He’s in the garage asleep in the car

Another memorable memoir from Barry Edge.

Barry Edge writes…

This anecdote about my lovely departed sister is a classic in our family. It’s about a creative sister, teeny bopper nights in the Keele Village Hall, a freezing winter morning, and a ‘poor lad’ not so poor.

“He’s in the garage asleep in the car”

If not for the fact there was no garden space in 17 Millward Road, Bucknall to put a garage for my dad’s Rover 10 we probably would never have moved to 3 Winslow Green, Bentilee.

It was c1955 when dad agreed to buy a Rover 10 (Oxford plate HFC 1) from Hanley Garage where my second eldest brother worked for Bill Bell (R.I.P). It had been parked on the garage forecourt and Bill Bell was looking to do a quick sale at a knock down price. But takers there were none. That’s when Alan persuaded dad to buy it with his (Alan’s) personal guarantee to keep it in good order and repair.

So far, so good – but where would we garage the car? Yes, we needed to find a place with enough land for a garage because the only houses in and around 17 Millward Road, Bucknall with space to spare were corner ones and dad was not happy for the car to be left overnight in the street.

Initially our car was garaged in a Werrington Road address near Brookhouse Lane, but the logistics between the two points was anything but satisfactory ergo another, much better solution was required.

Anyway, to cut to the chase: a house swap was brokered by the City Council for a young family to change with us which turned out ideal because the young family would be close to relatives in Millward Road and 3 Winslow Green was well situated for putting a driveway to the back of the house where we could put a garage.

By 1957 my sister Jocelyn Ann  (Joce) was working at the Michelin and yours truly at the Co-op Dairy in Sneyd Green. Joce worked 8 to 5 Monday to Friday; I worked 5am to 1pm six days a week. Mind you we rarely, if ever, finished our milk round before 1pm –particularly when it was raining or snowing. In fact our average working day was closer to 10, rather than 8 hours, and although being paid for only 8 hours per day I loved the work.

Sorry, I’m digressing.

My sister plotted and planned for weekends, and she especially loved being with other ‘teeny boppers’ on Friday nights when going to the Village Hall at Keele. Also, and more importantly, her wardrobe was always stylish but not necessarily shop bought.

Joce was very creative when it came to making her outfits, and they were all put together without patterns or sewing machine. Mum bought the materials; Joce did the rest. I can remember times when she would still be putting the final touches to an outfit minutes before racing out of the house to catch the bus to Hanley.

For me to start work at 5am I would need to be out of bed 3.30am latest and by that time on Saturday mornings my sister would well and truly be tucked up in bed – except for one deep winter Saturday morning.

On that particular morning Joce was in the kitchen making a cup of tea, and even though I thought it odd I chose not to ask why. I ate my breakfast and headed out to work, and although the snowfall had stopped the early morning breeze was biting cold.

Fast forward to when I got home from work later that day.

In my mind’s eye I can still see a limousine pulling away from Winslow Green. Mum and Dad were home, as was Joce. Only then was I to learn why my sister was making that early morning cup of tea.

Where I had chosen not to ask my sister why she was making a cup of tea, and no sooner had I headed out to work, mum had come down to the kitchen to see what the fuss was about. Joce explained she had missed the bus home from Keele and that a boy, a student at Keele University, offered to walk her home – little realising the distance between Keele to Bentilee. Joce also told mum the boy had been at the Village Hall the night before and that she felt safe in his company. Oh, and that he came from Switzerland.

When mum asked ‘Why the cup of tea?’, Joce replied it was for her good Samaritan. When mum asked ‘Where is he?’, Joce said ‘He’s in the garage asleep in the car’. With that mum rushed to the garage to bring ‘the poor lad’ into the house. After a light breakfast ‘the poor lad’ slept awhile on the settee in front of the fire. Later he said he needed to make two phone calls: one to his University student digs; the other to his parents. Joce took him to the nearest ‘phone box in Ubberly Road.

It was now mid Saturday afternoon and yours truly was making his way home.

Remember me saying I saw a limousine pulling away from Winslow Green? Well, that was sent by ’the poor lad’s’ father to take him back to his student digs – with a thank you note to mum for looking after him.

‘The poor lad’ – as mum had called him was, in fact, the son and heir of a wealthy Swiss family fortune.

See you later…

Barry Edge
Western Australia
June 29, 2018


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