I’d rather be with the horses. The Norfolk Horseman. (2012)

Location : East Tuddenham; Norfolk; Barnham Broom

Sid, would you like to tell me how things were in your day; what age you were when you finished school,
and all that.

I left school when I was 14. I was only a little old tot,
I wasn't very big. I lived in the council houses up the Norwich Road then, and
I went up to East Tuddenham to Mr Alston and I asked him if I could have a job.
"You aren't very big," he say. I said, "No, but I can work." He say, "What do
you want to do?" I say, "I'll do anything." He say, "I'll put you in the cow
house." Oh, I didn't like that. I didn't like that one little bit and I told
him when he come into the cow house in the afternoon, "I don't like this." I say,
"I'd rather be with the horses." And he say, "Alright. You can go with them
tomorrow."

So the next da' morning I went into the stable and the
foreman, he said to me, "You can go a-rolling," and I said, "Alright". He shew
me what horse I could take. I should think he was the biggest one in the
stable. Whether he done it to try me out I just don't know. But anyway I
thought to myself, "Well, I won't get done." I got his collar and that, and I
put it into the manger. I climbed into the manger and I put his collar on. And
I went on and I got on alright. Not long after that I finished up a-using three
horses! I was only 14 and I was using these three horses on a set of harrows.
We got on well. When I was 16 I was second-teamin' and I could plough, I could
stack, I could thatch, I could drill and the old boy who was head-teamin'- he
was a poor old feller, he didn't get a lot of money – and when they was doin'
the sugar beet, I said to him, "Look," I said, "I'll plough the beet out and
you can go with the gang so you earn extra money." "Oh, thank you, Sid," he
said. "I'd love that." And that's what we done. And of course we got on like a
house afire.

Well then, one day, I got these three colts – the oldest
one was three – and I got them on a set of harness. A chap said to me, he was throwing
manure on. He said, "Sid," he said, "Bring us some of them sacks down here will
you." I said, "Yeah." I went down to the hedgerow to get these here sacks to
take to him and these horses they bolted. They knocked me down and the tine of
the harrows caught in my clothing. As luck would have it, the gate was open,
two of ‘em went through the gate and one on ‘em went the side of the gate and they
couldn't get through and that's what stopped ‘em. That stopped me. I was blood
from head to foot I was. Anyway I went home and went to the doctor's and he
sort of done me up, one thing and another. I've still got scars, all on my arms
and that now. See them scars there.

That didn't stop me. And I still carried on doin' on ‘em.
And I have really had some bad ones. I really have. One day the master he say
to me, "I want that stallion," he said, "to go to work." I say, "Alright …"
That had done some work that had, but not with another one. I took that with
this other horse. I was a-ploughing. I was alright till I wanted to turn round.
When I turned one way I was alright, I was pulling him away from me. When I
wanted to go the other way he sort of … He bit the other horse what I'd got in
the legs and got him down on his knees. I done all sorts to him, I did … I went
home into the yard that night and I said to the blacksmith, "I want you to make
me an iron bar." He say, "What for?" I said, "About that length. I want it about
three foot long with a snap on each end." I said, "I can snap him to keep him
away from the other one." So that's what he done, and that was alright. Till he
found out that if he got on his knees he could get the other one down.

But anyway, there was a chap on the farm, he says, "I
could use him," he say. So the ol' foreman, he said, "Right, you can use him."
He sent him. And he was in the middle of the field and I was a-drilling my sugar
beet. Our foreman was with me and we could hear this fellow a-shoutin'. Oh he
was a-shoutin'! This stallion had got the other horse down in the middle of the
field and I said to the foreman, "Aren't you going after him?" He said, "No,
I'm not." He said, "I'll leave him. If you can't use him, I'm sure he can't.
So," he said, "we'll leave him alone." He left him there for ages and at the
finish he was off home. And so ol' foreman told him, "Now, you'll keep your
mouth shut. Saying you can do this, that and the other." And he said, "I know,"
he said. "if Sid can't use ‘im," he says, "You can't."

Any rate, I managed to get him at the finish so that I
could work him.

Did you ever get one you couldn't?

