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The Good Old Days
by Ian Curtress

I was born at a very young age in fact premature. My Mother hadn’t even met my Father. 

10lbs 12ozs at birth (in old money) k and g hadn’t been invented. A rather heavy weight I understand. Mother always wanted good value. I remember being very damp and Father saying he wants changing. Mother said we’ll keep him, might get an uglier one if we take him back.

Anyway, I survived those early years when things were tough.

Father struggled finding work. He was taken on as night watchman in a piano warehouse but first night lost the keys. Applied for Steward on Titanic but failed the interview. Never got over the disappointment. Tried zoo attendant but they paid peanuts. He was musical, played the violin. They offered him a part time job playing in the Theatre intervals. But when they said he would have to stay late to play God Save the Queen. He wouldn’t stand for it.

Decided to start a business.

Had a cardboard box enterprise for a while but that folded. Best attempt was a tobacco shop but he was unlucky with that. Went up in smoke. He was going to try model aircraft but it didn’t take off.

Mother did anything that came her way, said you can’t be fussy when your prostitute.... think that was the word.

I liked school, it was warm. Teacher was enthusiastic about my learning, said I had hidden talents, it was just they couldn’t find them. Winters didn’t help, had to sit on doorstep waiting for street lights to come on so I could do my homework.

Just after that I was asked to leave to make room for a child with shoes.

Loved Christmas, Mother made a big Christmas pudding (put IOU’s in, didn’t have coins).

Sat around the fire, saved all bills and final demands through the year and put a match to them Christmas Eve.

Mother took in washing, other people’s if they weren’t watching and I was always spotless. Wore long sleeves to hide them. Had measles, they were on offer, couldn’t afford rickets.

Had a good family doctor, well he had a family. But was not always reliable. I broke my arm and went to see him and he looked at it for a while, used to think on his feet, hadn’t a chair, then gave me a bottle of white stuff. I asked what I should do with it and he said keep it on the shelf in case you get a stomach upset.

Anyway I survived and later on volunteered for the Army. I’m told my Grandfather was a military man. Volunteered for the Boar War. Thought it was hunting pigs. They asked what he wanted to be, he said White flag carrier. Fortunately they thought that funny and gave him another chance so he said Medic. Asked if he had any experience he said a Sister with ringworm and an Uncle with gout. 

They asked where was the tibia and he thought they were looking for the cat.

It was about that time there seemed to be doubt about my nationality. Said I was a delinquent. Can’t find it on the map!               

(More to follow. How I split the atom.)