The day I moved house, and missed Wagon Train.

Wagon_Train_NBC

I remember it like it was yesterday that far away day when I was a noisy, overexcited little brat. I had just turned five, and not only was I due to start school for the first time, my family and I were about to move house.

Of course at my tender age, I’d never experienced the utter chaos of moving. I thought it was tremendous fun, and ran about screaming my head off, waving my chubby little arms about, and wondering why Mum and Dad looked so fraught.

They’re no fun, I thought, as I scrabbled about in tea chests, and poked around in the back of Dad’s old green van, filled with a tangle of chairs, curtains and my old cot, which wouldn’t fit in the removal lorry. Finally Dad snapped, and ordered me to stay on the pavement and keep quiet; I did – but not for long.

Next door’s oldest child, at the grand old age of seven, and a longtime enemy of mine, emerged from his house to poke fun at both me and our somewhat shabby furnishings. I kept quiet, as Dad had instructed, and watched my adversary from the corner of my eye. As he stalked around to the other side of the van to continue his tour of inspection, I managed, albeit with some difficulty, to pick up a large yard brush lying by the van, waiting to be loaded.

‘Okay,’ Dad called, ‘we’re ready to go.’

The roar of the removal van’s engine drowned out the wails of the-boy-next-door, as he sat on the pavement, rubbing the back of his head. Ensconced safely, and smugly, on my mother’s knee, I waved a gleeful goodbye to his tear stained, snot covered enraged face.

After a two hour journey, we finally arrived at our new house. I stared up at it in awe – it was enormous! In reality it was a three bed roomed council house, but after the confines of our former abode it looked like a mansion to my wide eyed gaze.

Then disaster struck. Already exhausted by a day that’d begun before dawn, my mother only just refrained from screaming, when her better half announced he’d left the keys back at the old farmstead. Imagine my delight when, with the help of one of the removal men, my father dragged my mother’s  huge double wardrobe off the van, and by dint of much swearing and sweating, positioned it beneath, what was to be, my open bedroom window.

After my father risked his neck climbing on top of the wardrobe, and into the house, he ushered us into our new home; worse was to come.

The Council had got their dates mixed up. There was no gas or electricity. I didn’t think it was quite so funny then. My favourite programme was about to start, but the television wouldn’t work. I lay down on the bare floorboards of the living room and howled, while at the same time drumming my heels up and down. A roar from my father soon put a stop to that.

Meanwhile, Mum had managed to coax a small fire to life in the fireplace, and set about placing a pan of potatoes in amongst the coals. I watched, fascinated, as the saucepan lid began to jiggle up and down, and water splattered the coals, making them hiss and steam.  My stomach began to rumble, and I continued to watch the pan with an intensity that was astonishing in one so young. When Mum approached the fire, and carefully gripped the handle of the saucepan’s lid, my mouth began to water. She pulled the lid off with a flourish and with a smile on her flushed face, announced, ‘There, see what can be done if you try.’ Fatal words.

A far off rumble sounded from up the chimney, which rapidly grew louder. A trickle of soot drifted down, followed by an avalanche that buried the potatoes, obliterating them totally.

One good thing came out of it, though. We ended up having fish and chips for tea, which almost, but not quite, made up for missing Wagon Train.

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