Jan 13 2015

‘The Da’s Hands…’

Published by at 1:17 am under News

Noel & Dad Sunday 29th Aug 1949 img086

The Da’ had a great pair of hands for fixing things to his satisfaction which wasn’t necessarily to my Ma’s satisfaction. It’s like the time when one of the wheels came off of our pram. Now I have to tell you that the Ma’ needed that pram because it served as anything from a baby carriage to a shopping trolley and a turf carrier.

On this one day in particular one of my sisters was pushing the pram up along the Old Cabra Road from Manor Street where the Ma’ had sent her for a bit of shopping. In the pram there was a four stone bag of potatoes along with three of us kids as well as a whole pile of small bits of wood that we had found down near the Cattle Market. We also had a pillow case full of stale bread from a bakery and three turnips we found by the side of the road. By the time we reached the old Yellow Dairy near Cabra Cross my sister had just about had enough of us and our winging. ‘I’m cold, I’m hungry, are we nearly there’ and so on it would go. Now I think the old pram as well had had enough because all of a sudden one of the wheels broke off and the pram tilted over to one side and threw us all out on to the path as well as the bag of spuds and everything else. I was only five years old at the time and was the one picked out to run home and tell the Ma’ what had happened. Well eventually we all made it home with the help of the older brothers and a few of their pals.

Now when the Da’ arrived home from work on his bicycle he was mobbed by us kids who were as keen as mustard to tell him what had happened and how the brothers and their pals all came to our rescue. ‘No worries…’ says the Da’ ‘…I’ll fix that in next to no time at all’. So off to his shed he went with a few of us trailing along behind him like the ‘Seven Little Dwarfs’. Now to us going into the Da’s shed was like entering ‘Aladdin’s Cave’ because it was full of ‘Man Things’ that were all mystery and magic and the Da’ was like’ Merlin the Magician’. Now the Da’s one piece of pride and joy in his shed was the bottom part from our old kitchen dresser that once stood in our kitchen painted in ‘Legion of Mary’ blue as he used to say. This was his treasure chest where he kept all his tools and bits of old twine and shoe laces in one draw and bent nails and screws of every description in the other. In the bottom part of the press where the Ma’s used to keep the bread the Da’ kept an old rust saw and an old crowbar along with other ‘Man Things’. He was always sure to remind us to keep our hands in our pockets. ‘Don’t touch anything, I know where everything is, leave it back where you got it from’. These were warnings that came with the territory and you had to make sure to abide by these rules or you were forever banned from his shed.

So after a few minutes of head scratching and puffing on his cigarette he would begin the job of repairing the old pram. Out would come his Hand Drill that’s like one of them kitchen contraptions that the Ma’ uses when she’s mixing Custard Powder and milk together. Then out comes his Hacksaw with a blade on it that has less teeth than a new born baby. When he had all his bits and pieces assembled together he’d light up a fag and after a few puffs he’d be as right as rain. ‘Right lads…’ he’d say with a great big grin on his face ‘…I have it all worked out now’. With the light outside fading fast he’d be off, cutting this and hammering that while all our little faces looked on in wonderment. And as sure as anything, in next to no time at all there it was, a wonder to behold, our pram was fixed. Well the axle at least was fixed.

Out comes the Ma’ to have a look at the Da’s handiwork. She puts a few of us little ones in the pram and as she wheels it up and down the yard one of the wheels come off. And stating the obvious of course she says ‘That wheel’s not staying on, that won’t do at all’. The Da’ takes one of them great big deep breaths that only da’s can take. ‘Well you see…’ he says ‘…I’ll have to go up to the dump on Saturday to see if I can find a piece to fit on that and then I’ll fix it proper when I get the time. In the meantime just take it easy until then’. Well the thing is, he never did seem to get the time to go back to that oul pram of ours because it was still like that three years later. There’d you’d be running home from the turf depot with the pram full to the brim with sacks of turf and all of a sudden off would come the wheel and off would come the turf…’For want of a part the wheel was lost, for want of a wheel the pram was lost, was want of a pram we all had to suffer…’

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