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Finders keepers

Page history last edited by Ann Vipond 4 years, 7 months ago


Finders Keepers Losers Weepers

He was alone.

    An insignificant small boy wandering through a piece of wasteland towards the edge of this Lancashire mill town.


He was alert.

    Watching and poking things in the fallen leaves with a convenient stick, noting acorns (but no conkers) and smashing up (poisonous) toadstools.


He was alarmed.

   Something brighter and shinier than it should be showed itself as he passed.


He picked it up.    Smooth and shiny metal and wood with holes rather caked and stuffed with the soft soil.  Would it work? It needed cleaning.


He wandered down into the soggy valley where the slimy stream wound its way among tall rushes to the dark pool, but it wasn't a day for building dens or dams.

He put it in the muddy waters and a few minutes of vigorous splashing cleaned out most of the dirt and a few more of hand numbing shaking got rid of most of the water.

He put it to his lips and blew and blew again. At first there was a sort of gargling and strangling sound then a weak note and then another until a whole row of notes could be heard but they were too far apart to make a tune.

He gave it a suck.   Eugh! A mouthful of foul spray made him spit vigorously but he persisted and soon a new line of notes could be heard, some of them were a bit feeble but except for a few at the extreme end they all seemed to work.

He started to play.  After a period of exploration and cacophony simple tunes started to appear.  "While shepherds watched" and "God save the King"  This was great! Well worth the effort of getting it going.


Things always seemed to get in the way of finding out how to play a musical instrument.

It was nice singing in a group at school in "singing together" on the radio and in the church choir but it was horrible always being asked to sing solos.

The was also that special time when he sang with his mother.  If you sang loudly face to face the voices blended in a special way and sounded different.  Almost like an instrument but not quite.

After choir practice when the assistant organist played on his own it was exciting to sit and watch.  Frequently he played a Toccata and Fugue that was very loud and if the little weight went above the pencil line the organ might blow up.  How wonderful to be allowed to play that!

Another of the choirboys who went to piano lessons with the organist was allowed to play the practice room piano but if you hadn't been taught you couldn’t play.

There was also the harmonium that was in another room at the end of the Sunday school.  It was possible to pick out tunes on this secretly, after practice for several weeks. Someone must have heard him though and one week the harmonium was locked

Then there was the mandolin and the ukulele in the attic they were in the special corner that mustn't be touched.  This was for things owned by -----


He couldn’t now remember them being played. All he could remember was a hospital room and a big cylinder by the bed that he said he could breathe from if he needed it and then no more.  He knew the ashes were in a pretty garden in Manchester though.

He did secretly pluck the strings quietly from time to time but it made him very sad.  ……………


Through the late autumn afternoon more tunes started to appear.  Some didn’t seem to fit because all the right notes weren't there but he was sure that it wasn't because the instrument was wrong it just didn't seem to have them.  Sometimes he could get them to fit though if he chose a different note to start on.

By the time he was on his way home for tea through the cobbled streets in the late autumn dusk, several tunes were quite good. Some simple harmonies had started to come in and he was looking forward to being able to play them to his mother when she came home from working in the shop, just before he went to bed.


"What have you got there and where did you get it from" said his grandmother as he entered the partially decorated hallway with his prize.


(The empty panels in the paper stared back at him.  They had been left  when…….)


"I found it in the bushes in the Jumbles"  he replied honestly with hesitation. He knew this could mean trouble.

"Give it to me, its filthy and you don’t know what you might catch from it, and how many times have I told you not to go there, its dirty and dangerous I'll tell your mum when she gets home and its off to bed straight after tea".

He reluctantly handed it over,  "its quite clean I gave it a good wash and I'm sure it can be washed again."

He sat down to eat his bread and dripping, there were cold potatoes too and Marmite too.

Getting sent to bed early wasn’t really a problem because as long as he was careful to hide the light he could read as much as he liked.  But he did miss his mum, although these days she was much quieter when he asked how things had gone in the shop.


He reached for his current favourite book.  This had been secretly taken from the untouchable collection in the loft, one of the three volumes of "Engineering Wonders of the World"  One day he would build real dams bridges and houses.

Music and painting were nice but other things were nicer.   The voice drifted up from the hall as he quickly switched off the light.


"He's been over to that waste land again and I've sent him to bed early.  He brought back a filthy mouth organ that he found there and I've thrown it in the bin.  He doesn’t listen to anything I say you'll have to have a word with him."


He was alone.


Ian Kimber 2016 


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