YOU DON’T ‘AFTA WORRY!
As usual I kick my brain into gear with a search on Google. This time I was searching for info on leaders. It seems the world has known all kinds of leaders; good and bad, inspiring and despotic, militaristic and religious.
Some of these people trained for the role they filled, others such as royalty were born into it. But the person I’m referring to, especially in the first story, just kind of fell into it, at a very young age I might add. In case you’re wondering I’m referring to LB.
To train as a leader you must have a follower. LB was in a perfect position: he was two years older than his brother LLB. Anyone who knows anything at all about siblings knows that they fight for dominance in the family hierarchy, but outside in the real world they stick together like postage stamps and envelopes. (Admit it, you thought I was going to say like something else!)
This particular story can be calculated beautifully because it occurs at the time of the dungarees.
As they sit garbed in their new-matchy-matchy dungarees, it’s obvious from LB’s very protective arm around LLB that he would never purposely lead his younger brother astray. However, if it happened accidentally, then, well, that’s the way it is!
The dungarees are the focal point here. Normally, clothes in our family had to last a long time. But not this time. Beyond the nice outing they had in the above picture, these items of clothing had a very short life.
Let me tell you how that happened: Judging from their age guesstimate I’m thinking that the war was over, but only just. That means that all kinds of bombed out buildings and intriguing areas were available for investigation. If you’re thinking that two little boys of such tender ages would not be allowed far from home, you’re thinking wrong.
Where this playing spot was, is not important. What it was, is very important.
It was tar! As I’ve mentioned before, tar was used extensively throughout the streets of London to bind roadway blocks, so perhaps it was being used to repair a road, but that knowledge is not essential. What is important, is that to these two boys it was available and they thought it was suitable material to play with. Of course, it wasn’t!
Perhaps one or the other noticed on the way home that they were both covered in tar? Perhaps. And perhaps LB (our leader in training) said to LLB “Don’t ‘afta ta worry, it’ll wash off! Stick together on this.”
After every item of clothing they were wearing was reluctantly thrown away, they learned that the black stuff on their skin wouldn’t wash off! With both of them standing in our metal bath tub, it remained for Dad to apply liberal amount of some chemical solvent remover which must have been a very uncomfortable experience.
Nevertheless, their sticking together lasted a heck of a lot longer than the dungarees.
This story now jumps forward to a time when the Canadian contingent of our Covey were happily established in our North American lives. But, as I may have mentioned before, we were always hyper aware that Mom was getting old and suffered various health issues. Sometimes the phone rang with news that we did not want to hear. Nevertheless, we each knew when it was “Our Turn” and would drop everything to be on the next plane to England. Naturally, we all had jobs and responsibilities in Canada and if it looked like it would need an extended stay, then, the next in line would book a flight that provided an overlap period to pass along important information.
There were only a couple of occasions when these overlap periods involved more than two of us, and frankly my memory of the following incidents needed lots of jogging from LB and LS.
Mum had health problems and was admitted into St. Thomas’s Hospital for evaluation and treatment. LB and LLB arrived in London as the first line of defense. Eager and anxious to get to see Mum they thought it best to first deposit their luggage at her apartment. However, that presented a bit of difficulty. They had no key to enter and unlike Canada there was no superintendent to offer assistance. So, what could they do? Our intrepid leader reasons that breaking in is the only option, but before they attempt that, a trip to advise the local Police was in order. At the Station, they explained to the duty sergeant that they had just arrived from Canada and what they planned to do. Bearing in mind they did not want to be arrested for breaking and entering, they wanted assurance that they would not be arrested if they did what they planned.
His reply: “Go right ahead!, you don’t ‘afta worry, it ‘appens all the time there. No one’ll notice.”
Fortunately, Mum lived on the ground floor, so entry was achieved via the kitchen window. After that, a key was obtained so that a more dignified entrance and exit could be achieved.
