria and back into Morcambe, Lancashire. The coach could only reverse up the school lane as far as the Church and wait for two classes to walk down in pairs in an orderly fashion and board the vehicle. Well this orderly walk went wrong somewhere along the way and with one kid pushing the other kid in the back all trying for the back seat position on-the coach, the walk turned into a kind of jog and then a canter and then a full scale mad dash to the sounds of Dave Kenearn our teacher screaming for us to slow down. Jimmy T****got to the open sliding door of the coach first and was just climbing aboard when the rest of the hooligans, in an effort to stop themselves, ran there hands along the side of the coach and slammed the sliding coach door right at the side of T**** head, trapping it for a split second before he collapsed in a heap on the steps half in and half out of the vehicle. None of the kids, me included, took one bit of notice of T****dilemma and stamped all over his back and head in an effort to get to the back seat so we could all give the ‘V’ sign to the following car drivers along the way. Three of us got drunk that afternoon when we bought wine from an 'Off Licence' in Morecambe. T**** was sick in the coach and spilled the beans on us. I can’t think who the third kid was but our parents had to go to school so they could be informed of the escapade. Maybe it was Chris F*********. I think so.

My Dad used to send me down to the Off License at the side of the gardens at Toll Bar for a couple of pint bottles of Guinness and the owner was so used to me doing this trip that I managed to get the same order one afternoon for me and Kevin R******* (God rest him). We went up to his Grandad's pen where a goat was tethered  by the neck to a stake in the ground. We went into the greenhouse and drank one mouthful each and the taste we thought at the time was revolting. Kevin sneaked into his Grandads house and brought back some sugar which we added to the drink. It fizzed over the neck and still tasted 'bloody awful'.  We then lit a gas ring in the shed and  heated the Guinness up in a metal pan, tried drinking the guiness again and managed to get it down our throats. It knocked hell out of me as this was the first time I recall having drank so much. I was laying on my back in the grass and the whole sky seemed to be going round. The sky wasn’t the only thing to be going around that day. Kevin was on his hands and knees, retching and spewing and making an awful racket and the goat was running around and around in a circle, which got smaller and smaller as it twisted the rope around the stake, until it could run no further.   It looked so funny to see them both next to each other on all fours. He looked like another goat, because he had froth on his chin, which looked like a goatee type beard.

It was around this time, 1950 or so, that I used to go around to all my Auntie’s houses collecting old newspapers. I would store them up down our cellar. After getting a little braver and expanded the business to 'any house' in the area, it was surprising just how many old news papers there was to be had for the asking. Then when I had gathered enough for a good drop, I would get them down to Inghams Box Works in Waterfoot, for the big payout. At one stage of my saving money up in the Trustees Savings Bank at Stacksteads, I had over 32 English pounds. That doesn’t sound much today but when you explain it this way, then it was a lot of money. For instance, there was 240pence in a pound and a big bag of chips cost 4pence. If you were to go to Thirds Chippy and spend a Pound on chips, you would need a wheel barrow to carry them home because you would be able to buy 60 bags. Or a good size bar of chocolate cost 6pence in about 1955 and a pound would buy 40bars or the same year 20cigarettes would cost 18pennies or 1/6d which would buy approx. 13twenty packets. Cigarettes today cost four pounds a packet, (time of amending story) 2006 so if you consider the difference, I was worth a few bob in those days. I know around the same year we all went to the west of Ireland for a two week vacation and the whole set-up cost eighty pounds. My mother told me this fact. I wonder how much the fare would cost today for seven people, probably nearer to 800 pounds and not 80.

This is us at our Grandad's house in Mayo, Eire about 1950. Left to right Cath, John, Margaret, me and Jim.

