I have just spent my Saturday having yet another clear out of the garage (for details of my last garage clearout see my post “Where has all the Sci-fi gone!” posted 15th March 2009) and taking yet another car load of unwanted crap across Peterborough to the city dump! It’s very confusing because I happen to think Peterborough IS a dump!
And why, you may well be asking, is it necessary for me to keep finding stuff in the garage and throwing it away every six months or so?
Good question! The answer is that it’s so I can put the massive pile of books under and beside my bed back in the study – I thought THAT ought to be perfectly obvious!
Not obvious? Well let me explain.
The pile of books beside my bed has built up over the last six months and the gaps they have left on the shelves in the study have inevitably filled up by a sort of avalanche effect with some of the bits of I.T. equipment that I found myself sole heir to when the Accountants running the company ran down my Department to the point where it was just me. Nothing BIG you understand – the servers were all still there and running when I left – just the usual peripherals, mice, keyboards, cables, wireless routers, laser printers, software CDs – that sort of thing!
So, to get the books back on the shelves in the study I have to find somewhere to put the computer stuff and THAT means the garage – and the garage is full of rubbish. Got it now?
Actually, that wasn’t what I intended to write about because it wasn’t something I really wanted to be spending my weekend on.
As usual I noticed, far too late to do anything about it, that this was the first Saturday of the month and I do like to try to go to Ipswich to see my mum on that weekend so that I can “just nip into town” to spend three or four hours drinking with my Mensa buddies at The Woolpack!
It was thinking about that array of missed pints, while sorting out the garage, that carried my thoughts back to Saturdays of old – particularly to that wild interregnum between October 1975 (when the bad-tempered witch known here as “wife 1” pissed off with one of my mates) and November 1977 (when I met Faith and started, albeit very, very slowly, to become civilised again and settle down.
Cue wobbly graphics and Theremin music as I go into “flashback mode”!
When Saturday began at midnight my mates and I would usually be munching fish and chips, dodgy burgers or some weird assortment of items from the Chinese takeaway. We would have bought these on the way back to my house from the pub we would have been in all evening and when they were finished the cards and cigarettes would come out and someone would put the kettle on for the first of the four or five rounds of tea considered necessary to flush out the beer!
There were usually half a dozen or so present to watch late night TV or play Pontoon or Three Card Brag for small change until about 3 a.m. when four of them would leave to either walk home or get a shared taxi, leaving my lodger, Andy, and I to clear up and take ourselves off to our respective rooms.
I think that they all enjoyed those evenings – it was somewhere they could go where no-one minded if you smoked, swore, farted or put your feet on the coffee table! Or any combination thereof! And all we asked in return was a contribution from their winnings to be put into a big sweet jar by the fireplace to cover the cost of tea, milk, sugar and the TV licence. Incidentally my friends WERE sufficiently generous that we did manage to fund ALL of those items from that jar.
Saturday would begin again some seven hours later when we would emerge, somewhat blearily, to absorb a couple of large mugs of coffee apiece before repeating Friday evening’s hike into town in order to meet the same group in one of the town centre pubs! Yes. Drinking AGAIN!
The order of business from then on would depend entirely upon whether Ipswich Town FC were playing at home that week.
If there was an away match we would stay in the pub until the 2.30 p.m. closing time (this was before the invention of all day drinking!) then mooch around town before sobering up for an hour or so in the coffee house of one of the main Department Stores. This took us to about 5 p.m. when this paragraph merges with the two below!
If there WAS a match we would curtail the lunchtime session and take ourselves off to our favourite spot behind the goal in what was then called the North Stand at Portman Road. Only last week it was renamed, with due ceremony, The Sir Bobby Robson Stand after our great leader.
Failures of floodlights notwithstanding, the match would finish at roughly 4.45p.m. which gave us time to escape the packed stand, dodge any fighting with away supporters that might be going on (this was the 1970’s after all) and walk comfortably into town to arrive at the door of The Falcon at 5 p.m. – just as they opened.
The landlord knew us and if it WAS a match day our entry would be by the back door where he would stand holding the collar of the largest, snarliest German Shepherd dog I have ever seen. I can only assume that there had, in the past been trouble with visiting supporters!
Once ensconced in our usual corner we discussed the match, sipped our beers and exchanged witty banter with the guy who ran the “disco”. This gentleman had the concession to bring his own extensive record collection along and provide entertainment for the customers using the Pub’s own sound equipment. After a few weeks of having us as his only audience he jacked it in and became one of our group.
The person in question, whose name is Dave, will figure again in anything I write in the future concerning either my marriage to Faith (he was my Best Man!) or my Mensa membership!
Meanwhile back at the Falcon, by about 8.30 we would normally be getting restless and would head up to the bus station and take a number 5 bus to a pub rejoicing (for reasons unknown to me) in the name of “The Blooming Fuchsia”. There we would drink (surprise, surprise!) and play darts with the locals until closing time.
The darts matches were particularly memorable as they included an Ipswich Town footballer. He was one of those players who qualified as a “professional” only because he WAS paid by the club. The peak of his career, however, had been turning out ONCE as (unused) substitute at a first team game – the rest of his footballing life was spent in the “reserves”! Having said that, he probably got paid a damn sight more than I did (or do)!
To us he was famous for his total lack of mathematical ability – when playing a game of “501” at darts he would painstakingly ADD up his scores and when they got well into the 400s he would ask someone how many he had to get! The rest of us were doing it in our heads and working out our “out shots” as soon as we got below the 170 maximum finish.
At closing time (11p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays, 10.30 p.m. the rest of the week) we would rush out to catch the last bus back into town from where we would split up for our separate walks home. Andy and I would stop at either a burger van or the late opening Chinese fish and chip shop (you may have noticed that FOOD wasn’t mentioned anywhere above!) and would arrive home just as Saturday ended.
Now you know why they call them “The good old days”! Clearing out the garage and spending the evening putting up with “Strictly Come Dancing” just isn’t the same somehow!