They hired a car for their daily trips to St. Thomas’s hospital which is in central London on the south-side of the Thames, opposite the Houses of Parliament.
Anyone familiar with the parking restrictions in London knows how to adhere to the colour coded and zig-zagged painted line restrictions that are on every roadway – visitors, not so much. LB and LLB were visitors, so they just ignored them.
It’s therefore no surprise that after one morning’s hearty breakfast they exited the greasy spoon to find a parking warden busily applying a ticket to their rented car’s windscreen. Normally of course one would be very upset to see this happening but our intrepid leader decides to have a little fun. Turning to his brother, he says: “We don’t ‘afta worry, it’s a hired car, let me handle this.” He then speaks to the unsuspecting parking warden: “Oh, thank you. Thank you very much. That’s marvellous. Can we have more? I’d like to take them back to Canada tomorrow.”
Having done their dastardly deeds for the day they proceeded to Heath Row Airport to pick up LS and I who were arriving to complete a further two weeks.
Naturally, we all went to visit Mum in the hospital. Afterwards, it was evening, we were all hungry and since we were so close to the West End decided to head towards Leicester Square which is the entertainment centre where we knew all kinds of restaurants would be open.
We set off; our tireless leader was driving the hired car. It was a little bit frightening. None of us was used to driving on the left-hand side of the road, certainly not LB. But after all, what’s a few bumps on the curb. Eventually we reached our destination. But where to park? Nowhere it seemed. Then LB spots a little side street with lots of spaces. “But wait” someone in the back says, “that’s a one-way street, you can’t enter there, we’ll get a ticket, it’ll cost us the earth!”
“You don’t ‘afta worry, LLB and I know what to do about tickets, this is not gonna cost a cent” was the laughingly reply.
So, we didn’t worry. The car was parked and we all had a wonderful dinner at a nearby restaurant.
We should have worried!
When we returned to the car, we did not have a ticket, we had a CLAMP, so did all the other theatre goers who had foolishly followed LB’s lead and parked their cars in this tiny little street. They had squeezed into every little nook and cranny, in all directions, it was like a dealer’s car lot.
The clamper thoughtfully left an instruction sheet under the wipers so that we knew the procedure to have the clamp removed. Basically, it was: we go to the listed fine office, we pay money, they take off the clamp. Now that the hired car couldn’t move, we had no transportation so we called a cab. London cabbies know every address. Just as well! It was on the other side of London, and London is a BIG city. So was the cab fare!
We arrive at this enormous cavernous underground full of towed or impounded cars stretching for what looked like miles. Very humbly and contrite we advanced to the little paying booth where we discovered that being clamped was not only inconvenient, it was very expensive! Now our only problem was getting the clamp removed. “We were told to go back to the car and wait, someone would come to remove it”.
So, having paid the piper, we once again caught a cab to return to our little clamped-up enclave.
By then, some of the other foolish parkers had returned to their vehicles and understandably, they were not happy. We spoke to one: We asked: “When did he think our clamp would be removed?” We got a very straightforward answer: “Once all of ‘em ‘ere pays their fine they’ll send someone to take orf the clamps.”
All of them? Everyone? Some of these theatres had long shows! This was going to be a long evening.
Fortunately, it was London and London has a pub on every corner so there being no point in standing outside feeling miserable we spent the long evening having a marvellous time laughing and singing inside a welcoming London pub.
Eventually, all good things must come to an end and we knew that time had come when we heard the hullabaloo that accompanied the arrival of the clamp remover. You might think these sounds would be shouts of joy. You’d be wrong. The frustrated clampees were screaming, shouting and swearing, as only a Londoner knows how, at the poor guy who was just trying to do his job. They were shoving and pushing and threatening and it might have come to fisty-cuffs were it not for the Black Maria full of Bobbies that escorted the brave man.
So, as Shakespeare said: “All’s Well That Ends Well”. We didn’t ‘afta worry, but we did ‘afta pay.