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The Day Before Yesterday: 21 – Trouble With Numbers

…I looked around for a toilet, being the only girl in our family to be attending this year, and I was just about hopping on one leg when I found my uncle. "Uncle Ernest," I whispered, "do you know where the girls’ toilet is?"

I knew there was numbers for what you wanted to do but, not quite sure which was the right one, I said, "I want to do number three."

Well, he laughed and laughed. I never lived this down. It was related time and time again after that…

Gladys Schofield continues her good-humoured life story.

Uncle Ernest was a member of a club near a bowling green at the top of our street. The men spent an evening there and played dominoes and other games and could get a beer to pass an evening.

They always had a children's party just before Christmas. Having no children of their own, he always bought tickets for a few of us children. The party was for five to twelve year olds. I had been included from an early age. We always came home with small gifts from the party and a new penny, a coloured hanky and an orange.

One of these early parties stays in my mind. We had the jelly and usual party fare and watched a Punch and Judy show. How I hated Punch.

I looked around for a toilet, being the only girl in our family to be attending this year, and I was just about hopping on one leg when I found my uncle. "Uncle Ernest," I whispered, "do you know where the girls’ toilet is?"

I knew there was numbers for what you wanted to do but, not quite sure which was the right one, I said, "I want to do number three."

Well, he laughed and laughed. I never lived this down. It was related time and time again after that.


John would go to great measures for his pets and unknown to us he would roam the local tip, looking for anything that could be of use to a nine year old boy.

The poultry farm hatched their eggs in a brooder. There would be trays and trays of these eggs. Most of the chickens came out at the same time, but there was always one or two left unhatched when the trays were tipped out and thrown away on the local tip.

John wanted old pram wheels for a cart he was making and saw something moving out of the corner of his eye. It was a tiny cock chicken about six weeks old and very nimble. It must have survived many dangers in its short life, and John managed to corner and catch it after a while. He even found another one much smaller but just as lively and headed off home with his new pets.

The first thing we knew of all this was when we saw him busily constructing a chicken house. The chicks appeared to be poor little specimens and glad to eat anything, but right now, huddled together at the back of the hut, only a mass of orangey-brown feathers could be seen.

This was when Mum came on the scene, "Where have you got those chicks?" she asked.

"I've found them," John replied, and, as she knew he would not steal them, she was satisfied with his reply.

But a few days later John developed some blister-like spots on one leg. Knowing that he had shared chickenpox with his brothers several years earlier, Mum was puzzled to know what they were. After a while she ventured with a quizzing look, "Where did you find the chickens, John?" The most important thing now was how to cure these spots, and she needed to know the whole story.

"I saw them on the tip, Mum. I couldn't leave them there, they would have died.”

"You know I have always said you must not play there," Mum said angrily. "All sorts of things are dumped there. You can easily catch some infectious disease playing in a place like that.”

She marched him into the house as she now seemed to have a good idea how his spots needed treating. I remember he was bound in a bandage from knee to foot, and it stayed like that for a week. What she used under the bandage I never got to know, but after a week the leg was clear.

There wasn't a repeat performance so I can only think he stayed away from the tip. Or was he more careful as he still continued to live life to the full?

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