v Batley (home) Sat 7th Feb 1970
While he's waiting for his dad to prepare himself for the journey to The Forge he pulls the raincoat tightly around his neck with one hand, his bare feet inside the work boots are cold and rain is already trickling inside them as he didn't tie them up before he rushed outside, what a bloody miserable start to a saturday, if he hadn't got up to have a piss and then found himself downstairs making a pot of tea then he'd still be in bed and his old man would have to sort out the bloody moped on his own.
"Right, I'm ready, go wait at bottom of t'street for me"
He turns into the wind and belting rain to trudge down the short hill to wait for his dad and the knackered moped when they reach the level intersection with Lumley Road, its tough peddling the moped along Lumley Road on the cobbles, in fact its quicker to walk than to try and pedal that bloody thing, he turns back to his father,
"You going to t'match this afty ?"
"Going to t'match ?"
His father unbuttons the press studs on the helmet and lifts up one of the leather flaps to hear him better
"You what ?"
"Ah said, are you going t'match this afty ?"
"Who's playing ?"
"You've forgotten already haven't you ?"
"No, who is it ?"
"Its challenge cup"
"Ah know, but who is it ?"
"Oh aye, yeah, if I'm back in time, depends on t'foreman"
"I'll not wait then"
"No, now gerrof down t'street"
As predicted the moped coughs and puffs out miniature clouds of blue smoke as it hurtles down the 50 yards of hill that is Lumley Mount but it doesn't fire up of its own accord and his dad has to brake as he reaches the intersection with Lumley Road, the son can see his dads mouth moving in a curse as man and bike slide sideways around the corner of the street in a speedway stylee, and he screams out at his son "Push you bugger, Push, c'mon..."
He pushes man and machine for 150 yards along the cobbles before the moped coughs once then whimpers into life, put-put-putting his father off on his way to work at a stately 15mph, the son gets a wave from his father in some sort of thanks before he turns to walk back to Lumley Mount.
As he passes one of the many identical terraced houses on Lumley Road he notices a neighbour with his head under the bonnet of a Reliant Robin, another victim of the relentless damp, another bloke who is going to be late for work again because he relies too much on unreliable transport, the man stands up from under the bonnet as he passes.
"Ay up Eric"
"Know owt about cars then ?"
"Aye, yours is knackered, your forever under that bonnet"
"Ah know, yer cheeky bugger, ah'm going to be late for work again, bloody ovvertime today an all"
"Aye, ah've just pushed old man off on his nifty fifty, he'll be late an all"
"Ah'm in me pyjamas mate, ah've got kettle on in t'house..."
"Go on it won't take a minute, just get me to top of Stanmore Hill, theres a good lad"
"Ah'm in me bloody pyjamas..."
But the neighbour has already jumped in the three wheeled car and turned the key in the dead ignition and is motioning for Eric to go behind the car and shove it out onto the street.
"Ah'm in me bloody pyjamas, ah'm bloody soaked wet through, and ah've had no bloody breakfast yet..." but no-one is listening.
And when he's pushed his neighbours tiny fibre glass car with the dead engine thats no more powerful than the one on his dads moped to the top of Stanmore Hill and watched it gather momentum down the steep slope, weaving from side to side, skidding and slipping on the wet cobbles, and when it explodes into life with a bang and a flash of expelled petrol, he receives another wave of acknowledgement from a grateful driver and turns once more into the wind and perpetual lashing rain, pulls the raincoat collar around his neck and heads up the hill to the shelter of his home, a cup of tea and a bacon sandwich on his mind.
But as he climbs the four stone steps to their front door it is opened by his mother holding the scullery pedal bin in her hand,
"Put this in t'bin Eric love"
"What you doing out in this weather in yer pyjamas yer daft sod ?"
"Ah don't know mother, but ah'm soaked and I want me breakfast"
"Well seeing as you're already wet, empty this in t'bin and I'll put kettle on love"
"Ah put kettle on ten minutes ago mother"
"Aye well, I've just used all that for my cuppa, I'll boil you another"
He carries the pedal bin back down the steps to the metal dustbin that stands in the corner of the yard, currently standing in four inches of rainwater, and notices then that the bloody cats have had the lid off the bin again and this weeks rubbish is strewn all around submerged in the water, and just as he's thinking about ignoring the mess of newspapers, potato and vegetable peelings and egg shells his mother reads his mind and as the rain starts to come down so heavy that he can almost not hear her she reminds him,
"Look at that bloody mess Eric, them bloody cats 'ave been in t'bin again wait 'till I see her at number 12, pick it all up before you come in won't you love ?"
And cursing his luck at getting out of bed so early he stands in the pool of rainwater which covers his boot tops and seeps in to his bare feet through the laceholes, distracting his thoughts from the fact that his pyjama bottoms are also soaking up rainwater, he bends and scoops up clumps of sodden, stinking rubbish and replaces it back in the bin, one of those bloody cats from up the street is going to pay for this one day soon.
More next time....