Monday, 22 September 2008

Farewell, Brother Dave.


Farewell, Brother Dave.

This week the first of my ten brothers and sisters
died of a heart-attack at the age of 68.
He was Dave, and he died on September 17th 08.

As a young lad he was my Hero of course.
Ten years older than me, and a dedicated 'Teddy-
Boy' he was a bit of a 'Geezer'.

He bought me a bright red blazer and black jeans
when I was 5 or 6 years old, and he used to smother
my hair in Brylcreem and style it into a proper Teddy-
Boy Quiff with a DA at the back.

Then he used to take me into Reading town centre
to tour 'The Cafe`s'. Sampling the Pepsi's and 7-ups
in each. Of course, I used to get all the attention
from the Teddy-Girls who thought I was 'lovely' at
the time, and I naturally revelled in all this attention.

It wasn't until I got older that I realised what Dave's
ploy was. Doll me up to look like a 'mini-ted'. Get all
the Teddy-Girls to crowd around me. Suddenly, Dave
was the focus of ALL their attention. (What a lesson
in self-marketing?)

He used to be the talk of our village often because of
the outrageous clothes he wore. he would make waist-
coats up himself out of patches of brightly-coloured
silk cast-offs. On one occasion, he ripped down our
curtain pelmet to wear as a 'Giant Kipper-Tie'.
No,Dave wasn't the most understated chap in the village.

He worked for a while on the railway, and each night
for about a fortnight, he would walk up from the station,
(which was about a mile down the road) with a railway
sleeper on his shoulder. These were our fuel for the
winter. But I still don't know HOW he managed to carry
them that far.

He did have a bit of a reputation as a 'hard man'. Not
many would dare argue with him. But to me he was a
gentle giant who was extremely caring and protective.
He was a master at playing cards, and took every
opportunity to teach us all the different games and
tactics so that WE wouldn't get beat.

He loved his music, and introduced us all to it by buying
this huge stand-up gramaphone to play his rock'n'roll 78's.
We all had to learn 'the Jive' and spent hours helping him
'perfect' his technique.

He just loved board games of every kind. Was very good
at crosswords too. Infact every Sunday Morning, he and I
would sit round the kitchen table with the 'News of the
World' completing the crossword that always had what at
the time seemed like a 'huge' cash prize which was going
to change our lives.

We're talking mid to late 50's here, and the prize was
probably £1,000. With houses costing an average of £500-
at the time, that was a lot of money to win.
(We also did the womens fashion competition. But don't
tell anyone).

Dave was a very generous brother, and each week he'd
bring back the 'Dinky' toy cars for me and younger brother
Bill to play with. He bought a 'Scalextric' set when they
first came out as well, and each week he'd buy us some-
thing new to add to it.

Now, our house was a bit of a focal point. Think 'Madness'
and their record 'Our House' and you've got it in one.
Each bonfire night on November the 5th, we'd have a dirty
great bonfire in the back garden with loads of friends and
family attending 'the show'. I was Mr Bossy-Boots and liked
to be the one setting off the fireworks. (Yes even at the
age of 9, I was a little precoscious).

Anyway, myself and a gaggle of others had been doing the
old 'Penney-For-The-Guy' routine to get money for fireworks.
(As you did back then. No ageism in those days matey). We
had a massive collection all piled into a big cardboard box.

On the night, the fire burned fiercely, the spuds were thrown
in, and the old Guy had seen the last of his days. NOW! Time
for the fireworks.

The first dozen or so; roman candles, fountains, jumping jacks,
catherine wheels, all looking good.
So now it was time to let a few rockets loose into the night sky.

Place milk bottle firmly in the ground. (check)
Place rocket into bottle (Check)
Light blue touch paper and stand well clear (Check)

CLUNK!! Milk bottle falls over. Rocket takes off.
Straight towards the big cardboard box full of our fireworks.
Yes, you guessed right. The whole lot went mental.
We all scattered as far as possible from the mayhem. (Though
it really was a GREAT 'unintended' show). But that was it. Our
much anticipated, wonderful firework display which should have
lasted at least an hour. Up in smoke within just a few minutes.

We all consoled ourselves with the fact that we still had our pop
and baked potato's to look forward to, but really we were all
rather GLUM.

Then we heard the front gate screetch.
(It was metal, and did screetch).
Who was that coming down the path?
More to the point, WHAT was he carrying on his shoulder?

It was our Dave who had just got back from Reading with another
HUGE box of fireworks for us.
How GREAT did we all feel?

Hopefully Dave knew how much we appreciated him then, and
hopefully he'll be looking down now, remembering so many fond
memories of our childhood that can never be erased.

God bless you Dave, and may you be forever happy wherever
you are.


No comments: