Thumbs Up!

I’m sure we weren’t the only kids who aspired to make a little more pocket-money, above that which we were handed weekly from our parents.

When Nana came to visit she always gave me a tuppence – that was worth four Mojos, Blackjacks or Fruit Salad chews! Anyway, sweets, the odd toy and sticker books swallowed our pocket money all too quickly. Of course we did have our golf ball money but that was sometimes unreliable if we failed to find enough balls. Something had to be done…

Almost all the houses I’d ever been in had solid fuel coal or coke fires, and I can almost smell those chimney pots that spewed forth their burned bi-product – grey-day drizzle, bringing odorants to ground-level and stirring up the olfactory and taste buds…chemoreception, yes that’s it, chemo-wotsit. Anyway, in order to light the solid fuel fire, dad would arrange a bed of chopped sticks that lay on a bed of screwed up pages of newspapers. Now despite some of my accidental experiences with fire in my childhood, I was not in fact of the pyro-persuasion; that’s to say I wasn’t dependent on scorching stuff out of some addiction or compulsion – but I used to beg dad to let me put the match to the paper and see it burn!

As a bunch of opportunistic children with a hint of entrepreneurial spirit, we decided that we would chop wood into sticks to sell around the doors. All we needed was a decent saw, an axe and a ready supply of wood; the derelict houses that stood for a while in the village were abundant with such booty. It was dirty work and often the novelty felt like it was wearing off – more so to do with the fact that no-one seemed interested in buying badly chopped old floor boards, doors and banisters.

Our stick-chopping enterprise ended, though not because we got that bored. It all came to end when my brother accidentally all-but amputated his thumb with a bow-saw. Oh, what fun we had… It was quite entertaining at first, seeing big bro hopping around in complete blind panic, pouring blood everywhere and howling tearful howls. His thumb was still attached, only just, it seemed. I’d never seen anyone in real life get anything chopped off, it was fascinating! Disappointingly, as he hopped and howled down the street and into the house, he flatly refused to let me inspect the gore. On reflection, his thumb was, after all, almost severed and I really can’t blame him for wanting to get in to see mum for help; not sure I’d have stood still and allowed an inquisitive younger brother to examine the dangling digit, just to satisfy his fascination.

It was his own fault really. It was after all his idea to borrow dad’s bow saw, and he wasn’t concentrating at all when he was sawing – mind you, me and my little friend were throwing stuff at him at the time…

Oh, well, it was back to the drawing board, quite literally. I did make a few pence drawing and colouring pictures of Basil Brush on thick card, and selling them at tuppence-a-piece. Wonder if anyone’s still got one?

I’m glad we didn’t actually get around to the chopping axe…


About Robert

A fifty-something, retired Celestial Travel Agent. Walked many paths; some good, lots bad. Meandering through the past, plodding in the present, crawling toward the future.
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