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U3A Writing: Uncle Alf

Nobody ever believed me when I told them that sausages were types of eggs. It was so obvious, why had they all to be so thick. I know very well that sausages were eggs, pork sausages were pig’s eggs and beef sausages were cow’s eggs.

David Craven confirms that young boys do not always know what they think they know.

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Looking back with hindsight, Uncle Alf must have been a really kindly man. He had married my Mother’s eldest sister in spite of the fact that she already had an illegitimate baby, which was perhaps more of a stigma than it is to-day.

We children were never told any details of such matters, and what we didn’t know we made up. It was said that the baby’s father was a Jew and that another twin was stillborn at the same time. It also seems strange that the chosen name for a baby under such circumstances was Ernest. However as I said he must have been kindly to have taken them both in. I think that my Father must have had different ideas as you will see later.

Although he only shaved very infrequently, I seem to remember his being a little bit gingery, and his trousers had no waist line but were a bit floppy and hardly held up properly by braces. He wore a rough shirt and whilst it was fitted to take a collar I don’t think that he possessed one except perhaps for important occasions.

Uncle Alf was without doubt one of the most important men in Queensbury, since his job warranted him being provided with a company house. He was in fact in charge of the “Cwop Hoss”, as it was known in Queensbury, but would have been better known anywhere else as the Co-op Horse. It was said that he and “Royal” delivered coal on a Monday, Wednesday and Friday and did funerals on Tuesdays and Thursdays and that they would also do moonlight flits on any night that anyone would pay them enough, which couldn’t have been much since the reason for flitting was more often than not that they were on the run from their creditors.

My problem was that I was so much more intelligent than all the other kids in our neighbourhood and in some ways than even the adults as well.

You will understand when I tell you that no one would believe me when I told them that Jesus Christ was born in Queensbury.

In spite of the fact that I knew for certain that he was. Where else had anyone ever seen a manger but in that stable in Queensbury. Where else had anyone ever even seen a stable, just like it was mentioned in the Bible but in Queensbury. They must have all been thick not to have put two and two together and made four.

It was all confirmed when I had seen that star travelling in the sky. They do look as though they are moving when you’re a riding in another Uncle’s Lanchester in the dark with very little light from streetlamps. We rarely saw stars in Bradford and looking back I’m not quite sure whether it was the sooty atmosphere or the fact that we were always in bed too early.

Nobody ever believed me when I told them that sausages were types of eggs. It was so obvious, why had they all to be so thick. I know very well that sausages were eggs, pork sausages were pig’s eggs and beef sausages were cow’s eggs. How could they all be so thick.

I mentioned that my father’s opinion of Alf was not all that good, and details are sketchy. As I remember it was all to do with the so called Black Market. From where, I never knew, but my Mum could get a very liberal supply of sugar. She, in turn used to swap some of it with Miss Colley the nurse from Thornton Lane, and then in Uncle Laurence’s Lanchester we used to take the ill gotten gains to Queensbury where magically they seemed to have a never ending supply of pork or bacon and as may eggs as we could carry.

I think that my Dad had found a small weight sticking to the bottom of the largest pan on the scales, the one where the pork went, which meant that you got less pork for your money or your bartered goods. Dad was an absolute stickler for “right” and was even convinced that anyone who would shop at the co-op would steal. Apparently in a second the scales were upturned and we grabbed the pork and paying our dues in a hurry with very hot tempers on both sides we left. Well what chance did someone have who actually worked for the co-op, never mind just shopped there.

At my uncle Alf’s house their outside toilet was a tippler. Apparently there was a sort of bucket arrangement on a sort of balance mechanism. When the bucket was of full of it’s foul smelling gubbins, the tippler tippled and dropped it’s load into the sewer. The trouble was that the downspout from the roof fed into the same system and when it was raining, or even worse when the snow started to melt the tippler tippled so often that you couldn’t get to sleep.

My Dad’s early days were spent as the “Man from the Prudential”. It was in the days when it was all footslogging. Outside toilets in Thornton were known as nessies . Dad said that this word was derived from the Roman neccesarium, a place where the necessary toilet duties of life could be conducted. He had a client who lived an awful long way from the road, and he had been instructed to tell that unless the weekly payment was forthcoming on the next visit he was to threaten to lapse the policy. On being told that he would take the necessary steps she took it to mean the nessie steps, and told him that if he did take the nessie steps that they would have to go shit in’t cloise (field).

Finally I cant resist telling you the story the used to tell about Cissy and Ada. Back to back toilets, Brick missing for conversation purposes when the husbands had gone to work. I here your Bert is Learning to play the piano, Etc. Etc. “Eh that’s a hard piece.


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