During a school play one year about 1950, I took the part of a Shepherd boy in a Biblical Scene.  I had the opening line of “Dance Myra, Dance”. I had to say this to Anne P******* (since deseased) who was taking the role of Myra. We rehearsed the play on the main stage of the school room where our head mistress Mrs Maloney was teaching another class. Mrs Maloney never missed a trick watching us kids and was for ever peeping over the top of her glasses with her head bowed as though she was reading. Her eyes would be floating around not unlike those of a shithouse rat behind those glasses. She heard my half hearted low mumbling of the opening lines and came rushing across to the stage and took over from Miss Stewart and shouted to me “No No No not like that Michael, but like this", . Now she sounded like an Opera Singer as she bounced the lines out and threw her hands up in the air at the same time. She thought I was tremendous when I went into my contralto singing voice and ripped the lines off as she had done. I could hear Terry K***** giggling in the wings. He’s job was to prompt anyone who forgot their lines and believe it or not, Anne P****** couldn’t even remember her opening line which was, “Ney, I cannot dance tonight"-long pause here, so Terry prompted her with his best wit  for all to hear on the stage, “My nickers are to tight”. Well little Tanner (Phillip T*****) who had one of the weirdest laughs which sounded more like someone crying, set off screaming laughing and the sound was echoing all around the hall. When he paused for a breath, he sounded like a donkey and then into the injured dog routine again. No one else was laughing except Tanner and he just could not stop. Mrs Maloney even got him off the stage and he still couldn’t stop. When she demanded to know why he was laughing he kept saying “Nothing Miss”. She was screaming, “People don’t laugh for no reason boy, stop this instance” and he did, for about two seconds then off again. Eventually she had to send him out to stand in the cloakroom so the rehearsing could continue in peace.

Gerard N**** became a great friend of mine when he moved into the area and attended our school from St Peters in Waterfoot. His father was an extremely nice chap and was himself a very good ' Tenor’. His Grandmother lived down by the side of Bacup Shoe and bought him a very expensive racing bike which had quick release wheels. He had a blue budgie called Joey which could talk. I thought a great deal of Gerard and we spent many happy hours out with the ‘Rossendale Road Club’ together. Sometimes we would go to the ‘Kings’ Cinema on Saturday afternoon in Waterfoot. Our favorite sweets, which we would buy to eat inside the Cinema 'the pictures' were, creamy whirls. Gerard was a great singer I thought and used to sing a song  made popular by a 14year old boy named Frankie Lyman, ‘Why do fools fall in love?’.  Gerard played a guitar and I believe started his own rock group at a later date.

I was into bike riding around 1953. Two names that spring to mind was Phillip M******* and Tony O’****. Phillip had a bright yellow racer. I never used to ‘Tag Along ' with him, as his bike would show my bone shaker up something rotten, my hand painted, rigged up, fixed wheel job. A fixed wheel meant that I was unable to free wheel and had to keep pedaling at all times. I only had a front brake and no gears and rode around like this for months, needless to say that this method of biking, brought muscles up on my legs, that even a mountain goat would be proud of. The problem with a fixed wheel was, if you forgot to pedal for a split second, and  traveling at speed, the bike would have you over those handlebars in no time at all, which it did on a couple of occasions. It’s not the flying through the air like Superman that does the damage or even hurts, it’s that sudden ' smack and slide' as you make contact with John Macadam's handiwork, when you come down to earth again’ with a vengeance. One day I was riding alone, at a fair old pace, towards Waterfoot, when, just before the Glen Garage on a right hand bend, I saw Jimmy C******* who was delivering his evening paper round to a row of houses at the right of the road. I shouted to Jimmy as I passed, looked back and waved, forgot to pedal, and paid the nasty consequences for my actions. I was kind of O.K. and landed on the pavement. My bike, as we parted company, carried on down the road, undecided in which direction to take, as it switched quickly from left to right, the bars then decided that they had already had enough for one day, and turned to go back home towards Bacup, but the frame, saddle and rear wheel, had other ideas and felt that they wanted to have a look threw the Glen, so they did a kind of ‘Olga Corbett' summersault. The front part of the bike must have thought, anything you can do, I can do better, and followed with a summersault, far superior and much higher than that of the back part. The movement was so graceful. If three Olympic judges with placards, had been seated on the pavement at the side of the road to witness this outstanding event, they would have given the higher marks to the front of the bike, not only for the height, but also for style. It was a perfect landing, right into a bloody lamppost at the side of the road. I said earlier that Peter Connelly was my favorite of all the Connelly brothers and with good reason, for Peter, traveling at the time from Waterfoot, saw the whole performance and quickly came to my aid. He road his bike and pushed me along with one hand, as I wobbled my weary way home next to him on the remains of the bone shaker, up Newchurch Road.

This is Peter as I remember him from the old days.