Yeah. I had one once, and that was a little sod that was!
Every time you took him to work he lay down. That didn't matters what he was
doing, he would lay down. And I thought, "This'll keep laying done on me like
that there ‘un …" So I took no more ado, I went to my tea bottle that I'd got, and
I went up to him and I poured a little tea down his ear. Well, he jumped up and
he shook his head – and I never did have any other trouble with him.

Was that something you'd
heard of? Or you just thought you'd do it?

I'd heard of that. Other old team-men and that had told
me in the past. I worked up there with an old boy, he was a stallion leader. He
learnt me everything I knew. He did. That was only because I listened to him.
He told me everything, he did. And he used to go off on a Monday morning. He'd
yoke his pony and cart up and he'd get his horse ready and he'd go off, and
he'd be gone a week. And he'd leave another stallion at home for me to use if
there was any other horse or mares came into the yard. That's what we used to
do.

What I used to do, I used to get the colts in the spring
time and my gov'nor, he used to give me five shillings to break a colt in. After
I'd broke this colt in and got him going to work and everything so somebody
else could use it, he'd give me five shillings. Well, that time of day, five
shillings was nearly a week's wages.

Who worked with the horses then?

Oh, there were about 20 people worked on the farm, and we
had twelve horses, five stallions and there was all these lots of colts. And
the only time I used to stop breaking them in was when I was a-drilling barley
and that sort of thing in the springtime. Of course we used to drill all by
horse in that time o' day.

Head man at 18

Did all the people
working there, with the horses, did you all have different jobs? Was there like
a head person?

Yeah. I was head man. I was only 18 when I was head man.

So you had to organise
them and say who did what?

No, I'd tell them what horses they could take. The
foreman used to tell them what to do, but I'd tell them what horses they could
take.

Were you used to horses
before you started?

My father, he was a horseman,

Had you helped him?

No.

So that stable with that horse was the first experience!

Yeah.

Can I go back? What was
it about the cows you didn't like?

I just didn't like ‘em. I just didn't like the cows.

The horses?

I'd do anything with them. The old cows, I didn't like
them at all.

I've had some good times, and I've had some rough times. But
I've still got through it.

What did they grow on
the farm?

Barley, wheat, sugar beet, hay …

So they drilled, sowed,
harvested with the horses?

Yeah.

That was pre-war, wasn't
it?

That's right.

Ploughing and a horse
called Harry

Did you go out on the
land with the teams of horses?

Yeah. As I tell you, I could plough. They had one tractor
on the farm. This chap he used to do ploughing and that, but I use to have to
go and set the field out for him. That meant set the top furrow and he'd come
in my furrow where I was, and he'd go round and that sort of thing. I used to
have to make all the furrows up. Today, if you told ‘em about that, they
wouldn't know what you was talking about. If you said to them, "Why don't you
set a top out and make the furrows up", they wouldn't know a thing. What they
do nowadays they start one side of the field and they go to the other.

But you didn't do that?

No.

What did that mean?

What I used to do, I used to set a stick up one end of
the field and a stick in the middle and a stick at the other end, and they'd be
in line. I'd plough across the field straight and then … what you'd do, you'd
plough down, then you'd turn round and you'd go up and what you called "opened
the furrow". You'd go the opposite way to what you was a-ploughin'. You'd open this
furrow. And then you'd turn it back again and that's so that all the land had
been ploughed. That had been covered, the whole land, every bit of it.

I was down at what we called the Low Farm, at East
Tuddenham, and the gov'nor, he came down there one day. There was two of us down
there ploughing. He come down there and he said, "Now, I know this is heavy old
land," he said, "And that's very bad going. But I've gotta take one of you
away." So he said, "What I'm going to do, I'm going to toss up to see which one
to go." And any rate, I lost the toss and I had to stop down there. And I was
down there the whole of the winter a-ploughing this farm. And every field that
was there, I done all of it. And I used to have to do that in what they called
twelve-furrow rigs. You'd do the top and then you'd do twelve furrows round.
And then you'd make your furrow up. And then you'd do another top. I done that
there like that and the only people I could see was … Well, I could see in the
distance going over Barnham Broom crossroads. That's the only persons I see the
whole of the winter. The only people I had to talk to were my horses… (Pause)

That was East Tuddenham?
It sounds like it was a hard winter.

