Sunday, 18 April 2010

Come in, Number Seven, Your Times Up.

I was born during the Second World War. My mother was not married and hid her pregnancy, so I had no pre-natal attention. I had an operation soon after birth, probably for the condition known as pyloric stenosis. The story goes that I spent some time by the fire wrapped up in a shoe box. I was fortunate to survive. I also spent some considerable time in Bretby Hospital with rickets, a not uncommon condition where good diets are not easily available.
I had a happy childhood in the main and, being small of stature competed with 'the big boys' enthusiastically. So much so that I had broken bones on five separate occasions. The usual 'boyish' fun, often foolish and occasionally dangerous was the 'norm'. It was not clever to put pennies on the railway line but it was the river that came nearest to ending it all. We 'swam' in the River Derwent at Spondon in Derbyshire, the water being warm caused by the discharge from a local power station. Correction, the 'big boys' swam. I was a non swimmer at the time and amused myself by climbing alone along branches of overhanging trees and fetching out, with the aid of a long stick, dead fish killed by the warm water. Until the inevitable happened, and, with my usual enthusiasm for any task, I overbalanced and fell into around ten feet of water. I had moved away from the swimming group and was, pardon the pun, in deep trouble. Fortunately my predicament was eventually spotted (I was certainly not struggling in silence) and I was unceremoniously hauled out. I spent the next half hour, naked, in full view of passing trains as I patiently waited for my clothes to dry. Not too long afterwards I learnt to swim in the local canal. A filthy experience in the year that polio was rife and canals were suspected of being one source of the infection.
As a nineteen year old I had a very serious motor cycle accident. I can remember to this day lying under a lorry and wanting only to get the hell out of there, my teenage pride being hurt by my inexpert riding. Mind you, it was not the only thing hurt and I was hospitalised for some considerable time.
In my life I have survived skin cancer, septacemia, two TGA's and my diabetes is a minor irritation. So, might you ask, what's brought all this retrospective thinking to the surface.
Early this week my wife and I travelled south to fetch a magnificent Ind Coope Brewery exterior light from an address in Surrey. A trip down the M1 and M25, the latter particularly horrendous. The traffic was diabolical, road surfaces horrendous, congestion out of this world. A two day 'thrash' taking in Esher, Windsor, Hampton Court, Kingston. Some nice places but ye gods, mankind was surely not put on this earth for such pressurised living.
I stayed with friends at Welwyn Garden City on the way home. A pleasant experience that meant a detour across country to join the M1. I had an uneasy feeling that all was not right. The road surfaces were improved yet the feeling prevailed that something was amiss. I needed fuel so I pulled into a petrol station. And out of curiosity I asked my wife to check the wheel nuts. (The van was recently serviced.) Problem solved, three wheel nuts were less than finger tight, others were far short of safely tightened. At any stage one or more wheels could have come off. Such a happening, particularly at speed on crowded motorways does not bear thinking about. I have no doubt we would not have made it home intact from the point where we so luckily became aware of our predicament. (Thanks to the young man in the small truck who tightened the nuts and saved the day.) Which begs the question, one of my favourites, 'What's it all about, Alfie.'
Do you remember the 1956 film, 'Someone Up There Likes Me' starring Paul Newman. My religious friends insist there is a god, presumably up in the sky who watches over all of us, all of the time. Amazing, so what happens when millions starve in times of famine. Killing poor little devils who don't deserve to die; don't get me started. Some believe in fate. Was it fate, then, that kept the nuts on. Will it be fate next time if the nuts come off. The older I get, the less I know. All I know is, boy, that was another near miss. I've stopped shaking and, thanks to whoever or whatever, I'm still here. Hopefully with a lot more living to experience.

23 comments:

Von said...

Well Ken, if you'll please not be offended and remember I'm an Aussie, some of us bastards just get lucky.As you may know my start in life was a little similar to yours although I wasn't lucky enough to stay with my mother.Some of us are just good survivors..I've been in the line of fire of lightning twice, the first time my hair stood on end and I was burned on the forehead.I could go on but you get the picture.Maybe the older we get the better we get at it...

Frau said...

I think you have nine lives and or someone watching over you. Lets just say you are not done here on earth. Have a wonderful safe Sunday!

slommler said...

Oh my gosh! What a hair raising experience! So glad you had the "notion" to check those and that they were fixed. I would be shaking too. I do believe He was looking out for you and gave you the idea to check. As for the famines and floods and plagues...that is a long, long discussion. Enough said...!
Hugs
Glad you survived
SueAnn

Elizabeth said...

By strange coincidence, my husband managed to flag down a chap whose wheel was similarly loose, recently. The driver was completely oblivious to it! We'd never seen anything like it and it was scary enough as an observer. Thank goodness you were both ok. x

(*oooh, what a rude word verification!!!)

Jan said...

I know exactly what you mean Ken and I came through a very similar childhood - I may write about it sometime but some memories are still kinda raw - keep that angel on your shoulder and take care - mwah !

Kath said...

What an interesting life you have had Ken. You brought back memories of my childhood, when we would swim in the Grand Union canal. God knows how we weren't poisoned or drowned!!

the fly in the web said...

Father learned to swim when his brother pushed him into a flooded quarry pit....he put his survival down to not panicking and it sounds as if you don;t panic easily either.

Mark said...

Well Ken, I'm glad your nuts feel tighter now. After all, your age...

How many of the nine lives have you got lefy do you reckon?

The Spiv said...

"It's the life we've led that makes us what we are!", or so my grandfather used to say - and he's right. I've met some really dull people in my life and it seems to revolve around the fact that they either haven't done anything, had anything happen to them, or have cruised along managing to just about exist. On the other hand, someone like yourself that has done things (or had them happen to him!) are usually far more interesting and out-going.

Long live people with a story to tell, for they shall keep mediocrity and boredom at bay!

p.s.

Frau - I really hope you're wrong about the nine lives, because if you are, I'm in BIG trouble!

Von said...

Hi Ken, I'm back...did a post just for you but couldn't find any email address to send it to you.Drop by The Good Life and check "Words, it's only words" if you wish.
Keep your wheels on the ground and enjoy your week!

Grumpy Old Ken said...

Von
Interesting. Amused at your lightning episodes. Perhaps the devil looks after his own! (only joking.)

Grumpy Old Ken said...

Frau
Thought comments, thanks.

Grumpy Old Ken said...

slommler
Thanks, I reckon you 'think' more than me!

Grumpy Old Ken said...

Elizabeth
Thanks. I reckon the state of our roads is going to create problems of their own for years to come.

Grumpy Old Ken said...

Jan
Interesting. I was well over forty before I came to terms with much in my life.

Grumpy Old Ken said...

Kath
The Grand Union, that sounds brilliant!

Grumpy Old Ken said...

fly in the web
That sounds drastic! Mind you, i taught several children who drownd in later life, canals, rivers, quarries.

Grumpy Old Ken said...

Mark. Nuts fine last time I looked! lives left, two?

Grumpy Old Ken said...

The Spiv
Great, though how people avoid trouble is beyond me.

Grumpy Old Ken said...

Von
Interesting, all your blogs but how do you find the time. I can only just manage once every five days.

Mrs Successful said...

What a wonderful story from beginning to end Ken - thank you for sharing it. I believe you have every reason to call yourself Grumpy Old Ken - but that 'fickle finger of fate' was on your side on your recent journey. xx

Grumpy Old Ken said...

Mrs Successful, Hi, welcome and thanks for the comments.

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