I worked at the biscuit factory; on the night shift, for about a year. I think I spot a trend here in that I seemed to have changed employment annually. This change was by choice though, rather than necessity. I mean, I changed jobs because I wanted to. Although, of course, at the time, my choice was rather limited to typically manual working-class type occupations: hands, rather than head.
I got a job working at a petrol station; not the same one I had worked at some years ago. This one was in the centre of town, and it was bigger and a lot busier. It was self-serve, and had a little shop that sold an assortment of sundries.
Three Asian brothers owned the petrol station. They actually had several petrol stations in the area, and they were each responsible for one in particular. The Asian brothers were hard-working and friendly, and I got along with them very well. Thinking about it, mine was quite a responsible job. I had to open-up in the morning and lock-up at night, and put all the money in the safe after a shift (several hundreds of pounds). More than once, I was settling down in bed around midnight, and I got to thinking that I hadn’t locked up; so, of course, I had to go back and check. The main disadvantage about this job was that if the till didn’t balance at the end of the shift, you had to make up the difference out of your wages. I suppose this made you more vigilant and careful, but it was such a busy place that there were sometimes drive-offs when people went off without paying, and you didn’t even notice - this was before ANPR.
So, adieu my loving captain. adieu to you and all of your crew, with you I'll sail more
Oh, sweet technology! Just found this. Nice.
The title track is pretty awesome, as well: a haunting melody about a fair maid who gets pushed off a cliff by her sister (her cruel sister).
Am back…Let’s have a picnic on my lawn (it’s weedless, you know)
…I’m not out to character assassinate anyone, and certain disagreeable people shall remain nameless. But, the fact is, this particular fella, with whom I had a brief relationship, told fibs. Like when he arrived on my doorstep one mid-winter’s day, carrying a pair of skis. It had been snowing on and off for several days, and there was a thick carpet of snow on the ground; particularly in the untrodden fields. He had allegedly skied cross-country, all the way from his house, which was approximately twelve miles away. I hadn’t seen proper skis before and I was eager to have a go, so I didn’t bother to interrogate him about the complexities of his somewhat dubious sounding adventure. We went to ski in the fields, and he repeatedly fell on his arse; thus, demonstrating that he could ski no better than I. Then there was the time he lent me his Muddy Fox bike, which apparently cost £500. The day after, his brother turns up in his car: livid, because the bike actually belonged to him and he thought it had been stolen.
I haven’t seen this particular ex-boyfriend for years,now. But this section isn’t really about him, anyway: it’s about me, and my brief foray into Folk music. This boyfriend and I used to go to pubs that held Folk music nights – something that I’d completely forgotten about. I actually bought myself a cheap guitar, and got a teach-it-yourself manual out of the library. I didn’t get very far with this, to be fair. I’ve always harboured aspirations to be a musician. At secondary school, I took lessons to play the recorder (who didn’t!) and the violin, during lunchtime breaks. My accomplishments were being able to play Frere Jacques on the former; and Three Blind Mice on the latter, or perhaps it was the other way round. There was probably no discernible difference in the sound I made, nevertheless.
I also borrowed a large number of vinyl Folk albums from the library. My favourite was by a group called Pentangle. I later bought the album from the library for 25 pence. I liked one track in particular. I played it continually; so, it’s probably not surprising that I can still remember the tune and some of the lyrics, after all this time. It’s one of those songs that tells a specific story; it has about twenty verses and goes on for ages.
It’s about a young woman whose boyfriend has gone off to sea to become a sailor (probably press-ganged; although, it doesn’t specify). She laments: ‘I am a maid whose deep in love, but yes I can complain. I have in this world but one true love, and Jimmy is his name’
She pretends to be a man and dresses as a sailor, and gets a job on a ship with the intention of tracking down her lost love. She is determined: ‘I’ll find and follow Jimmy through the lands of liberty.’
