I walked to school with Tucker Ellis, often in sock-less wellies and no underpants. We would play marbles and walk with arms around shoulders and did the same on the way back. We were happy out of the house and school.
One memory was of being wrapped in a towel after a bath and dried in front of a roaring fire. I was having a nit comb scrape across my scalp while watching 'The laughing policeman' on a TV which sat on the table directly opposite. As I don't recall ever having a bath other than this one, I've concluded that it must have been in preparation for my first day at school.
Soon after my first day, I remember coming home at lunch-time and watching the weather forecast on TV. I refused to go back after this.
Isn't it strange that those who can least afford a TV often have one. It's a good job too. I would have hated missing out on 'The Lone Ranger and Tonto', 'The Flying Doctor' and other favourites.
On Saturdays we walked to my older brother's school where they laid on free meals for the likes of our family. We had to show our ticket before being allowed in. I can still picture it as we queued for the herringbone wooden green doors to open.
After school, Tucker and me often played in derelict houses. On one occasion I was on the first floor fearlessly walking the floor joists as a dare when I stepped off balance into space. I actually remember seeing where I fell from as I was falling. I apparently landed on my back amongst the broken bricks that littered the place and Tucker dashed home to tell my mother. I don't know how I got to the hospital but my mother tells me that she was told to come in soon afterwards as I had taken a turn for the worse and wasn't expected to live. She told me that she sat with me through the night before things improved. I still can smell the hospital and the very long waits for the doctors to come round.
My favourite playground was down at the quay under the old timber supports pulling rocks in search of crabs. Quite often I was caught by the tide and struggled to make it back to safety and would have to wade through freezing water. The place echoed as gulls accidentally flew in and couldn't get out. Rats were plentiful and scurried over the bands of seaweed and along beams.
Other times I would jump from rowing boat to rowing boat and loved to board empty fishing vessels. In the same area I remember climbing latticed advertising boarding and peering through the window of an old building at men making coffins. I did this a lot. It was fascinating to watch.
I ran away from home a lot as anything was better than the threat of violence. Late one evening I made my way to the area where the pigeons nested high in the rocks and entered a rusty metal cabin. I felt that I could make this my home and was convinced that it would work out. After an hour I became very cold and hungry and made my way home to face the music.
Another time I walked over the bridge and all the way to Seaburn Beach to crawl under an overturned boat. This was going to be my bed for the night. In the early hours of the morning I started to make my way home and arrived in daylight.
I once ran away from home and got completely lost. An old man pointed me in the right direction and bought me a huge round flat multi-coloured lolly to suck on the way back.
A lot of the kids would jump on the back of the old milk lorry as it left the garth and one time I was bounced off and ended up under the back wheels. I was in hospital again and, like the last time, my mother was asked to come in as I had deteriorated and wasn't expected to survive the night. I was in hospital a long while and I had nightmares remembering the underside of that lorry.
It seems the incident caused quite a stir. The whole garth was in uproar and the driver was sacked. I felt sorry for him as it wasn't really his fault. He had no idea we were hitching a ride every time he drove off.
We never quite managed to fool the new driver and soon gave up trying.
It may be hard to believe but out of all my accidents I never suffered a broken bone.
Almost forgot...today was absolutely glorious. By 7:00am Bev was in her sun-splattered garden and I was getting more things together for France and painting in the studio. The FA cup final was a treat and we ended the evening with a fire in the garden...a perfect conclusion to the day.