Those invading thoughts that bring back nostalgia memories of times of places and deeds never to be experienced in the body and flesh again. Mog going over in his mind of a trip to the Bristol Channel seaside Town of Weston Super Mare. With its pier jutting out into the sea. The hot sun beating down on the thick planks of wood placed on the support steel frame beneath them. Making up the walkway of the Pier. The Safety railing each sides and painted a Bright white. Patches of peeling paint work here and there. The planks were bolted to the steelwork of the Victorian era constructed pier The heads of the bolts polished by so much traffic of holiday-maker’s footsteps across them. The sea swirling down below when viewed by Mog between the gaps of the planks.
He walked Slowly along the Pier, watching the various activities of holidaymakers. They were operating the many slot machines and spyglasses. And one feature of one type that one wound the handle and flicked a pack of cards and images of what the butler saw. The image moved as it flicked each separate card. Considered Update State of art technology for that period in time. Some Holidaymakers and day-trippers were eating sandwiches and had a flask of tea. Sitting on the seat – each seat spaced at intervals along the pier.
Seats made with Victorian familiar cast iron frames and stretcher oak battens spaced across the frames. Curved to take the shape of the body in a relaxed position. All occupied and facing to the glowing Sun.The sun-rays reddening a few bald head and faces. Lobster pot red colour day seemed to be order of the day. Mog’s boyhood memories of a trip on the old pleasure boat.
The small events in life of days gone by that gave simple but ultimate pleasure. To feel the cool breeze of salt filled air when the paddled craft reached the open water of the Bristol Channel.
Mog was a private of the local battalion of the boy’s Brigade the 14th company. Based at a little hut at the out skirts of Maesglas. Corrugated steel sheeted constructed village hall type of building. Its wire covered windows, and painted a dirty green color. It looked something on the lines of one of the buildings from the Australian outback. The paint on the corrugated sheeting on the out most facing bits was peeling and rusted in parts. Where the man in charge, Mr Wilson gave the boys drill to form fours from two ranks to four. Advised and taught the boys to shine ones shoes and clean ones teeth and be a good and tidy boy. And those boards resounded to the feet of many a boy drilling and preparing,the dusty cloud rising from the joints of the bare boards as the feet of the squad stamped their movements.
Mog longingly waiting for the day and looking forward to going to the annual camp at Kewstoke, near Weston. Encouraged on by the older boys who had gone before, and often told tales of fun and adventure It was summer 1938 and off to camp. Mog’s young mind was in a spin.
Getting ready to be packed off by his Mum who was all hot and bothered. And acting like a broody hen had even bought a bright new tin of Cherry Blossom black boot polish. And Mog had his shoes polished to perfection. A small case was produced from somewhere and his toothbrush and gear stowed in the case. The white shoulder band and pouch was laundered and ironed and black leather belt polished. The buckle shining and the ever familiar” Be Prepared “motto standing out from the brass buckle. Various assortments of headgear were being worn by the different based other Companies.
Glengary and round top Headgear. The number of the company badges on their hats. Badges all gleaming from the preparation and effort to have a smart clean looking turn out.
Lads of all ages carrying their cases, the feeling as one embarks on to the Weston boat. Mums and Dads waving and lining the riverbanks also looking over the river bridge. Some running out on to the little platform that went out from the side of Jay’s the furnisher shop, on the other side of the bridge. Waving, crying, and screaming, the last good byes echoing.
Boat hawsers are cast off. The steamer gets under way. The Steamer in almost silent ghost like trail of Wash. The paddles speeding the boat down stream. Its smoke bellowing in a trail and fading. Fading like the slowly dying sound of the shouts and cries. Churning the brown waters of the Usk. With the starting to ebb, ebbing tide. The final last reach of open water of gunpowder point as the steamer heads to the open channel. The water now calmed at the Transporter bridge since time and tide wait for no man. Minutes have now ticked by since the lone bugler had sounded his farewell to his Mum.
The Echoing notes of the call in a transparent sound drifting over the water. Living near by in one of the many streets, close to the Usk. His mother had heard the sound of the bugle blown by her Son on his way to camp. She had tried to hang on to the fading notes but too no avail the speeding boat has taken all aboard further away out of ear shot. Happy times under canvas at Kewstoke fun games and great weather with plenty of sausage and mash. The trip and march from Weston to just a little village of Kewstoke, bugles and drums beating, and folks lining the way waving a welcome greeting. Thoughts lingering still fresh in Moc’s mind a memory of Camping in the field of nice fresh green grass. Even thoughts of so compelled by the call of nature to use the sack enclosed latrines with its deep dug trench at the bottom added lime to deter flies and hasten decay of deposited body waste. One had to do a balancing act and sit on the twin poles that were made to span the length of trench seemed first to be exciting but until fear took over after many days of use by young lads from the many companies soon filled it up. Perhaps it was the thought or the fear of falling in that trench so handicapped sailing close to the wind with ones trousers down. The sight and stench soon deterred ones visit unless in dire need.
Moc and some friends made a trip to a local church on the hill and all signed their names in the visitor’s book. From a small shop Mog bought two three penny a box liquorice all-sorts made by Bassets. A gift for his parents it was like parting with a small fortune but he wanted something to take home for them. It was ironic that these peaceful times, later he would reflect on some of the older boy were destined to die in the War when serving as Pilots and Merchant seaman. The day’s soon sped by and the experience of that youthful time came to an end. It was over so quick as if the whole world had turned faster to deny ones treasured days of innocence and enjoyment. Camping and sleeping under canvas with so many lads to each and every bell tent. With the added aroma of wind of a different kind more of cabbage nature along with Brilliant wet clothing and tooth paste, brasso and boot polish wafting constantly to one nostrils.
Alas time to depart and off to make the return trip via the landing stage at Weston. The paddle steamer heaving with the slight swell of the incoming rising tide its all aboard and quiet chatter of youthful tongues. Hawsers cast off and under way steaming up the sun drenched brown swirling waters of the Bristol Channel. And onward up the winding brown mud banks of a narrow river Usk. The paddle Steamer soon slows its speed to a drift pace near Newport bridge. its bow gently touches into the mud bank opposite landing stage. Finally the manoeuvering Paddle steamer slowly drifts across the river aided by the flowing movement of incoming Tide. Its flow upstream takes the steamer around into the landing stage at Newport Bridge east side at Rodney Parade landing berth.
From a cloudless sky a summer sun beats down on the crowded decks of lads eager to get ashore. Mothers plucking their offspring from the trailing line of youth, carrying their cases. The Boys Brigade uniforms were now slightly soiled but on the boy’s sun tanned faces smiles of recognition of ones own family welcoming them as each and every boy they left the gangway from the floating pontoon down below at waters edge. Mog’s tanned face lit up in a smile as his mum grabbed case and helped him up the clattering wooden ramp of the landing stage gangway.
So happy he became for it was a very hot day and was glad to get home and have a nice cup of tea.