WHEN I WAS VERY YOUNG- FROM Godfrey AND Worzel

Worzel here, When I was very young recall an empty, old tobacco tin filched from an uncle. It made a drum, and rattle for snake chasing, made tiered manure- mud cakes for baking pleasure, frog spawn in spring, wonderful tin for penny pirate treasure. If today, I walk a quiet country road,  a reminder of when very young, I still kick a stray tin along at my leisure…

Godfrey did not speak often of his very early years, most of the stories I have gleaned from Beatrice, or his sister Alice’s “Alice” versions. This is a rare work of Godfrey, set from age 4ish, to age 8 when his dad ran off.

When I was very young- It snowed heavily up our valley, in this vivid memory, we walked down to my grandparent’s cottage. They had gas for heat, and blankets piled deep for Alice, Ma and me. All about was dark and silent, but the crack of branches breaking off the trees as we made our way slow, snow above my churning knees. Snow was fun, when I was very young.

When I was very young- I got cow manure on the church pew from the long hem of my baggy kilt, dragged through puddles.Created a mess on the dress of Mrs Trimyn, who suggested to my sister Alice, I be paddled, and Alice complied before the end of the next hymn.

When I was very young- I found an ancient bicycle, buried in a field of hay, dad dragged it out, run over by the farmer it was bent, but dad hammered and tinkered, and fixed it up for me, then down the pub he traded for a painting, then again for a fat, gray pony. Out to the paddock every morning I’d run, when I was very young.

When I was very young- I was horrified of beets and terrified of The Pope, leery of the black dust mop, though I don’t know why, and most of the stories Alice told at bedtime made me cry. One day I found a chicken loose, lured the hen with crumbs inside, “We can have eggs, and feathers, I told Ma with pride, and build a coop”. Next day no pet, but all week a great pot of chicken soup…

When I was very young- Riding a city bus was was the biggest adventure, to visit aunts and uncles who had toilets down the hall. Indoor loos that flushed with a roar at pull of chain. “Alice said, “A Bog Troll is on the end of that chain, to catch nasty little boys and yank them down the drain”. In dread, I weed in the pansies of my aunties front garden, earning me a slap on the head”.

When I was very young- I trod to school with wet sweater cuffs, and old wool coat that tickled my chin, and never once passed teacher’s cleanliness inspection. By the coal stove she made me sit, with Abner Mulgrew. Now I realize Miss was being kind, as Abner was always wet and cold to.

When I was very young- Summer lasted longer, Father Christmas smelled familiar of cigarette and swore when she tripped on the dog’s paw. Hills were for rolling down the other side, I cheeked the odd looking old men, who wore Tams, and the bicycles they’d ride.

When I was very young- My sister threw a beet at me, it missed and Ma’s Barometer was knocked from the wall, the shards clipped an oil portrait of an ancient piper, shattering the front window pane. The beet hit nasty Uncle Lou, coming up the walk, it left a stain.

When I was very young- “Beets and stones may break your bones, but words will never hurt you”..Ma would oft repeat when I came home bruised, picking beet pulp out of my hair. Too young to fully grasp her meaning, I sought solace in the company of words time and again. Sought the company of words and rhyme, when I was very young..

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8 thoughts on “WHEN I WAS VERY YOUNG- FROM Godfrey AND Worzel

    • Odd things like tinned plum jam, concrete sinks, men named George would trigger his memories, as they do me as I continue, some how to age. Not so cold today- thinking of you in summer.

  1. Godfrey had the sort of adventures children were allowed (if they didn’t mind the occasional cuff to the head) in the days when we roamed free in the countryside. No video games, no 24 hour supervision, but lots of fun!

    • Thanks Dianne- I have an iconic family photo of us, aged 2, 4 and 7 propped on the manure wagon. How in these time we would have been put in a home…

  2. Such wondrous rhyme, rhythm and storytelling, Sheila. You know I’d have to love this one as early memories make up so much of my writing. I love and appreciate the young Godfrey as much as I do the man he became. I liked the refrain “When I was very young,” laughed aloud at Father Christmas, terror of the Pope, the pet chicken and being promptly disciplined by Alice for cow manure in church. My heart melted a little when I read about the grandparents’ cottage, the fat gray pony, the kindness of Miss, and the beautiful last lines, “Sought the company of words and rhyme, when I was very young.” Beautiful.

    • Dear Janet, You were here when I wrote this one, though I had such a cold could barely type for sneezing. The bitter cold has finally passed. Your stories of childhood, so warmly recalled would have delighted Godfrey, nothing was ever insignificant to him. Many thanks.

      • What a lovely thought that Godrey would have liked the stories of my childhood. I know this post of yours went straight to my heart, Sheila. Hope you’re feeling better.

  3. Thanks Janet, One of those nasty weeks when every one had the flu and Miss Management fired the trainee. Beets appeared on the table for Friday snackeral’s…it can only get better.

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