My Dad he was a lovely man, he always made me smile
He would take me on his bike, and for a little while
I’d sit upon his crossbar and keep my legs out wide
We’d look out for the policeman, is he coming up the side
The policeman played a great big drum in the village band
He’d bang it really hard, the drumstick in his hand
If you went out Sunday morn, he always could be seen
Banging on his big old drum on the village green
Read on and you will not fail
To hear about this little tale…………….
If the weather was fine, Dad would take me out on his pushbike.
This was a real delight for me, and I would be so excited when I knew we were going out. At first we didn’t have a seat for me, so I sat on the crossbar with instructions from Dad to stick my legs out so they were away from the spokes. I understood that we were being naughty because we really should have had a seat for me, but Dad explained that there were varying degrees of naughtiness and this wasn’t one of the bad ones. However, he did tell me he would get a seat for me as soon as they had enough money for one.
It wasn’t until I was grown up that I realised the importance of these bike rides. Mum and Dad tried to take me out as much as possible because the living conditions where we were at that time were pretty appalling. We had a back yard area that was used by all the houses in the terrace and had toilets (or privvies as we called them) in a row at the end of the yard. Each house had their own but they were horrible places and had to be emptied because there was no flush toilets there then. Some people had flush toilets. My Grandma Bramley did, and it was lovely when we went to her house to go to a nice, light and clean place where you pulled a chain and it all went away! My Grandma Ratcliffe didn’t have this luxury unfortunately, we had to go down the garden there but it was nicer than the one we had in that yard, where although each family had their own, some people would use any one.
Dad also used to take me when I was a little older, to watch Loughborough playing football on a Saturday afternoon. I loved this and sometimes, if it was crowded and I couldn’t see, Dad would lift me up on his shoulders. I didn’t really understand the rules of the game then, just knew our side had to score goals, but it was being out with my Dad that was great. The fact that we were watching Loughborough Brush was secondary!
Anyway, back to this tale. We would go out into the countryside and find a nice green area and play ball. I loved sitting there as we whizzed along the road. Dad would show me the little wild flowers and we would listen to the birds singing. It was a magical time for me and I loved every minute. Being out with my Dad was really the best thing ever. Dad always made things funny and we used to laugh a lot. He was still doing this when he was an old man in a nursing home. All the nurses used to be in stitches.
However, back to the story……Well, in the meantime, I had instructions to keep my eyes open for the village bobby. As mentioned earlier, this gentleman played in the village band in his spare time and could be seen on Sundays in the bandstand on the park playing his drum. Once he was playing in the band with his big drum out in the street. I think it was a march for something and the band was going down the high street. Anyway, he spotted Dad with me on his bike and put down his drum and chased us down the road waving his drumstick at us!! Dad would be laughing and I started to giggle. Oh my naughty Dad, how I loved you.
Actually, I found out later that Dad and the policeman were friends, but he couldn’t let Dad off without making it known he disapproved of his actions. Thankfully, it wasn’t long before I was sitting on a proper bike seat but secretly, I was a bit disappointed! Nothing like being naughty with your Dad’s approval.
It really isn’t surprising that one of my favourite things even when I was fully grown up, married and had children of my own, was riding my bike. In fact, it was only arthritis that made me stop when I was in my forties. Something I miss. I would bike for miles and miles. There is a special kind of freedom cycling along the country roads, I never tired of it. Sometimes when I see a dad with a son or daughter cycling down the road, I remember those magical times.
See what you started Dad!!
Lots of fun was had when I learnt to ride my first bike but that’s another story in another part of this book…..