There was water everywhere, there was. I've been a-ploughing
and had water run down the furrow behind me.

It's like that now,
isn't it?

Yeah. But, that was alright. We enjoyed it. I enjoyed the
old horses' company and they enjoyed mine, yeah …

I had one horse up there, I broke him in when he was two years
old. I broke him in, and he was still there when I left the farm. He was the
only horse on the farm still left there when I left. And he used to follow me
about everywhere. The gov'nor's wife, she used to say to me, "Sid, do you ever
go home without him?" She said, "I think if you could, you'd take him home to
bed with you, won't you?" (Laughter)

Was that your favourite?

Yeah, he was. Harry, his name was. He was a lovely one.
I've got a picture here. Here he is.

Is that a painting?

She took a photo and put it onto this card.

Is that actually him? He's
beautiful. That is really lovely.

What sort of horses were
they?

Percherons.

She took a photo and she said, "I'm going to put that
onto a card."

What age do they live to
then?

Oh, twenty-five, thirty.

So they go on quite a while.
‘Cos they don't work all that time?

No, they didn't work all that while.

How long did you work
them till?

Up there my gov'nor was always selling on ‘em. I told him
one day, "If you sell him, I'm a-goin'!" He said, "No Sid, I won't sell
him." He was still there when I left.

How many years were you
there?

Ooh. I was there a long while, till well after I was
married. Yeah.

So that was after the
war?

No, that was after the war. We got married in 1946.

Wartime on the farm –
but the work did not change

And did you stay on the
land during the war?

Yeah. During the war, I was in the Home Guard but I was
also attached to the Army and when the Army wanted me, they'd call me up and
I'd have to go for about a couple of months. I was still attached to the Home
Guard.

Where did you go?

Surrey. I was in Dorking in Surrey. I spent a lot of time
there.

You were in a reserved occupation,
food production?

Yeah. I never did get called up into the regular army. My
gov'nor, that was through him. Because when I got my papers to go into the
Army, he filled them all in and said that he wanted me on the farm. He said, "I
want him on the farm. That's essential."

And during the war, did
things change? Did you have less people, less horses, or did you get more?

Just the same … I've seen as many as twenty people
working chopping the sugar beet out on a field at the same time. We had a lot
of prisoners of war, Italians and that sort of thing, there.

All the years you were
on the farm, there would have been a mass of people doing all this other work.
Digging up the vegetables, topping…

I used to be ploughing the sugar beet out and the men
would come along and they'd pull ‘em and knock ‘em, lay them into rows. Then
they'd have a cart come along in between the rows, top the sugar beet and cop
‘em onto the cart, and then they'd have a boy would go and take the cart onto
the road to the chap who was unloading them. They'd do like that. And that is
where the men on the farm earnt their extra money. They used to have that money
and they used to save that and they used to hurry up to get the sugar beet done
before Christmas, so that they had the money for Christmas.

Say, for instance, the
weather was bad, did you all just have to pack up and not do anything?

Well, if that rained all day, they'd have to go home. But
me, I'd have to be a-ploughing all day long. Whatever weather, I'd have to be
out in that.

If there was ice and
snow?

I've been doing that when there'd been snow covering the
sugar beet all up. They'd been a-carting them off, just the same.

We had like, there would be eight of ‘em in the gang.
There'd be four on ‘em topping and carting ‘em off and there'd be four of ‘em a-knocking
and laying of them in the rows. There'd be eight of ‘em in the gang.

What were the wages like
at that time on the farms?

That's how much we got. Two pound fifteen, for that acre
of sugar beet, after they'd pulled that. And then there was five of ‘em got £36
10 shillings. £7 6 shillings each.

(Reads) And that's for
six acres of beet tops. And that was like their weekly wage. Was that quite a
good wage then?

Yeah, that was a good wage, because we got four for the
week. But normally we'd get …

(Reads) Mangolds.

Yeah, doing the mangolds.

You don't hear of them
nowadays, do you?

No, you don't.

(Reads) Commenced In
October… This is great, you kept this?

Is that four pounds?

Four shillings.

Yeah. You'd have to load a lorry-load of sugar beet up
and they'd give you four shillings to do it.

