Friday, 11 December 2015

The Scruffy Kid



Well Hello to you... Yes you there. Here you see two pictures, 1.The Scruffy Kid aged One having a day on the beach at Sandbanks near Poole, and 2. Graffiti by Banksy found in Southampton, the city of my birth.
Strange isn't it, that a art piece from the talented Banksy should end up in Southampton, and look, in an arty way at least, exactly like me.

Ah yes, The Scruffy Kid was born on the 19th of Oct 1956. A Twin. It was a shock to the parents as the first they knew about this other child was me shouting “Boo!” which made everyone including the nurse jump three feet in the air, not a good situation to be in to someone giving birth, and my mother had to stay at the hospital longer to recover.

Almost dropping me the Nurse looking into my big blue eyes decided to slap my twin for a second time.
Well that’s how I believe it happened, and as I’m the one writing this no one can stop me ….Ha ha ha ha ha (mad laughter) but I digress.

Later that day due to some confusion a local reporter from the Daily Echo knocked on the Door of our then home in Northam, an area of Southampton situated near the Docks; many of the young crew on board the Titanic lived in this same area, My father grew up here; he once told me when he was a kid he and his friends often watched the Dog fights between the German Bombers and there escorts with the Spitfires and Hurricanes that protected our shores.

Interestingly My Mother being a young child too during this War was out in the Country, in a place called Colden Common, which as a child I always thought was Golden Common, which just goes to show a kid can listen but not necessarily hear.
When war broke out my Grandfather was sent to Scotland to man the Guns; where he was to be told his surname was Scottish, and I since found we are part of The Gordon clan. 
So the family safe in the country now moved into Southampton where it definitely wasn’t. In Fact my mother told me the story of when my Great Great Grandmother, tried to enter the safety of the Southampton Civic Centre air raid shelter... but the Man at the Door, probably an Air Raid Warden, sent them away to another shelter across the Park, Well as you can imagine she argued her case to enter as she was with two young children, but the man insisted that the shelter was full, and sent her on her way, and she muttered a few choice words about the man under her breath as they sought refuge elsewhere.
That Man saved their lives that day, as the Civic Centre shelter took a direct hit from the bombers, the 500 pound bomb crashed through the roof and exploded in the basement. It was said that Hermann Goering stated rather smugly, that the Civic Centre looked like a Cake from the air, and he was going to cut himself a slice of it.  
Over 300 people were injured in that raid, and all 35 civilians  which included the man at the door, and 15 school children were killed.
The force of the blast swept my relatives off their feet, but they blessed their good fortune and the man at the door.

But Wait! I hear you cry, 'what’s this got to do with the Reporter!' Well nothing I’m giving you some background, stories do that you know, and sometimes in the most unexpected way.

Knock Knock! “Who’s there?” ‘Reporter!’ “Reporter Who.”… Oh my word! I best get back to it hadn't I, as you ALL seem to have forgotten already.

“Hello Mr P………?” (Censured to protect the innocent) asked the reporter in a way only reporters can, “I’m from the Echo, can you tell me how it feels to be the father of Triplets?”

At this point I imagine my father fainted, after witnessing my twin Michael and my birth, and then to be told there was a third! Blimey!

Of course this turned out to be a mistake to the great relief of all involved.

Months Later I was to be seen holding my Rattle in one hand whilst shouting to Odin “By the power of this Rattle tell me why, WHY I!, the Norse God of all that rattles, why I’m surrounded by Saxons?”

For I was the ash blonde, blue eyed baby boy, with siblings, with brown eyes and the jet black hair of a Witches cat, except cats have fur... "What Fur?" I don't now they just do... Is it just me? or do you lot always ask questions while you're reading? because it's really annoying, I'm trying to be a professional Author for goodness sakes.
But If my siblings had fur they kept it to themselves. three years later this difference was further highlighted with the birth of my Saxon sister Loraine; spelt with one R as she wasn't a pirate. Now it's Loraine who swears that the darkness comes from an Italian source in our family line, I didn't realise they had dark sauces myself but what do I know of Saxon magic, or Italian dishes. 
'So this is how it’s going to be,' I thought…. 'Me and the Saxons it is then.'

When I was a year old the family moved to a newly build Council home, and for what ever reason they took me with them, so it was in these new dwellings we three; Steven the elder and my twin Michael gave my poor Mother the merry run around.

She never understood how once placed in our play pen, how it always appeared in another part of the room until she caught us all working together to lift the wooden pen and walk it round.
If I concentrate really hard, I can remember pushing my chubby baby face against the wooden bars, and rattling my Lippy cup along them, while stating, 'you got nothing on me Copper! that nappy was full when I got it.'

During one of these escapades I somehow escaped into the hallway, where I found an unused capped gas pipe to chew on, as every father and mother will tell you, babies on the road to discovery will put anything and everything into their mouths first, but this pipe, unfortunately for me, had a very sharp pointed operating handle that speared me just under my lip…
In my head I have this picture of my mother finding me bloody mouthed attached to the pipe, and lifting me by my legs shouting to my father, “That funny blonde haired one has become an appliance! He’s running on gas now!”

Poor woman run ragged and now she has to explain how her child was battled scared, but I'm a Viking. We eat pipes for breakfast, if only is wasn't copper, it could have been a good source of iron.

I still have a scar just under my lip as a reminder of this event, and recently I received an email from a worried dentist saying they found a strange shadow under one of my teeth, that can’t be explained and in order to investigate they will need to destroy said tooth to ensure it’s not infected.
To me this seemed a drastic way to save a tooth! How can you save a tooth by destroying it? and then having to pay for a Cap. So thinking, as you do when saving yourself from lunatics with drills, I tapped my mouth in the area this shadow appeared and low and behold my finger fell onto my scar.

I found this fascinating… that something that happened 59 years ago should still raise alarm to this day.

The scar is quite small at around 5mm in length, but on a baby it must have looked huge.

I don’t recall there being any Crèches or preschools for babies in the late fifties to early sixties, but if there had been any, I would have been placed in the corner with the Roughty Toughty kids. You know, the ones with flick knives and broken noses surrounded with everybody else’s lunches.

“Cor’ Blimey! Look out! It's scar face! Give him the lunches, we don’t want any trouble.” They would shout.

Davy Crockett killed him A Bear when he was only three... A Bear! and he was like Tiny!

My very first recollection of my father and one of my earliest memories is holding my mothers hand and looking up into the smiling face of a stranger, a man as BIG as A Bear, who filled the door frame, as I stood, with my mother and my self, on the inside of the living room, while my father stood just outside, in the hallway.
“Who’s that?” I ask worried, now looking back to mum for reassurance that all was safe.
“This is your Daddy!”

This was a word I had no understanding of, “What’s a Daddy?” laughing my mother stoops and adds “he’s your father….your dad!”
This still meant nothing to me. 'Stoop all you like woman! you make no sense!'
My father had been working nights, although while my mother was recovering in hospital after complications from our births, my father was our soul carer, but I have no memory of this, my memories only go as far as three years old and that's without killing a Bear, But it has to be said my Brothers could have quite possibly killed a bear with their stinky bottoms.  
It was only after the birth of my sister, that my dad decided he’d had enough of nights. He had a young family to bring up and he only ever saw us sleeping. 
So for me he was home for the first time.
This was that day! The day he would come back into our lives, and there was I, leaning back to look up at this strange giant, but he never scared my mum so he never scared me either.

As children we had several dogs… one was a jack Russell that used to playfully nip at our heels if we ever ran in front, so he had to go, and then a rough coated hound called Rex who had to go after he snapped a bite at Steven the elder, who, I might add, was teasing the poor thing, that he was about to steal his dinner… Steven still has the scar under his eye.

