WRIGHT THINKING: Present grows into a family heirloom

Alan in action.
Alan in action.

Happily, it’s been a long time since we’ve needed the services of a removals company.

We’ve lived in our current home in Hartlepool for over 33 years now, and I can remember well our first summer there.

We moved in, from our previous home in Wooler Road a short distance away, and that broke a nostalgic link.

Our two sons, now well grown up (in theory), had been born in the then Cameron Hospital just opposite.

That is now long gone with some splendid houses on the site at the top of Serpentine Bank.

It gave me a bit of mental revenge though.

The kids thought it was hilarious that I’d been born in the old Hartlepools Hospital (later renamed St Hilda’s) on the Headland, and that was subsequently demolished in case such a birth could happen again.

They still won out though, as my schools at Hart Road and Henry Smith went under the hammer and their place of education at High Tunstall still survives.

Anyway, I digress; we moved on my birthday in 1982, a weekend that sticks in the memory as the Falklands War was at its height.

It was actually on my birthday – May 28th – and I shall pause while you pop that into your diary for a nice card next year.

The chaps on the van started unloading and the boys raced upstairs to bag a bedroom each.

It was a lovely summer that year and the sun shone every day – which was just as well.

The dining room was full of cardboard boxes – must get round to sorting those – so there was no chance of family meals in there.

We put the old dining table onto the patio outside and lived a Spanish al fresco lifestyle instead.

Eventually, we made a start on sorting out the large garden into a shape we wanted and I was faced with a new challenge.

For the first time as homeowners, we had a few large trees in the garden – including a magnificent apple tree.

I was standing there one day gazing up at its lovely blossom and pondering how I’d retrieve the fruit later in the year without calling in a favour from a fire brigade friend and his extending ladders.

As if by magic, a head popped up over the wall at the back and bade me welcome.

He was a lovely guy into his eighties and he had picked up exactly what I was thinking.

“Hang on a second son, “he said, “I have something you’ll need.”

He popped back with this huge lopper and, as you can see from the picture, a magnificent piece of garden equipment.

He told me that he was too old for gardening now, but he’d had this thing since he was a young man and he’d like me to have it now to harvest the apples.

I thanked him profusely and asked him if I could give him something for it.

He smiled and refused, on condition that I passed it on when my gardening days were over – and it might not be that long now!

It’s served us brilliantly all those years and, unlike some modern gadgets, it’s never gone wrong and, incredibly, never needed sharpening.

That lovely old chap will have long gone now, but I think of him every time I use the lopper – and wonder who’ll be its next owner.