Neville John William Day 7 March 1922 - 26 November 1990
Dad, four tonnes of concrete and the gravel tsunami
The incident with the four tons of fast setting liquid concrete Dad brought home in the TK Bedford tipper one lunchtime was soon forgotten. Everyone thought it best not to ever mention it again.
Dad never liked seeing anything go to waste you see.
"It's a poor common where there's now't." A favourite mantra.
The fact that we had no immediate use for four tons of still fluid concrete, or even any place to put it, had not entered Dad's head. Quite simply he wasn't going to let it go to waste. Had it stayed in the tipper then the tipper would of course have become a tipper no more.
Click image to enlarge
Hence the only place for it to go was in the front garden with protests from Mother "I said I wanted a rockery. Not a great block of rock!"
Over the coming summer months, and those of next summer's too, we did though, united as a family, manage to hide it. Well most of it.
During the 'Great concrete concealment project', the one everyone didn't talk about, another load arrived. This one containing around six tonnes of gravel.
Our driveway had already benefited from a couple of earlier impromptu 'donations' of gravel and thus really in no need of any more. Particularly gravel of a different size, type, colour and grade. As Dad pointed out though "It's a poor common where there's now't." Again.
The particular 'common', the King's Lynn, London overspill Fairstead Estate housing project site managers were in charge of, said they had no use for the mistaken over-order at that time. Nor anywhere they thought it could be conveniently saved without creating unwanted building site disruption at that time.
Hence it ended up added to our driveway. It looked quite nice though. Once united as a family we managed to conceal most of it.
Only problem remaining was that negotiating our driveway at anything under the village speed limit of 30 MPH meant you were unlikely to reach the far end, having turned in from the main road. Not easy on a push bike.
My best mate, Bloobottle, a little should we say 'headstrong' and having recently passed his driving test, was up for the challenge though, aided and abetted by his Dad's Ford Escort.
First attempt failed. Fortunately my Dad was not home at the time.
Next Sunday, Bloobottle figured that if he approached from the other direction and with any luck no approaching traffic from the opposite direction, then judicious application of the handbrake as he turned could accomplish a four wheel drift into the target gravel obstacle course.
Sunday after lunch and Dad was, as usual, totally exhausted following an arduous hard week, and in order to escape washing up duties, feigning sleep under the News of The World spread over his face. Accompanied by similarly concealed Fred, the family cat, on lap.
Bloobottle drifts sideways into the long driveway and sort of surfs, rear wheels spinning, to reach the far end.
Expecting applause for his achievement Bloobottle struts cockily from the still smoking Ford Escort, down the side path and towards our back door.
Bloobottle had no choice but to receive it and being quite bright, figured out what it was for; spending the next twenty minutes or so applying its business end to our driveway.
Dad had no choice but to amble quietly back, past Mother busy washing dishes at the sink, back to Fred* on lap and the News of the World.
No words whatsoever were exchanged. Either at the time or ever since.
*Post Script. Dad often protested that he hated Fred. This was not mutual. Fred, like everyone else, loved Dad. Dad was also sometimes secretly observed, under the protection of the News of The World, quietly stroking Fred. Fred was happy and purred away in appreciation, as I guess so too was Dad happy, except without the purring.
Silence is golden.
Chris Latham-Smith 2022.
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