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Fwiends, Womans and countwymen...Part 3

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Posted 9th August 2013 at 08:28 PM by troggi
Updated 10th August 2013 at 08:29 PM by troggi

It's 1966, just after Easter, and my third school in a year! We now live at number 89 Mason Lathe Road, Shiregreen, Sheffield. My dad now works at Ambrose Shardlow, crankshaft manufacturers in the Forge, he works on the 54 ton "Big Beshy" hammer and at night we can hear it and almost feel it's seismic force even though we live about a mile away from it. This hammer was the biggest in Europe at the time and stamped out of orange-hot steel billets some of the bigger crankshafts that the firm made, the ones that produce the movement for Admiralty Standard Range Diesel Engines that drove our destroyers and "P" and "O" Class Submarines. All of this information means nothing to the six year old me but ten years and twenty years later it would show up as a certain "synchronicity" as I first become an apprentice crankshaft grinder at the now GKN Shardlow and then a submariner in HMS Orpheus, an "O" class submarine!

While we were moving in to number 89, half-way up a fairly (even for Sheffield) steep hill, there was a knock at the door. Two boys, obviously brothers, the biggest one my size and age the smallest one obviously under school age, were talking earnestly to my mom. "Leslie!" she shouted with an emphasis on the "-ie". "There's some new friends here for y'!"

They were called Raymond and Ian Thomas, they had an older brother too, Michael, but he was off doing older boy stuff with older boys. After a warning from mom not to go too far or stay out too long, Ray showed me the immediate area. We would remain friends for the duration of our four year stay at Mason Lathe Road and he would show me how to ride a bicycle and I would teach him how to catch grasshoppers.

It was a warmish day and a voice from across the road called to Ray. As Ray and Ian lived on the same side of the road as me this couldn't have been their mum. It was Mrs Hunter her son, Michael, it transpired, was friends with my cousin, Michael, or "Moodas" as we called him, who also lived on the same road only further down. Mrs Hunter gave us a glass of lemonade and asked me to introduce myself. I did so and told her that I had cousins down the road; Anne, Jean and Michael. This is how I found out about the friendship between her son (who had gone completely bald at 14) and my older cousin.

My cousin's mum and dad were my uncle Ken, who was my Grandfather's younger brother, and aunty Joyce, who was an older cousin of my mother! Their youngest daughter, Anne was a year younger than me and probably my best friend on that side of the family. Uncle Ken worked behind the bar at the Wincobank and Blackburn Working Men's Club, Aunty Joyce and Anne were usually sat with us on Sunday lunchtimes.

I started school on the Monday, the first day back after the Easter Holidays, at Woolley Wood Primary School. I loved that first term there, I was Mrs Wilson's "Star Reader" and could read whatever books I liked while all the others except Kim Harker were on the "Janet and John" books! Even the Head Teacher, Mrs Harrison, noticed me and took an interest in my progress! It was while I was in this class that my circle of friends became an actual circle. I now had loads of friends to choose from and we sometimes hung around in a "gang". This consisted of; Ian "Tubby" Taylor, Ray Thomas, Gary Dempsey, Malcolm Fowler, Alan Bower, Gary Benn, Wayne Madden, Ian Quamborough, Graham Harrison, Kim Woods, Philip Tailor, Andrew Hairsign and Andy Hook. And the summer term was the "Marbles Season", the time when glass marbles and steel ball-bearings became almost a currency.

Marbles were bartered, sold, stolen, lost and won, there was triumph and misery, whoops of joy and tears before bedtime, all on the click and clack of some little glass spheres! Phil Tailor, who lived by the number 48 bus stop on Bellhouse Road, was not very good at marbles but he did have another secret "skill". One day in class he told me to slap him on the back of the head. Of course I did as I was asked, not noticing that he was holding his right eye open. There was a clack sound and the collective "Eee-eww!" of three or four girls, a scream and some uncontrollable sobbing and the giggling and pointing of all the boys as Phil's glass eye hit the parquet floor. That was the first time I had to see the Head because of a misdemeanor!

If you've read any of my earlier ramblings you may realise that at this time in my life I discovered science fiction films with the broadcast of "It came from Outer Space" and the argument it caused between Tubby Taylor and myself.

Well that was the end of my first year in education and I remember some of that better than I remember what I did last week.
More to follow about the long hot summer of 1966 and the surprise that awaited us in the second year of the infants!

I was still only a skinny 6 year old. 6 Year old boys can be very happy!
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