chapter 3: The Cane

 1946……..

 At around about 5 years of age, mum signed me up for piano lessons with a little Jewish piano teacher called Madam Zara. I had lessons once a week for ten years. I hated every minute of it. One of the reasons for hating it was, in the front room where the piano was, was freezing bloody cold, especially in the winter time. The room had no heating, There was a small coal fireplace, but it was rarely lit. Coal costs money.

 [Today  I  have an electric piano at home . and I do play a bit on it.  I would really like to have lessons again. I can read music still a bit, but my left-hand lets me down. Maybe when I have finished this project I will find a piano teacher! ]

 When I was about eight or nine. I got home from school one day.  Mum said to

“How was school today Bryan “ She never asked me about school. But this day she did. I said

“I got the cane today Mum “ So she said

“What for? “  I said

“I don’t know Mum! (And to this day I still don’t know why.)  So Mum says to me

. “Well! That will make up for all the times that you never got caught!

“So guess what I never told ever again when I got the cane. 

 If when at school we knew that we were going to get the cane. We would to slide a small book down our pants to take out the sting of the cane. .  But if it was across our hand we had to take it. and I can tell you,  it bloody well hurt.   The cane was a bamboo cane about three-eighths in diameter and about three foot long. You either got it on the palm of the hand or across your arse.

The cane never broke me. There was no frigging way that I was going to break down and cry.  Even, as I said. It really” hurt. evidence of this would be an ugly red fucking weld that would sting for some time after.

In today’s world, thanks to the” Do-Gooders “ the teacher would be fired and the school board sued. But because of all the do-gooders in this world, the whole fucking system is broken.

Did I turn out to be a bad guy? No!,  I have in my opinion, good moral values and honesty

After we had lunch at school, if we weren’t running around the church block we would cruse the local mansions where the rich bastards lived,  to see what we could score.

There was the time that we found a box full of nail vanish bottles somewhere and we opened the box up on the front steps of a house on the corner of Carlton Vale and Kilburn Park Road. We then proceeded to smash the bottles on the stone steps.  while we were doing this a local cat came along to see what we were doing..

So caught the little fucker and dribbled some of the nail varnishes on the cats back. Then we let it go…………Years later I would walk by the house on the corner and you could still see the varnish still there smeared on the steps. No cat though!

  At 201 Carlton Vale, we only had one bedroom. So mum and dad and Pauline and I all slept in the same room. I was about 8 or 9 at the time when one night I was supposed to be asleep, but I was under the covers with a  torch reading a brand new Batman comic. 

Unfortunately for me, I did not hear dad come into the room. Well, he pulled back the bedclothes saw me reading the Batman comic pulled it out of my hands and ripped it in two. I was devastated. So I guess that I never did that again. today that comic would properly be worth a couple of grand.

That was a case of tough love. Another event in the bedroom that sticks to my mind. This time it evolves mum, I would be about 7.  Mum came into the bedroom and she caught me wanking off. So she said to me “Bryan if you kept doing that you ’ll go blind! “  So I asked her, “ Mum,  can I keep doing it till I need glasses? “    ( I know it’s’ an old one but I still like it.)

  When we were about 9-10  Dennis Williams, who lived just down the road on Carlton Vale. (No relation to Reggie Williams) and I decided to run away from home. We were going to run away into the countryside and catch rabbits cook them and live off of them.

So this particular day off we went. Walking all the way we headed right into the heart of central London. I know that we should of have been going the other way to get to the country, but we had no idea about direction.  After hours and hours of walking, we got really tired and decided to head back home to get something to eat and to go to bed.

I remember we got home around Eight O’clock at night. My mum went ballistic. And gave me good hiding for being home so late. Then she sent me to bed with no tea. And I was starving. But I was really glad to be home. Of cause I never told Mum or Dad what Dennis and I had been up to.  I was too glad to be back home. We never ran away from home again!

  I was in the boy scouts in the late ’40s. We were based out of the Salvation Army just down  Carlton Vale on Percy Road. I used to like to go there. Mum could hardly afford my uniform But I did get a green cub cap with gold trim on it. Along with a badge on the front. And I got to wear a Grey sweater with a .cub badge on it  And a green cub scarf held together with a leather ring called a woggle.

(.I never asked mum or dad for anything because even at a young age I knew that they had very little spare money. ) Our leader was a Nice Woman we called her Arkala.