And how long would it
take you to load the lorry?

Oh, an hour.

That was how much you
got that week?

Yeah, seven pound two and sixpence each.

(Reads) Day's work, Sid
and Harry, one pound. November. You did quite well there. £12. £14.

No, that was the whole lot of them. That was how much it
come to.

£6 something each. Did
you write all this out? So you had to work it all out.

I had to do that and take it to the gov'nor on the Friday
night.

So you had to time
everybody. Make sure you wrote it all down?

Yeah.

Did you have some weeks
where it was very poor?

Yeah. That's why some weeks you had to save some back. We
used to save some back for the next week.

Ask them to keep it for
you?

Yeah. The gov'nor would keep the money. But I used to
have all the records of it.

You'd ask him to keep some
back so you'd have some extra. This is brilliant really, as a record.

Land girls and Italian
prisoners

Did the war affect you much?
Did you have girls working?

Yeah. We had land girls there. We also had Italian
prisoners of war.

Where were they staying
then?

There was an old farmhouse, what they called Frans Green
and that's just the other side of the A47. They would stay in that house.

Did they work well? Was
the language a problem?

No.

You got on well
together?

Oh yeah. If we had any problems, the foreman or the
gov'nor would get in touch with the Army and they would come down and they'd sort
them ones out and take them ones … if we had any problems.

We had one chap; he was only a young fella. They couldn't
do nothing with him. He wouldn't work, he wouldn't do this, he wouldn't do
that. And whatever happened to him I don't know. We was a-carting barley, well,
that was thrashing of it, that's what they were doing. And he wouldn't do
nothing and so the foreman he told the gov'nor to get in touch with the Army
and they came down and they got him and they took him away. We never did see
him no more. What happened to him, I just don't know. But he was a devil, he
was, he wouldn't do anything. The others we got on well with.

What was it like when
the land girls came to work? Did it change the mood of the farm?

No, they got on just the same.

It sounds like it was
quite a male environment.

Yeah, it was. We didn't have too many land girls there.
There were only about, what, two I think. We had more prisoners of war than anything.

I notice here, in your
book, you start paying insurance at one point.

Yeah. You used to have to take the insurance off.

Would that be National
Insurance? When that came in.

National Insurance, yeah.

Before that, was there
any insurance in case somebody was injured, had an accident at work, or
anything like that?

No. I don't think so.

What happened if, say,
you were injured with the horses?

I tell you something, I got injured with the horses and I
was at home five weeks and I never got no money. I had Margaret and Michael as
babies then, and the vicar of the village … One night the groceries man from
down Mattishall, who had the shop. He used to bring our groceries up to East
Tuddenham and Iris said, "Whatever you got there?" "That's alright, my dear,"
he said, "They're all paid for." ‘Cos she say, "You know jolly well I can't
afford that lot." This great big box of groceries came and we never did find
out from that day to this who had paid for them. But somebody had paid for us a
box of groceries. I'd love to have found out so I could have thanked ‘em.

That means a lot. Do you
think it was the vicar of the church?

That's who I think it was. I used to sit on the settee we
had aside of the window. I used to sit there looking out of the window. And
he'd come along on his motor bike and he'd pull up outside my window and he'd
go (like this) and I'd get my
crutches and the pub was about, what, 20 or 30 yards up past me. There was
another house between where I lived and the pub. Got up there, there he'd be
and there'd be a pint waiting for me. He would do that every day.

A good chap.

He was. And when I got better… Now, he was a very very
good cricketer, he was. And when I got better so I was playing cricket again, I
said to him, I said, "Are you going to play cricket for us?" He said, "I
daren't, Sid," he say, "I'd love to, but what would the old girls say in the
village?" He say, "If I was playing cricket along-a you on a Sunday!" "Well," I
said, "We can do it before you go to church." "Right," he said. And we made
arrangements so we had these matches and we'd finished, do you know what, all
us chaps that were playing cricket for the village we used to go to church
because he used to play there!

The old gals in the village, toffee-nosed old so-and-so's,
they didn't like it, but he didn't mind because he'd got all our support.

Because it was Sunday?

That was on a Sunday.

I notice that goes up to
1956, and I wondered was the farm starting to get mechanised before then?