Our next Dog and the one that was going to be my friend until I was into my twenties Was Tiny; I'll elaborate further, yes he was a small pup, but we also named him Tiny, probably because he was.

He was brought to us by My Auntie Sonya, who was working at some dog rescue centre at the time, and if we didn’t take him he would have to be put down.
"Call yourself a Dog! I've seen bigger!" and no doubt other such put downs.
So obviously to save him from these taunts, we took him in.

I remember my first introduction to Tiny… he was a cross between a boxer and some longer nosed Mutt, we were in the back garden when my Aunt placed him on the ground, he was only a few months old and the poor pup sat shivering as we all stood round to meet him.

I knelt down to get a closer look, and stroked him, his fur felt as soft as silk and he was still shaking.

Now I seemed to have developed a telepathic link to Tiny as we grew, and I’m sure I could hear exactly what he was thinking in to my kiddie brain.

If I was ever to venture into the woods, there would be Tiny tagging behind saying ….”Ok! where are we going? Wow, smell this tree, this tree smells great! hang on! I got something! ” he would say sniffing the ground, “Na, I got nothin!” ….”Ohh…look a bird! That bird will get it if he ever comes down here.”

I never had him on a lead when he was young… he loved to run and I used to run with him.
By the time I was 3 I had one best friend and that was Kerry an elder girl who lived opposite to our house.
These homes were build in blocks four houses each side with a passage alleyway separating the rear gardens.
I used to look up to Kerry, mainly because she was a year older and a foot taller then me.

We of the Baby Boomer breed, seemed to have more freedom to wander as children, and we could venture out alone.

Steve The Elder had a Trike!..."Really!"... Shh! he'll hear you.
It was a beauty, red with yellow handles and seat, it taunted me to ride it....oh yes it did. 
OK so I'm 3 3/4's and forbidden to ride the for mentioned trike.
But my brother is at school.... hmm, now this is my opportunity to make a break for the hills. 
So tip toe little me... and unlock the garden gate, up the path to the second gate leading to the alley separating one row of four houses from another, then I am out! I'm on that bike and I'm peddling... The G forces on my face lifted at least two hairs on my head out of place, 'This is awesome!' The exit between the garden walls is rushing towards me at an incredible 1/8 a mile per hour... I hit the small step onto the concrete path heading for the asphalt path that circles the homes built in rectangles, turning left now I'm going down hill....... Brakes? Brakes!! not a clue, what's a brake ?...
The end of the row is coming up fast and I need to turn left, so I can take the path at the front of these council homes. 
I make the turn...who knew three wheels could become two! But armed with pure ignorance I keep the bike on the path... 'Wow' this is fun isn't it? I say in my head, but no one answers, we're too busy having fun!... And then it happens!... 'what was that??' I feel it again, so I stop peddling, because something is tickling my face, 'hmm what is it..?' I touch my forehead and it's wet! 'what ?' Where did that come from? 
As I run my hand over my face a bead of water runs down my hand... Crumbs this is awkward I seem to be malfunctioning in some way...
With a sense of urgency now I start peddling again passing the last of the four houses, I turn left again and head up hill...'Cor blimey!' this isn't easy... 
I dismount and run with the trike the rest of the way untill I turn left yet again and head back into the alley... to gate one... gate two... 
"MUM!! ...MUMMY!!" I bang my tiny fist on the back door... I'm better off shouting because no one but a dog sleeping against the door would hear that! "MUMMMMMMMMMMM!"
The door opens and this giant is now looking down on me, "What have you been up to now?.... have you been riding your brothers bike?" "ahhh humm," looking back at the bike I return my gaze to my mother's smiling face.. "Mum I've broken my head, it's leaking!" 
"What?" 
"I'm leaking! my head is leaking... look!" 
I point to the water running down my face... and Mum starts chuckling, "Your not leaking, your sweating!!" 
"Oh NO! is that more bad then leaking?" I ask, in me best child English init... 
"No ( chuckle, chuckle) it means your hot! people sweat when they get hot!..." 
"Really?" I ask... 
"Yes..." 
Well where did the water come from? it had to come from somewhere? I don't understand this sweating thing at ALL!...
OK so I'm not going to die through leakage so I fess up to riding the bike. 
"That will teach you," Mother says... "Come in you better have some water."

Ahhh... very shrewd this is a sneaky ways to replace my empty head tank... I'm thinking.
By the time I was at the ripe old age of 4 I was about to meet the lad who was to be my best friend through out my school years. he was the son of a polish RAF pilot who settled down in the sunny south of England after the war.... you know the one with the two W's and two I's. not the Boer war as some of you may have assumed.
Although before I was born, I was told about a Family member who owned an Orange plantation in South Africa, well obviously I was told this as a child and not literally before I was Born.
You see back in the days of Empire and exploration my ancestor set out to map the unknown regions of the Great Continent, he painted this down on leather hide or so I was told, I'd hazard a guess the it was on paper that may have been wrapped in leather hide. But who knows? those that do have past.
He settled in the Sunny South African coast and bought the land to start his Orange legacy... A legacy lost to the family due to the days of Sail, as none of the family could reach this land to lay claim to it after his death... Goodbye Orange Empire... Ma'r maladed this story to be when I was just  a Tot.

OK like I was saying before you all distracted me with oranges I met this blonde lad while I waited a Mr Whippy ice cream. ( Mr Whippy was a brand name for a fleet of Ice Cream Vans that regularly circled the estate for custom. There was also Tony Bell, who had a cow logo, and various other manufacturers of these Icy delights) Mr Whippy was famous for his whipped Ice cream cones made possible by using a machine that pump the ice cream out and the comb would be twisted to form the Wippy look. Old Tony Bell still scooped his ice cream into combs so old school and today I was new school.
Well here I am aged 4 something, looking up at this giants van when suddenly a finger is prodding me, this isn't something I was used to so I look into the eyes of the prodding finger kid and he says "Why are you over here? this is our territory your trespassing! So my first though was 'Ice cream' my second though was 'Hey Ice Cream' but eventually I answer this probing with an all inspiring "What?"
Yea that told um... did I mention there was about six of these tots surrounding me? No?
OK so there are six of these young Mafia types  now making a tight circle round me, 'Oh to be so popular'  I was thinking in between  shouts of 'ICE CREAM!' in my tiny brain.
"Your trespassing!" Blondie insisted, which was easy for him as he already had his Ice cream in his other none probing hand.
Now I had no fear of anyone or anything, because I was too ignorant to know why I should be scared.
So I thought hard about it and repeated "What!" as my first line of defiance.
Now this other kids starts shoving me "You hear'd im! now push off! get back to your side!"
My side as he eloquently put it was 300 meters away.
Tom Baker would call this so wonderfully violent.
Well let me tell you, I wasn't having any of it, so I stamp the foot that says 'I'm not going anywhere pal,' and say "I've come for a ice cream and I'm going to HAVE! an Ice Cream."
Now three are pushing me back and I'm starting to get a tad annoyed...
"What do you want son?" the seller asks.... Where the Hell has he been the last 5 minutes, obviously I want a bloody Ice Cream!
So I say probably louder then I needed to "ICE CREAM! with hundreds and thousands." (sprinkles as they are now called)
I had the threepence in hand and reached up on tippy toes to place it on the counter. The boy's backed off a little, and I take my prize... "Don't cross the line again!" what Blondie really meant was don't cross the road, but the path looped round the road so no crossing was involved.

