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By The Adventures of Yorky
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Off To The Isle Of Arran But Not Before Seeing Mi Dad~ 4

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     The shearing season in England was just about over when Billy made the announcement that we’d be heading North to the Isle of Arran in the next few days. This was the time we had all been waiting for because of the stories Bill had told us from his previous years of shearing on the Island.
     Those stories consisted of mainly wine, women and making money.  Supposedly, there were 5 young girls to every man which, if correct,  would be a shearers’ paradise.
     My good Aussie mate Kerry and miself had a lot in common as he was born in Dorset but moved to Australia when he was 19. He spent most of his time in the Outback of Queensland while I on the other had spent most of my time in the Outback of New South Wales.
“Hey Yorky mate”, said Kerry. “Are ya driving ya Cortina up to Arran?”
“Yeah, I’m thinking about it. What do you reckon?”
“I would mate. I’m driving up there. You’ll have a much better time with a vehicle. Ya won’t have to rely on Kinghorn to get around the Island. There’s parties every night and a disco once a week but they’re scattered all over the place so a car is necessary.”
“Billy told me he was hauling his biggest caravan up there and parking it on a headland.”, I said.
“Yeah, he did that last year. It’s a great idea for us as we won’t have to pay rent anywhere. That means more money for partying!”
“Sounds good to me Kerry.”
“We can follow each other all the way up there if ya like Yorky just in case we have car trouble.”
“That’s a good idea mate. There is one thing I’d like to do on the way. Mi dad lives at a small village called Rippendon. It’s off the main motorway, once we hit Yorkshire.”
“No worries Yorky. It’ll be good to meet him.”
“Yeah, he’s an old bloke now. He was in the trenches of WW1.”
“Jesus Christ Yorky mate, he must be a tough old bastard to have survived that fucking nightmare.”
“He is mate. I once complained about not liking a lump of tripe that was on my plate for dinner and he said to me,
“The trouble with you lad, is ya too well-fed. I saw mi mates in the trenches trying to eath their own shit and drink their own piss! And you complain about a good pice of tripe? Give the bloody thing here.”
“He took it off mi plate and told me to bugger off from the table. You’ll get fed tomorrow!”
“Fuck me Rome Yorky! I thought I was hard done by at times but I had it good compared to you mate.”
“Yeah, that’s what it’s like being brought up in a poor peasant family”

     The following morning we met at Kinghorns farm house. Once everything was loaded up and the caravan was hooked onto Bills’ ute, we headed out of Worgret Manor in a small convoy.
     Getting out of the big cities was quite hectic for me as I wasn’t used to driving in them. Kerry, on the other hand, had driven in England before and got us on the motorway without getting lost.
     Once we got up to Yorkshire, we left the motorway and made our way to 36 Jubilee Terrace,  mi dads’ house. It didn’t take long for mi dad to come to the door and when he opened it he had a surprised look on his face and said,
“Jesus Christ Almighty! Where the bloody hell did you come from? I thought you were in Australia?”
“Hello dad, how are ya?”
“Come in lad, don’t just stand there.”
     Once we got inside he said,
“Do you want a cuppa’ tea lad?”
“No thanks dad. I came to take ya out for a few beers. I thought we could go to the White Heart, across from Baitings dam.”
“It sounds alright to me lad but I had to pay all mi bills this week so I don’t have much money left. Ya know mi bloody pension doesn’t go far these days since the price of things is gaining through the bloody roof.”
“Don’t worry about money dad, I’ve got plenty. I just finished shearing in England so it’s my treat. Ya can drink as much as ya like.”
“It’s alright for you to say that lad but I’m not a bloody moocher. I like to pay mi own way, ya know.”
“Yeah, I know that Dad. You can buy one round and I’ll take care of the rest. How’s that sound?”
“I’ye, I can live with that lad. So when d’ya wanna’ go?”
“How about now?”
“I’ye, you’ll have to give me time to have a bit of a wash and put mi good suit on.”
“No worries dad. We’ve got plenty of time. Do ya mind if me shearing mate comes in while ya getting ready? He’s waiting in his car, outside.”
“No, I don’t mind at all lad. Tell him to come in.”
     Once Kerry was inside, I introduced him to mi dad.
“Hey dad, this is mi shearing mate Kerry. This is mi old dad George.”
“G’day George. good to meet ya.”
“I’ye, likewise. Less of the bloody ‘old’ caper. I’ve still got a few more years left in me yet.”
“Ya got a good place here George. Is it yours?, asked Kerry.
“Not bloody likely. I’ve been renting it for years. I could have bought the bloody place ten times over, the amount of rent I’ve paid. Don’t worry about the mess, I’m due to clean up tomorrow. I never get any visitors so there’s only me to look at it.”
“Don’t ya have a cleaning woman George?”
“Do I buggery!” Once I got rid of mi lads’ mother that was the last bloody wench that I let in my place.”
     Kerry had a bit of a laugh at what mi dad said.
“I take it ya don’t have much time for women George?”, asked Kerry.
“Time? I wouldn’t give ‘em the time of day!”
“They must have some use George?”
“I’ye, well if they do and you find out what use they are, let me know will ya?”, said George.