Yeah. Before I finished, they began to get mechanised and
there would be tractors and that and there wouldn't be so much … they'd do all
the ploughing and all that sort of thing. What I used to have to do, you could
say, was the donkey work, like ploughing the sugar beet out and that sort of
thing. The tractors used to do all the ploughing and everything.

And the horses?

Gradually went away.

So you didn't have any
more ploughing with the horses. That's a sad thing isn't it?

Yeah. I missed it. I remember one day I was a-ploughing
down at Church Road at East Tuddenham, and there was an old boy come down there
and he stood on the side of the road, on his bike, and he was a-lookin'. And
when I got down to the end, "Gosh," he say, "That's interesting, that is, to
see how them two is at work." He say, "How old are they?" I say, "Three years
old." "Marvellous," he say, "how there're working and how you've got them
a'goin'." "Well," I say, "That's only because I'm talking to them. I'm talking
to them all day long." Well, although I
say it myself, I could do anything with ‘em.

Did you have ploughing
competitions and things?

Well, I never did go in for one. They used to years ago, but
I never did go in. But I used to love to get it as straight as I possibly
could. We used to take pride in the work.

I imagine not everyone
could do it. Have an eye for it and get the horses to do what you wanted them
to do.

Yeah, that was good, if you could get them to do …

Did you ever drive a
tractor?

I did drive a tractor. I went to work for an old boy down
at Brandon Parva. He had a crawler tractor, one with those tracks. Had one of
them. I drov' that. That was alright but one day there I tried to fix the hood
up on this tractor. ‘Cos sitting on there that was cold! And he said, "What're you doing?" "I want to
try to fix the hood up on this tractor." "I don't want no hoods on the
tractor," he say, "I won't have the hoods on the tractor." "Oh," I said,
"alright then". And I won't long doing
that. I told ‘im, I said, "I'm not going to sit on here and get frozen ‘a
cold."

You see, when I was working with the horses you'd keep
warm.

Yeah, because you were
moving the whole time, talking to them and so on.

I was walking up and down the field and I could keep
warm. But, sitting on this blinking tractor …

With no hood …

Nowadays, they've got hoods. That's like sitting in a
car.

We're getting to the
point where you left the farm now … that was with the horses in a way, once
they were going.

When they were going, I was going to go. I was thinking
that way.

A sad day for the
horses, really.

When they went and the tractor …

Man is going to do Man
out of work

I shall never forget, I was a boy, I was setting in an
old shed with some old fellas. My grandfather was one of ‘em. I was setting in
there, and he said, "Do you see." He said, "Man is going to do Man out of
work." And they looked at him. They used to call him Paddy. I don't know why,
but they always used to call him Paddy. They say, "What do you mean, Paddy?"

"Well," he say, "what I say," he said. "These here men
nowadays," he said, "they're doing the things, there's tractors and all this
that and th'other coming in. And," he said, "Man is going to do Man out of
work."

And that's the truth. That's what's happened. Look at all
the unemployed there is. There's thousands unemployed. And that's only through
somebody bringing in something to do it out of that. And I shall never forget
him saying o' that.

There's a lot of truth
in that, isn't there?

There was.

Was there a lot of
unemployment in the 1930s and that? Not in the countryside?

No, there weren't that many. No. the only thing of it was,
you see, people on the farm, we got three days holiday a year! Three days
holiday. And I can remember one day that was absolutely pouring o' rain that
was, and the gov'nor came into the stable up there. "Well together," he said,
"I don't know what you're going to do but I think the best thing you can do is
go home and call it a day's holiday." You see, so that was so that they didn't
have to lose the money, they'd still get paid for their day and go home." But
that wouldn't do today, would it? They wouldn't wear that today, would they?

When you say you got
three days holiday a year, did that include Christmas Day, Boxing Day, anything
like that?

No. This was what we called our annual holiday. I used to
get four days, I did, because I worked on a Sunday, looking after my horses. I
worked seven days a week – and I used to get four days holiday.

That isn't very much, is
it?

I notice in the book,
though, you all got paid, even if you'd got more responsibility, you all got
paid the same. Was it always like that?

Yeah. We all got the same.

