The boys brigade marching on Sunday morning church parade to its Band. That well known beat of drums and bugle blast sound of band of boy’s brigade. Polish ones leather belt. Shine badge and buckle too. Wash and iron that white sash pouch. Only the best will do – To turn oneself and uniform out spick and Span. So smart and well behaved.
Memories thoughts of how we formed our fours.
Mog was a private of the local battalion of the boy’s Brigade, 14th company. Based at a little hut at the out skirts of Maesglas. Corrugated steel sheeted village hall type of building painted a dirty green colour. Windows had a square constructed grid of wire over them. For protected from being broken or vandalised. The paint on the corrugated sheeting on the out most facing bits was peeling and rusted in parts. It looked something on the lines of one of the buildings from the Australian outback. Inside the Hall with its wooden form seats spaced around the walls. And dangling light bulbs and dark and exposed timber roof support trusses This is 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. The aroma of lifebuoy soap and brilliantine from fresh washed young lads adding to the beauty of it all.
Sunday Church parades attendance adding to the expectation of the annual camp to come. Those pleasant times that come in the early care free years of one life. The thrill of a simple little event of the adventure of when lads went off to camp with their boys brigade company. Across the Wave tossed Bristol Channel to the seaside at Kewstoke near Weston Town. Happy days, now long gone but oh what memories. If only we could be that young again. The long gone past days of youthful spin of life yesteryear Those times bring back nostalgic thoughts of places and deeds never to be experienced in the flesh again.
Mog in his thoughts 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 chipped and peeling paint work here and there.
The planks were bolted to the steelwork of the 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 as he walked Slowly along the Pier. Viewed between the gaps of the planks. Mog watched the various activities of the holidaymakers. They were operating the many slot machines and spyglasses. And one feature considered the State of art technology for that period in time. One had to wind the handle and flick like a pack of card of images One item being what the butler saw. The image moved as it flicked each separate card. Holidaymakers and day-trippers a few were eating their sandwiches. Partaking of a cup of tea from a flask of home brewed tea. Sitting and sunning themselves on the various spaced out seats at intervals along the pier. Seats made with 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 day colour seemed to be order of the day. Mog’s memories of boy hood memorable trip on the old pleasure steamer. The shear excitement and pleasure of it all, to feel the cool breeze of salt filled air.
The paddled craft took to the open water of the Bristol Channel.
Mog was counting the days and looking forward to going to the annual camp at Kewstoke, near Weston. Spurred on by the older boys who had gone before. Who 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 all hot and bothered, but acting like a broody hen, even had bought a bright new tin of Cherry Blossom black boot polish. And Moc had his shoes polished to perfection. Also a small case was produced from somewhere in a little surprise gift. Pressed cardboard bought from Wool worth’s the three-penny and sixpence store in Town. Mogo had 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. Hats Various assortments of round top headgear were being worn some were wearing Glengery by the different based other Companies. The numbers of their company in shining chrome plate their hats. Badges all gleaming from the preparation of a good turn out
Lads of all ages carrying their cases, the feeling of excitement as one embarks on to the Weston Paddle Steamer, Mums and Dads waving and some mingling with those lining the riverbanks, and also the River Bridge.
Some running out on to the little platform, which 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. As boat hawsers are cast off, and the steamer gets under way, its smoke bellowing in a trail and fading like the sound of the shouts and cries behind slowly dying away as the steamer in almost silent ghost like trail of wash. The paddles speeding the boat down stream. Churning the brown waters of the Usk. With the starting to ebb, ebbing tide. The finale last reach of open water of gunpowder point as the steamer heads to the open Bristol Channel. The water now calmed at the Transporter bridge since time and tide wait for no man. Minutes now have 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. Parents Live near by in one of the many streets, close to the Usk. His mother hears the sound of the bugle blown by her boy on his way to camp. The boys mother tries to hang on to the fading notes but too no avails the speeding boat takes one and all away out of ear shot. 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. Memory lingering still fresh in Mog’s mind. Happy times no doubt when under canvas at Kewstoke.With swim in sea fun and games with great weather. Along with plenty of sausage and mash at dinnertime. Camping under canvas and sleeping so many boys to the bell tent, with the aroma of Brilliant and tooth paste, and wet clothing sometimes wafting to one nostrils.
Camping in a field, using the sack enclosed latrines. Even when doing the balancing act on the pole seemed to be excited even though handicapped with ones trousers down around ones ankles. Perhaps it was the thought of a fall in the trench that resembled sailing close to the wind. Or the smell of the deposited waste body function lying in the deep limed trench. And the stench soon deterred ones visit unless in dire need. Mog and some friends made a trip to a local church on the hill and all signed their names. Also from a little shop Moc bought two three penny a box liquorice all-sorts made by Bassets. A little present for his parents it was like parting with a small fortune but he wanted something to take home.
It was ironic that these peaceful times. Later he would reflect on how some of the older boys were destined to die in the 1939-45 War. Serving as Pilots and Merchant seaman. Air gunners. Also some with the dreaded Disease of those times TB; Scarlet Fever; Diphtheria. Those Days sped by fast 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 of youth. 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 rising tide, 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 narrower river Usk.