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Dear Wally

Hasn’t it been miserable with all this unseasonal good weather? The trouble with this country is it’s either too bloody hot or too bloody cold. First bit of sun of the year and the whole country goes mad. First thing this morning I’m met with the sight of the postman and milkman in short trousers mincing up the path. I told them, them things look indecent on any male over the age of 13. My legs haven’t seen the light of day for over 60 years I’m proud to say and then they were only seen by you when you pulled me feet first out of that dyke after I lost control of your father’s Matchless.

The road’s been in upheaval as Minnie’s daughter in law has been down all week with her young uns. If they aren’t stroking the cat the wrong way they’re being sick from too many of Minnie’s sausage rolls and if they aren’t drinking vinegar they’re taking it in turns to get the swing ball wrapped around their necks. Maureen made me come in in the end, she could see I was enjoying myself too much. I told her, if you can’t get to my age and laugh at hurt kiddies we may as well have capitulated to the hun. Those swing ball bats leave a mark though Wal. Minnie’s youngest grandson still looks like a gingham tablecloth three days after being hit in the face by his brother. They’ve started coming round of an afternoon. They like standing in the shed breathing in the petrol and paint fumes. I’ve got them sorting coffee jars of screws and catching their fingers in bike chains. Minnie’s glad to have them out of her clematis for an hour or two. They’ll be round again soon, they keep Roger talking ’til the six o’clock news.

Regards to Joan
Lenny

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2012-03-20 16.23.39

You’ll remember I was contemplating that constant companion men of our age have when I last wrote – Death Wal, not ulcerated legs and digital watches. Got me thinking what I’d like Maureen, Peter and David to do with me when I’ve gone. Obviously my first choice is being left leaning up against that old Christmas tree in Maureen’s front garden so they’ll be able to see me when they are at the table for Sunday dinner. Maureen reckons it won’t hold my weight though. I’d also like to leave something for the kiddies. I’ve got 3 Golden Virginia tins filled with silver, a Tupperware box of buttons and a Haynes manual for an Opel Ascona for someone. I leave them out when the young uns come round, doesn’t hurt for them to see what you can have at the end of your life if you work hard and chain smoke. To tell the truth Wal, I despair of the younger generation. I saw Mick last week with his boy Gary. He’s a bloody boy, at least 6’ 2 and a fag paper, chest wide enough to get stuck coming out of the outside privy and hands like leaf rakes. What does he do? Works for Norwich union! Pushing pens 9 – 5 when his grandfather worked at Partridges farm for 40 years breaking his back with the threshing machine, till he broke his back falling off the threshing machine. It’s like that Jan Leeming on the telly, she’s no business earning that money whilst there’s men in Gorleston jobless. There’s a phrase for it Wal, it’s the lavatory chain swung too far. It never happened before Shirley Williams and the SDP. I don’t want to worry you Wal, but I think the Davids and Shirley are back – Scotland this time, promoting Salmon fishing I think.
I’ve said too much. I’m off to smear that fromage frais on the front window so Roger can’t see in.
Lenny.

2012-09-09 17.36.47

Well Len, there i’nt nothing going on in these here parts so I were right glad to be getting your letter. The blooming tennis is on and everybody’s fallen asleep in front of the box sozzled on that lemon and barley rubbish they sell at Spar now. No bugger would touch the stuff if they weren’t overcome with the horror of seeing grown men running around in white short shorts. I said to Joan no right minded man would be seen dead in shorts shorter than their longs in my day and she had the nerve to say she quite liked them tennis men and their shorts. Well that was that, I had no bloomin’ choice but to go and stand for a while in the back garden. I spent a bit o’ time sorting through the fag butts in my pockets and had a good look at that old wheel I’ve got propped up in the far corner behind the shed. Now you’ll be glad to hear that wheel is coming along nicely. You can only just make it out in them there nettles I planted a few years back and there’s a good amount of rust blooming on the hub. I reckon it will be ready to roll out of there and have a proper look at some time next year.