We used to play games at the cubs and have fun. The Arkala seemed to like me. I don’t know why.

  I had to go to Sunday school every Sunday. which was at the Salvation Army.  To make matters worse I had to take Pauline with me. That made it tough because I did not go to Sunday school I took the threepence that Mum gave me and we  went to the Paddington Rec.where we  played on the swings

. I had to mark my Sunday school attendance booklet with a pencilled in a star.  I had to bribe Pauline to keep her mouth shut and not tell that we never made it to Sunday School I don’t remember if she told or not. But she is still alive at the time of writing.

Being that I went to St. Augustine’s School meant that we had to go to church services across the road to St. Augustine’s Church. We had to listen to church services with the priest and listen to the church choir. The incense was very intrusive. And even though I lost my sense of smell many years ago  I can still inwardly smell it to this day. 

The point that I want to make here is this. From the get-go when I was introduced to religion and Jesus Christ and all that went with it. Even at that young age maybe 5, 6, 7, I  never ever believed the Mumbo Jumbo. So even when I had to go to the Salvation Army Sunday school. I still never believed any of “ It”.  I have been in this mindset all my life.

If others want to believe in religion go ahead be my guest. If there is a God out there, is he or she ( have to get the gender right for all the “ Do Gooder’s  “)  a God to everything in the Milky Way other universes, planets and the like?

As my friend and former boss, Scot Zinger used to say .” Go ahead knock yourself out“.  If you want to believe in a religion that’s fine with me.   But please do not shove it down my throat.

After the war was over dad got a job at  Wallens Dairy which was on Albert Road and was about three blocks from 201. He usually drove a large milk tanker. But sometimes he drove milk Lorries too. And occasionally he would take me with him. I used to love that. I can still smell the milk crates and the smell of the lorries engine as we drove along the English countrysides. Picking up milk in the tanker or delivering crates of milk and milk urns full of milk to dairies.

lorry milk truck 1950's London England

Dad was proud of the fact that he was the only driver that Wallens had that could back down this narrow lane-way to pick up milk in the milk tanker.  When we would arrive at the Gillingham Dairy In Kent.  Dad would back into the dairy lane-way. Once he was parked we would get out and he would proudly show me how little clearance there was between the milk tanker and the wall on each side. There was about 15” on each side. Pretty tight. I was proud of my Dad for being able to drive like that.

  I would guess at about age ten I started to “ Do “ my  Nannies shopping. On a Saturday morning. I would walk from Carlton Vale down to  Alpha Place. Get Nan’s grocery list and her shopping bags and Ration Books. Even though the war was over things were still on Ration.

So everybody had a ration book. Each person or family was only allowed so much butter so much sugar  A couple of rashers of bacon etc. The Ration Books were a buff colour and had each person’s name on the front. So inside the square for butter or sugar when you bought it was ticked off with the grocer’s thick black pencil.

ration book during the war

The thing that used to worry me most on the trips back near my house from Nannies to the Grocers. Was this. Why did it say Mrs Gertrude  Butler on the front page one book and Mr William Lines on the front of the other book? Hmm. This was explained to me by my Dad a few years later when I was a lot older. This is the Story.

  Both my  Grandfathers. Grandfather  George Rogers and Grandfather Butler died in  The Great War. Grandfather Rogers was a wood chopper by trade. Acting Sargent George Rogers. Was killed in action . 16th May 1917. In Arras in France.

       Grandfather Butler was an aircraft Mechanic but he died from natural causes. They are both in the “ Great War book of the Dead.

Well, it turned out that Grandmother Rogers got remarried to a guy called Jim Lines. And, you got it. Grandmother Butler lived with William Lines till the day he died . they never did get married. Yes, they were brothers.   You just can’t make these stories up!

Alpha Place where nanny lived was my favourite place to be on the weekends.

kids playing in bombed buildings England War years

All that rubble across the road from Nan’s was paradise for the likes of a small boy in the ’40s and early ’50s.

All the rubble could be sorted into harbours and the like. After a rainstorm, it was the perfect playground. Lolly sticks became battleships which we floated in puddles.   Half submerged twigs became submarines. Small pebbles became bombs to sink the German U- Boats.

At about 12 years of age, I went to Petticoat Lane. It was located in and around Liverpool Street station London. Petticoat Lane was a giant flea market which was only open on Sundays. I had been there much time with dad as he loved to shop there. This time I was on my own.

