Monday, 16 September 2013


My father was the custodian of my farmhouse tree.He was born in it and he died in itDuring the sixty two years he was only away from his own bed for seven nights,when he was away on his honeymoon.
     He was a gentle man finding beauty in the flowers and birds of the hedgerow.The following piece is about his hobnail boots and is in two parts.Part one today.Part two next time.
                                                   HOBNAIL BOOTS...PART ONE.

Inside the farmhouse tree back door,crafted in the carpenter and wheelwright's shop,seldom bolted with the iron bar forged in the smithy; both buildings opposite front court,a pair of boots.Leather hobnails soled with studs carefully tapped in to form a pattern plus iron toe pieces and horseshoe iron heels.Leather protected by the coats of dubbin regularly applied-wax,oil and tallow to water- proof and soften.
      To make me chuckle with delight,he'd perform his party piece.Striking his heel on back kitchen stone flag floor,careful not to slip and slide; sparks in a shower- spit of tiny petal flames.
       Leather laces looped through eyelets.An old one saved,his fingers knotting and threading it through a conker,the hole bradawl bored.Oven baked for the playground championships.
        Marching along the road.The two of us playing at soldiers.Chest out.Shoulders back.Swing those arms.Left,right,left,right.His boots clicking out the rhythm.The Sargent major leading from the front.Left,right,left,right.Squaaaad halt.Stand at ease.Stand easy.
       Through the gate into Lower Orchard where cider apples grew on lichen coated branches bowed down by weight and age.Filling hessian sacks,stored overnight in the stone built primitive pig sty.Stacking them against tree trunks to be carted back to the pound house in the afternoon.
           Striding through lank tussocks,his legs a pair of geometrical dividers,his hob nails leaving indentations into which I placed my sandalled feet.Step out,pull up the other foot.In sunlight razor- sharp,the robin's autumn song serenading the footsteps of the follower as the two campaigners return to their base camp.

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