So you’ve got the Hertfordshire lot there have you? He didn’t come down in the Renault again did he? How’s that rear axle coming along on it? It must be nigh on 3 years since David and that boy of his stuck it together with a tube of Araldite and an old boot lace. We’re right lucky to have someone that mechanically minded we can turn to when there’s a motor that needs fixing. I’ve heard of that formage frais muck they brought you down. My Marion was here a couple of months back and said she were thinking of getting some of it for tea when Sandy and Paul next called. They always bring bags of Fisherman’s mates and them splintered up bit of seaside rock in colours that nobody’s got round to naming yet. Marion feels obliged to match it with something a bit different, but I soon put her straight – You don’t want to go encouraging them by giving them stuff. They’ll start thinking you’re pleased to see them and then you’ll never be shot of them. She called me a grumpy bugger, but I told her – You’ll a see, a few more years down the line and they’ll be turning up at your hospital bed and it’ll be too late to get out of it then. She wouldn’t take any notice though, blooming girl, she only went and said that some people like to have friends. Friends I said, you don’t need friends, you’ve got me and your mother, how do you think you’re going to look after us in our old age if you’re off gallivanting with blooming friends?

Sometimes Len, I look at that gal of mine and I think maybe I should of put me oar in a bit more with her. Joan has given her too many high fluting ideas. It’s the young. They don’t understand friends. I told her me and Wally got sat next to each other first morning at school by old Biddy Woodley and that was it. We were friends. None of this trying to find out if we liked each other. None of this trying to be interesting or nice. Like it or lump it Biddy Woodley had put us together and together we’ve stayed and what, I said to Marion, is wrong with that. Well of course there weren’t nothing she could say to that was there.

Yours Wally

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Well Wally,
Peter’s boy David has been round. We spoke for some time whilst his dad looked through the kitchen drawers for an Allen key. His university is nowhere near Gainsborough apparently. He is at Lancaster University and he goes to those all you can eat buffets some of which cost him nearly £10! He says Lancaster is a smallish town, like Dereham, but with more gravy. Students come from all over the world to study there. He’s met 2 welshmen, 1 scot and would you believe it? A girl from Beccles. He has a lady friend, but has not proposed I’m glad to say. I’ve told him to be careful not to mention he stands to inherit a Fordson Major tractor to her. We know how these girls get ideas. I remember I made the mistake of mentioning my father had a sidecar and access to the vicar’s tandem to a young sweetheart from Fakenham. From then on in I’d station my brother David at Pig’s Snout corner to holler when he saw her coming on her bike of a Sunday. I’d then spend the next couple of hours in the ditch at the back till she got tired and cycled back to Fakenham. We weren’t all blessed with meeting a Joan like yours Wally.
I’m off to bed after I’ve had a look in next doors wheelie bin.
Hope this finds you well.
Lenny

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Lenny, nice to hear you and Peter are still talking despite that mix up with the food processor last Christmas. He’s a good lad that one but Laura his better half has got a tongue on her. I suppose their eldest is running up one hell of a debt and sleeping all hours, but it will be worth it I suppose if he gets a job in an office. He’ll be able to buy one of those briefcases to keep his pants in and that will make his mother proud.

Mentioning Sutton Bridge took me back a bit. You remember that chap from Laurence and Potts, you know, the one with the Jacket? Well he went there once and had a fish and chip supper. Back then people knew how to have a real knees up. Not like the young uns today. If they aren’t in a car park reversing round corners and eating bio yoghurts they aren’t happy. I blame the teachers. I said to Joan why, oh why, oh why can’t them bloody teachers learn them something useful like how to use a 8 track or make a raffia coaster for their granny.

Talking of raffia did you see the news last night? Seems them buggers in London are talking of making the main road a bit blooming bigger. Next thing you know them Londoners won’t just be visiting Suffolk and hanging round the pier at Southwold they’ll be up here looking round the city and asking for new fangled things like coffee and flan. Something’s got to be done about it. We can’t have them buying up our hovels and making them habitable. Just writing about it is giving me a funny turn and Joan says I ought to go out to the shed for a bit. She’s right. There’s no point getting in a state and I’ve got a spanner that needs taking out of the spanner box and putting somewhere. No rest for the wicked.
Your old mate
Wal