Now look back at the face of the one year old me, in the picture above and you'll know what my four year old face was set to, at this time... you have to be a brave fella to get between me and ice cream I can tell you, and just have.
They shouted taunts and I poked out my tongue but they asked for it, this was a bloodless battle of wills and Kerry who came running over because of the fuss shook he fist at the little up starts shouting "Bully's you leave him alone." This just encouraged more shouting and taunts, but earned Kerry a lick or three of Ice Cream... I'm as stubborn as they come, I ignored their territory rules continually through out that year of 1960.
Motorcyclist or Rockers as they were known used to gather on that forbidden territory, with there bubble gum chewing girl friends, and me being a cheeky chap often walked into this gathering... the girls all thought I was cute and used to pick me up and plonk me on one of the huge Motorbikes, I was also a pillion passenger while they toured the estate. Oh They smelt of Fuel and Brycreem,  and the boys were just as bad.
These Rockers would have music playing from some old radio and I think this is what drew me to them in the first place, and I would sing along much to the Aww's and Woo's of these young teenage girls, so they made The Scruffy Kid and honorary 'Rocker' and a leather jacket was wrapped round my tiny shoulders.
I was never with my siblings on these adventures as I would just wonder off on my own. People fascinated me.
School started when I was 5 and fortunately for my twin he got to come with me.
I remember Mum walking us to School for the first time and she imparted two rules to follow.
Rule One... remember how we got here because you will be making your own way here from now on.
Rule Two... if anyone tries to Bully you, you should give them a bloody nose and they won't bother you again.
I know what your thinking 'Did you write those rules down?' Well no... because this was the first day of school Dah!
I'm shown where I'm to hand my coat, and each hook had a picture of an animal on it..
"This is your hanger from now on so remember which on is yours." The Secretary said, before taking us to our Teacher for the year.
So I hang my Duffle coat up on Squirrely and my Bother does the same on badger.
"This is Michael and Paul, the Twins" and turning she said, "Boys this is your form Teacher Mrs Anderson."
We were manoeuvred into place in front of Mrs Anderson, "Hello boys...so who's who?"
"I'm Paul."
"And I'm Michael." my brother answered correctly. (this boy will go far)
So at this revelation we had our names pinned onto us so the rest of the kids who couldn't read knew who was who.
And there was Blondie and prodder number two, who turn out to be Richard and Kevin, I assumed the squiggles pinned to their jumpers said the same.
Well any trouble from them and it's bloody nose time according to rule two.
because they recognised me we actually made friends on the spot, they had never met Michael so it was pretty much just us paling up.
The Bloody nose was awarded to a tall lanky boy Roger who had formed a little gang, these were probably neighbours of his that entered school at the same time.
As soon as he started pushing me and going on about how his gang would rule this play ground I decked him with one punch right on his conk, the then slang for nose. I mentally put a tick in rule 2.
Mother was right, he never bothered me for the rest of the day.
There was another set of twins in the class, but these two Everett's were identical unlike us.
Michael and Terry Everett were impressed with my ability to tell them apart, but to me one had a thinner face.
It was assumed the twins would form rival gangs but I'm not a joiner of such things as I liked to do things alone. I did however always look after my sibling who once he cottoned on to the fact I'd step in if there was any trouble, used his great big gob to find plenty for me to sort out.
Don't get me wrong I was no bully...I never picked on anyone who wasn't asking for it, and as they force the issue so nicely I saw they got it.... rule 2 was now full of ticks.
Probably because my first friendship was with Kerry I found I preferred the company of girls during play times, and I would be found singing the latest hits to a ring of them in the play ground.
I also played footy with the lads.
I was soon discovered to be a gifted artist, because my drawings of people were clothed and had normal arms and legs with shoes and not stick people...'What was that about! stick people Really?" kids were weird.
according to Mum this was because I used to sit and watch some guy called Rolf Harris who had an art programme on one of the TV channels, I don't recall any of that so I must have been very young, I do however remember that it was my Mother who showed me how to draw Eyes, and that at no point do you see the pupil as a full circle, the top would be hidden under the eyelid. I still do eyes exactly the same way even today.
A Programme I do recall before school would be Four Feathered Falls, by that Man, Gerry Anderson.
I remember it because the sheriff had magic guns that would shoot by themselves if he was in trouble, pretty cool eh?
Then the day came when Roger decided he would pay me back for the Bloody Nose I gave him, so he got his gang of five to surround me.
That was mistake number one, his second mistake was the punch to the chin... because what happens next needs explanation I think I'd better break it down for you, I had better explain how I eventually over came this threatening event.
 As a kid I had to play fight my bothers often,  usually it was them against me, as they both liked the wrestling on Saturdays BBC Sport. A programme that; back in the 60's the whole family, including cousins would gather round at Grandads House to watch every week without fail.
So the one thing I learnt from having two monsters attacking me at once, was how to thrown these fiends over my shoulder.... Now remember I'm surrounded so all six of these idiots are at arms length.
I grab Roger's arm first as it had just struck me and turning into him I throw him down as hard as I can at my feet, then before the others even had the sense to react I took each opponent in turn by turning my body into them as I had with Roger and threw each one in turn again as hard as I can right on top of poor Roger.
all bar one who ran away to inform the teacher on play ground duty I was picking on them.
One thing I was sure about was Roger had to be hurting I made sure everyone fell right on top of him, and boy did I slam them down with all of my kiddie Might.
By the time Teacher joined us, there was a squirming mass of bodies under foot...
"There Miss I told you!" said chicken shit. pointing an accusative finger, and my only thought was 'Hey! you should be top of this pile you ass!'
Well bless teachers cotton socks, cause she looked at this pile and said, "So Paul picked on all six of you did he?"
Then one of the girls I was with at the time said, "No Miss they were picking on him!"
"Is this true?" Teacher ask one of the other girls, this was Pauline, who always wore her hair in pony tails.. I remember this because we used to run round the play ground, with me holding on to her tails as our  waggon was under attack! under attack by Cherokees! (I was very gentle, I never pulled her hair so fear not dear reader) We loved this game....
Anyway.... when asked, Pauline confirmed it was indeed, I, who was the intended victim.
Teacher now helped the boys to their feet and as the red faced Roger appeared she said, "Well let this be a lesson to you not to pick fights, now off with you get yourselves away so I can keep an eye on you."
Well from that day, in my little way, I became a legend in the play ground and it ensured people thought about it before attacking me. because rule 2 would be enforced at all times.
Before you start thinking This boy's becoming a bit of a brute... at this time I was also picked for the school choir and one of the Three wise Kings for the school nativity... such wisdom at a young age, and a king no less, and I had the paper crown with it's toffee sweet wrapper encrusted jewels to prove it.
"I bring you Gold!" said King one.
"I've the preset Frank sent!" King two announced.
"I've just got Myrrh," I say shrugging ..... not a clue, what the heck was Myrrh?, when I found out later it was used for Medicine and scent I was even less impressed....What Baby wants that?

Oh the 60's were brilliant... so much going on like Dinner Dinner Dinner Dinner Bat-Man!
The day Mrs Anderson made us play Blind mans buff I realise I may have over stretched myself...
I was blindfold and I had to catch someone then guess who I caught....Oh The excitement Paul your killing us here you say..
Well here I am I know it's a girl because she had a girly giggle and Nigel wasn't in school that day.
"I'll give you a clue Exclaims Mrs Anderson....it's your girlfriend!"
Blimey that's no help at all! I had six girlfriends.... so I have to have a guess, "Is it Heather?" I say optimistically
A gasp comes from the kiddie audience... the blindfold is removed and Sharon is giving he the evil eye...
I was embarrassed as I had nothing for her, but hay ho, Heather gave me a friendly wave, And Mrs Anderson seemed very amused, so as least she had fun.