I used to get five shillings a week to look after my
horses. That's how much I used to get. (Laughs) You just work that out, how
much that was. I've thought about that lots of times. Five shillings a week and
I used to be up there five o'clock in the mornings, and that would take me an
hour in the mornings to feed ‘em and brush ‘em down, and clean ‘em out and one
thing and another. And then night time when I come home from ploughing or
harrowing or whatever I was doing, I'd come in, I'd feed ‘em and that would
take me another half an hour to go through them. Then I'd go home, have my tea,
then I'd go back again and rack ‘em up. What call rack 'em up. Give ‘em some
hay and that sort of thing.

I think to myself, how much did that run out an hour!? I
used to get five shillings a week for doing a' that.

And how did you get to
East Tuddenham, because you lived in Norwich?

Bike.

That wasn't much fun in
the snow and rain …

I went up there one morning and I met my gov'nor. He was
an RAP warden. I met him on the road, and he said to me, "There's a bomb," he
said, "dropped down here somewhere." He said, "That was heard come down during
the night but," he said, "we can't find it." Well any rate I said, "I'm going
up to feed." He said, "Alright," and he came up into the stable. He said, "We're
found the bomb." He said, "Now," he said, "You're not to go home that way, you'll
have to go round by Hall Lane." That was another lane that led right round by
Hockering and then come up round another lane. He said, "Tell all the ones what
come from Mattishall that they are not to come past this way, they're to come
that way to work." I said, "Alright." And then they had the Army people come to
get this bomb. And that was a thousand pound bomb! And that was landed right in
a corner of a roadway. If that had gone up there wouldn't have been a bit of
East Tuddenham left. That went into soft ground right near the roadway.

That would have been
intended for Norwich?

Yeah, that would.

One night there were 17 bombs. Because there used to be a
dummy aerodrome here at North Tuddenham. The huts and that are still there. There
used to be this dummy aerodrome and there were 17 bombs dropped between North
Tuddenham and East Tuddenham Common. As the crow fly, across there. There's one
hole in the field here to here and they kept saying, "That's a pit." I said,
"No, that's a bomb crater. Because I could remember," I said, "these bombs
being dropped." Two or three more dropped on some meadows up at East Tuddenham,
up Common Road. And I had some horses on these meadows and one of them got hit
in the backside, in the buttocks, and that took a great slice off like that … I
went to look for these horses, and I see ‘em down the meadow and I walked down
to find ‘em and that is what happened. He'd been hit with this shrapnel. And I
had him to doctor, to see to.

Horse doctoring

Did you do the horse doctoring? Did you bring in vets and things?

The vet used to come in to start with, tell us what to do
and I used to have to do the rest.

What about that horse, I
suppose that had to be put down?

No, that got better. Mind you, that had a big scar on
there.

So what you didn't know
about horses wasn't worth knowing, really.

I had one young and a lovely horse that was. He kept
going like this here with his head every time you went up, shake his head. And
I couldn't make it out why he done that. So I felt on his head, behind the back
of his ear here, there was all like pus. I thought, what the devil is that? And
told the foreman, and he said, "We'll have the vet." He phoned the vet up and
the vet came and he had a look and said, "Do you know what, it's what they call
‘poll evil'. It's in the poll of the skull." And he said, "I'll have to operate
on that." He took him away, and he had him at his place for a time and then he
brought him back, and I used to have to climb up onto his withers, right over
onto his neck and lean over. I used to have to get my two fingers and stick
down this hole and clean that out every day, twice a day. To clean that all out.
And we got him better.

He didn't mind you doing
that?

No, because he knew we was doing him some good. He didn't
like it at first …

What about their teeth
and so on?

We didn't have no trouble with them.

Fancy putting your
fingers in their mouths …

Well, when you used to have go them a boll.

What?

A boll: a thing about that length, as thick as your thumb
round, and that was if they weren't well or that sort of thing. You used to
have to get hold of the tongue, put the tongue out, then stick your hand, with
this here boll in between your two fingers (like that) and stick it down their
mouth, and when you knew they were going to swallow, let it go and pull your
hand out.

I bet that's not as easy
as it sounds … (Laughter)

[…]

What about the people
you worked with?

