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Thursday, 10 November 2011

image for A True Diary of Woe - Part Twenty-eight The cause of my Matlock downfall - literally!

A diary of one man's utter failure, depression, frustration, cock-ups, and impecuniousness, starting in August 1947

Chapter 47 - Matlock, The High Tor Trip

It was a warm sunny day in August, and as I woke up, and lay there picking my nose, I had the urge to get out and get some exercise! (I'd had a similar thought twelve years earlier, but managed to resist that one)

I pondered on where to go and what to do, and the idea of going to Matlock, and climbing the gravel hill up to the top of High Tor came to me. (I've regretted this ever since)

I drove out to Matlock, and parked it in the council car park, walked the few hundred yards along the Derwent River bank to the base of the gravel hill. I looked up at the challenge that faced me, and undeterred I set off climbing up the hill.

It was as expected, a case of two steps up, and one slide down, as I fought to find some branch growth or rock to grab onto to prevent my descending any further.

After about an hour, I was around half way up, and on realising this as I stopped to looked up, I felt invigorated, and well pleased at my progress.

I was cleverly climbing up at the extreme left of the gravel, to enable myself to cling on to and use the foliage growth as a climbing aid, good idea I though at first - then as I was full of self gratification at my progress, an animal (possibly a Common Lizard, it happened so fast), shot out of the undergrowth right up to face, and shot out its tongue.

As I regained conciousness, I realised I had been pulled out of the River Derwent by some amused hikers who had seen my tumble down the gravel and bouncing into the water.

On the way to the hospital the ambulance-man related many tales of his tending to gravel-climbers over the years. apparently I was the first one he's had who'd bounced off the path into the river.

The next morning, when I was released from the hospital, amazingly with just a headache, a black eye, a limp, and a few bruises and stitches, I caught the bus back to Matlock to pick up the car... and the £60 fixed penalty notice for overstaying!

Chapter 48 - Selected Bonfire Nights of my Youth - 1954

As usual, the fire was set on Derwent Street in the middle of the road outside 'The Davenport Arms public House. This was the custom in those days in the built-up area I was dragged up in, the Meadows, Nottingham.

As the night drew in, and the fire was lit, and we all awaited the flames arising, one of my mates Lol. came on the scene, with 3d (1¼p) to spend on fireworks. That sort of money would get us many bangers, catherine wheels, and rockets!

So we both ran around the corner to the late opening for bonfire night newsagents to get some more bangers etc.

Surprisingly the Standard Vanguard car hit only me as we both ran across the road, leaving Lol to inform my Dad about my being taken by ambulance to children's hospital.

He collected me later, after the doctors had stitched together the hole in me head. The scar still remains on view today, due to my being as bald as a badger!

Chapter 49 - Selected Bonfire Nights of my Youth - 1956

Everyone seemed to enjoy the fire that night, and late on as folk drifted away, I espied something glittering in amongst the remaining the embers on the cobbled street.

I got a stick and pulled it out, to see it was a burnt wallet with a silver emblem on it! As I held it in gloved hands waiting for it to cool down to see who's it was, amazed that it had not been completely destroyed - I received a belt around the back of my head from a chap who accused me of nicking it! The local bobby got involved, and I was taken to the police station! Yea, really!

Someone let Dad know, and he had to collect me again, after I managed to convince them of my innocence!

Chapter 50 - Selected Bonfire Nights of my Youth - 1959

This year, the bonfire was very much larger than usual, and before it was lit, the local booby told us to move it to the side of road near the pubs gates, to allow emergency vehicles to pass if needed.

Within minutes of the bonfire's flames taking hold, the pub gates were on fire!

Chapter 51 - Selected Bonfire Nights of my Youth - 1960

This year, we were barred from having the bonfire on the road, and had to move it half a mile away, where they let us use a nursery school playground.

During the night, I spotted some of the new plastic liquid containers dumped near the bins at the other end of the playground. Thinking, well plastic will burn, we collected the five containers and threw them on the bonfire.

None of us knew what was in the containers originally, but a mass of blue flames shot up from the bonfire, cracking every one of the schools windows near it!

Some of the windows shattered but only one person was injured, a deep cut on his right arm.

I still have that scar as well!

More to follow

The story above is a satire or parody. It is entirely fictitious.

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