A Little Light Episode From The Derbyshire Tomboy

The house we lived in was rented from the Moravian Chapel and any repairs, and all maintenance of the cottages belonging to the Chapel, was undertaken by my friend Ken’s two uncles, Baxter and Amoss Hudson, who were the village builders. Now after the ravages and neglect of war repairs were needed on several houses – ours included. Most of the guttering at the front of the house had big cracks, so the rain leaked out all over the windows which drove my Mom mad. She was always cleaning the windows.

So she went charging down to the builders yard and asked when they would be getting round to do the guttering. The answer was "You're on the list". "And how long is that?" says Mom "and can I have it done before the next war?!"

Three weeks later she was upstairs cleaning the bedroom and turned round to see Amoss at the window saying "Come to do your job!" which gave Mom a fright. So for two days we had Amoss up and down ladders crashing and bashing about replacing all the guttering. Then it had to be red-leaded before painting. At teatime "Thank God that's finished" said Mom.

Now Mom did cleaning for a Mrs Moseley and come home one day to find Amoss in the front of the house looking in the flower beds. "What's up, Amoss?" says Mom. "I thought I lost something when I did your job – but it's not here" said Amoss and walked off leaving Mom watching and wondering what it was.

Several days later we had awful downpours for two days. This kept me inside and on the first day I sat at the table painting, Mom was knitting and my father was reading his paper, when there was a noise. It kept on all the time. "Where is it coming from?" said Mom. "Well I'm not going out in this lot!" said my father.

So the next day Mom said "I can't stand it any longer! It kept me awake all night!" So on went my father's coat and outside he went. He told Mom he would have to get Amoss back, it's coming from that new gutter. So down to the builders' yard went Mom. Baxter said he would send Amoss up with Mom saying "Let's hope we don't have another downpour before he gets round to us."

The next evening we were eating dinner when Mom said "Amoss came to look at the guttering and I stood and watched him He shouted down to me "Nothing wrong with this job!". So I told him it was a rattling sound and he checked the downpipe. "Oh, I wondered where they had got to!" and with a long pair of pliers pulled out a set of false teeth, then he put them straight in his mouth. "You won't have any rattling now!". He gathered up his tools and saying "I hate them bloody teeth" marched off."

We all burst out laughing. My father said "The whole family are mad as hatters!"

But that wasn't the end of the story. A few days later Mom met Christine, Amoss' wife, in the chip shop and asked how she was. "Do you know there are times I could murder him" she said. "For years I've been begging him to get some new teeth, but they are not in his head five minutes before he yanks them out. Do you know he lost them a few days ago and heaven knows where he found them, and yesterday I fetched a saucepan off the shelf and they were in there. I’ll find them in the chamber pot next. Ta Ra!" and off she went.

Mom never did tell her about our guttering and the musical teeth!

Marian Walsh
January 2021

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