Snippets about life in Shepshed not quite long enough to warrant a chapter alone, but worth a mention.....
I've paid homage to our local recycling facilities already (part four), but there really is no finer place on earth than
Shepshed tip? The stuff you can find down there is amazing (but do ask the kind staff there before you take anything, because
technically it is theft if you don't!). Back in the 1980's, I made weekly trips down their in search of elusive "pram wheels"
- being an only child, there was no chance of me getting my hands on such desirable things which were more precious than gold
in my mind back then....why? well I had buggered up the chassis my go-cart and wanted to build a new one! Eventually I ended
up recycling the ones on my knackered go-cart after many fruitless Sunday afternoon's rummaging through crap.
On Brook Street, it now stands forlornly abandoned. It was an Indian Restuarant and Zesto Cafe bar more recently, however
once upon a time it was a top-notch Australian restaurant and I remember coming home from school and catching a glimpse of
the menu and it had on it "Turtle Soup" - how cruel so I thought! I don't know, maybe like "Bombay Duck" or "Crab Sticks"
the broth did not actually contain turtles? Hopefully a "foodie" will put me right on this because this has bothered
me for over two and a half decades.
Following on from "Smokey and the Bandit", Shepshed went CB crazy! Everyone had to have one, including us. My handle
was "Speed", it was such a cool name every self-respecting Sheppy kid seemed to nick my handle! My mam had a badge custom
made with my handle on it, nowadays the term is too closely connected with recreational drugs and such parenting
would attract social service intervention. Unlike the sad, internet chat-room nerds of today, there was real-time interaction
whereby on Sunday nights the CB club would gather at the club on Britannia Street and meet for a drink. Having paid a couple
of quid for a "Speed" badge, there was no way I was changing my handle in my mam's eyes so I was forced to where it at a said
gathering, a near fatal mistake as the rest of the CB club could finally put a face to the name of Speed...or the little gobshite
who had been giving them lots of gip over the airwaves!
THE JEHOVAH'S WITNESSES
On Sunday in Blacksmith's Avenue, I was playing out and suddenly observed a group of middle age, respectable-looking
folk carrying something called "The Watchtower" slowly working their way down our street. Raymond, our neighbour correctly
observed they were Jehovah's Witnesses, so me and his daughter Jo who were more agile than the Watchtower mob ran round all
the houses pre-warning folk that they were about to get the dreaded knock at the door.....our efforts were met with much gratitude
as our neighbours then retreated to their back kitchens or bedrooms until the coast was clear. One of the "believers", an
elderly lady soundly scolded us saying "You should not run round the houses telling people we are on their way!" - No disrespect
to them, everyone is entitled to their beliefs however I think that statement said it all!
"MISERY GUTS'" FENCE
If our neighbour in Blacksmith's Avenue had been a CB nut then his handle would have been "Misery Guts". He was a horrible
old git. He hated us playing football ont he common land in front of his house and if he got his hands on one of our footballs,
he would stick a screwdriver in it and launch it into the car-park. He was obsessed with his fence and if a ball dare strike
it, out he would come ranting and raving about going to the council etc etc etc - yes as I have got older, I have appreciated
the value of fences over football's but as an eight year old kid it was kind of lost on me. We used to have our soft drinks
delivered and the lorry would reverse down the common-land in front of our house to drop the crates off. One day, the driver
completely took out the lampost between our house and Misery Guts and it landed on his fence, completing crushing it!
Double-whammy! As well as my weekly fix of Dandelion and Burdock and Cream Soda, Misery Guts had someone else to moan at about
his beloved fence!
Obviously I shan't reveal her name....however it was nothing more than a cute gesture from an eight year old to an eight
year old, pure innocence. I think I did it out of sympathy because the poor girl's birthday was on February 29th so obviously
she did not get a birthday every year! Anyway I took the card up on a cold, frosty February night and gave it t her mam who
thought it was cute. We then had a good fall of snow and a shortcut to the best sledging slope was through my Valentine's
front-garden, so off I go dragging my sledge through their flowerbeds thinking it will be fine then copping an earful off
her mam, no longer am I cute and the next time I saw Les Dawson going on about Mother-in-Laws, even though it was 29 year
before I actually did get married I knew exactly what he meant!