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Happy Days

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Happy Days

Well that’s Christmas done and dusted - well almost. The decorations down in a day or so, to be packed away in the loft with yesteryears toys, dusty boxes of old photographs, and household ephemera; mostly junk - treasured memories. Another year over - a new year beckons ...

frosted fields
the distant woods
a purple haze

I grew up in a time when there was still ration books and petrol coupons. We had a meat safe and milk was collected from the local farm. We were lucky my parents kept chickens and geese - so we never wanted for eggs. Cheese bacon and ham came from the village Co-Op - I was fascinated by the bacon slicer. Cheese of course cut from the round.

We had electricity but no running water. Weekly baths were in an old galvanised tub in front of the open fire. The loo was a hundred yard sprint - well that’s what it seemed like - to a ramshackle shed at the bottom of the garden where we had an Elsan and a touch of luxury - Jeyes toilet paper.

We didn’t have a washing machine either; Monday’s were always wash days and Mum would hang the washing out except for her undies as the next door neighbour had a ‘thing’ about these.

TB, Diphtheria and Lockjaw were rife and some of my classmates died. I had Measels, Mumps and Chicken Pox in fairly quick succession. I was lucky.

Happy days playing in the fields - roaming for miles. Always up for adventure I got into many scrapes - marooned on a tiny island - more a sodden tuft of grass in the nearby duck pond - playing ‘Treasure Island’, stuck down the sump of a disused opencast mine as I journeyed to the centre of the earth - a real wild child.

At night I’d have adventures being The Lone Ranger or Roy Rogers (I have a signed photo of him and Trigger somewhere) playing with my toy cowboys on the bedspread. Dad was an electrical engineer so we had a black and white TV he’d made. I never drew the curtains (and still don’t) so the moon would shine in. And I had an old oil lamp the other side from the window, which on dark nights threw weird shadows round the room. I was never ready for bed.

 shadows across the counterpane chasing sleep

But in the morning I’d wake to the sound of sparrows chirping, cows mooing and a couple of Magpie chattering from a nearby Ash.

waking up 
the sound of the day
waking up

(First published in Hedgerow #132)

Much the same as today ...

Happy days

Notes

Our house was the middle door - two up two down. I was always told it was part of an old Coaching Inn!

The house has long since been demolished. But it’s where I was born and every year - like ‘old moley’ in the ‘Wind in the Willows’ - I feel a pull; a hankering to go back ...

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navasolanature
January 4, 2021 9:29 am

I think you have aptly done and dusted Christmas into a distant purple haze. Wonderful image!

Josie Holford
January 4, 2021 11:42 am

Thank you! Loved this.

JCHome
January 4, 2021 2:37 pm

Thank you for the images. So many memories! Sorry to be terse, but I have to restrict comments as I was hacked and harassed. Be back soon.

Ashley
January 4, 2021 3:19 pm

Quite a story Clive! I have similar memories but on the edge of a town! We were lucky we had hot running water from a stove that was kept alight no matter what! A luxury! I remember visiting a friends house further out of town and they had dirt floors with chickens wandering around the house! I loved to visit him there because we another mile further and we were on the shore of Lough Neagh! Happy Days! Oh, how sophisticated we are now! How privileged!

Helen
January 4, 2021 7:46 pm

Just, lovely! I was also fascinated by the bacon slicer…

cathytea
January 4, 2021 11:02 pm

Reading this makes me think, “It’s so fun to be a person!”

Jane
January 5, 2021 10:44 pm

Happy New year Clive and thank you for the beautiful haikus and atmospheres

trackback
January 8, 2021 4:53 am

[…] This frosty hokku was composed by Clive Bennett and can be seen at this site. […]

Andrea Stephenson
January 10, 2021 9:01 pm

I loved reading about these memories with your haiku Clive. Things change so much in a relatively short period of time. We also had a tin bath in front of the fire and a toilet in the yard, though I lived in a town. And there were probably many more birds singing when I was young than there are now!