From then on, this bike was never mechanically the same. It had a very nasty habit of throwing its chain off under pressure. I didn’t mind that so much. What I objected to was, it never gave me any warning as to when it was about to shed the chain. It always happened when I was climbing a hill, off the saddle, pulling hard up on the bars and straining my leg muscles to their full extent, then ‘Bang’. Off it would decide to come, down I had to go, and my plumbs would be the first pain I would feel as they crashed into the cross bar. Its no wonder I have one plumb a bit lower than the other with all the banging about they have had in the past.

One day I saw a lad on the park on the umbrella ride, hang onto the bars with his hands and throw his legs around the centre pole. Grip firmly with his legs, let go with his arms and grab hold of the centre and slide down the pole, safely to the ground. All this while the ride was in motion. I thought this was a great fete and I tried to show off to (my childhood and teenage sweet heart) Anne Hindle, Eileen Farragher, Collette Thoman and a gang of others out of our class, by attempting to do this, at a much later date, on the park in Hedge Side above Stacksteads Station. I would be 15 at the time.  I didn’t quite get the action in it’s correct order. Instead of putting my legs around the centre pole first, I put my arms around it and there was no way of getting back then, even if I had realized my mistake, which I did not at the time. I realized I had done something out of sinc. after I opened my legs and jumped and my body swung in and my plumbs made contact with the green six inch wide solid metal centre pole which the ride hangs upon, and I went down faster than the Titanic. I remember laying in the grass were the girls and lads had dragged me, flat on my back. I was in terrible pain and the girls were in attendance. They were rubbing my forehead and stomach and all saying how sorry they were for me and as the pain subsided and the relief or more like ecstasy came over me, a change in my anatomy began to take place and I quickly jumped up and said that I was feeling much better now and “Thankyou very much”, much to the amusement of the girls and some of the lads. I was fifteen when this happened and had left school. It all happened on the day before we went on a previously booked school trip to Ireland in 1956. 1 guess by now I had become a young man and as ‘Mother Nature' had planned, most of a young man’s thoughts are centered on young women. Most of my thoughts seemed to be drifting in that direction. From now on in, I feel that my memories should remain inside my head, to be kept for me alone. But one never knows, does one? I may decide to write a Pornographic Book one day. I know one thing for certain, I have lots of material should I decide to do so. But that is another story .........

School photo 1956

That's me on the far left. My life time friend Adrian (Tom) Nixon far right. Eileen Farragher to Adrian's right, wearing a dark coat. Collette Thoman the girl of my dreams sitting to the left wearing a Paddock House School blazer. Next to her little Phillip (Tanner) Taylor. My kissing sweet heart Anne Hindle 2nd from right 2nd row. Jim Darcy centre back row next to the teacher Dave Kenearn. Waiting for a steam train at Stacksteads Station taking us on the first leg of a journey to Dublin  Ireland.

Thoughts of what I should do when I left School would occasionally cross my mind. I thought of being a farmer, rearing cows and pigs and lovely little lambs and feeding the chickens. I never thought of having to milk the cows or having to clean the shit up after them and the stink that these beast kick out. When they are being milked as they suddenly decide to drop there guts about 2 feet from your nose and wee at the same time. Wee may be the wrong word here, more like ‘gush urine’ out in amongst the soft ‘cow claps’, would be a better description. This mixture would splash all up the side of who ever was doing the milking. I have seen old Farmer Bob Dick splattered with cow crap all up the right leg of his corduroy pants. His right leg would dry hard and his left would be pliable which tended to make him walk with a 'bit of a run' and with a limp. I have even seen it stuck in his right ear hole. It’s no wonder that I had to shout to make him understand me when I was delivering milk with him on his horse drawn milk float..

I could kind of put up with the smell of the cows but the smell which I really detested was when I was riding in the milk float and Bob would make me stand up to the front so I wouldn’t fall out as the horse charged home at full speed after making the last house delivery at the ‘Iron Bridge’.

Iron Bridge area. Bob Dicks last milk drop.

 The laugh was that Bob had his work cut out to make the horse move when he was delivering and had to whip it on occasions to make it move, but after that last drop, he had to run to catch the cart. When the horse heard the sound of Bobs clogs coming back from the last house, off it would go and Bob would have one foot on the step and he would be hopping for ages and clinging on to the back with one hand. His other hand had a small milk churn in it which he would throw on board and the lid would fall off and the milk would be running all over the floor of the cart and he would be screaming ... "Whoa, whoa you bloody owld bugger yu” but the horse was famished with the hunger and knew that it’s food was up at the farm in its warm stable and didn’t give a shit whether or not Bob caught the last cart out of town back to the farm. His clog irons would be red hot as he hopped and skated on one foot along the tarmac in his effort to get on board and then to cap it all, when he did eventually make it he would take his temper out on the poor old gray horse. He would thrash hell out of it’s arse with the whip. It didn’t need any whipping to make it move as it was already going full pelt up past School Street.

