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My life in the village
James Chuck

Oral history recorded by Albert Thom 1983

Chapter Four - Days out and marriage

Several firms, including Shadbolt & Nash ran day outings to Brighton. That used to be a grand day out that did. In them days, they had a big boot at the back and they used to take their own beer, you see, and instead of stopping at a pub like they do today, the’d stop on the road-side, get this beer out and have a good swig of beer as we were going along. And the same thing at night.

And most of ‘em that went never remembered seeing the sea, because they was too bloody drunk Then there was the song I was telling you about.

Riding down to Brighton in a Charabanc,
Fifty miles an hour and we don’t care a hang,
We don’t envy those big Rolls Royces,
Singing a song at the top of our voices,
Though that Charabanc’s a good idea,
Though it shakes your liver up we don’t care,
The engine’s full of petrol, the driver’s full of beer,
Driving down to Brighton in a Charabanc.

It was a charabanc not a coach. Open top one. That was a good day when we went on outings.


I got married at Little Heath. Mildred Bessie Hawkins - her father had a wood yard up in Little Heath. They used to sell props and faggots and her father used to make hurdles which they don’t do today. That’s the only place I ever see hurdles made. He was real good at woodwork and they’d sell these to people in the village. Most of these hurdles was made of nuthazel, because it twisted round easy.

Them days they used to use hurdles for the sheep when they’d got them on green feed. Couldn’t let them have too much because they’d blow theirselves out and kill theirselves, so you put the hurdles out every day so much till they ate it off, then shift ‘em the next day to another plot. My wife’s mother’s father, Irons, used to keep the White Horse. They was there years, 'till she got married, then they got out of the pub and had this wood yard.

We lived with my mother-in-law when we first got married, then we got a place over Moon’s shop, top of Frampton Road. From there we went into a house in Coningsby Close owned by Miss Pittam. When there was not a lot of work about, we were living in Sunnyside, Dixons Hill Road, the first house - that’s when my old dad would send us round a couple of rabbits.


Everyone came out for the haymaking, beer, lemonade, sandwiches in the field, same for harvest home. When they done the haymaking, they used to make a stack, not like it is today, baled up. Then after it was there a little while and the corn stacks and all, they were put up in stacks. My old Dad would get a big cartload of straw and make a great big heap of it, then wet it down well. Then he’d go along and do the thatching with straw.

When they come along thatching, you’d pull this straw out and it makes six yelms to one bundle. Six yelms, as much as you could hold, and so they didn’t get meddled up, he’d put one, one way and one, the other and he’d carry six of them up the ladder lay ‘em on one side, take ‘em off and come down so much. Old Mr. Vyse used to make rick pegs with nuthazel. He lived in that old cottage across the green.

I used to have to fetch a couple of bundles when they wanted ‘em, then they’d knock these in the corn and put the string round, what they called thatching. But it’s done away with now, they don’t have no ricks nowadays. In them days, it wasn’t like it is today with combines, they just go along with the combine and it’s finished. You used to make stacks of corn then thresh it in winter time when they hadn’t got nothing to do.

They’d hire the threshing machine and then come along and thresh it. Us boys used to love the threshing because the stacks used to get filled with rats and there must have been a lot of corn wasted them days and you’d see the stacks alive with rats and we’d all have a rick peg each and as these old rats come out, we’d bonk ‘em on the head and kill em.

Then they brought a law out when they was threshing they had got to have netting round so none of the rats got away to breed somewhere else. They’d have it right round where the stack was, short wire netting about one foot high. That’s how we caught ‘em.

Albert Thom 1983

Index and introduction
Chapter One - Memories of grandfather and father
Chapter Two - Childhood and school
Chapter Three - Employment and unemployment
Chapter Four - Days out and marriage
Chapter Five - Winter work and tractors
Chapter Six - War time and family details

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