Richard's second name was Stephen but his father pronounced it as Stefen, when ever we got in trouble his father would shout STEPHEN! and not Richard,  I asked him once what name he preferred and he said Stephen, so from that day on only his father and I referred to him as Stephen, which I soon shortened to Steph.
One day playing in his room he hit on this idea that if he shone his torch in our eyes for long enough we could become invisible... well I certainly couldn't see much after that, that was for sure... with the treatment done we had to test this theory out.
We decided to go down in to the kitchen where his Mother was preparing lunch...
I enter first and saying nothing sat down at the table, then Steph joined me by sitting opposite and low and behold his Mum totally ignored us like we weren't even there.
So both looking at each other wide eyed with the sudden Realisation we must indeed be invisible to her, we started  giggling as kids do.
"What are you two up to?" she said... Damn it must have worn off we thought, but for a while we revelled in our invisibility.
although Kevin  was still in our pool of friends Steph and I did most things together, we even joined the Boy's Brigade together, as both our elder bothers were already in it.
Steven, my brother was one of the Bands drummers so we both thought that too easy and became buglers.
But as I was anxious to be marching with the Band as soon as possible I took to the cymbals and marched behind the bass drum, as I had to hit the cymbal at the same time as he hit the drum.
did you know the bugle only has five notes? you do now... and before we knew it, we were playing bugle.
But that was way into our future, right now we would be IIlya Kuryakin and Napoleon solo... of course Steph had to be Illya as his hair was identical to our hero, and darn it Illya was the coolest character so I was a reluctant Solo, but we were ready to fight crime and the evil Thrush agents at a moments notice, for we were agents of  U.N.C.L.E, (Untied Network Command for Law Enforcement, it goes without saying that you ignore the fact that has an F in it, but I say it anyway)
and Steph wore the triangular badge with the number two while mine was eleven...what a cheek! I wasn't even three! I was like miles away from two.
but I got to say, "stand back girls we are on a mission."

We never played Doctor Who which started a year earlier because The Doctor was like a Grandad.

I’ve mentioned Christmas 63’ in a previous story, and I only mention the snow of 63’ in a reference to the start of Doctor Who.

Well the snow of 63 was deep for us southern kids who’d never seen more then a sprinkle before, and this was great for a scruffy kid of seven…. I remember looking down and not even seeing the top of my wellies! (wellington boots) in fact the snow was falling into the boots topping them off like a thick white layer of the fluffiest wool, of course later this would turn to water, soaking my socks, but right now, at this moment, it was Wonderful!

The kids in the area soon gathered to enjoy the snowy delights, and it was soon discovered that the pond in the woods had turned to Ice.

But who would be foolish enough to step out and find out if it was thick enough to walk on?

OK so there I am tenderly stepping out...
It held so all the kids eagerly stepped on and attempted to skate in their boots and shoes, this wasn’t an easy task by any means, as the ice was uneven and in some places branches and bits of old bushes pocked out like a row of spears set down by the Roman guard to protect this ground they once occupied.

I don’t know how long we played on the pond but it’s a fair guess it when on for hours, during this time the elder kids in the neighbourhood tried to command Who Could or Couldn’t  play on the ice, but us scruffs were having none of it, especially me.

We never had a sledge or toboggan, although some of the lucky spoilt kids did, so we used scraps of wood or old tea trays if we could get away with it without our mothers chasing us with a rolling pin, demanding its hasty return. And as we kids played on into the night we were oblivious of the problems gripping the country due to these severe weather conditions.

They say you remember exactly where you were when the assignation of JFK was announced on the news, and this is certainly true for me as I was in the kitchen where all family activity, including watching TV took place.

My Mother stopped in her tracks and she stood staring at the sight as it played out to the viewer.

I didn’t really understand who this man was but to my Mother it was obviously someone famous who was admired by the world. She looked as if she was going to cry, and she was very sad…. I remember that clearly.

She tried to explain what a bad thing this was to The Scruffy Kid and I was left feeling sad too.

This accrued on the 22nd of November 1963, why do I know? Because on the 23rd, the very next day, we watched the first episode of Doctor Who as it was broadcast. But as Kennedy still dominated the news and was the only source of interest to any adult I believe they screened the same episode the following week, I may be wrong but feel sure that’s how it was shown.

TV was a great escape to kids who had nothing but imagination to play with and great shows at this time were The man From UNCLE, The Munster’s, The Lone Ranger, Hop along Cassidy, Champion the Wonder Horse, F Troop, Car 54, Z cars, Dixon of Dock Green, Maigret, The Saint, Danger man, and true kids shows like Torchy the battery boy, The Wooden Tops, Twizzle, (the scary) Hoppity, Fireball XL5, Super Car, Stingray, Thunderbirds, Joe 90 which were mainly produced by Gerry Anderson.

Westerns were very popular so kids would play cowboys and Indians as Native Americans were yet to be invented.

The Cinema was also a great escape and this was shown mostly in colour.

In 1966 England finally won The World Cup, this was such a significant event that us school kids were taken by the bus load to see the story unfold as it was recorded in true vibrant Colour, and boy! Didn’t those red shirts look great!

We never knew then that this was going to be the last we ever see of an English captain lifting this treasured trophy, because the world seemed a place where anything was possible at this time, even talk of one day living on the Moon.


I remember a marvellous film set in Victorian times… where a man dared to go to the moon, we would probably Steampunk this up more if it was filmed nowadays, it starred Lionel Jeffries, as I remember it he was an inventor who found away to fly to the Moon with a substance he invented that made a kind of anti-gravity, and it used this effect to use gravity the drive a craft to the Moon, I believe it maybe written by H G Wells.

Anyway they fly to the moon and discover an insect like life form, that work for it’s Queen, like ants, First Men in The Moon, it was called and it was funny, scary and very Doctor Who like.

I wonder if I would enjoy it as much now…. special effects would have been fairly crude as this was a film made in the early 60’s.

So like I said we lived in a time where everything seemed possible.

Every child played outside, from morning till dusk we would used our imaginations to entertain ourselves.

We had play areas on these estates where Dragon swings, and ordinary swings were there to be used, first come first served bases.

The Dragon swing was a large swing that held a dozen or so children on its long plank with grab handles stationed along its length…. This would require two drivers, one at each end who using the same motion you’d use to make a swing move if stood on it, as these drivers were, some kids would also help by pushing from each end, and part of the fun was trying to get back on the large swing once it was in motion, yes some would fall but it was all part of the fun and daring we kids had.

The best of us could made this swing that hung from its four pole supports go very high, so this was only for the brave, if you suffer from motion sickness this was definitely not for you.

I recall many a green face kid being sick from these rides, and you hoped it wasn’t while in full swing.

I'm not sure Dragon swing was its real term, but that’s what we called it, because it was like the dragon canoes the Chinese race with, one person sat behind the next, only these would be split in the middle where the centre riders faced each other, this wasn't a rule and at times everyone faced the same direction.

There were also the merry-go-rounds and if you spun these fast enough the centrifugal forces would force you the hold on with all your might, at speeds where everything was a blur… once one of my friends trying to jump on while at full speed; as this was part of the fun, grabbed the bar and was instantly swept off his feet and he was now holding on horizontally to the ground and screaming in fright, which to the rest of us was hilarious… and my sides ached from laughing, we then decided this flying kiddie obstacle would make jumping onto the ride even more fun and it was still causing me to laugh so hard as many of my friends were sent flying by the outstretched terrified kid…. Of course in order to maintain this speed we had to add to it by pulling on the bars as they flew by and side stepping the screamer.