Intended short cut off to the left.

I would be right up front hanging onto the front of the cart as it made its way back full blast up Newchurch Road. There was a short cut which he tried to steer the horse up on several occasions but to no avail as by now the animal was completely out of control as it headed back the only way that it knew which was up to ‘Toll Bar’ and sharp left at the bottom of Huttock End Lane and after a short climb, turn right into a very narrow dirt track road with high walls on either side.

Toll Bar. Left back to Bobs farm. Out of shot.

 I was pretty comfortable on the journey home up to Bacup Shoe but it used to put the fear of God up me from then on in. The Sharp left was the one by Clarry Harrison’s clog shop at the bottom of our school lane, as we both tried to counterbalance the cart by hanging over the left hand side because as I say the horse was now like a raging lunatic and it was about this time that it would start it’s farting. Honest to God. As I said earlier there was only one smell worse then a cow mixture and that was the smell of a horse fart. The sweat would be frothing up around it’s collar, it would start snorting as it pulled the heavy cart up hill, still galloping and snorting and throwing it’s head all over the place and then I would notice it’s short stubby tail start to rise and it would fart on each step all the way back. The sounds which the back of the horse was sending out were not unlike that of a brass tuba tuning up in Stacksteads Prize band. The smell would almost knock me sick as I was in direct line and only 5ft tall at the most and my face was within 3 feet of the horses ‘farting pipe’ and I would get mouthfuls of horse fart as it charged up the narrow dirt road on the last leg of the stampede. The wheels of the cart barely missing the gray dry stone walls on either side of the farm dirt track. What a relief it was when we got into the farmyard after a ride of a life time.

Charlie H****was a man who worked on the roads with my father. He lived on the last house of a back landing up Blackwood on the right. His landing overlooked a row of houses where a Polish woman from Warsaw lived and they were always shouting abuse to each other. Now, Charlie had a very pronounced Irish accent and I always thought that he was in fact a native of the Emerald Isle, but my father told me that an English Sheepdog had more Irish in it than Charlie had. Unknown to me at the time, Charlie was born in Stacksteads and had worked along with the Irish men of the Valley since leaving school and had picked up the accent along the way. It might be as well at this point to mention that Charlie was ‘not all there’, ‘two sheets to the wind’, ‘two butties short of a picnic’ ‘had a screw loose',' two shilling short of a pound’ or had ‘lost some of his marbles’. Anyway, you get the picture.  He was a raving lunatic, to put it mildly and Bob Dicks horse had a little bit more sense than he had. At least the horse knew in which direction his home was. If Charlie had have been pulling the cart, he would have ran on towards Rawtenstall. The story goes that one day during one of his shouting matches with the Polish woman, which incidentally, half of Blackwood could hear, he told her to piss off back to Russia (he never learned much geography at school) "yee bloody owld bitch yee", to which she retorted “Get back to Ireland where you belong you Irish bastard!’. Now Charlie was very proud and loved the idea that someone actually thought that he was from Ireland and he wanted all of Stacksteads to know, so he stuck out his chest and began shouting over and over “say that again Missus”. The poor old buggar wanted all to think that he was from Ireland. He once talked my father into taking him for a night out to ‘All Saints’ Manchester to the Irish pubs situated around that area. They were all rough pubs and obviously full of Irish people. The Irish fiddles and whistles would be going full blast in these places. People would be falling about drunk in broken glasses and spilled Guinness and there would be some real ‘hard cases’ amongst them. I have myself seen it first hand as I went many times to the same area in my early twenties. My father told me that he felt responsible for looking after Charlie as he was like a child in many ways and during the night when my father had to use the toilet he told Charlie to keep his mouth shut as his phony Irish accent would be detected by the real Irish people and they might take offence to it. He gave him instructions to sit where he was and not to speak with anyone until he came back. Charlie loved the Irish music and his foot would be banging away on the floor until it got to much for him and he just had to get up and give them the Irish Jig. My father said that he had never felt more ashamed in his life when he walked back into the bar and quote...”Wasn’t Charlie up there lashing like a buck ass and one of the boys (Irish men)  shouting, 'give him his head boys, the man’s gone mad' and Charlie there covered in sweat, kicking his legs all over the place and himself there wearing the yellow socks and the brown boots.”

