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Tyers Hall - Page 18


I think it must have been near the end of the Second World War that we lived at Tyers Hall near Barnsley. I remember it as a big stone house divided into three homes. We rented the middle one. The central front door was approached by a substantial flight of stone steps.


In those days, there were no toys to buy. Everything had to be cobbled together out of whatever was to hand. I had a bright red wooden car on a pram chassis, which I imagine had been made by a friend of my father.


One summer evening, my sister Mary, who was two years younger than me, helped to push me and my car down the front steps. I remember that it wasn't a comfortable ride as the car grounded on each step. Mary was only a toddler and not very effective at pushing. Even so, I got to the bottom of the steps, at which point I slipped forward and my knees jammed under the wooden bonnet. My mother tried to free me, but I was stuck.


"Daddy will be home soon," said Mummy, and true enough, shortly afterwards, holding an axe in one hand and a saw in the other my father came around the corner of the building. Despite being only four or five years old, I knew that my father, wearing his business suit, was not a practical man. I also knew that I was in a serious situation, and that in order to release me from my car my father was going to cut off my legs. Because it was him, I knew that it wouldn't hurt.


Never for a second did I think that he would hit my car, which I loved beyond measure. When he hit it with the axe it took me a moment or two to understand what was happening. I cannot remember more of this story. Nor can I pretend it was the death of innocence. But it must have been the beginning.

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