What a lark, we would have tears in our eyes, this was The Life, and we relished all its dangers.

As the round-a-bout slowed our friend finally made contact with the ground and unfortunately one of his legs caught under the ride and it was now dragging him by his leg, so it was all kids to the bars to halt the spin… after extracting his leg, he was a bit battered bruised and bloody from the grazes on his knees and as we stood him up he said “that was brilliant!” and we all broke into laughter again. This was all part of the Roughty Toughty days where we learnt to look out for each other without an adult in sight, and Boy! when we laughed it was wholehearted laughter it was flowing through your whole being.
I know what You're thinking.....'Did he try to recreate the circumstances that lead to the boy flying parallel to the ground.'  OF COURSE WE DID! we weren't about to let him have all the fun, my dismount for safety reasons, while in full flight, I flew off that thing like sugar off a shovel, and the ground broke my fall like it always does, it was a bit bumpy as you'd expect, but that's what the grounds there for after all.
We didn't just have fun in those far away days we all had sad days too, the loss of family members for instance, The day my great grandmother died was heart breaking because I knew she really loved me, and even on that day I got it all wrong.
I remember playing up in our bed room (the three boys room) when I felt the urge to look out the window and glace up the road that was on the lower part of the hill, and there walking with her familiar hat and dark woollen coat was my great grandmother, she seemed to sense me watching and paused to wave... I rushed down stairs excited to tell Mum.... But!  I was running into the kitchen and there my mood would soon change.
My Uncle was there talking to my mother and I could see she was sad and he seemed to be reassuring her about something, but one of my worst traits and one i still have, if I'm excited about something I will interrupt any conversation. "Mum...Mum! Grans coming!"
At that I was slapped across the face, I was stunned... My Mother let someone hit me without saying a word, "I was just telling your mother she died you little ****!"
Stunned but undeterred I said "no I've just seen her and I'm going to meet her so there!"
I ran out of the front door turning left to race up the hill where it joined the lower end of the Hill where I saw my gran.... she wasn't there... and I knew there was no way she could have gotten past me but I ran round the houses anyway.... She was gone and I thought it was my Uncle's  doing.
when I returned to the Kitchen my Mum was crying I gave my Uncle the look I gave anyone who'd wronged me and my Mum held me by my shoulders and said "She's gone Paul...your Grandmothers gone, but she's in heaven now so don't be sad..." I wasn't able to cry, I had mixed feelings, rage at being hit, disbelieve at how she could be gone when I'd just seen her... and my mother's voice saying she's died.
The thing with being a child is you believe what adults tell you, so if my grans happy in heaven then it took the hard edge off my grief. I never saw her again and that was very very sad, and I still miss her, but when ever I see a Jaffa cake I smile because it was her favourite treat, and when ever I was sent to bed without my supper for some crime a child can only be blamed for, there she would be with a jaffa cake..."Go on, no one will know." and she would smile a conspiratory smile, and I would laugh and bite into the treasured chocolate tangy goodness.

Thinking back we would be playing in our hundreds on that field and football was also played with over twenty a side, you had to be tough for this too and legs were kicked at more then the ball with five kids tackling at once.

My twin Michael had his arm broken twice while in goal at these mad chasing games. You would have thought he would have learnt the first time, twice was just carelessness.

It was the thing in those days to have a Budgie drawn on your plaster cast so I obliged on both occasions, I’ve no idea what the budgie was about but who am I; to turn down a chance to draw something, I drew a blue budgie each time because a yellow one is a canary and I’m no fool.

I can honestly say I took as many tumbles as anyone if not more then my brother but no bones were ever broken.

Scars on the other hand I do have.

 As the Great Bard once said "There's nowt as queer as folk" that's Albert Bard who owned a chippy in Yorkshire. 

At this stage in my life I used to look at my siblings and think, 'No way am I part of this family!'
Like I've mentioned before my brothers and sister all had the same black hair and brown eyes.... with my fair brown hair some call ash blonde and blue eyes I convinced there had to be a mix up at the hospital, but as I grew older my hair darkened and I started to see a resemblance to my Mother.
I remember one of our neighbours, Kerry's mother in fact, telling me when I was around 8 that I took after my mother.... I was devastated! I mean... she was a woman! am I going to look like a GIRL?
No one appeared to have money to waste, forget the bright and Fab! colours you see in films depicting the age.
Only the well off could afford to follow such trends, Oh no the main colours worn by the majority would be blue, brown, beige or grey, these clothes are also more likely to be hand me downs from a jumble sale (think boot sale indoors without the cars)
Because of this hardly anyone housed on a council estate owned a car... How great would that be today? you can barely park anywhere these days. 
But back then, the roads surrounding our homes only had one car to seen, and this belonged to Mr Bishop, he's in his late 50's to early 60's at this time and he sells insurance, and as fate will have it, yesterday I came across a car not just the same make but the very same colour... 



As the roads are so clear we often played tennis in the road using the curbs
and the concrete joints to mark our court... This estate had generous green
areas too, where if we wished we could play football,which nearly all the kids did play, you could end up with over 20 a side, sometimes even the adults wanted to join in these games, so we would have two kids for every adult... there was a clever and simple answer to every activity in those playful days...
The streets would be full of kids, playing all kinds of games ... the only limit was your imagination... you could be the 300 Spartans out numbered but defiant! or Cowboys and Indians... Soldiers from any war you could think of.

The woods were also a place of adventure, where you could clime trees, swing, or build your own den in the bushes by tying the branches together in a A frame, this made a comfy den where the entrance arched like a church, off cuts of Lino or carpet lined the floor... To a child it was the best play house ever!! and built by your own fair hands.
These skills are lost on the computer generation... unless there are still children out there looking for adventure that is, and not something that can only be satisfied by a hand held console.

I mentioned swings, and some of the braver lads hung these from the high branches of a tree... with a short branch tied at the other end as a seat,
These self made swings would be guarded by the older kids who made them, so to play on it you had to ask for permission or wait untill they had gone... You could use this swing by climbing with the swing, then swing out from the tree or hold the branch that was acting as a seat and run out in a circle till your feet left the ground, the faster you ran the further you swung out. This was the method I was using now aged between 5 and 6...

For some reason no one else was on the swing... so I played for hours, the main aim was to be off the ground for as long as possible, so you could make believe you're flying, when coming back towards the ground you'd tuck up your legs and place them down at the very last second.

Once I left it to late, so I hit the ground on my knees, but brushing myself down I set out again on the wide circular run...
I don't know how long it was before I noticed the tickling trickle on my right leg but looking down I saw my knee was bleeding, and the once white socks I wore, one was now a vibrant red! soaked in my blood.

We all wore shorts in those days too, my Parents would never think of buying long trousers for a child...

'Well I better head home then,' I thought, I don't recall any pain, only that tickle, by the time I reached for the front door I realised my Mother was going to go ballistic!...
I had ruined my socks!... So I tried to cry... not easy when you don't feel it, so it was more of a pathetic sob then a cry but thinking my Mother wouldn't hit me if I was upset I continued this subterfuge and knocked... The door opened, looking at me, Mum said "What have you done this time?.... get in quick."

She took me into the Kitchen; which in the 60's was the main living area anyway, the living room mainly being for for special occasions only and hardly used, this changed in the latter part of 63' following the purchase of the first record player I'd ever seen...

'She loves You' by the Beatles was played over and over... very high tech... but wait why are you reading this! While I'm sat bleeding in the kitchen? you really need to get your priorities straight...

So there I am sitting in the kitchen having my knee washed, Are you with me now?... Good we can move on.