2012-08-11 18.32.03

Dear Wally
What’s wrong with the youth today? I’ve had Shona round with her young lad Jason. The boy’s complaining as his new job is away at Thetford. I said he should count himself lucky he gets to travel. I told him we never crossed Sutton Bridge ‘til we were 28. Ah yes Wal, the first of a few memorable trips in the Dormobile to the jewel of Lincolnshire, Gainsborough. Which reminds me, Peter’s bringing his eldest to see me before he goes back to College Gainsborough way. Short one today, the elastic in my socks is cutting into my ankles and making me riled. My blackbird is looking through the window at me Wally so I’m off to throw something at him.
Keep well
Lenny

queen's royal lancers

Dear Len
I walked into the centre today and saw Noddy has got a new delivery of some Russian shoelaces and Somali fag papers. That Noddy is one of them Dick Branson types, what the Chinese call an entrepreneur. It just goes to show that there’s no need for none of that university education. He’s built up all of that business with just two weeks at the Secondary Modern behind him. He says he would have gone more only Roger were always up first and got to the vicar’s bike before him. Well I got you a box of the papers and six cards of shoe laces for good measure. Joan says she’ll take them to the hairdresser’s next week and Roxy can pass them on to Maureen when she goes in for her wash and set.
Got to dash as we’re expecting company. It’s the day the man from the Pru comes. We haven’t had a policy with him in years, but we don’t like to stop him coming round. It gives Joan something to look forward to as she trims his ear hair for him while he’s here and I tell her it’s good for her to have a hobby like that.
Wally

2012-09-04 09.13.33

Dear Wally
I’m up and about much more now. Got to Snetterton Sunday. Not much there, but got a couple of spanners and some lighters. Alan asked if I wanted to call round Kenny Dewitt’s with him as he’d got a new mower. Well they stood out looking at the mower and talking of old mowers and rotovators they’d known and the best way to put them out when they caught fire. I went in the shed out of the wind. Kenny’s son in law David was in there trying to get the spot welder to work. I can’t stand in a shed as long as I use to. After 3 and a half hours I’d had enough. I looked over and David had his ear defenders on. Well a hurled the first thing that came to hand at the back of his head, a BSA rear light. He explained however, that his hearing had been sensitive since taking down that chimney at Yarmouth and wore them as a matter of course now. He’d only just took them off briefly when I walked in in order to find an Allen key. As he knew I’d been talking about Gainsborough and lighters I suppose he must have been listening.
I’ll have to finish now, Country File is starting.

Lenny

2012-03-08 16.02.20

Dear Lenny,

That Roger do get about don’t he? I remember seeing him coming along Swingy Lane one night as quick as if his arse were on fire. He took that last corner at nigh on twenty miles an hour and were over the handle bars and in the ditch before you could say Lawrence and Potts. He said he were in a rush to get the bike back in the vicarage wood shed before the vicar noticed it were gone. I don’t reckon you were quite right about them there Davids. By my reckoning there were 43 and a half. I expect you were forgetting that Norma’s girl were a David, but was always called Shelly and then there was Diddy Dave which accounts for the half.

I thought I saw Mucky Bob the other day at the car park but it wasn’t him at all it was one of them new bollards they put in to stop the boy racers from practising their three point turns. It didn’t half look like him though. I wonder if they used him as a model for it. You know like they used Auntie Mary as a model for the backend of buses back in the 20s. She had half price travel for that for nigh on eighteen years right up until that day she got stuck in the door of the once a month market day bus and swore she weren’t going on public transport no more.

Hope you back on your feet a bit more Len. I don’t like to think of you stuck in the house every day especially when there’s been a good frost and fog to get out into. Joan and me walked to the phone box and back yesterday. It were nice to get into the great outdoors and see them at number 13 trying to get their cat down off the flat roof again. We stood and laughed at them for a good 20 minutes and then went back home for a cup of tea and a slice of Battenberg. That’s the only foreign grub you’ll catch me eating and like Joan said he weren’t wholly foreign because he were a cousin of the Queen. He was the one who were friendly with Mr Pattern and told him about how he gave away India and that was what gave him the idea about giving away King Kong. You couldn’t expect the Queen to house an ape like that – not at her age.

Yours Wally

Nostalgic? Harried? Bored? Probably all three. Please add to the list as I’m sure I’ve missed some important ones.

Feed a cow.
Visit the mobile library.
Fall asleep in the garden.
Watch an old film on a weekday afternoon.
Have a picnic of crisp sandwiches.
Spend an afternoon painting a rotten pear.
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