The Rambler 01/07/2005
I MET Jack Lavery this week at a funeral. Hadn't seen him for years. He is a few years older than me but we were at school together.
We got talking and before long he remarked 'Boy, do you mind the day you got hit by the big Austin Sixteen. I ran home like blazes and told my Ma you had been killed. John Murray ran too but he soon left me behind. John was a quare sprinter. He used to win all before him at the sports.'
It happened like this. I was about nine and we were just out of school. It was a nice May Wednesday afternoon and we were dawdling as usual.
Anything that had wheels was an attraction - something to run after and swing on the trams if it was a hen man's cart or a fish man shouting 'herns alive' or a rag man giving away delft mugs for rags.
Motors were rare; nobody had cars in the twenties. There were only noisy slow lorries belching fumes. Boat haulers on horseback were constantly coming and going to Ellis Cut for lighters on the canal but we couldn't hang on to them! They had handy whips, so had the other old boys with shelties and vans and of course the farmers.
Anyway I was gathering gilly flowers in Mulholland's field hedge when this old noisy stone lorry passed. It had a big load and it was making more noise than progress.
All my mates darted after it and I was last. I never looked and I only remember something hitting me with a flash of something shiny. Probably the chromium radiator. I felt a wheel going over my belly and I knew what it was alright. Didn't feel the second wheel but they say it went over me too.
Anyhow I only remember seeing my cap on the road and going after it. They say I went down again then. Then I came too with three men holding me up and shouting ,are you badly hurt, are you all right' and those sorts of things.
Then they said 'get him into the car quick, we'll have to get him to the hospital'. That brought me to! I started pulling away from them and screaming my head off, no! No! No! I am not going to hospital. Take me home.
My brother John grabbed me and held on too, shouting 'leave him alone, take us home, take us home'.
The men from the big limousine, the driver and two passengers - big nobs from Inglis or some company must have twigged that I wasn't badly injured, just cut and bruised, for they eventually said' where is home? Show us the way', and in no time I was in the car and on the way home, with John of course.
I had never been in a motor car and I thought it was heaven A lovely car with seats for four, two facing in the back lovely grey fluted upholstery - luxurious.
I mind seeing the familiar hedges and things on the lane on the way home, nearly a mile.
To cut a long story short, they got me home and to bed, fetched the doctor in their car and heard his verdict. 'I can find no bones broken or serious injury. Keep him in bed and give him no food or drink, nothing more than three drops of water. I'll be back soon'.
As will now be obvious, I survived. I had only had a piece at school, I had been to the toilet, hence my gut was empty and I suffered no injury except a lot of cuts and abrasions.
By Sunday, I was up and around when the doctor came to dress my wounds and boy was that sore. He solemnly pronounced that if I had had food in me it would have been a case of peritonitis and certain death. Hence I lived into old age. Deo gratias.