"Oh this looks bad!" My mother informs me as she wipes at the damage.. By now I'm half sleepy... after running round for hours... I was in need of a nap, but this announcement from my Mother now has my full attention believe you me...
"What Mum?"
"You have a really deep cut in your knee, I think we better go to the doctors."
'Woaaw' Wait a minute, this can't be! it didn't even hurt!... but with a handkerchief wrapped round the knee, purely for hygienic reasons as it had no bogie's, off we trot to the doctors...
Crumbs! could this day get any worse?... No one likes going to the doctors, they tend to use you for darts practise...
"I'm afraid your son will need stitches."
'WOAAH!' My hands immediately wrap round my knee to protect it... "NO! it just needs a plaster," I plead... rather panicked.
This doctor is obviously a complete loony... "OK thank you Doc ... Mum can we go get a plaster now?"

"No young man, you will need stitches the wound is far to deep for plasters" the doctor insists .... isn't it funny how quick fake tears turn in to real ones.... "NO Mum!.....NO!"

Anyway a bus ride to the hospital later... (some emergency this is)
I'm waiting for a nurse to look at my knee... and on arrival she tricked me with the equivalent of someone shouting "look ...a cat!" to a dog... and as I look away, she puts a needle the size of a bike pump to my threatened mind into my knee....... "Ahhhwwwa that bloody hurt!" I bellow.

I should point out at this stage that it was seen as very rude to say 'bloody' back then, and for a nearly six year old all eyes fell on a blushing Mother...
"The Things they learn at school" she proclaimed, trying to looked shocked, and I knew as soon as we got out I'd get a thick ear... (a term for a whack round the head..)
I never got a thick ear, but I did get an ear bashing.
"You never swear again is that clear! You really embarrassed me then."
"Sorry Mum" I mutter, still in pain from needle and stitches... 

So here's me three stitches the heavier and it throbs like the red hot pokers of hell, as we walk to the nearest Bus Stop.
That journey home was a long and painful ride and tears of pain ran down my cheeks...

 I never slept a wink that night the pain was much to great for that... As a new day dawned I was too tired to care and spent the day in a daze...
At school I was a Hero, everyone wanted to see the stitches... which is probably the reason the wound was infected by the time the stitched were eventually removed, and this horrible green puss oozed out... and the wound was cleaned, using cotton buds soaked in what looked and smelt like diluted dettol, my leg was rebandaged and a tetanus jab was included for good measure, my day in hospital was done...

Well the price of freedom doesn't come cheap, going out unsupervised in the 60's could lead to a injury or three... But would I trade those days for safety? Not on your Nelly ......... NO WAY!

I was 9 when Heather stopped me on the stairs going to class to ask me a serious question... "Do you like playing with boys?" she had three of her friends with her all waiting with anticipation for my reply.
"Well I do play with the lads...so yes I suppose I do like playing with boys," I answered thoughtfully.
At this all assembled round me grinned and Shouted "YOUR A HOMO!"
I was like, 'what just happened?' so still ignorant as to what gave these girls so much pleasure at my expense I ask, "What's a homo?"
One of the girls squealed, "You should know you are one."
Hmm....this lot are definitely weird! so feeling a tad annoyed at being made a fool of I say, "Look I don't know what a homo is, so if you don't want to explain you can all just piss off! GET OUT OF MY FACE!"
Then Patricia who we just called Pat decided to enlighten me, so still smiling she told me, "A homo is someone who likes playing with their own kind."
"You mean boy's right!"
"Yes."
"Well you nuts! I just told you I like playing with boy's so I don't see what you find so bloody hilarious." I say... feeling aggravated, and continued upstairs to screams of "Paul is a Homo, Paul is a Homo."
"Fine," I say "Whatever!"
Even if they had of said Gay, I would have just assumed they had something against Happy people too!
At times like these I consult the all knowing and wise Kerry, after all she's a whole year older then me and wisdom comes with age.
 "Kerry do you know what a homo is?"
"Oh My God! why are you even asking me that?"
"Well some girls called me one."
"Really? Oh wow! I guess it's something they have just been told, I doubt they really know what it entails either."
Didn't I say she's all knowing... now I'll get to the bottom of this!


Favourite Son

It was one of those hot lazy summer days where the heat rose in shimming waves from the pavement, at the time these days seemed to last forever as the laughter of children filled the air, and bees, birds and butterfly’s filled the sky, all with the constant sound of buzzing of insects as the soundtrack to this pleasant life.
I'm five and enjoying my first summer holiday from school.
Down by the shopping centre was an enclosed car park with there garages, that was set in a dip that was made into a grassy slope.
Without snow and it being the height of summer the pleasure of sledging was made possible on grass with the aid of a torn piece of cardboard box.
Well that's what the sensible kids used like me; my twin however decided his short trousers could provide adequate slipperiness to this fun activity.

As the days pass the grass was quickly worn to dry stony soil, where the sliding kids were followed by the lifting dust cloud, and it's here someone was about to lose the back of his trousers.
Well as you’ve no doubt guest that someone was my twin Michael who was blissfully unaware the entire back of his trousers was replaced by the site of his soiled pants… soiled with soil thankfully.
Well he soon became aware due to the friction burn on his backside.

So it was a few days after this I was presented with these Holey Shorts…. I say holey but not in the saintly you now have the power of Gods in your pants kind of way. (which would have been cool as the parting clouds allowed a golden light to shine on my blessed trousers, to the sounds of singing angels)
In fact there was literally no material on the rear of these trousers at all.
This is went you realise you’re in no way a favourite son.
“What?....Why do I have to wear those? I never did that!”
“Michael is going to your grandmothers, with Steven and Loraine so you have to stay here!... he can’t go out wearing those.”
“But he’s wearing MY Trousers!...... MINE!”
“Well you’re not going out so you have to have these.”
“But I want to go out!”
“Well you can’t in these, so quit you’re moaning and put them on.”
“FINE!”

So there I was condemned to stay home, until my friend from the bungalows, near to our home called. (These were what we thought at the time as Posh kids, as their parents owned their own home.)
So my posh friend asks, “Are you coming out to play?”
It took me a nanosecond to consider the consequences of being seen with my backside hanging out of my shorts to say, “Yes.”
And out I go, and soon we are opening the gate to his driveway to walk round his home into his family’s rear garden.
All this time I’m conscious of keeping by backside out of view, and all gardens at this time had a coal bunker, a concrete rectangular box, that sat about 4 feet high.
So jumping up I sat myself down on it…. Now satisfied my hid was hidden.
“Lemonade?”
“OHHHHHH yes please.” (Posh kids had the greatest mothers) I say to the smiling face of my friend’s mother.
Brilliant! And my friend asks, “Can we have cake too mum?”
“Of course, I’ll bring it out to you.”
What can I say…. Cake and lemonade! I was in the garden of heaven.
The garden was well kept, with roses and other flowers in full bloom, and that lovely familiar buzz filled my ears, and I felt truly happy.
We joked around, playing word games and such then his sister joined us, she was beautiful with blonde hair that shone like corn.
We were laughing away and eating cake when suddenly…. As most things that happen when you’re least expecting  them… I was stung by something in my throat… This was like Och! But much more painful.   

