Mr Barking's fishy reward

AT THE age of ten, I and most of my companions earned pocket money by a diverse range of entrepreneurial pursuits. The Sid Wade Enterprises Unlimited, with its floating capital of tuppence, included gathering and flogging horse manure. You can laugh Missu

AT THE age of ten, I and most of my companions earned pocket money by a diverse range of entrepreneurial pursuits.

The Sid Wade Enterprises Unlimited, with its floating capital of tuppence, included gathering and flogging horse manure.

You can laugh Missus, but I assure you it was an undertaking calling for consummate skill by a combination of sagacity and agility.

I could peer into the eyes of a horse, then nip round and catch it on my shovel before it hit the road.


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That Missus, was craftsmanship.

Some boys rose at the hour when the worms were copping it from the early birds to deliver newspapers.

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Others scrounged wooden boxes from grocers to chop and sell for firewood.

In November, there were coppers to be squeezed from shoppers with the 'spare a penny for the guy' please.

And a month later, three boys would form a consortium to sing carols.

One sang half-a-tone sharp, one half-a-tone flat and the other a beat in arrears until there was a joint capital reserve of threepence.

Having wrestled under the nearest lamppost for the office of treasurer, the winner would leg it to the nearest fish shop.

The shop was always crowded and the counter, a characteristic of all fried fish shops, was very high.

The trick was to fight your way to the front, leap up and hook your chin over the marble top shouting: "A tuppeny and a penn'orth of chips please."

This usually occasioned a swipe round the ear with a fish slice which unhooked the child's chin from the counter to send him crashing down onto the toe of an irate customer.

"Who's toe do you reckon you're a-treading on" she would yelp, while dispensing a swipe round the other ear.

It was always worth the effort though.

To sit on the doorstep enveloped in the fragrance of fried fish and the brilliance of gaslight was most comforting.

The fish, liberally sprinkled with condiments, was steaming hot and the white, juicy flesh fell from the bone.

The chips, sunset amber and sappy, were a gastronomic delight.

The noblest of culinary arts and all for today's equivalent of one and a half pence.

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