One day me and my brother John went to Charhe’s house as we sometimes did when we were up Blackwood and he would treat us like Kings. He would play his mouth organ for us and hold a pint pot near to his mouth to get the echo effect and blow the sound into the empty pot. I used to think that he was quite good. It was usually on a Sunday afternoon and one day he had a cooked ham shank on the table ready for his own Sunday Dinner and when he was ‘gone’in his music, we ate the bloody lot on him and it was lovely. He didn’t mind. Hell, we were Mick’s sons and he idolized my father. We had three things going for us, we were kids, we were hungry and we were the kids of an Irish man.

I hated school days in my teens. It was fun when I was very young but as we got to about 12 years old, we found out about the cane which was used at will by the teachers at St Josephs. First names had stopped. It was now Grogan and not Michael. (At this point of my story I will mention true names of the teachers owing to the fact that corporal punishment was being dished out to the kids of our school) The teacher that all feared was a Miss Martin who later became Mrs Griffin. Who the hell would want to marry that ugly looking old battle axe, God only knows. She was in my eyes, one bitch of the first order. I remember that the older lads used to sing a little song about her. “Miss Martin fell down fartin, got up stinkin and went away thinkin”. She used to have sneezing attacks in class which would go on for two or three minutes non stop. It was more of a sharp yap like a pup would make rather then a full chested sneeze. The sneezes would be coming so fast that she could hardly breath between yaps and I used to love it. I would be thinking things like, Go on die you bloody owld witch. That's God paying you back for bringing swollen blue marks up on both my hands you ugly owld swine. I had seen better looking pigs in Murphy's pen at the bottom of Black Wood . There was no half measures when this masculine looking excuse for a lady was dishing out the punishment. Six of the best and they were ‘the best’ for either talking or chewing in class. Can you believe that? If they did that today, they would be up at Court on an assault charge. Maybe I shouldn’t say this, but I used to love to see Terry ***** (deceased)  being caned. He used to do a Red Indian war dance after each stroke and put the Indian songs in for good measure. He would hold his hand under his arm pit and start hopping around at the front of the class and the involuntary sounds would be coming out of his mouth with each hop. “WHO00h ah ah ah, WHOOOO oh oh oh. WHOOO ah ah ah’. He would go through the same ritual after each stroke and Griffen would be screaming for him to stand still and hold his hand out. She would go blue in the face with temper as Terry finished the first verse of his ' Rain Dance’. Then, WHACK. “WHOOOOOOO ah ah ah” and then the same performance. We used to imitate him during playtime. Watch this for 'the Terry Dance' we would shout and do the “WHOOOOOOOO ah ah ah” dance, much to the amusement of all the other kids.

    Passing love notes around in class was all the rage seeing as we were not allowed to talk without getting a good thrashing. Anne Hindle was the girl for me as previously mentioned. “Will you go out with me”? If the answer was a blushing nod, then she was going out with me. Although we never went out anywhere together we used to walk home from the Western Youth Club together and we would have an innocent tight lipped kissing session along the Rec. and again at the bottom of the steps at the side of the grave stone maker’s yard at the top of Brunswick Terrace.( picture of the steps higher up this page) I must have stepped in some dog muck over the Rec one night, because when I was kissing her good night, I thought, this doesn’t smell a bit like Anne. She was a lovely clean shiny faced girl and always immaculately dressed. It was only when I got home that I found the smell stuck under the wedge of the heel of my shoe.