I was starting to get hot and my throat felt tight, so with one hand to my throat I jump off the coal bunker, then the concerned face of my friends sister changes to confusion as she sees my backside hanging out of my trousers, and  I can see she’s wondering if I ripped them as I jumped.
Her mother runs to me saying, “Oh My Goodness! Are you alright? Did you rip your trousers?”
“I’m feeling giddy and say….. “Bluuuuuuh.”
“Mum he’s been stung by a bee!” My friend says 
“Oh NO!.... we must get you home.” And she plucks me from the ground like I was a feather and runs with me in her arms to the rear of my home… and with my friend banging the door like the klappers it's soon answered by my mother.
“He’s been stung by a Bee! And he’s ripped his trousers jumping from our coal bunker the poor boy.”
 I’m rushed in and sat on a chair where I wobble, feeling sick and dizzy.
“I’m terribly sorry I hope he’s alright?”
“I’ll fetch him some water, he’ll be fine.” My mother concludes, “Thank you for bringing him back.”
“Is he going to Die MUM?”
Am I going to die? I’m thinking as my throat tightens even more.
“No! He’ll be fine.” My friend’s mother reassures him and me at the same time.

When all the fuss dies down and I’m alone in the kitchen with my mother she says, “I told you to stay indoors, this wouldn’t have happened if you listened.”
I was finding it hard to talk, I was slightly scared bee poison might be the end of me, but I manage to say…. “I didn’t want to stay in mum.” but in my head I'm saying shouldn't you be feeling  guilty? if I wasn't attempting to hide my Hide I may have been standing and running about like a normal kid... Bees would have looked and thought, 'Na, he's moving to fast to be a flower, curse you boy with sweet cake.'

“Well we can’t go to the Doctor’s, not with you dressed like that so drink this water and rest.”


She looked worried which worried me, she would never give me trousers with holes in again, that was for sure, so in that way I won a small victory to my freedom.
After a while my swollen throat did die down and when my siblings returned home I was able to tell them how I escaped the icy hands of death armed with a holey pair of trousers and true grit….and my Twins a git! I added, which is apparently a rude thing to say, but true. 


Christmas 1963

Beatles in Concert at the Gaumont, Southampton. December 13th 1963 End of `The Beatles Autumn Tour'.
I remember seeing the queues for this, and they used to queue round the Theatre and across the street, and it was huge and noisy.

Ah yes December 1963 was in the full grip of Beatles fever, unlike a real fever this came with long hair, 'I want to hold you hand' would be played everywhere.

The family are sitting in my Grans living room, we kids, the brothers three and tiny Sis had to be on our best behaviour as this was the room only used for best. 
"Mind what you do with that cup of tea" 
"Yes Gran," I would reply as I dunk one of her homemade short bread biscuits into the streamy brew, Oh crumbs they are scrummy.
Father and my Uncle Vic are laughing as each take turns wearing the black mop like shaggy Beatles Wig, and I laughed till tears stream from my eyes as Granddad with a huge grin has the wig plonked on his head by his son, this was considered long hair back then and on my granddad  it looked Hilarious, as he had grey and rather thinning hair, I'd never seen him with dark hair before and it was strangely amusing, we would regard this Wig as short hair these days,  my Brothers and I however did have really short hair cuts, "short back and sides" my father would always asked the barber for us boys every time we were due a cut, I never liked it much, I have to say as my dark blond hair would curl every time it rained, I prefered it when it was wavy and natural, but with a short back and sides it just tickled.
When we kids were allowed in the living room alone I'd tune the Radio until I found something funny to listen too, Granddads radio had the fan like grill made of Bakelite. And the large dial would be lit up and you wound the pointer till you found some thing like this http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b007jv86 as yes the Goons this will give you belly laughs for sure and my belly enjoyed many a laugh with all the chuckles Milligan's Goons would conjure.
I'd end up imitating the voices of course and calling my dad "oohh you naughty man youuw."
 I'm wearing my now well worn blue paisley jumper identical to my twins, unlike myself to my twin, my elder brother would be in his green reindeer adorned collared jumper. The only difference in trousers would be that his were long trousers even though I was almost as tall.
(Ah the shorter twin brother syndrome) and ours would be short.

Other jolly japes on the radio would be, Around the horn,  Jimmy Cliverow, the Navy lark with Jon Pertwee, Ronnie Barker and Leslie Phillips to name but a few. http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b01nmgrk
Even Steptoe and Son, and Hancock’s Half Hour were regulars on BBC's Radio.
I'm Sorry, I'll Read That Again maybe a show you know,  the pilot programme having been broadcast on 30 December 1963 under the title "Cambridge Circus" With Tim Brook-Tayler (later to became one of the three members of The Goodies). He has written humorous books on various subjects, including cricket and golf. He was a member of the cast of the television comedy series 'At last the 1948 show'  with John Cleese, as well as Graham Chatman and Marty Feldman, and later appeared in Marty Feldman's television comedy series 'Marty'. Brooke-Taylor has acted in many other television sitcoms, as well as appearing in the 1970s BBC radio sketch show 'Hello Cheeky!' With John Junkin and Barry Cryer, a show which later translated to ITV.
I still enjoy hearing him and Graeme Garden on the radio, still working with Barry Cryer  on 'Sorry I haven't a Clue' That's the proggrame, not me being vague.

I would very often find a new hole in my jumper and be told off for picking at it... I put it down to an over active moth or poor maintenance.
Now then, I do remember pulling on my charcoal grey duffel coat with it's red tartan lining and heading off to Town with the other family members, Gran and Granddad lived near the Town Centre so it was only a matter of a 20 minute walk to reach the Centre, and the winter sky would be dark allowing the best view of the coloured water spouts from the fountain opposite the Guildhall and it was beautiful, I would race round it with my brothers , and the water that was now our backdrop would change from red, green, yellow to blue, onlookers would only see the shadowed figures of us boys full of laughter running between the coloured sequences. 20 years later this would be dismantled and moved to the front of the  museum but the lights were never to shine again....I think a tree fairy died that day just from the sadness of such innocent beauty being put to death.
Well after our usual run round the fountain, which happened every time we passed it, we headed to Woolworth's because the rumour was Santa was in town... yes the Real Santa!, can you believe that?...  What did you say?.. Hmm? Well anyway we were off to see the breaded one and we joined the long throng of kids all lined up for the same thing, "Mum I'm bored" my elder brother would say, "Well you'll have to wait."   
"Yea I want my present so shut up!" that's me ever the diplomat.

Well wait we did and I swear this Jolly soul looked the real deal, no fake beard for this fella. oh no, and the suit was excellent, straight form some Hollywood Jobby I'd say. 
"Ah my boy and what would you like for Christmas?"  
Is this guy kidding me? I want a Bike obviously so I tell him, he just smiles with that 'Yea, well I want a mansion.' face, 'but i'm not getting one,' and passes me a wrapped parcel, OH Boy I love guessing the parcel don't you? Hmm ah yes well hum.... could be a book of some kind and something hard but squishy, blimey no idea what that is.
"WAIT!!  till your brother gets His!" Blimey, 'OK miss angry I'm just investigating the possibilities here, give a kid a break, I say in my head.  
"OK Mum." I really say, poking the lump in the centre of the parcel again.....'na got nothing I'm thinking.'
I must point out my sister is three at this stage and the light of her daddies eye, who is now with Santa smiling like a Cheshire Cat with my sister in his arms, accepting the present on her behalf, the little tike rips into it straight away... well that's girls for ya.....
"Now you can open them." Mother says and she didn't have to say that twice so she didn't.
Rip!!........'OH that's what it was, how cool a Huckleberry Hound bendy rubbery toy,'  I say bendy, but the toy clearly had a thick wire skeleton that would soon wear through the deteriorating rubber in time, a health and safety nightmare that would never happen now as the wire would also snap and protrude from the constant bending, very sharp broken ends and kids don't mix, but that was later this was now and this was a cool toy. 
My elder brother had Mr. Jinks. the cat and my twin had Yogi Bear, Now your wondering what about the books, I'm getting there, the books turned out the be colouring and puzzle books which was also cool as it would give us something to do while the adults did their stuff... Ok which of you asked in your head "What did your sister get?" how do I know she's like ......a girl and it was probably some doll with a stupid bow. Happy now? yeeesh..
The walk back to Gran and Granddads never took  long and the fire lit in the grate was a cheery welcome to us Arctic explorers, just back from the north pole, it felt toasty warm after the cold night air. we were all now gathered in the dinning room in the middle of the lower floors of Gran’s and there was a salad spread which we had to help ourselves to, ohhhh Yum, ham cheese lettuce be friends haha.. Oh and granddad made the best pickled Onions EVER!! so we all dipped into those... But Wait! there in the middle was another jar with what looked like tiny ears, to this day I wish I just stayed curious it was none other then a jar of pickled whelks, "go on try some it will put hairs on your chest" this was one of my Granddads’’ sayings he always used like a I dare ya.. I opened the jar and forked out a Whelk... I didn't like the look of this fella but I had to prove I'm a Man....ok tiny man, so I pop it in my mouth and my mouth said "NO we don't want it".... but I couldn't spit it out I'd be murdered where I stood, so I held my nose and swallowed EWWW it was like a bitter tasting rubber slug Eww... bluaaaah! I didn't like it and from that day on I refused to eat anything that even hinted at putting hairs on my chest.

