Singing In The Rain
Saturday night had rained very hard and Sunday morning dawned drizzly and cold. Before I got out of bed, I knew what I was going to do this morning. The little 'creek' at the bottom of our yard had to be checked from where it came out of the pipe at Mr Connellyís to where it ran into the big creek at the bottom of Mahoney Street. Our 'creek' was a natural watercourse that ran from the Upwey shops behind the houses on the main road to Kia Ora Ave. From Kia Ora Ave it was piped to Mr. Connellyís (my tunnelling treks were here). The shops gutters ran into this, as did the small unmade road running parallel to the shops on the other side of the Puffing Billy line. On this small road was the tennis courts. All lost balls were washed into this waterway and ended up everywhere along the bank. Ninety percent of all our balls came from this source, so you can see how important it was. It was imperative to check the banks of the creek after every good rain because we never had any 'fair dinkum' cricket bats, we had to use tennis balls for cricket. Even when we played at the oval (donít get too excited here, I mean the Upwey oval). Any of the big hitters could lose a couple of balls every game. So we needed a good supply.
I was half-way out the door when mom collared me.
'You have got to get mint from Mrs. French.' Mom says.
Now this mint means mint sauce. Mint sauce means roast lamb. Roast lamb was close to being the No 1 favourite Sunday lunch. Time did not mean very much to me, and I was hard to pin down to set times. But roast lamb needed some extra special consideration. Before I headed down to the creek, I would go to Frenchís first collect the mint and keep it in my pocket. I walked around the road to Frenchs. Just as I was walking in Mrs. French was telling Bill that he had to have the wood chopped 'Before I get back.' Mrs. French and the girls were off to church. I said good morning to them and asked Mrs. French if I could have some mint.
'Of course, help yourself.' She said.
I got my pocket full of mint then went to say good day to Bill. As soon as he saw me, he dropped the axe (any excuse to stop work).
'Come and sit down for a minute.' He says.
So I did. Bill spent a lot of time at our place and was nearly part of the family. This was because he only had sisters, no one could play with girls for too long could they. Many is the night when he helped us wreck the lounge with our wrestling and fighting. A good bloke was Bill.
'Have you ever seen how many bugs, beetles and spiders there are in a wood shed?' He says.
'No I havenít.' I said.
So a thorough exploration of the woodshed commenced. That took a good half hour. It had started to rain hard so I couldnít go yet. Bill said we should sing a few songs to pass the time (wood chopping was forgotten). So with the rain beating time on the roof we tuned up. Bill had a song in which he made up the first verse, then we both sang the chorus like this:
There was beer, beer, beer you canít get near.
In the store, in the store,
There was beer, beer, beer you canít get near in the quartermasters store.
Then the chorus, which we both sang.
My eyes are dim I cannot see.
I have not brought my specs with me.
I have not brought my specs with me.
Then my turn with the first verse.
There were rats, rats, rats as big as blooming cats in the store.
There were rats, rats, rats, rats as big as blooming cats in the quarter masters store.
Then both singing the chorus.
So we went on and on, taking turns making up the first verse, then both singing the chorus. It sounded really good. As the rain got heavier, we got louder and louder. Mrs. Nicholson on one side of the Frenchís place was at church with son John and on the other side, the Thomasís had gone back to the city so we werenít disturbing anyone.
With good company and good music the time flew. Before we knew it there was Mrs. French tapping her foot on the path (not in time with our music). She was looking at the couple of pieces of wood that was all Bill had cut. I could see immediately that Mrs. French wasnít musical. And something told me that perhaps now was a good time to get the mint home. No good us both being in trouble was there. So I bolted out of the wood shed door, down the path with a quick 'see you later' to Bill and a 'good bye, thank you for the mint,' to Mrs. French.
There wasnít only black rain-clouds around that wood shed when I left. Mrs. French was generating some really black looks as well and with the girls to back her up I think poor old Bill was in deep trouble. It is no wonder that Bill spends so much time at our place. Mrs. French was a tough lady, and two sisters, well, funny people girls. What a wonderful morning it had been, singing was really good for a young feller like me I think.
I was about half a mile from home but I swear I could smell that roast lamb. I got home in good time, unlike Bill I was in the good books, I was on time, I had the mint and to momís amazement, I was dry. I really did enjoy my lunch, I hope Bill did too.