     Once mi dad was dressed, he locked up his place and we got in mi car and headed off to the pub. Kerry left his old car parked in the street as it was no use driving two cars, there and back.
“This is Rippenden.”, said mi dad to Kerry as we drove through the village. “It’s where I do most of mi shopping.”
     It didn’t take long to get to the White Heart. Once we parked, I said to mi dad,
“Why don’t ya show Kerry where we lived Dad?”
“I’ye, if he’s interested.”
“Course I’m interested George. I’m always open to a bit of education.”
     Looking out across the dam, mi dad pointed to a few trees on the other side of the dam and said,
“Right there was where our farm house was. It never cost me a penny in went. I would never have moved but once the damn was finished and started to fill with water, it flooded the old place. I helped build this bloody wall. I worked on it for four years. I was a heavy timber construction engineer.”
“So you had a skilled trade George.”
“I was some bloody use in those days. All I do now is eat, shit and sit next to the bloody fire, watching mi old Tele.”
“Oh well, at least ya built this dam George.”
“I built another one in Bakeup too.”
“Isn’t that where ya met mi mother, Dad?”
“I’ye, sorriest day in my bloody life. Why did ya have to mention that old cow. I don’t want a good night out ruining before it gets started!”
     This gave Kerry a great big laugh.
“Are we going in for a pint or are we going to stand here like those old wenches, chewing the fat?”, said mi dad.
“Alright then dad, let’s go.”
     Once we got inside, I ordered 2 pints of lager and a pint of Best for mi dad.
“I’ll be back in a minute lad, I’m off to water the horse. The old bladder’s not what it used to be.”
“Hey Kerry, when it’s mi dads’ turn to buy a round, I’ll pay for him as he doesn’t have a lot of money.”
“Na, fuck that mate. We’ll take turn about buying the beers. I like ya dad, he’s a funny man.”
“Good on ya mate.”

     We all had a good time at the pub, especially mi dad. By the end of the night, he had quite a few beers on board. So much so, that at one point he fell off the bar stool. Luckily for him Kerry and myself were stood behind him and caught him before he hit the deck.

     It was around 9 now, and we still had a long drive ahead of us till we reached Glasgow where we would catch the Ferry to Arron. I said to mi dad,
“Drink up dad, we’ve gotta’ go. It’s getting late.”
“I’ye, alright lad. I knew I’d had enough when I fell off the bar stool!”

     Once we got back to mi dads’ house, he was so drunk, Kerry and miself had to help him upstairs as he couldn’t make it on his own. The last thing I wanted was for him to fall and hurt himself. When we finally got him onto his bed, I said,
“Are ya all right now dad?”
“I’ye, I will be when ya get me enamel bucket from out of the bathroom.”
“What d’ya want that for? In case ya puke?”
“Don’t be bloody silly, I never puke on beer. I need it for a piss bucket. I couldn’t get up the bloody stairs on mi own so I’ve got buckleys bloody chance of getting down ‘em, to the toilet in the middle of the night. There’s two spare rooms with beds in ‘em if ya want to stay over?”
“No thanks dad, we’ve gotta’ get going or we’ll run into traffic in the morning. Maybe I’ll be able to stop in on the way back down.”
“I’ye, all right then. Thanks for the night out lad. You too Kerry. Old George Swindells had a bloody good time.

     That was the last time I saw mi dad. He died of bowel cancer in Halifax Infirmary in 1975. The last time I spoke to him was by phone. I received a letter from mi sister, telling me he was in hospital so I called him from a place called Guyra, in Australia, where I was shearing with Kerry. The hospital had him pumped full of drugs so I’m not sure he knew it was me on the phone. The last thing he said to me was,
“This bloody bloke who washes me down every day takes 5 minutes to wash mi body and 10 minutes to wash mi dick. He’s a bloody shirt-lifting pufta!”
     Even to this day, I really miss mi dad. I’m 72 years old miself now and would love to sit in 36 Jubilee Terrace and tell him how much I love him and miss him. 
     He survived the trenches of WW1 and 11 years of living with mi mother. He dropped his body at 91. As far as I am concerned, he is the greatest man I ever met. There is an old saying in Yorkshire,
‘You’ll never know how much you love someone till they’re gone.’
     I’ve roamed  all over this world, in my time, and I can testify that for me, that is the truth.


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