1976: Norman no mates, work and a poem

Saturday 19th June 1976

Worked at Jefferies in the morning. Easy deliveries until 11 and then sweeping up and saw dusting the boards. We got the news that cricket was rained off when we arrived at the ground to get lifts to the game. We are playing tomorrow at Patchway and at least the forecast is good for that. What to do instead? The cricket at Lords was off as well so couldn’t even watch it in the T.V. Golf at Ashton Court? By the time we got there it would be time to come home again, and would be wet anyway.

Decided to go home and watch some television. My God Severn Beach is boring when it rains. We planned to meet up at the Cross Hands at 7. Studs went to see if ICI were playing. When I got back to the beach the train was just coming in so I told Mum I was out for the afternoon and jumped on it to go into town. Here I was again, bored and on my own and on this flipping train to nowhere. We screeched as usual around the bend at Avonmouth. What are the chances of meeting anyone in town? No chance, that’s what. Got off at Clifton Down, walked along Whiteladies road and went in to the Victoria Rooms to see what was on. Nothing was on, that’s what, not even a poxy model railway exhibition. It was empty and closed. Next stop the Museum. There is only so much of Alfred one can take so did a quick tour around and on to Park Street. Went up Brandon Hill and back down to the Library. I fancied a beer so risked it by going in the Hatchet. Didn’t stay long. Didn’t even buy a beer. It is always a bit threatening in there. Went along to Christmas Steps and down to King Street. Had a beer in the Old Duke. A pint of Courage Best.

Sat in the Corner and wrote this:-

 old duke bristol poem

Old Duke Bristol June 7


Bristol, home of ships and Pirates looking out to see,

What have you found and kept for me?

Lines of history that are closed,

Streets of value shut firmly against my age,

Houses of doubtful virtue, open to those who want,

Shops of welcome to those who cannot afford,

Like dripping rainfall from a holy canopy,

You promise refreshment from your uncomfortable touch,

But when drops hit my head, all I get is wet,

And a look of laughter from your knowing face.

Bristol, now home of tramps, human not steam

I can’t wait to go, to leave and be gone.

You have nothing for me to keep or believe.


Richard E Stedman


On to Temple Meads and a train home for 6. Bike up to Northwick for 7. No one in the White Horse, not even Studs. Had a pint, Oops, wrong pub, race to the Cross Hands, too late, they had all gone. Home by 9.

Bored, Bored, Bored.


On Jefferies the Butchers: I had a job in this family butchers in Meadow Street in Avonmouth.  It was a short term holiday job. I had to do some of the following. Slicing bacon; making up delivery orders; helping Mel with the deliveries around the docks or Avonmouth plus general cleaning of the shop. I was too young for serving customers but not too young to be shut in the cold store with the hanging meat as a joke at least once a day. On Saturdays it was just house deliveries. I liked the days when we went to all the canteens on the docks dropping off tons of bacon and sausages. The worst part was sorting out chitterlings and other offal.

Other Holiday jobs 1976 – 1980 were:-

In no particular order:-

BAC Sports ground at Filton: Groundsman responsibilities. Painting Rugby posts, cutting outfields, painting lines, sweeping changing rooms. Clocking Southmead Les and Shane in and out when they were late or wanted to leave early. Laughing at their jokes, the same jokes every day.  Pretending to see the girl who stripped every day at 4 for Shane and Les in the house opposite the tennis courts. Brushing those courts. There was strictly no cutting of wickets or bowls greens. Apparently this was far too responsible.

Builders mate: Working for a local building team with Denzil Roylance. I helped do the following. Tiling a new roof on a house in Old Down; renovating a barn in Olveston; replacing a flat roof on a chalet in Woodlands Park in Patchway; and rounding up sheep in a field without a sheepdog in Olveston. In this case I was the sheep dog being whistled at, because I was the quickest at running around the field.

Plymouth Chemicals in Portsishead; Loading Lorries with Chemicals for Don Baker and Colin Reeves to drive all around the South West. Sometimes navigating and being a driver’s mate, i.e. getting the cakes and bacon butties en route. Filling Carboys with acids. Usually Sulphuric acid or a mix of Hydrochloric for use in swimming pools. Being the butt of their posh boy jokes. I deliberately brought in the Times to read, just to wind them up when they read the sun in tea break times.

Plant Hire Firm: Next door to Plymouth Chemicals in another year: Cleaning cement mixers when they were returned after hire. This was a grim job because there was not established method of chipping away at cement in a mixer with needle guns, chisels, whatever would work, and then cleaning them with high pressure hoses. If I was lucky I could have a go at cleaning a larger dumper truck.

How did we get by in in the days before mobile phones? Looking at this example, I didn’t. The piece of doggerel hasn’t seen the light of day and deserved really to stay unearthed. I am however, writing this in the spirit of opening up thoughts, good and bad so perhaps it fits with my then 17 year old self. In those days I did carry around scraps of paper and a notebook just to record thoughts. How very pretentious but there we go. Poetry was there somewhere but, not to be exposed to the world in these pre-punk, self-conscious teenage days. I didn’t help myself much by going off on my own like that without any real plan. Bristol in 1976 was a depressing city. The docks were a downright dangerous place to just stroll around. There was always a risk of walking around the wrong corner to meet up with some rampant football fan looking for some fun at your expense. Getting a beer was never a problem. At 6 foot 4 tall I could get a beer in most pubs, no I.D. was needed, only a bit of self-confidence. Not that solitary drinking was much fun though.

The White Horse was my favourite local pub at the time. I had my 18th Birthday celebration there. I say that but in fact we were “barred” when I said it was my 18th, as I had been going in there for the last two years or so. We would play darts sometimes but usually just talk about things, the usual teenage stuff, of football and cricket. We later had occasional female company in the form of Belinda or “Fi-Fi” Hignell. I can safely say that I was not the focus of their attentions. It was the younger Malpass who caused their fandom to our little group. In the Cross Hands we would more likely meet up with other members of the cricket team but it was often the older players who would just as well cope without our company. Strangely enough, in the land of the ever present skittle alley, I never once rolled a ball in anger. I did some sporadic “sticking up” for the Black and Tans in the league but playing was left to others. In later years Studs and Neil had a car to get us out of the village. Neil has a Triumph of some sort (TR7), with an aluminium exhaust of which he was very proud. Studs was more likely the one to get us to a pub in his car. The usual destination a year later would be somewhere like the White Hart at Littleton. My only form of transport was my hated Puch Grand Prix Moped. It saw the roads of the Severn valley a few months after this post. It provided a form of independence in getting to school or work. It died a death, as I almost did, when I rounded the bend at March Common one evening, over cooked the corner, and took an option to drive into the ditch rather than the headlights and front bumper of Celia Kilminster’s Dad’s car.  My parents never did get the full details of why I stopped riding my super moped. It did however, get sold in 1982 when I wanted the deposit of £100 for my first house. For that it was very useful.


Of the weather: This day was to be the last wet day of the summer. The summer of 76 that had drought, bank fires, swarms of ladybirds, stand pipes in the street and late night conversations about loves and futures. There was very little to bore me from that day on in this summer.

1978       Geography Staff V Stoneham W

1993       Wolverton Town H L 0

1994       Linslade A L 42

1996       Russia v Czech Republic ANFIELD

2005       Northamptonshire v Gloucestershire Stowe School

2009       Middlesex

2010       Hampshire

2015       Essex

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