Monday, May 12, 2014

My Mum and Dad- Part 2

My father was a good engineer. I think he had to become a farmer because he was an only child, and a son, and his father had been a farmer. I don't remember my paternal grandfather. He died sometime in the early 1950's when I would have been far too young to remember him. The same for my maternal grandmother. My dad was forever working on something or other for the farm in his workshop. He was good with anything mechanical, car engines, boat engines, constructing the most peculiar gadgets in order to lift grain in one of the sheds during harvest-time. He constructed a sort of four-wheeled bicycle (if that makes sense. It doesn't, I know, but just let me explain.) It was for us four youngest brothers to ride and pedal, a sort of four-wheeled car with proper steering and with a sort of framework. Quite difficult to steer for what I remember. It was a bit like a tandem but with four wheels. I don't remember it being much of a success. I think it went out on the road around Cardington and then landed up in a ditch or something and then spent a couple of decades in the back of the garage and never went out again because it was damaged. I don't know what became of it or whether it was broken up for scrap but it must have taken a great deal of time and effort to build. He was extremely good at welding and finding ways to solve problems mechanically. If you had a way of solving a problem with your car he always knew how to fix it. If you were going to buy a car he was the best person to take with you when you were looking at what to buy and could always haggle and get a good bargain, not just with cars, but virtually anything. I don't think he ever bought anything without managing to get something off the price.

He was somewhat accident-prone. He would fiddle about with machinery on the farm, particularly during harvest when some machine or other would break down. He managed to get a finger cut quite seriously on the sharp knives in the bailer.  I think today he would have got into trouble with the Health and Safety Executive, but this would have been long before all the business you hear today about 'Health and Safety.' I reckon he would have had the book thrown at him, the number of  accidents he was involved in on the farm. On another occasion he was working on the horse box out in the yard somewhere. I think it was near enough Sunday lunch-time. He had to repair one of the tyres or a wheel on this horse-box and had the wheel off and the whole thing sitting on a few bricks or blocks of wood. The thing collapsed and so injured one of his fingers he had to have it amputated and always ever-after had one or two joints on this finger missing. He was profoundly deaf. This was caused during a time, most likely during the winter months when they used gas-guns on the farm to scare off pigeons from the crops. He would go to a field and take the entire gas-gun away in the back of the Land Rover and on this occasion presumably he hadn't put the safety catch on the timer and the thing exploded in the back of the Land Rover and the explosion damaged his inner-ear. He never recovered from this and was really deaf for the rest of his life. It must have completely damaged his inner-ear. He did wear a hearing aid, when he could remember to wear it, which was not very often, but he had real problems setting the thing so it wouldn't pick up extraneous sounds, such as background noise.

My mother was an excellent cook. Her shortbread was the best ever. I believe she had the recipe passed on by an elderly aunt on my father's side of the family. Scottish, of course. My own cooking abilities are due to her teaching and I think I can produce a good roast dinner, thanks mainly to my mother. In particular, the making of Yorkshire pudding. Her teas at around 4-5 every day were a real feature and people would drop in to sample her Victoria sponges, shortbread and a wide range of other cakes and pies. She was passionate about horses and was an excellent rider. In her later years she was involved with Riding For The Disabled and was very much instrumental in establishing this organisation in Bedfordshire. We had various horses and ponies around the farm from quite a young age. My brothers went to local gymkhanas and show jumping events and also, when my parents had mares from which they bred foals, these mares and foals were shown at local agricultural shows, such as the East of England Show in Peterborough over most years. She took a great deal of interest in all her children and went with me on several occasions when I had interviews when I was starting off in theatre. She went with me to the Everyman Theatre, Cheltenham for example, when I had my very first interview for a job in 1969 and she would never need much encouraging to go with me to the theatre or to see a film that was on in the cinema locally.
Post a Comment