Please forgive me readers for this part but I am sure that Anne wouldn't mind me relating this story as Anne herself told it to me.  Anne had an older brother named Jack who again was ‘not the full shilling’ and she had me roaring with laughter as she told me that after a heavy overnight snow fall, her mother had told all the kids that they were unable to go to school as they couldn’t get out of the house and that they were ‘snowed in’. Jack however sneaked out of the house and made his way to school and told the teachers that they couldn’t come to school that day, as they were snowed in. Anne, I thought was a lovely girl and maybe some of the lads were slightly jealous that she was ' my girl’. She was well developed for her age and had a slightly protruding rear end which Jimmy T****tried to imitate one day, by sticking his arse around a corner of the school. The only thing that we could all see was Jimmy’s arse and his head and he shouted “Anne Hindle” and everyone fell about laughing. How dare other kids laugh at my girl friend? At this time I was taking boxing lessons at Rawtenstall Police Boxing Club and I decided to try out my skills on this red headed swine. After a fast sprint on my part, I managed to catch him by the boys toilets where we started battling. Someone must have told our teacher Mr Kenearn who stopped me from killing him on the spot for degrading my lovely Anne in front of half the school. The teacher dragged the two of us back to the prefab classroom which had eye level drop down windows. When he was looking for the cane which was kept in the store room, we both got a verbal message to the lads who had congregated outside for one of them to say to the teacher that we were 'only playing and not really fighting'. As he came back with the cane, John G****** stuck his head, or half his face, part way in through the drop down slanted window and shouted the words we both wanted to hear, “they were only playing sir.” With that, Kenearn walked to the window and slammed the half window on G****** nose. So that was the third  bloody nose of the day. The inevitable happened, and me and Jimmy both nursed our sore hands for the rest of the afternoon.

I was taught to box by Mary M***** oldest brother John and the first time I actually got into a ring I was up against a 17 year old. I was only 14 years old at the time and was quite proud of myself when I had him crying in the first round. What I didn’t realize was this kid also had a few screws loose upstairs. The Valley, by now, you will have realized, had more than it’s fair share of nutters besides the 'Coconutters'.  They then put me in with a kid about the same age who knocked seven kinds of duck shit out of me and that was the end of my very short boxing career. The 'Coconutters' are a local Folk Dancing group who perform throughout Rossendale Valley at Easter time.

Here are the 'Coconutters' dance troupe.  Click on the photo if you want to know more about this dance troupe.

I used to love going to the Western Youth Club, (pimples and all). I was troubled with Acne during my teens as most kids are and I would always seem to have one spot glowing at the wrong time, just as I was about to go out and pose for the girls. I must have looked great as I stood there posing with my little red bleeding spot. I used to say that I had cut myself shaving to make me feel grown up when in fact I had no facial hair at all.  Up some stairs inside the Youth Club was a table tennis room where the lads and girls congregated and smoked our heads off. There was no lock on the door but we would stand with our backs to the door and only let in who we liked. Mary M**** or ‘big fat Mary’ as she was most affectionately called, knocked on the door and we all shouted “Who is it”? and she told us her name and we all told her to piss off as we weren't letting her in and she pleaded with me “Aw Michael let me in” and I said something like for her to show me her face through the hole in the door where the lock once was to see if she was really telling the truth and that it was in fact her. I could see it was her but I kept saying that I couldn’t and would she come closer and still closer until I managed to get her eye to eye and I spit in hers.  (I owe some apologising to many people from my younger days) Quite rightly she went bloody mad as that was a horrible thing for me to do I see now. I wouldn’t have dared to open the door then or she would have knocked me down the steps. She was one hell of a big girl and I would not liked to have stopped one of HER punches. Her brother John’s punch, maybe, but hell one of Mary's, not bloody likely.

‘The children of Stacksteads had different upbringings. There was the Good up-bringing, a decent up-bringing and the ones which were dragged up or slung up. The dragged or slung up ones were the bottom of the range type. You know the types with a tuft of hair sticking out at the front of his head and the rest of it shaved bald and painted with blue patches which they got from Nurse Kelly at the Bacup Health Clinic. That’s because they had nits or boodies or biddies in their hair which they had always caught from someone else at school. I caught mine from Raymond *********. He was full of them.  Willie ******** was another scruffy little buggar and Cyril *********from up Greens was another. Cyril had his suit jacket stitched onto him and this is the truth. There were no buttons on the coat and he could not get it over his head. His parents were at fault and not him I realize today. These type of kids weren’t hiding behind the door when God was dishing the fleas out. Cyril invented the ‘break dance’ before the rest of the world even knew about it. When the fleas used to get active underneath his stitched on jacket, he would go into all kinds of contortions and jungle rhythms in an effort to ease his pain. Michael Jackson would have looked tame next to Cyril. If Cyril had been born twenty years later, he would have been called ' cool’ and would have made the television with his ‘new dance’ and punkie ‘hairdo’ with the blue bits in it that Nurse Kelly gave him, instead of ‘a dirty scruffy flea ridden chappy’ that he really was.. The safest place to hide your money in Cyril's house would be under the soap, because it sure as hell never got used.