We Kids all made our beds on the floor of one of Gran's bed rooms to await Christmas day.....and I tell you there must have been some real sneaky sneaks going on that night, apart from almost being killed in my bed by my brothers whelky farts, there was a sack with Santa heading down the Chimney printed on it at the end of all our beds, Oh what a lovely surprise that was, I had a small model of a motorbike and sidecar a cowboy gun a holster sketch pads and pencils it was all fantastic. there was also Apples, Orange and Bananas, you may think that strange but my parents grew up in the Second World War and to them this fruit was a great gift.
By the way just before Christmas a new show Called Doctor Who started that November with a grumpy old granddad in, I thought this very interesting.....Just imagine you could go anywhere in time, I could go see the Romans who Built the walls around Southampton and ask them when were they going to finish?..
Except for the whelks I loved Christmas 1963 ..Yea yea yea yeaaaaa. as the Beatles would say
.

Scruffy Kid Saves The Day


Summer holidays were great! This is Times of Adventure, I've mentioned how as kids we'd play in the Woods which at the time we thought of as a safe enough place... OK some kids could get hurt falling out of trees and such, but hey! that's what the grounds there for.

My siblings; the brothers and little sis, were joined on this day by Kerry, Brent and Leslie, our neighbours and best buddies.
Today was Den making time... all kids should have a base of operations after all, so we formed into groups of builders and searchers, It was the searchers job to find seating, carpet or lino to line the den with... were not savages! we need our comforts to you know, and sitting on the damp ground wasn't that great an idea, you could get Piles if our parents advice was anything to go by... "You Kids! Get off that cold wall You'll get Piles!" Of course none of us knew what piles was... except Kerry possibly, because she knew everything, and none of us thought of asking details as to what a pile was, or a pile of what...what ever it was it sounded like you made a big pile of them and that would make sitting difficult I'm sure.
"Hey Jim? what are you doing?"
"I'm sitting here till I make piles of money!"
But I checked of Jim and there was no change.... boom boom, I thank you I'm here all week.

Yes I did like a good laugh.

All was going well, us builders were pulling the branches of three shrubs to form the arched roof of the den, and using some young shoots to make ties that hold the branches together...
Would you believe some kids used to rip the branches off trees and shrubs to build dens?
Well we didn't so the whole thing never died, it was a growing thing,

Some lino was found and cleaned at the spring, and it was while lining the floor of the den the argument started.
Kerry insisted on carpet and my Brother Steven thought the lino was enough... Well it got heated and Kerry ended up stomping off having failed to win...

"Ah let her go, she's a bossy boots anyway, and we'll finish sooner." Steven advised.

I was either 9 or 10 at this time, and I'd finished building, so I ran after Kerry, as she was my best Mate, and she was a year older so I always looked up to her.
I followed her and stopped dead in my tracks when I her a Mans voice...
He was talking directly to Kerry.
"Have they upset you?"
Kerry never replied... she had also stopped in her tracks when she heard him and she looked worried.
"I had no Idea about sex or the harm Adults could do to kids at this time, but I felt ill at ease, there was something very wrong here so I hid close up to a tree and bending looked through the bushes until I could see who was talking.
He was a Man, probably in his early thirties, but at my age anyone above 12 was old.
I remember him still, he had blonde curly hair, brushed back in the way Greasers do. (A Greaser was a term for Motor bikers, and they were also called Rockers, as in the 60's Brighton was famous for huge clashes between the Mods and Rockers. The Mods rode Scooters and either wore smart suits or green parker jackets)
So his hair was slicked back with Brylcreem, he wore a leather bike jacket over a blue sweater, with jeans and black leather winkle picker shoes... I noticed the shoes because I always wondered where the toes ended in these types of shoe.
"Come her I'll give you a hug, Kids are mean aren't they."
"No." Kerry finally replied.
"Oh, come on, I won't hurt you, lets go get some sweets, that will make them jealous, you like sweets don't you?"
I could see Kerry when I looked the other side of the tree, and she looked frozen in place, not knowing what to do.
"Hey, stop crying, come on over here and I'll take you for some sweets."
No longer waiting for a reply he started to walking towards Kerry with his hand held out as if to be held.
I knew I had to do something before he reached her, so I sprang from behind the Tree, which made them both jump, took Kerry's hand tight, and said, "Hey Kerry, everyone is sorry and they won't you back." and I tugged her to me and we started back to the Den.
"EVERYONE'S WAITING." I say loudly to let him know we weren't alone, and I only stopped to take one last defiant look to make sure he wasn't going to following, but he'd stopped and had a nasty look in his eyes... I made Kerry Run.

We got to the others and I was saying.... "Quick! we got to go home there is a strange man in the woods and I think he's bad... he was after Kerry."

Kerry's house was the closest to the Woods so we headed there.... we were all running now.
Kerry was banging at the door shouting for her Mum.
When it opened she rushed in pulling me in with her as I was still holding her hand tightly.
"Go home and tell your Parents." Kerry said the the others and that just left Kerry and I, with her Parents.
"Calm down, what's happened?"
"There was this man! and he wanted me to go with him." Kerry said crying.
"Oh My God! RON! Phone the Police."
They asked us what happened, and I told them how I felt worried so took Kerry away and then I had to repeat it all again to the Police, who spoke to me very gently.
"So what did you see son?"
"Well he was a Greaser with curly hair and piggy eyes."
"So did you know what he wanted?"
"No... I just knew he was bad."
"How did you know?"
"I just did!... He worried me because Kerry looked scared."
"Paul... do you know what he wanted to do with Kerry?" Her Mother asked.
"No.... I just felt he was Bad."
We often patronize kids thinking they wouldn't know what to do about strangers, and would easily be talked into following them, but I'm proof that's not true, even a child knows instinctively when something isn't right.

"You know you must not talk to strangers don't you?"
"Yes." I tell the Police.
When the Police had gone and the fuss died down, Kerry's Dad said I was a brave boy... "Well done John Paul Jones," As he often referred to me due to the fact I was always singing, and he was a Rock Guitarist but I think he always meant the singer in Manfred Man.
At Kerry's house I was guest of honour at dinner that night, so I ate well, Roast beef with lashings of gravy.

Well there you have it.... and he may have gotten away with it too, if it wasn't for the Meddlesome Scruffy Kid.