Sunday, 18 September 2011

RIP Uncle Charlie

Last Monday we travelled to the funeral of Uncle Charlie, Ted's older brother. On the way there I asked if he had known any of his family on his dad's side, or if he had met any of his cousins. He had been up to Newcastle to look but had never found any there. He had met one cousin during his army days though.

"Whenever you are posted to a new army billet your name went up on a huge board by the gate giving you your duties while you are there. On the first evening I wandered over to have a look at it and was surprised to find my name already on it, even though I had only just arrived (it usually took a day or two to get your name on there). I asked around and found out there was another bloke on the camp with the same surname. Turns out he was one of the cooks. I found their hut, walked in and shouted out 'anyone here named Hazon?' not realising that these chaps all had to be up and cooking breakfast at 4 the next morning, and were all asleep. The response was a whole lot of boots being thrown at me. Anyway eventually I met my cousin, who knew all about my dad and myself. It was the best I was fed all through my service and when I left he came and handed me a sandbag full of meat and grub (dont forget rationing was still going on) for my mum"

Wednesday, 8 June 2011

Still going

Today both Martin and I had our days off together for a change, so as we lay in bed deciding what we were going to do today, I made a verbal list of all the things that needed doing. Martin said he had forgotten what they all were by the time I had finished reeling them off, so while he made a cuppa I typed up a long long list of things to do in the house, the garden, and at the shops. I pinned it up in the kitchen and told him to prioritise it!

Our starting point was Compare the Market dot com, as his car insurance was due - only days after mine which is real bad planning. Getting a quote involved looking to see if Martin's points for speeding had come off yet which meant we had to carefully take the bits of tatty paper making up his driving licence out of his wallet and lay them out on the table. The points had come off so I decided it really was time to change paper for photo id license!!

It wasnt on the list but its really easy to do on line now they can use your passport photo and signature plus its lots cheaper than I had been led to believe, so that job came smartly after the insurance quote while on the laptop.

A cup of tea later and we hit the garden, Martin to weed the patio, me to sort out the greenhouse (the packet of cress I had dropped on the floor had now sproated all over the place and needed weeding, plus everything has grown so quickly I needed to get everything tied up to the canes). Despite the lack of rain this year my garden is probably growing the best it every has done, and I have bumper crops of everything on the go. Mind I do have an ongoing war with snails to fight and I'm not sure you is winning, but I reckon we will be eating salad twice a day from now until the end of August. We had home grown cress and rocket in our lunch today.

We ploughed through the list - finishing the filling of holes in the little bedroom, putting the curtains back up from their annual wash, Martin finally replaced the makeshift log in the hole in the wall with a proper brick, he took the old high chair to the tip and we sized up the old cot sides to see if they could be used as a fence around the pond (they can).

Mart reckons we got about 25% of the list done which considering the length of it, and that a lot of it involves hitting up Ikea again, or carpet stores, or other shops, was a good days work.

Friday, 28 November 2008

Plastic factory

Kelly and Ollie came over the other evening and mum and dad got talking about when mum was working in the plastic factory. Now I was quite young when she worked there so I can remember some of it too.

The 'Plastic Factory' (and I am sure that is not what it was called but that was what we all named it) was owned by a polish refugee. 'Mr Michael' had been caught by the Germans but escaped to England where he had started his business. The factory turned out all sorts of stuff, as long as it was made of plastic - which alot of stuff was back then. I remember mum working there, alongside my aunt Enis and at times my aunt Jean when I was a kid back in the 60's but apparently she worked there soon after Dad and her got married, back in the 50's too.

She started off doing out-work, homework. Dad was telling of all the bits the machines spewed out that came joined together on a strip of plastic much like today's airfix model parts do, and they had to twist them to get them apart and make up the thing they were making. I recalled helping mum out with chess sets. These were small brown plastic travel sets which had to have the plastic playing board set into the middle and the chess peices placed in each side. The playing board had to have the two little tabs at each side, which the mold had left, cut off and then pushed into the outer box. All the men had to be twisted off and sorted into the boxes.

Dad then told of toy pistols that shot small round pellets. The pellets were on one long strip and had to be cut up. But they wouldnt twist off, and they wouldnt come apart no how. In the end they devised a bit of metal which you held on the table and then pulled the pellets along it so they shot off in all directions! Then the job was to get down on the floor and pick up all those hundreds of pellets!

Mum had had a job seperating some plastic bits on one production piece that had been so tough it had made her hands bleed. She was being paid pennies per hundred or something really ridiculously low. This was when they were newly married and needed the money. But eventually it became silly so mum took them back and showed the lead hand how tough it was. Later when she was working in the factory, mum was put on the same things again and the lead hand told her she was too slow. She again showed her bleeding fingers, so another two girls were put on the job with mum. Because mum had made them at home she had worked out a system and even though it was tough she still made more than the other two girls put together. The lead hand put two more girls on the job and still mum was churning out more than them. Finally the lead hand 'got' it, realised what mum was saying and put more girls on, giving mum the job of showing them the system.

Dad on the other hand would do extra work in the evening repairing and keeping running the electic in the factory. Often Mr Michael, a really lovely man, would ask mum if dad was coming in that evening. Yes she would say, but when she got home dad would come in from work, and say he didnt feel like it. Of course back in the '60's we had no phones. Only rich people had a home phone, so there was no way of letting Mr Michael know. The next morning mum would get the moaning because Mr Michael would have been waiting in the factory for dad. When dad did go in, he said Mr Michael would tell him the jobs to do then would follow him round regailing him of tales of all the things the Natzi's had done to him during the war - some pretty horrific stories so he said.

Once dad had been working on his own in the factory when a bloke rushed in, shoved a sack into dad's hands and run out again. Dad looked in the sack, it was full of stuff the factory made. He was quick on the uptake, and threw the sack behind some furniture. He was right. The bloke had been knicking the stuff but had been caught so had run in to try and get the blame put on dad. Eventually the bloke was caught and sacked. Mum on the other hand would often ask Mr Michael if she could have something they were making. Everthing they made was contracted for a major toy maker, and so was under copyright and shouldnt really have been given out but Mr Michael would say 'ok just one'. Of course if mum was caught with one item one night, then that was the one Mr Michael had said she could have!

Sunday, 2 November 2008

Curry in the jungle!

Its been a while since dad told me any stories but when I mentioned today that the local Cricket Club had had a curry evening, dad soon started to reminess.

"When I was doing my service back in 1950's I was sent out to Singapore into the middle of the jungle in a disused pinapple factory - a place called Pandan. I was in charge of 20 in the electical workshop. Some of the workers were Chinese and some Malaysian, the Malaysian being lazy B**&*&s (ok not pc but then this was straight after WW2). Now being in the middle of nowhere we had to bring our own sandwiches into work as there was no way of getting food, so I was a bit surprised when one day one of the Malaysians said 'we are going to have curry today' 'How are you going to do that?' I asked 'Well if you give me a chit to go out, I will go to the village and get some' 'OK, I will sign you out if you do some work this afternoon because you didnt do any yesterday'

He agreed, and I signed his ticket. Off he went and came back with a large parcel wrapped in newspaper just like you get your fish and chips in. We all sat on the floor eating curry with our fingers, and it was the best curry I ever ate. He had got it from the village in the middle of the Malaysian Jungle, an Indian curry cooked by Chinese!

Of course he never did do any work as he complained of stomach ache so I sent him to fix the lights and check the engine of an ambulance at the back of the shed, and he spent the afternoon asleep in the back of it!"

Saturday, 23 August 2008

Rabbit, rabbit, bunny bunny bunny!

Dad has been fairly reticent about his stories of the past lately but he did, in passing mention the rabbit story. He did tell it me a long time ago so I am trying to remember the details but I think it goes like this:-

As a child, dad's family were living on the breadline. 5n fact according to him, if Charlie and he had not been scrumping in the farmers fields they would never had had fruit or veg and would probably have starved. To help out the family budget dad used to rear rabbits. When the rabbit was big enough for the stewing pot he would then raffle said bunny off to local neighbours. Even his mum would buy a ticket, rabbits made a tasty meal.

But its no good having a rabbit and someone else eating it, so having collected a fair old bit of money (dad told buyers the cash was going to charity, not mentioning which charity.) it was engineered that the rabbit was always won by Dad's mum!! And the charity? Well of course charity always begins at home!!!

Tuesday, 11 March 2008

Stew and Roger

Stewart and his brother were my dad's mates as he was growing up. They did their apprentiship (electricians) at Strover Street in Sittingbourne. I often hear tales about them. When I was younger I was taken to a huge car scrap yard in Sittingbourne where dad talked for hours with these two burly scary guys (in appearance, they were actually really lovely to me) and came away with newish car parts. It turned out these guys were Stew and Rog.

Years later, the 'boys' sold the scrapyard for millions - literally making their fortunes. Why, I asked dad, if they were your mates, were you not in on this money maker. It seems that dad was away at the time - doing National Service I think, and Stew and Rog decided to leave Stover Street, buy a small scrap of land and start the second hand parts business. Dad was just in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Ahh well - if is such a little word.

Sunday, 9 March 2008

Stag nights!

Yesterday, with Laura's impending wedding and the search for a venue, the conversation turned finally to hen/stag do's and I asked Dad what he did for his.

"I went out with Stew and Roger, my mates from Strover Street (where he did his apprentiship)." Then he ammended because mum had intervened "We went in the car to Canterbury to collect the cake first, which we took round to your mum's, then we just went for a drink"

"Why didn't your brother's come?" I asked

"Well it was different times, Victor was away with the Merchant Navy and Charlie and John had different friends. So did Ray (his mate) so they didnt come. We went out every Friday for a drink - we enjoyed a drink."

So really it wasnt a stag do, just a normal Friday night - except they had to collect the cake first, taking Stewarts car all the way to Canterbury!