Yes you’ve guessed it; dear mummy did yet another bunk.
Immediately after she absconded, the usual callers seeking her whereabouts were received: Loan sharks, bookies, neighbours, solicitors, the police and various others. We even had a Nun call? Never did get to the bottom of that one. Why the policeman would arrive looking for Mother with a dog I’m not sure; maybe the dog was new and he wanted to tests its bravery if she was there? The usual note was found left on the table. They usually went something like: ‘Gone to Matilda’s to look after her for a few days ‘cause she’s poorly’. Why she did not just tell the truth ‘Coppers after me, must go on the run’ I just don’t know? Perhaps, her being an excellent con artist, she thought if she showed herself in a good light in the note she left, it might soften the resolve of the authorities and people she owed money to pursue the debts?
However, the resulting events this time were of a more interesting nature.
The night after she left, dad and me were sitting by the fire, when the door was knocked upon, Dad (a rarity when I was available) answered the door himself to find two bullish men who were representing ‘Brental’s Hire Purchase Furniture Shop’, on Carrington Street, asking to talk to a James Timothy Gerald Archibald Percival Chambers (eight year old me?) about a hire-purchase agreement on a three piece suite that has not been paid. (We have never had a new three piece suite; one would not have fitted into the house anyway!)
Dad tried to explain to them that J T G A P Chambers was eight years old, and started to open the door so they could see me, when one of the bullish types made the mistake of trying to push past daddy to get into the house.
When the ambulances left the scene, the local bobby said: “Not to worry Harry, those two had it coming to ‘um, any further trouble give me a call, any time mate.”
The only time I recall my Dad knocking hell of anyone but me.
The Part-Time Jobs wot Dad got fer me…
Dad soon started to organise me unwilling search for employment.
Nearby where we lived (did I say lived?) was a hardware store on Kirk Wight Street, Heason’s was the name.
Daddy very kindly got me a Saturday job with them, to help supplement my double paper round jobs funds.
I think I got paid 2/3d for a full nine hour day (11p). But it didn’t last too long. Among my duties, was burning the weeks rubbish in the back yard, and delivering small items bought in the shop to customers on an ‘errand boy’s bike’.
On about the fourth weekend, I set fire to the shed, then the bike ended up under a trolleybus on Arkwright Street, when I came off on the icy road, and the table lamp that was in the basket got broke… well crushed under the trolleybus wheels actually!
I was not injured in either incident, not that anyone asked.
Mr Heason was very good about it, and let me work for another two Saturdays and kept my wages in payment for the lamp, and damage repairs to the bike before sacking me.
Daddy was not pleased, and sent me immediately to the Grove cinema, to apply for the job advertised as a gas-lamp lighter, and snuffer in the evenings and weekend.
Amazingly they took me on straight away, and paid well too, about 7/6d a week. And! – I got to see the pictures, even the X-rated for free! It things a bit hectic cause on the lighting shift, I had to dash back home and wait for Dad to return whenever, and light the fire and get his nosh for him. The Snuffing-out shift was okay, and I got to search through the rows of seats for anything that had been dropped or left behind by the clientele.
Amongst my ‘odder’ finds were; A Parade magazine, contraceptives, a walking stick, umbrella, a hobbing iron, shoes, cigarettes, a prosthetic leg, coins, and one day; A ten shilling Note! These were amongst many other items.
Of course I still had to fit in school, chopping wood for the fire, clearing and cleaning out the fire grate, laying it in readiness for Dad’s return from work (remembering not to light it until he actually arrived home, Dad thought lighting it for one was a little financially extravagant).
The housework, the shopping, (when I could extract any money from Dad), cooking etc.
Of course mother returned later, Dad paid off her debts again – and we started hiding out valuables again. Tsk!