I this bloke was selling among other things puppies. I, knowing that mum and dad would be pissed, but  I  still bought one. I said to the bloke is it a boy or a girl.

“Cause I want a boy.

He said” there you go mate” holding the black puppy on it’s back, showing me the belly of the puppy.

When I got home mum and dad were pretty pissed at me. But they said you had better build a kennel for the puppy. which I was going to name Rocky. but on further inspection of the puppy, I had to name the puppy  Roxie.

We made our own transportation as kids. Taking a  long plank of wood about six feet long.  We would attach a spindle at the back of the plank, with to pram wheels attached. The same set up at the front but the spindle could be steered. A cross member was nailed on towards the back and this was our seat. We used to love to go down hills on this trolley was only one problem.W e had no brakes. so we preferred the scooter.

Scooter…I used to make my own scooters.

homemade scooter

The scooter in the picture was not quite like what i built but it shows the general idea.

A three-foot plank, for the upright. At the top nailed to that a piece of wood for the handle. at the bottom of the plank, a V was cut out. this is where a wheel was mounted. At ninety degrees to the upright plank, there was another plank this time for the feet to stand on. at the back end another V was cut for the other wheel .  and at the other end of the plank was a piece of 6X6 by about a foot high wood, where eye screws were screwed which matched eye screws in the upright. then a simple long bolt was dropped into the screws and while the front was attached to the foot part

One evening I was having a piano lesson with Madam Zara.D ad who worked really early mornings, liked to have a snooze before supper.  got out of bed early, I would guess about 6 o’clock. Had a wash and shave in the kitchen sink put on his Wellington boots and leather apron his Wallens hat on and went out.

He came back about an hour later with one side of his face all beaten up. Evidently, he had a fight with someone at the Wallens dairy over something. But to this day I don’t know what. But I liked to think that he won his fight. He was 5 feet four and a half inches tall and afraid of no man

 Dad was a flyweight boxer in the army. In the War he was stationed in Iceland, while he was there he fought for the championship of Iceland. He said he was scheduled to fight this bloke in the final . but the bloke got sick. Dad had already beat this bloke twice before. Anyhow, being the army the fight still went on. They found another boxer to take the other blokes place. He was a weight or two above dad. Dad said the other bloke pounded the shit out of him. 

Dad and Mum were very honest people, , and even though they have passed away, we are still very proud of them, and still miss them to this day. Pauline and I always remember them on their birthdays. All of these years along since they have passed.

 Dad,  George Rogers met Mum  Francis May Butler at the Cricklewood skating rink London.  She went there on a date with another guy. But dad took her home. There is a funny story about the relationship between mum and dad. 

Which I told a few paragraphs above. Grandmother Rogers who was a widow at the time met a gentleman by the name of Jim Lines, who by all accounts she married.  Meanwhile, Nanny Butler who was also a widow met up with a gentleman named William Lines. She called him Bill. It turned out that these two men were brothers. 

 The story goes that until they met at Cricklewood roller skating rink mum and dad had never met up with the other brother. Whether they did after they met I don’t have a clue.   Grandmother Rogers and Jim Lines seemed to vanish into history.

 

As I grew up I never to my recollection ever met either of them.. William Lines whom we called granddad lived with Nanny Butler till the day that he passed in Paddington hospital of lung cancer in the late ’40s.  Nanny used to say that maybe one day that they may get married, but they never did.

 In  Kilburn were two parks near my house at 201.  North of 201, was Queens Park with swings and lots of grass and trees shrubs and flowers.  Queens Park was about four or five blocks away.  But it was an easy walk there.

 I would often go to the park with my cousin Tony Rogers. A Block from the park was a bakery on the corner at the bottom of Salisbury road. . There was a window at street level if it was open we would call out to my Uncle Charlie. Tony’s dad. He worked at the bakery. And sometimes he would come outside a and talk to us and give us a penny bun each.  We were in heaven. Treats at that time were in short supply.

To the right about six blocks from 201 Not too far from Kilburn Park Road was Paddington Recreation Ground it also had swings and roundabouts. And a large red gravelled area on which we would play football for hours and hours. Till exhaustion. 

                                                              ***************************

There was a young man from Boston,

Who drove around a baby Austin

There was room for his ass and a gallon of gas,

But his balls hung out, so he lost ‘em.

READ CHAPTER 4

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