However, the captain of the ship takes a fancy to her, which kind of disturbs him because as far as he knows she’s a man. He tells her: ‘Your rosy cheeks, your ruby lips, they are enticing me. And I wish dear God with all my heart a maid you were to me.’
She sympathizes with the captain’s confusion over his sexuality, and reveals that she is actually a woman.
She tells him about her quest to find her lost love, and begs him not to throw her off the ship. She also reassures him that once they reach land, he will quickly find a female companion: ‘And when we reach Columbia shore some prettier girls you’ll find, and you’ll laugh and sing and you’ll court with them, for courtin’ you are inclined.’
He lets her stay on the ship, and all is well until they reach the shore, and it’s time for her to go on her way. The captain realizes he’s fallen in love with her, and calls her back: ‘Come back, come back. My own pretty maid. Come back and marry me.’
So, she marries the captain, instead…Jimmy who?
...because you never know what the next tide will bring.
Here’s a couple of apostrophes I inadvertently missed out of yesterday’s blog – ‘ ‘.
Anyway, one digresses (as you do, as you do).
To pick up the chronological thread of my story – my autobiographical story, whose relationship to fiction may be closer than you imagine. But that’s not to say it’s not true. When I appeal to the truth of my tale; for example, if, and when, I say: ‘it’s all true’, I am in fact drawing on a technique that (some) autobiographers employ (I have found (and not only me, in all probability)) to persuade the reader that they are relating a honest account of their life and times, and not making it all up (as some have been known to do, and not without financial reward).
Also, when, and if, I say, ‘I know who(m) I am (be)’, I am merely referring to my living in a particular time and place in history, and the unavoidable (though not entirely deterministic) effect of extraneous social and economic forces on my self: I am not intimating that I something ‘special’. Although, again, this is a feature of some autobiographers, and a lot of the time their assumption is quite justified, I find.
There is still quite a while before I embark on my journey into Further Education - a few more jobs and several more years in 'the school of life'; as they say.
….Well, I was working the night-shift at the biscuit factory, and had moved in with my mum because her house was in walking distance of the stables where I kept my horse. At the factory, I met a fella, and we kind of fell in to a relationship. I say ‘fell’ because I didn’t find him particularly attractive; we were friends first, and he kind of grew on me. We went out a few times with another couple from work, to local pubs in town. The other two became romantically involved, and I started seeing this fella on a one to one basis. However, it wasn’t long before I found him to be a habitual liar. His lies were absurd and basically quite harmless, really, but needless to say, our relationship didn’t last very long. It makes me laugh, now: well, it did then, actually, at some of the things he did and said.
In lieu of my previous comments regarding my aversion to pond-life, it may come as a surprise to some readers that I ever had a fish tank. However, the difference is that aquariums are controlled environments; I chose what kind of creatures inhabited my fish tank, and for the most part I chose pretty fish and not the sort that send shivers down your spine (with the exception perhaps of the algae eaters, otherwise known as sucker fish. These have small dark-green bodies with spiny little fins, large heads with bulging eyes and relatively enormous lippy mouths. They spend their lives glued to the side of the fish tank, sucking on the algae which they feed on). Anyway, there were definitely no frogs in my tank.
Like I was inexplicably drawn to swimming; I similarly have no idea why I set my heart on a tropical fish tank. If I was a buddist, I’d perhaps suspect that in a previous life I was some kind of aquatic entity, like a dolphin or a mermaid.
A certain amount of skill is needed to successfully keep tropical fish – a certain amount of specialist knowledge and a certain amount of specialist equipment are required; for example: water heater, air filter and pump, lighting, plants, and chemicals to obtain the correct PH balance. It’s a bit of a science, really. And it takes time and patience. Patience. And. Time. Of course, I got a book out of the library and read up on it first. Like keeping rats, it’s best to find out what you’re letting yourself in for.
