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Monday, 1 June 2015

A Lincolnshire childhood

So lets cheer things up a bit today , once upon a time, long long ago , in a distant universe .  Ok back in the early 70s in rural Lincolnshire . There was this highlight of the calendar  , Farmers Union Dances , we would all climb aboard some mould smelling coach ( ok we called buses, coaches back in the day ) crammed 3 or 4 to a seat to be transported off to some distant village hall . Now to get into these occasions a family member had to be a member of the Union , not everybody worked on the land , but nobody ever counted the number of teens and kids travelling with a parent , they must have thought there was some huge families in the wilderness , because everybody who could walk to the bus stop went , including granny .
Now im sure some well meaning, checked shirted landowner thought this was a good idea ,im quite sure this was used as a form of stopping inbreeding and getting healthier serfs to work on the farms , there really were villages where everybody married cousins and looked alike even back in the 70s .
Nowadays they try to tell us that binge drinking youth is a modern phenomenum , believe me it isnt , before you even got on the coach it was necking whatever you had managed to pinch out of your parents drinks cabinet , usually half a bottle of port or advocaat and if you wanted brain damage , grannies home made hedge wines , these could blister paint and leave you with a lifelong immunity to the very reasonably priced Polish vodka now available .
The main thing to remember is that villages are very insular and tribal , so upon arrival there would be much eyeballing of the enemy , aka the other villages . Then you would get to step into the village hall wonderland , a sea of formica, plastic chairs , glitter balls and that strange red foil dangly stuff . Each village would sit with there own , no mixing allowed and there would always be Gordon and his Organ playing in his magnificent crimpleen suit complete with ruffled shirt , the 3 piece band from nightmares . The grannies would get up and waltz together as we all aimed for the bar , if you could see over it and had a pound note in your hand , you were old enough to be served . Then there would be an hour of Bingo with jam, sugar and tea bags as the highlight prizes .
Everybody wore there best , it was a sea of blue eyeshadow and runny mascara , the blokes who worked with pigs , still smelled of pigs regardless of the stench of farm disinfectant .
Now the mating rituals of teenage farm kids really did consist of sending your mate across the room to tell someone you fancied them , then scuttling back giggling . If you were lucky they might come over , hoping that your dad was at the bar and not about to attack them and a conversation might get started , but it was all strictly chaperoned , the grannies wouldnt let anyone go outside , so even if we were drunk as skunks nothing happened .
Then the disco would start , it was always the Birdie Dance or some other ode to awfulness ,just to get the grannies up and dancing , then the girls danced and the boys drank . By 10.30 it was last orders all the menfolk were stinking drunk and somebody always started a fight , these were the real deal, people got stabbed , seriously injured and the Police would come and load the usual suspects up , for a weekend in the cells and Monday at the Magistrates .
So every weekend in the season a different village hall and the same people , a cuddle on the bus going home and a stinking hangover in the morning ....it was just so exciting being a village kid...lol

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