Oral History Interviews

Boyhood regrets

Alan was always a bit of a loner rather joiner. He always messed about investigating things. His earlier this memory is riding his bike with his dad along the A12 to his aunties when his sister Jill was to be born who is four years younger than Alan, so this will make him about three.

The army camp where he was born had a big concrete water reservoir and he remembers going tadpoling. Gypsies would camp half mile from where he grew up and he remembers watching them been fascinated by them, even though everybody told not to be too close to them.

He remembers his uncle Lesley was a great sea angler and he’d go out with him. He remembers catching a big eel and being very excited and take it home to his mother to cook who banished it to the garden and left it hanging over tree were it was soon covered with flies. His uncle George was a small-time shooting man and he used to take him out rabbiting. He was about seven or eight when he went out with uncle George. His life changed when he was 11, as he passed the 11+. But they didn’t have a local grammar school and he had to go to private school as a day border. The only other people to past the 11+ had been sons of professionals. He went from being competent footballer who was a big lad and was inducted into the world of rugby at the private school. He never knew how to play rugby – when he inevitably touched the ball the whistle would go and he’d get loads of whistles and be derided as a day boy who didn’t know how to play rugby. That’s left him with a lifetime resentment against rugby.

Rounders he’d only play at school while football who enjoyed and would play outside school specials Saturday. The town’s goalkeeper, Dudley, who was a bit of a superhero in the town, he would be goalkeeper while the kids would practice scoring goals. He enjoyed football.

Talks about his relationship with his mother and his sisters. Talks about his relationship with his auntie, who he had a brilliant time with.

He’d leave home at 7.15am and bike to school. Until 6.30pm when he’d bike back home and then have to do his homework.

Talks about playing marble, running and conkers. Talks about making throwing arrows, often with a dark point on the end, out of sticks in the hedges. also played with catapults, he was quite good at catapult. Remembers first time he fired at a bird, a tiny hedge sparrow, and hit this poor thing and killed it, been riddled with guilt ever since.

Talks about playing with other local lads in the town. Talks about a game he played with his best mate, a kid called Buzzard, a game he thinks they called Knights, which needed a horse and rider, he would be Buzzards horse, the riders used to wrestle with each other with other riders until they fell off. He used to make clay balls and fire them off long sticks.

When he was 9 or 10 he was very fond of his nanna. The only positive thing he’d remembered about his dad is that he made him a pop gun. Talks about how his dad made it.

Indoors he’d play Hangman, didn’t get on with his sisters and didn’t play a lot inside the house.

Talks about the first time he watched television at his friends and neighbours house. His mother would always have a radio programme on at home, probably the light programme. He didn’t listen to radio.

He’d love to join Scouts but there was no opportunity to join as school took up all his time, he from 7AM and then get home at 7PM. He tells us a story about how he had a dog and his parents were too idle to look after it and when he got home one day they told him that they’d giving it away.

He doesn’t remember getting pocket money, he got birthday money. It’s possible his parents helped him buy the dog in the first place. Tells us the story about how his dog caught carp in the local pond and how this story ended up in the local newspaper.

He moves onto his life as a teenager. At the prep stalk school he was attending he was always second or third in his class out of the 38 kids, Latin was his best subject. For some reason or other when he come to do common entrance exam he must have thrown a wobbly because he didn’t do very well and all these kids that had been below him went into lower 4A and he went into lower 4Be where you can’t do Latin. His parents didn’t come up to the school and support him, say this is wrong, he should be in 4A.

He’d always kick a football around if anybody asked. At school they had this silly school rules where you can’t talk to girls and you always had to wear a cap. He had three sisters and if he saw them in the street he wasn’t allowed to talk to them. Plus if old friends of his saw him in town with his cap on they’d take the micky out of him and he remembers a few fights, one fight with a boy called Hucks who tried to nick his cap, he won this one.

Generally he operates with one or two best friends them a lot. Buzzard was one, who was his partnering in the wrestling game. he liked lighting bonfires and he remembers getting an oxo tin and they attempted to make elder brother elderberry wine but speed up the process by pulling over fire and heating process up. The elderberry wine was unpleasant. Used to buy du Maurier cigarettes, you could buy packs of two, they were so much cheaper than other cigarettes, Woodbines was the other options. He soon decided he didn’t like smoking.

He never went to a youth club or dancing, it would been against the school rules. Talks about going to the main school which was closer to his home being only a mile away.

He’s not very keen on cinema and rarely goes. Remembers going to see is Cliff Richard in summer holiday and as a more grown-up boy being 19 or 20 seen Zulu.

Goes on to talk about life as an adult, he likes dogs, keeps chickens, reading, birds, wildlife.  these were activities he first started doing as a boy.

Talks about his new friendships he’s made on the only bus from the village into Dorchester. This is brilliant aspect of travelling, he’s got more intense friendships on the bus then he does in the village.

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