Friday, August 17, 2018

Clodding

April 15, 2010 by  
Filed under Memoirs

In the 1930’s almost the only means of transport was the bicycle. Everyone had one. A few older people rode their horses and it was still possible to see an old farmer leave the pub on a market day, climb into the saddle, fall asleep and allow his horse to take him home quite safely.

The village youths were very parochial and resented lads from nearby villages invading their territory, and stealing their girls. At dances and other functions, all would be strictly formal, and fraternisation would take place without any problems. It was only when an outsider was allowed to escort a young lady home that the trouble started. This often meant a mile or so walk, wheeling a bicycle with one hand and attempting to encircle the girl’s waist with the other was extremely difficult. Occasionally, once clear of the actual village, the girl would allow herself the “luxury” of having a ride on the crossbar of the lucky chap’s bicycle. These days I am sure young people would think that to be extremely mundane. However, in years gone by this was really romantic, with a girl on your crossbar, her hair blowing in the wind, your face close to hers and both arms around her. It became exciting.

Having escorted the young lady home and succeeded in obtaining a kiss and a cuddle, or quite often just a quick “Goodnight”, the return journey had to be faced, with the pretty sure knowledge that somewhere along the road the village lads would be waiting. Not to brutally attack you, but unseen behind the hedge, armed with clods of earth, and sometimes something messier, just to give the young upstart a gentle warning. The only thing to do was to get up as much speed as possible, sail through the missiles, trusting that the lads were not from the village cricket team.

If the intruder had serious thoughts about his new girlfriend, then he would show his tormentors that he would continue, despite their rather pathetic warning. Switching of his cycle lights, and dodging through a convenient gate, waiting until his assailants had passed, he would cycle at just sufficient speed to overtake, pass them calling out “Goodnight” and, if known, mention their names. Then, whistling and pretending he had not a care in the world, he cycled off home. This was usually sufficient to proclaim that his intentions were honourable and that nothing was going to stop his future liaisons.

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