Before you even think about getting any fish you have to get the tank started, which involves attaining the right eco environment. Basically, you have to run the tank for several six weeks without any inhabitants. This, without sounding too scientific, gets the right sort of bacteria active. When fish are eventually added to the tank, you have to introduce them gradually: one or two over a period of time. It can be very frustrating. Then you have to carefully consider what sort of fish you are going to have. They need to be compatible: around the same size, as bigger fish will eat smaller ones; which part of the tank they will primarily inhabit - bottom, middle or top (or even the side, like the sucker fish); and what sort of role they will perform in the tank.
These are the fish I ended up with: several catfish - these live and feed on the bottom of the tank, and help to keep it clean; several of the aforementioned algae eaters – these help to keep the unsightly and rapidly growing algae down to a minimum; a couple of clown fish - these are coloured with vertical black and orange stripes, and live in the lower portion of the tank; half a dozen tetras - these are smaller fish that live in shoals. They have horizontal blue and red stripes, and flash through the water like lightening bolts. The show piece of my tank was two large silver coloured angel fish. They would effortlessly glide from here to there, and back again. Later on, I also got a single male Japanese fighting fish – these come in various colours. Mine was a vibrant purply colour, had beautiful long flowing fins, and a frowny squashed face like a sumo wrestler’s. You can only keep one of these because they are very territorial, and will fight other males, hence the name. I got him a companion: a very plain-looking female. But he didn’t like her, and would try to bite her whenever she went near him. One time, I opened the feeding hole, and she actually jumped out of the water, and flapped about on the lid of the tank. I thought if that’s the lengths she will go to in order to get away from him, that relationship is a no-go. I got another smaller tank, and put her in there out of harms way.
After all that effort, not surprisingly perhaps, my fish tank flourished. The fish looked happy. They thrived and started to breed. One morning, I found lots of minute catfish fry darting around the water. I rushed up to the pet shop to buy a nursery (a small plastic container which fits in the main tank) to put them in. I was only gone about 15 minutes, but by the time I got back all the fry had gone; they’d all been eaten!
Another time, I found a large amount of black coloured eggs splashed on the wall of the tank. Judging by the number and placement, I figured they must have belonged to the angel fish. On reflection, I should have removed the eggs, because the following day they had all disappeared, and judging by the angel fishes visibly distended bellies it looked like they’d eaten them. Unfortunately, the angel fish had overfed, and they paid the consequences. The next day, one of them lay dead on the floor of the tank. It’s eyes were missing and there were bits of torn flesh floating around: the other fish were gorging on the unexpected feast. The other angel fish didn’t look too healthy either. It was swimming lob-sided, and the other fish kept nipping at it. I put it in the other tank, but it too died shortly after. I am a bit squeamish about things like that, and decided to call it a day. My fish keeping days were over.
Well, quite....Indeed, more or less. Now that's what I'm talking about! Now, that's what I'm talking about. (so good I said it twice, though)
Looking forward to reading some more unpublished autobiographies at the historical society tomorrow. Hash tag, historical solidarity.
I am talking about my pets because pets are cultural artefacts, and give an insight into a way of life.
I’ve always had pets in one form or another. When I was a child we always had a cat about the house. Then there was my first very own pet: Fred the mouse, whom I’ve already mentioned. Later, when I had my own house, I had two cats and two dogs. I got the cats first. Anyone who knows cats knows they are pretty independent, and do what they like, so they are no trouble at all. (Although, having said that, my mum once had a cat that had a flea allergy, which had to be specially treated, so that was a bit costly.) At the time, I was living across the road from the woods, and my cats would disappear for days on end. I’ve always been prone to wandering about the countryside myself, and thought if I got a dog I wouldn’t look so conspicuous. I bought a Jack Russell bitch puppy from a local farmer. When I first got her she was so small she could fit on the palm of my hand. When she was a bit older, I saw a dog advertised in the local paper - free to a good home. He was a grumpy, wired-haired Jack Russell terrier, and he growled at me the first time we met. He was cute, though. So, I got him. Fortunately, the two dogs got along; it was love at first sight. I never got around to training them. They were house-trained, of course, but when we went for walkies they’d just run amok: terrorizing other dogs and running off after squirrels, and they’d often escape from my garden. My neighbour also said they’d howl all the time they were left alone in the house (I don’t know why because they had everything they needed, and they were not left for all that long). You have to show dogs whose boss, and it was a continual fight for top dog status – them or me. They ended up having a litter of pups together. One night, I was woken up by a whimpering sound, and something moving around on the bed. I put my hand out and felt a warm, gooey mess: the bitch had got on the bed and had her pups on the duvet next to me. It’s a wonder they didn’t end up splattered on the wall, because I was so alarmed and it took me a while to realize what had happened. Anyway, there were four super cute puppies, which I had the pleasure of seeing growing for about three months, until they went on to other homes.
