Saturday, May 26, 2018

Drinking Cider Through A Straw

April 15, 2010 by  
Filed under Memoirs

In the late 1920’s whilst still attending the local village School. An episode occurred, which could have ended with three of us getting into serious trouble, however we were lucky enough to get away with it. It is an event that I am rather ashamed of today.

It all started with our usual lunch time habit of taking our packed lunch,(no school dinners in those days) to a favourite hideaway, eating our lunch, have our treat of the day an illicit cigarette, sometimes sharing one between us, depending on our financial state on the day. It was possible at that time to purchase three cigarettes for one penny,(old money) from a cigarette slot machine.

One of our hideouts was in the railway yards at the local station, the station was divided into two parts, on one side of the tracks was the stock yards, and coal wharves, on the other the repair sheds Blacksmiths shop, carpenters shed etc. There was also a big distribution warehouse, where all the boxes of machinery, and bags of agricultural seeds were held for collection or distribution, most goods purchased in those days were forwarded to the purchaser by rail, an excellent service, which would be of great advantage to present day commerce. In early summer many barrels of cider of all sizes were present, these were the local farmers purchase for their workers during the harvest. It was said that one could tell the character of the farmer, by his cider purchase, small barrel or large barrel of poor quality meant he was one of the tight fisted ones.

School lunch time coincided with the workers lunch break, and they would congregate in the Blacksmith shop, to eat their snack, and crack jokes, their laughter and banter was a pleasure to hear.

This left the warehouse unattended, and became a perfect den for three young lads to hide from prying eyes. One day as we sat hidden behind the various pieces of merchandise, the big front door opened and in walked the yard foreman, what could he be up to?, had he seen us? This had never happened before. Watching thinking that any moment we would be discovered, and literally kicked out, young upstarts could expect a clip around the ear, or a boot in the backside, as the usual result of some misdemeanour.

His behaviour seemed strange, looking carefully at each barrel of cider

stopping in front of some, then taking a small carpenters auger from his pocket bored a hole in the bung of the barrel before inserting a piece of straw, and sucking a drop of cider, after testing several barrels in this way he selected one, and filled a pint mug, before sealing the hole as he had done with all the others by pushing in a piece of wood, and further disguising his efforts by rubbing dust from the floor on the new wood.

The crafty old so and so, not only was he stealing a lunchtime drink, he was carefully choosing the one which suited his taste.

We could scarcely believe what we were seeing, and not being slow to take advantage of a situation, we sought to quench our own thirst in a similar manner. First there were two problems to overcome, how to bore a hole? Easy every self respecting school boy had one of those long square nails, that were used to secure shoes to a horses hoof. How to drink it? Simply suck it up through the straw, and in minutes we were merrily sipping away from various barrels. Presently we heard sounds of the men returning to work, so it was plug the holes, disguise the evidence, and dash back to school. That’s when the trouble started.

Sitting at our desks, feeling happy and just a little light headed, we could scarcely glance at each other without giggling like school girls, causing disruption in the whole class, of course it had to happen, one of the trio suddenly became violently sick, the Teacher bellowed “some one take him out, to get some air” we quickly jumped up, and dragged our unfortunate friend outside. After a quick discussion, we thought it best to take him home, by this time we were convinced that he was about to die, a guilty mind can be a hard task master.

The following morning an anxious teacher wanted to know what happened, we explained that having got him outside as he was still being ill, we took him home, to recover from acute stomach upset, caused by foolishly eating some unripe plums!

We lost interest in cider after that, and found a new den, down by the river.

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