v Bramley (home) 10th Jan 1970
Iím a man,
Yes I am and I canít help but love you so
I'm a Man - Chicago - #8 Jan 70
Quarter to six on a saturday morning in January is no time to be setting out for work, even less so when its bleedin freezing, damp and thick of fog, the young man pulls the lapels of his sheepskin coat closer to his chin and it makes no difference, the chilled damp air pervades everything and already he is regretting volunteering for this saturday morning overtime which meant that he couldn't have his usual skinfull down the Cardigan Arms last night and got called a big puff by the lads when he left them in the tap room at 10pm with another round fresh on the table.
Just for the hell of it he holds his arm out straight in front of him, stretches it as far as it will go. Yes, the voice inside of his head confirms, you can just see your hand in front of your face in this fog, but only just.
He hurries on down Lumley Road and onto The Village Street towards Burley Road, he is late, he knows he is late but he isn't going to run in this fog, a lad could easily run into a lamp post in this fog, George the Quality Controller at work did that once last year, denied it of course, said his black eye and busted nose was the result of a pub fight, but one of the typists at Woodheads had watched from a seat downstairs on a number four bus as he had run into a bus stop on Kirkstall Road, running after a bus that didn't stop for him, shaking his fist at the driver he was when SMACK he went right into the bus stop, the typist could hardly tell the tale for laughing later on in the canteen and when George the Quality Controller turned up the next day with his black eye and busted nose and tried to tell them all about the fight he'd been in they had all laughed for ten minutes or more, collective hysteria it was, the young man had had to take himself off to the bogs to break the spell and he counted himself lucky that he hadn't literally pissed himself laughing that day.
He won't make it to the clock for six, he knows that, he'll be quartered again by that old bastard in the timekeeping office, even though he's volunteered for this shift, but its time and a half on a saturday morning so why should he care, work six hours till dinnertime, get paid for nine, knock off at twelve then off to the Cardigan Arms for a session before picking up a bag of chips and a walk back up this very hill to watch the rugby this afternoon.
If its still on that is, its getting bloody thicker down here he tells himself, the fog always settles on Burley Road and further down the hill on Kirkstall Road especially as thats right on the river, if its still this thick this afty they'll call the rugby off and the young man hopes that they call it off in plenty of time for it to be broadcast on Radio Leeds so that he can stay in the Cardigan all afternoon and spend his time and a half earnings in the bookies next door.
His heavy steel capped work boots don't click and ring on the pavement this morning, everything is dulled by the fog, there is no traffic noise, nothing at all except the wrap around cold dampness seeping thorugh the young mans sheepskin into his dark blue working overalls beneath so that he'll be cold and wet all morning stood at his lathe and he'll be cold and wet in the pub and at the rugby ground all afternoon and he hopes that his mums got a good fire going in the grate when he eventually gets home because that will be the first chance he'll have all day at getting some warmth into his bones, he should have stayed in his pit this morning, wrapped up in the old eiderdown, this is bloody stupid volunteering for this, bloody stupid.
He's fifty yards away from the bus stop when he suddenly hears the roar of the bus engine behind him, close behind him, the gears grind and the engine note rises and whines as the bus driver changes down a gear, ready to stop at the bus stop if anyone is there but in this fog he can't see that far yet and so he starts braking just in case, and he passes the young man without noticing him and despite the young man calling out to the conductor stood on the rear platform to "wait for me you bastards" the conductor does not ring the bell and the driver does not spot anyone at the bus stop and so he accelerates away leaving the young man running behind still twenty yards away.
The bastards, the young man curses again, he'll definitely be late now, definitely be quartered, might even get sent home if he's more than half an hour late, bollacks, and for the umpteenth time this morning the young man questions himself as to what he is doing here at this time on a saturday morning when he could easily still be in bed.
He sets off walking down Kirkstall Road, its a good fifteen minute walk to Woodheads but theres no other option, the buses are only every twenty minutes at this time on a saturday morning, he doesn't wear a watch to work, he's seen the photos that the union rep circulated that time about what happens when watches and rings get caught up in lathes, so he won't know what the time is until he gets to the Burtons factory clock, assuming that he can see it through this bleedin fog which he swears is getting thicker and he does the arms length test again - there, can't see your hand in front of you now, what the hell is he doing here ?
More next time....