I once went into Fred Smith’s Barber Shop and asked him for a ‘Tony Curtis ' which was all the rage at the time and came out like I had come from Bacup Clinic. The fat owld bastard almost scalped me. I never went in there again. I tried Harold Gaughans down by Stacksteads and he didn’t do much better. My father used to cut mine in the cellar with hand clippers and they were as old as the hills and had teeth missing and they used to pinch and pull chunks out of my head.

Above is a picture of our old cellar as it appears today. This is the place which doubled as a barber shop or the 'chamber of horrors'.  I must have looked a right sight with my pimply face and my bleeding neck where my dad had half scalped me. I was able to take this picture recently because my nephew is renting this property today. The cellar is just as I remember it.,even down to my dads old vice which is still attached to his old work bench.

Another shot of the cellar. 

 I think my mother must have got those hand shears (clippers) from a Jumble Sale or something. She was always coming home with something unusual from the Jumble Sales which were held at the different school halls in the valley. We would try on all the old hats and buy them for next to nothing. I did hear that one of my Aunties was helping out at a sale at St Joseph’s and she put her FUR coat over the back of a chair next to the stall and the person next to her sold her coat by mistake for sixpence. I think it was my Auntie Lizzies fur coat as she was a teacher at the school. School kids wore short pants even in the winter during the 50s. Long pants were not allowed. I used to wear wellies in the winter and more often than not, short socks inside them. They used to be long socks and came over the top of the wellies at one time of day, but as the feet wore out, the foot would be cut off and darned across so now we had short socks or ‘bobby long toes’ as they were known in our family. In the winter I had red marks around the back of my calf's where the wellies would rub and slap against the back of my bare legs. As I played around in the snow, my skin would become chapped and even bleed around this area. I remember during the icy winter months we would wear our balaclava's on our heads. We played games of 'dare' where we would dare each other into diving head first into a snow drift at the side of the school wall. Adrian Nixon did it one day and none of us realized that part of the wall had collapsed over night and was buried underneath what he thought was a very big snow drift. He gave himself a real crack on the noggin and we stopped playing at that game. It didn’t knock any sense into him either. Adrian became my life long friend and I still visit him when I visit the UK yearly

Me and Adrian became the best of mates throughout our teenage years and we coupled up with a new kid on the block, Tony Nixon who moved into the area from Bacup St Mary’s. We all swam for the Bacup Swimming Team and traveled all over North East Lancashire competing against other teams. We even had camping holidays together and some of the best years of my teens were spent in their company.

Again I know that you shouldn’t talk about the dead but I feel I should mention this part as it was a great laugh at the time. Our school toilets were of the outside type and situated right next to the girls. A wall about 6 or 7 feet tall separated them and we would try and pee over the wall by squeezing hard on our willies with our fingers and forcing till we were blue in the face and then releasing our grip for a split second and the wee would shoot up into the air but always fall just short of going over the wall. There were some lovely design work made from wee on that wall. Grey hounds with seven or eight legs. Camels with four humps. Elephants with three trunks and two tails. But getting down to the nitty gritty, Terry ******** had a natural squirt to beat all comers. You see he had something wrong with his willie., He had a hole in the end of it narrower than a needle and he would have to spend all his playtime trying to empty his bladder. It would come out a very fine jet and he used to show off to us that he was the only kid in the school who could pee over his own head.  He would lean back and shoot a jet just like a water pistol up past his nose and over his head. Of course when we saw this performance we all got him to wee over the dividing wall and we could hear the girls saying that it had started raining. He had no trouble managing to land it over, in fact he could pee twice the height and that’s a fact. We used to say that he should be a fireman when he left school and he could put the fire out from the top of the ladder on his own. If I could have done that, I would have pissed all over Mrs Griffin from the back of the class.