Up next: my tropical fish aquarium.
I am busy over the next few days.
My blog will return next week...Don't go away : )
Bardon Hill, the highest point in Leicestershire 257m (912ft) above sea level, used to be a volcano.
I’m no geologist, but when it blew the landscape was literally set forever..
Until the mid 18th Century, folks in these parts relied heavily on agriculture; however, the poor climate (being relatively high above sea level) and the poor soil conditions (loamy, stony and clay subsoil) were not conducive to crop growing. Consequently, there were frequent bad harvests, resulting in famine for the inhabitants. Nowadays, although a lot of land is still given over to farming, there are actually few crops grown, and it is used mostly for grazing cattle. In the early 18th Century, framework knitting became an important cottage industry in the village taking over from agriculture. It makes sense to assume that people were drawn to this occupation - particularly in this area - because of the difficulties in deriving a reasonable living from the land.
Around the mid 1800s, following the establishment of Whitwick colliery, coal mining began to take over from hosiery as the primary means of employment in the area. Subsequently, the population increased and the community expanded.
I’m just about done with the section on social history.
I’m no social historian, but I guess the thing with social history is to decide where to drawn the line: where to finish, or where to start for that matter.
As always, my personal perspective derives from a social class perspective. So, my analysis begins around the time of the onset of the industrial revolution and the advent of the working-class.
My objective has been to put myself in context. These are my working-class credentials.
Seriously, I know who I am.
ooh just found this... the wilderness, I live amidst...(well, not all that wild, having been subject to various human interventions over the years: field enclosures, farming, quarrying, forest management, housing etc).
In the clip, the bit with the footpath overlooking the quarry with the wire fence is where I used to walk my dogs (2 Jack Russells) - just saying.
The old quarry which used to be next door is now filled in and landscaped (reclaimed). There was a stony ledge known as 'dead man's drop', because so many people threw themselves off - intentionally...hard times.
There is some beautiful countryside around here though, no denying.
My dad and my two grandads were coal miners. One of my grandads, Frank (my mum's dad), worked on the surface of South Leicester colliery, in Ellistown, He was a blacksmith. Back in the day, he used to shoe the pit-ponies, but latterly he mended the metal instruments and tools that were used at the pit. He worked there for 45 years. When he retired they gave him a miniature working Davy lamp; his name and my nanna’s name, and the date were engraved on the front: ‘Frank and Freda 1985.’ They also gave him a full sized Davy lamp. I have these two treasured momentos of past life and times in my home. My other grandad (my dad’s dad) was also a miner, but I don’t know anything about that as he died when I was very young. I do know that my dad came from a large family though; there were eight children. Grandad Frank got my dad a job working at the pit. My dad was originally a quarry shot-firer, which meant he worked with explosives blowing up granite and stone. So, when he worked at the pit he set explosives to make the tunnels and shafts. Just before the closures in the 1980s, dad arranged for me to go down pit to have a look around. I remember the long, dark descent in the rattly cage, and feeling quite scared. My ears went momentarily deaf due the change in air pressure, like when you go up in a plane but the opposite. One of the miners gave me a polo mint to suck on. It was really windy at the bottom of the shaft due to the up- draft, and then it was really quiet; the deafening type of silence that presses on your ears.
To cut a long story short: