Starting 2014 with a memory of a long time ago (it seems!) when I used to work with my dad during the school holidays. Like all memory it’s part story!
I worked for my dad during the summer school holidays and the day would always start with a yawn and an early morning stroll past the salivating wolves next door to my dad’s factory.
Of course they weren’t really wolves, only two of the biggest Alsatians I’d seen in my sixteen year old life. All hunched and stalking muscle. Teeth in a permanent snarl, and eyes that never left you as you past them by. I can’t remember ever seeing a human being unless of course the wolves weren’t wolves but werewolves.
The two monsters stalked the Scrap merchants and weren’t chained. They roamed the broken up cars and machinery that lay scattered amongst the yard. The dirty black and rust brown of their coats a perfect camouflage amongst the mashed and broken backed machinery.
Sometimes when I walked along I would be drawn into thinking that they had been taken away in the night, that my dad’s complaining about them roaming free had finally borne fruit.
Then the rush of black and brown muscled fur would kick the heart into fifth gear.
So every morning I strolled past them, mouth dry, eyes straight ahead, trying to stop myself breaking into a run. Every morning it was past them to the loading bay where that morning’s papers where getting loaded onto vans to be distributed to the various Menzies shops in Airdrie and Coatbridge and beyond. Every morning it was into the office alongside the loading bay, and Mrs Simpson, with a good morning, and what year would I be going back to after the summer holidays; this while she handed me my dad’s papers—the Glasgow Herald and Daily Record—and took the money if it was that time in the month for bringing the account up to date.
She was like something out of the sixties, or maybe it was the fifties. Hair lacquered into a bowl shape; make up that creased and cracked as she struggled to work the skin underneath; her eyes huge under black pencilled eyebrows. She could have been anything from thirty to sixty.
The walk back to the factory was just as nerve wracking and it never got any better.
Still I always volunteered to get the papers and was disappointed if I was late and someone had gone before me.
A test of nerve?
I delivered the papers to my dad who was sitting behind his beech desk; grey telephone sitting to his right, those days’ orders in neat piles on the desk.
He would read the Herald and I would take the Record out to Jim and Eddie in the Ducat. The kettle would be whistling, cups already milked and sugared; bacon would be sizzling on the ancient stove. Rolls would lay open all buttered and ready. Bottles of sauce, both red and brown, and grimy with use, would sit waiting on the small table by the window. The sixteen inch TV would be on, the sound low.
In a space that could barely squeeze in two, never mind three, I watched the TV, Jim read the Record, and Eddie sat his sixteen stone frame in the leather seat marked and cut with age.
After the tea and rolls I would know if I was spending a day in the factory, or going out in one of the Lorries. If it was the Lorries I would hope it was up to Perth, or down Ayrshire way. That would take the whole day.
No farm roads though. Hospitals; factories; high street shops.
And let the sun shine.