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The Day Before Yesterday: 9 - A Wandering Adventurer

Gladys Schofield remembers the proud days when the song There'll Always Be An England was regularly sung.

Read earlier chapters of Gladys's story by clicking on The Day Before Yesterday was regularly sung.

We were always celebrating things throughout the year. Empire Day was one, when we still had an empire to celebrate. It fell on the 24th of May. We did dances in different costumes representing England, Scotland, Ireland and Wales. All the mothers came. We would sing our hearts out, each class doing something different to make it enjoyable.

We performed our gymnastics and finished by building a pyramid, the lighter ones climbing to the top. If it collapsed we had the furthest to fall. At the finish we would all sing the rousing English songs like There'll Always be an England. I still go cold inside when I hear these songs, as I did then.

We held sports and country dancing on the large playing fields at Fartown. Dressed in different coloured outfits, the dancing formed patterns which were spectacular.

The sports were races, relays, long-jumps, etc. against other schools. We wore coloured ribbons over our shoulder to show which team we represented, and the brass bands would play throughout these events. What fun it was.

At home Ted would play in his pram propped against the back doorstep. The eight houses in our row were built on a steady incline. Ours was the second house in this row. Next to the first house was a drop of about six feet, levelled off to a hen-run. This was spare ground, so the council didn't have to do anything to alter it.

Ted must have dislodged the pram from the step, for the first time I looked I saw it slowly moving down the incline past our house. I ran and caught the handle just as the front wheels went over the drop to the hen-run. I hung on there yelling for someone to come and help, straining my little body against the weight of the pram.

At last two big hands grabbed the handle and Mum's voice said, "it's alright, Love, I'm here". I basked in praise all that day, I had saved my baby brother.

As he got a bit older he turned out to be a wanderer and would be about three when he next caused us some consternation. We had missed him and knew he must have wandered somewhere, but though we looked everywhere a three-year-old might be, no one seemed to have seen him. The babies had arrived more quickly at this time, and another baby boy had taken his place in the pram. This was Alan - baby number eight.

After about two hours we were getting frantic. Our thoughts went to gypsies who often travelled the roads at this time in covered wagons drawn by a horse. They walked from door to door selling pegs, coloured ribbons and lace. It was said that bad luck would befall you if you refused to buy anything. They sometimes told your fortune and the old ones were very good at that. Mum always bought a bit of something, maybe she believed the superstitions. Another thought was that they took small children and you never saw them again.

All this ran through my mind, and I was brought back to earth by my brother saying, "Look isn't that our Ted sitting on that man's shoulders at the other side of the road?" We all looked and sure enough there he was, his little curly head bouncing up and down as he sat there on this old man's shoulders as he walked down the road.

We wasted no time and dashed out of the door and across the road. "Where do you think you are going with my little boy?" Mum shouted.

"Oh," said the old man, "does he belong to you? Well he came to the gate and was chatting to the Mrs and me, and he's a right bonny lad. We didn't know where he belonged. He didn't seem worried so I decided to take him to the shops with me." This was spoken in broad Yorkshire as the man lifted Ted from his shoulders and handed him over to Mum, who realised the man and his wife were just fond of children.

To Ted it was just another adventure. So, saying no more about it, we went indoors realising we would have to watch Ted more closely in the future.


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