Paying my way

(At this point in time things have not gone well …..landed up in hospital with bronchial pneumonia thought I was going to die and almost did, spent over a week in the General Hospital and the over a week in Countess Mountbatten Hospice in West End . Came home on Wednesday 9th March, hardly able to do anything for myself since then have made good progress and now in a position to carry on with life’s story even though I am on oxygen 24 hrs a day, lucky to be alive. To Continue……..)

The financial burden of me being at Art School rather than ‘out to work’ as my contemporaries were and my not contributing to the household budget which was already tight, must have been hard on my parents, which I appreciated and so kept my demands to a minimum. I knew that I needed to get some sort of job to at least give me some pocket money. It so happened that there was a Saturday morning job available working for Mr Tribbeck who lived opposite home in a detached house almost hidden behind a high wooden balustraded fence and couple of medium sizes beach trees.

At that point in time I regularly saw him cycle off from his house on a trade bike with a metal basket attached to the handle bars but did not know what he did for a living, nor where he went. I only knew about to vacancy when Stan Tiller, an acquaintance, ask if I was interested in delivering groceries for Tribbeck who ran a small market garden from premises in Merdon Avenue as he was about to start a full time job. The Garden was in fact a garden of several acres belonging to a large house that stood on the corner of Merdon Avenue and Kingsway the entrance to the house was off Kingsway with the entrance to the garden in Merdon Avenue where Tribbeck had a couple of wooden Sheds from which he sold veg and a range of groceries.

There were two of us employed to deliver boxes of groceries, the other lad being Steve Street who like Stan, I already knew, to some of the large houses through out the top end of the Village. Steve already had a round and used Tribbecks comparatively light weight bike for his deliveries , I had the other bike which had a small front wheel under a much larger basket which would be stacked high with a variety of boxes which I could only just see over to know where I was going, much like David Jason’s caricature as Granville in the TV Comedy ‘ Open All Hours’ and like him I had a rope over the boxes to keep them from falling off . Although I was delivering to wealthy house holders they were pretty mean when it came to tipping and there was only one, a Mrs Rhodes, who lived in Western Avenue who always gave me a three penny tip.

Tribbeck was as mean as his customers, on some occasions Steve did not turn up so that I had to deliver to his customers as well as my own but ‘ Tribby’ as we called him , did not, as one would expect, pay me his full wage but only half, which I thought was mean and unfair. On one other occasion he said he had a treat for me something for me when I got back from a delivery, it turned out to be an apple, that is after he had cut out a rotten lump, which amounted to be a good quarter of it.

Next to the entrance gate into the Garden was a tall woodland oak tree with the first branches nearly at its crown, in the crown was a pigeon’s nest. Pigeon’s were not very popular with farmers or any vegetable grower as they were very destructive particularly to cabbages where they would strip the leaves down to a skeleton. ‘Tribby’ got out his single barreled four bore shot gun and fired a shot through the bottom of the nest. Pigeon’s nests are made up of a quite thin layer of sticks so did not present any protection to its occupants, I saw one bird fly off and was therefore concerned that there could be an injured rather than dead bird still up there. ‘Tribby’ was unconcerned as to whether this was so or not as far as he was concerned he had got rid of what he regarded as vermin whether humanely or not.

Although I do not like heights, the thought of an injured creature lying there was enough for me to attempt to reach the nest, luckily there was a reasonable amount of Ivy on the trunk for me to climb up to the high up first branch. There were two dead, fully grown and quite fat birds in the nest which I threw down. ‘Tribby’ collared both the birds not even offering me half the spoils considering that he would have left them to rot had I not risked my neck by climbing up a dangerous tree.

Occasionally I did do other work in the garden where as many as twelve Polish Refugees would also be employed to dig the various plots ready for planting, one said to me that I worked ‘to hard’ and he was probably right as I was kind of scared not to, one thing for sure was I wouldn’t have earned much money for my efforts.

One day, as I cycled through Common Road on my way to this Saturday Morning job, I passed a house where one on my regular customers lived and noticed that there was a removal lorry outside, on getting to work I said to Mr Tribbeck, “Mrs Smith is moving then” “ what ?” he said, and before I could repeat what I said he was jumping on his bike and gone in a flash leaving me in charge. It was quite common back then to do what they call a ‘Moonlight Flit’ where you moved quickly, unannounced, leaving no forwarding address and where, having not paid your bills for ages there was no way that they could trace you, therefore, from the speed that ‘ Tribby ‘ moved, Mrs Smith owed him money and was doing a ‘flit’ but I don’t know whether he got his money or not.

I don’t remember over what period of time that I did that Saturday morning job but it was probably just over the first term that I was at Art School, nevertheless it was important that I did earn some money from somewhere so I found various jobs working for the whole six weeks of the Summer Holidays. The first was working for ‘Morry’ [Maurice] Hatley .the youngest son of Mr Hatley, [Mrs Newtons benefactor] whom I have already mentioned . Morry was about 45 years old with a very friendly smiley face with prominent laughter lines emanating from the corner of his eyes, under his peek cap he had a mop of blondish wavy hair. Morry ran a small engineering works and scrap yard from the bottom of his fathers garden, which was on the corner of Hursley Road and Cuckoo Bushes Lane.

Despite the nature of his work both he and his yard were very neat and tidy. He only employed one other person, Willy Kloff an ex - German prisoner of war who stayed on after the war ,clearing our mines off our beaches, a very dangerous job because unlike the Germans who knew were they had put theirs, we had know idea where we had placed ours I believe that part of the reason that Willy did not go home was that he came from near Dresden which was behind the’ Iron Curtain’ . Willy certainly did not match up to Hitlers ideal, tall, muscular, blue eyed race as he was quite short with a very ordinary German face, in fact none of those running Germany during the war came anywhere the desired model.

One of my jobs was to de-rust all the iron work on a 60ft. flat bed trailer with a wire brush and then paint it with Red Oxide paint, there was not a single inch of that trailer that was not red with rust and hardly any of me that was also not covered with it. I don’t recall how long it took me to complete the job but I do know I made a good job of it. As I have mentioned. Morry also dealt in scrap metal, he a contract to rip up the runway of a wartime emergency landing strip a couple of miles beyond Beaulieu in the New Forest. Morry had an open backed Morris Pickup Truck with only room for two in the cab therefore I had to sit in the back when we were travelling back and forth from the site.

The Runway was made up of eight foot long building reinforcing bars about four inches apart woven through open chicken wire and staked into the ground. None of the runway was clearly visible as the grass had grown through the wire. To strip out this wire Morry had an American ‘Marshal’ Tractor with was started with cartridges, and started up much as in the film ‘Flight of the Phoenix’ staring James Stewart and Richard Attenbourgh where survivors from a crashed plane, lost in the dessert, build a primitive escape plane using one engine and bits of tail and wings from the wreckage. Like James Stewart in the film, Morry only had a few cartridges to start the engine and again like the film, he was down to the last one before the engine fired up. The tractor was driven on to the reinforced deck where the end would be located and a bar with a towing chain the width of reinforced decking attached. The tractor would then be driven along and on top of the decking pulling it out of the grass in about twenty foot lengths. The landing strip had been laid in the early days of the war and a great deal of the chicken wire had rusted away, my job was to separate the reinforcement bars from the wire using wire cutters, a very boring job. I can’t remember what the wage was , probably about £2 or £3 for the week.