The first Christmas I can remember after dearest Mother had skedaddled, leaving me and Dad in peace.
Dad being Dad, and not inclined to spend money unless it was absolutely vital, did get me a few Christmas presents though – a packet of the new fire-lighters (Tik-Tac, remember them?), a second hand pair of gloves, a screwdriver, half a roll of lino, and a colander to strain the potatoes for his dinner.
He departed to the local Cricketer’s Arms (Davenports Ale) to support the brewing industry, and left me to get his dinner ready for 1300hrs.
By the time I’d got the fire lit and ‘going’, the meal cooking, and the radio set to the light programme for him to listen to the Queens Christmas speech, it left me just enough time to cut up some toilet squares out of the Nottingham Evening News, before he returned.
We ate the meal with little conversation, then as I was ‘washing the pots’, not an easy task without washing up liquid, getting hot water from the boiled kettle and pans, and the top of the sink about level with me chin!
(Cooking on the stove involved me having to stand on an upturned biscuit tin to reach everything – and as for heating the iron on the rings…)
Dad listened to his ‘Family Favourites’ on the radio. By the time I’d cleared up, he was fast asleep, snoring gently. So much for his wanting to hear the Queens speech!
I delved into the larder under the stairs, in search of fodder to get ready for our tea, and found the Corned Beef had ‘gone off’, so opened a tin of Spam instead.
I nipped out to the Chapel, but must have got the times wrong, as no one was there.
I returned home.
Dad stirred about 1700hrs, and demanded his ‘cuppa’. I duly obliged.
After eating our tea, I again ‘washed up’, and Dad went off to sleep again. Safe I thought to go out to see a neighbour and mate… or should I say ‘go out to play?
As I approached number ten, I heard confusing sounds emanating from within – later confirmed as laughter and sounds from a TV.
I was admitted, and they had a Christmas tree with decorations all over the place. I found so many people in the front room it scared me, these fears were alleviated after I was informed they were members of the family. They fed me real turkey, sprouts, the pudding, biscuits, and something called mulled wine?
The TV fascinated me! (Never saw one before)
I swayed unsteadily on me feet back to number 4, with a minced pie.
Dad was still asleep.
I joined him in the other chair.
Dad woke up, ate the minced pie, and returned to his brewery supporting activities at the Cricketer’s Arms.
Dad returned with a bottle of lemonade for me, and gave me a shilling for Christmas (5p)!
I retired, despite everything, happy and content.
Funny how easily pleased I was in those days.
A Nottingham Lad’s True Tales of Woe – Part Five
Fire in the Backyard