Nothing new under the midday sun

The future isn’t orange; it has to be Green! With permaculture now becoming mainstream, though its been around for a time, it’s easy for some to consider being ‘green’ is contemporary with today’s thinking. Well, it isn’t. Why ? : been there, done that, couldn’t afford the t-shirt at the time; a long time ago. How long? When I were a lad…..really; as a child in the 50’s my grandma used to belong to a ‘pig club’. That is, a group of neighbours bought a weaner pig (one that’s finished weaning) to fatten up in their sty, and then, of course, share the meat via a friendly slaughter man. Now, for deserts – horse muck, on rhubarb. Better than custard, some say. Not me; we used to scrape it up after the horse and cart (rag and bone man, and deliveries). It was, and is, good for the compost heap, mixed with all other non meat organic waste. Funny how some ‘greenies’ have just started to advocate pig clubs and composting. Any road up, some of us ‘baby boomers’ will remember collecting empty returnable bottles to get back a kind of deposit. Not much, but pocket money just the same. The key word there, returnable, meant those bottles (pop,beer and mixer) and milk and orange juice were sterilised and reused. Making a come back? Well, no, but should be. There were no charity shops in them days, nay lad! So, what happened to all the ‘stuff’ thrown out then. Jumble sales, that’s what. Before it went to the jumble sale, though, stuff was mended when needed: socks darned, wood joints re glued, tools repaired, clothes mended, etc. etc. What couldn’t be mended was reused in, or as, something else. An old sideboard could be used as a makeshift rabbit hutch. Pram wheels, scraps of wood, a few nails, a bolt and a bit of string could be turned into a trolley (until, that is, the trolley got out of control and I smashed my two front teeth) . You get the picture; nothing was wasted. Scrap metal, clothing not good even for the jumble sale and even bones was given to the rag and bone man (hence the name) in return for a balloon or two, or a goldfish if you was lucky. ‘What about grow your own’, you might say. We did, by the barrow load. On more allotments than you could shake a dibber at. Front and back gardens (bigger then) were dug up and veg, with a few flowers, planted. There were no exotics then, just bog standard veg. There were village shows, of course, and competition was fierce (as per Wallace and Grommet’s Weir Rabbit). We never went hungry and we couldn’t leave the table until our plates were empty. Somehow, though, mum could always rustle up some bubble and squeak the next day! Talking about veg, did you used to go pea, bean or tatie picking ? We did, whole families in fact, minus dads of course who would be down the pit or something. The trick was, you’d have to run and jump onto the lorry and be first to get a hold onto something. Those last were left to scramble to the centre. With no support, the journey to the pea fields became quite harrowing! Once there, we would pick the peas off the vines and into hessian sacks. Once the sack was full, it was taken to the scales and weighed. If full enough, we were given a ticket, exchanged at the end of the day for cash. When we were too young to pick, but still went with mum, we gathered empty pea vines to make ‘houses’. And that leads me to straw bales. Which, on the farm, we used to build play houses. Today, you may know, they build proper houses with, guess what, yes: straw bales. There is truly, nothing new under the sun! Bye for now.

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