Before I go much further, let me take you back to when I was about 10yrs old and in Miss Stewart’s class. This was when I was studying for my Doctors and Nurses Degree which if you recall I mentioned earlier. There was one girl who I adored in our class at the time. She was one of the lucky children to pass the ‘Eleven Plus Exam’ and much to my sorrow, was sent to a Secondary School at a later date., I was heart broken. Do you know I used to pray to God for her under my breath when we were reciting a prayer in class. Her long shiny black hair which reached down to her waist, I thought was the most glorious sight I had ever seen. The dresses which she wore were delectable. All flimsy and frilly and colourful and she looked to be as pure as the driven snow, which no doubt she was at the time. I would have given a weeks milk round money to have had a game of Doctors and Nurses with this girl. I thought that she was the most gorgeous specimen of the opposite sex that I had ever had the pleasure to have laid my hands, I mean eyes on.    I was so obsessed with this young lady that in a prayer dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary, under my breath I would change the words of the last line of the prayer from ‘Oh sweet Virgin Mary ' to the girl of my dreams and whisper the new words, can you believe to ‘Oh sweet Collette T****’. or as Michael Cain the famous English film star would say, “Now there’s not many people know that”. God must have thought that I was praying for her to pass the Exam. No way, I was praying for her to fail the exam.  My prayer was not heard. Collette passed the exam and left me.  Ah well, young love lost.  I occasionally have dreams of Collete as she was those days even now and thats  56 years ago can you believe.
I made a point of meeting up with Collete about 5 years ago when she worked in a cake shop in Waterfoot.  She was still lovely, her gorgeous black hair now grey, with that same gorgeous smile which she always had.

Phillip T***** springs to mind here. I recall a story which was related to me by my brother John of the time when Johnny Conlan had a chip shop along the stretch of shops between Pickovers and Toll Bar. It was a terrace row type shop which you found in the area and the front of the house was converted into the shop. The owners lived on the property at the back and the living room door lead into the shop behind the counter. As you opened the front door to the shop from the main road, you entered a very small vestibule and encountered yet another door which lead into the front of the shop. Johnny Conlan sported a very very shiny bald head which looked as though it had been polished with a well known furniture polish of the day called Mansion Polish. There was a little ‘chant’ which the kids would sing in days of old which went, ‘Do you sell mansion, yes we do, well shine your head like you shine your shoe’. Big John Riley who was the ’Cock” of St Josephs or Ralph as he was known ’dared’ Tanner (T*****) to go in the shop and sing the song for Johnny Conlan. Well I knew Tanner very well as he was in our class at school and he would do just about anything for a ‘dare’ and without batting an eyelid he went in and shouted the chant out in the shop. What Tanner didn’t know was that Ralph grabbed the front door and slammed it from the main road and held it closed. As much as Tanner pulled and pleaded with Ralph to let him out he would not release his grip. Conlan came shooting out from his living room and into the shop and grabbed Tanner and started slapping him about the head to the strains of ‘no Johnny Johnny oh ouch Johnny Johnny, I’ll tell mi dad Johnny Johnny, get off Johnny Johnny.’ Then Ralph let the door go and Tanner came out faster than a ‘shit house rat’ and they all high tailed it home, Tanner none the worse for his traumatic experience.

When it was a child’s birthday at school, all the other kids would chase him or her at playtime and when caught, the local tradition was to pull the birthday kids hair gently, once for each year of their age. Sounds pretty tame don’t you think? I stopped announcing my birthday after I was caught one year and my head was almost ripped off. I remember when it was Jim D***** birthday. We had the poor boy in tears. He ran as fast as his chubby little legs would carry him and we caught up with him half way up the playing field as he made a vein attempt to get home after school. He only let it slip that it was his birthday late in the afternoon and thought he would get away with it. No such luck. Now Jim had a lovely mop of light curly hair owing to the fact that he had a ‘very good up -bringing’ and had never contracted the dreaded boodie scourge and had never had the what came to be known as ‘the boodie bop cut ' which went along with the plague. I remember a hoard of frenzied kids running after their prey and one bringing him down with a rugby tackle around the legs and the remainder piling on top of him. There were legs sticking out in every direction and the screaming and counting going on went something like this. ‘One’Ahaaaa ‘Two’ Eeeeeyaaaa ‘Three’ Boooo Hoooo. The crying had already started so I thought I would have a go so I thrust my arm deep into the pile of bodies, felt some hair and yanked at it with all my might and almost broke Christopher F*********'s  neck. I was only going by touch and Chris always had a good head of hair and he got an early birthday present that year. Poor Jimmy, he literally had bald patches on his head that day. I had a lovely curl in my hand from his head which I showed around to the other kids as a souvenir of my prowess on the day of battle.
I eventually left School at the ripe old age of 15 to become an Apprentice electrician. My life changed drastically in my teen years.   But that's another story best left out of the net:-

24 April 2009