We had all sorts of chaps and that on the farm. I was up
there one day and they were chopping the sugar beet out, and I was a-horse
hoeing. And they kept saying, "Sid," they said, "Come and do some for us, will
you?"

I said, "Alright." I'd do them a round. ‘Cos we used to
do four rows at a time, with the hoe. My gov'nor, he say to me, he say (he was
a Scotchman), "Them chaps," he say, "they keep crazing you," he say, "to keep
going hoeing their beet." He said, "Charge ‘em for it!" I say, "I can't do
that." "Yes you can," he said, "Tell them that you want sixpence an acre," he said. "Oh … alright." "Well, if I come and
do yours, you've got to give me sixpence." "Alright then, we'll do that." Well,
I used to do ten acres a day, and that was five shillings a day! I was earning
extra money. I hadn't thought of that. He told me, he say "You don't get a
chance to earn no extra money, so you charge them every time they want you to
go and do their beet, you charge them sixpence." "Right." And that's how I used
to do it. The same with the other different things and that what I used to do
up there. We used to be carting the muck out of the yard. I'd be pulling this
muck off and the ones in the yard would be getting paid so much a load to fill
it and I wouldn't be getting nothing. "Right," he said, "they're to give you so
much." Although he was a Scotchman, he was ever so fair like that.

Your dad was a horseman,
and your grandfather. Were they at the same farm?

No. My dad was. My dad he was up here at the same farm.
He didn't want to do it. He got fed up
with it at the finish. That's how I came to take over. I took over from him.

He just got older and a
bit tired? It was a very hard job.

Yeah. You know, he told the gov'nor, "I aren't a-going to
do this no more. I want to get out of it," he say. Well, the thing of it was he
got so he didn't like young horses and he'd hang ‘em on to whatever he was
doing and that. He'd hardly stop, he'd keep a-going. He didn't like ‘em at all,
young horses. He'd always been used to older horses. Up there they was all
young ‘uns. The gov'nor, he wanted a quick turn-over of money; directly you'd
got one horse so that was broke in to trace, broke into shafts and everything, then
he'd sell it.

So he wanted somebody to
do the horse breaking and get the horses in and out again.

Yeah. I remember one day, I'd been ploughing sugar beet
out. And, co', that had been a-raining all day. And I thought to myself, "What
the devil is he coming down here for this time of day?" He come across. He'd
got his gun under his arm and he come walking across the field. He said to me,
he said, "Braid your horses' tails up, will you," he say. I say, "Yeah." He says,
"I've got somebody coming to look at them when you leave off." I braided ‘em up
and I went home into the yard and there was this chap came into the stable to
look at ‘em. He said, "Will you just run ‘em up the yard for us?" I took ‘em
out and I ran them up the yard a time or two and they had a look at some more
and that, and at the finish he put a five-pound note into my hand, this chap
did – a week's wages that was, a five-pound note. And my gov'nor, he looked at
him and he looked at me, enough to say, "What the devil is he doin' on?" I thanked
him for it and put it in my pocket. I didn't mind getting wet through for a
fiver!

Any rate, he bought a couple, and that was that. That's
how he used to do.

Well, you'd get little
extras, but that was a huge amount of money.

For somebody to come and give you a fiver like that, that
was worth it, that was a week's wages.

Did your wife have any
way of making anything?

No, you see, I had the two little ones. I had the two
littl'uns. We got on.

I shall never forget one day, I was a-thatching, and my
boy Michael, he was about three. And the chap who was a-serving me, he shouted
up, "Sid," he say, "stand right still and don't move." And this boy Michael he
had climbed up the ladder and he had got right up onto the stack and he was
right close to my heels. If I'd have stepped back, I'd have stepped onto him.
This chap, he crept up the ladder and got hold of him and carried him down.

He wanted to get to his
Dad!

Yeah, he got to find out where I was. One day the two of ‘em
– the foreman, he said to me, he said, "Sid, I don't want to worry you, but I
think you've got two little figures a-coming across this field. I can see ‘em
in the distance." He went acrost and he met ‘em. He was ever such a big fella,
he was, our foreman. And he picked hold of one and tucked him under one arm and
tucked the other under the other arm and carried on ‘em across to where I was.
He put one on one horse's back, one on the other horse's back, and they went up
and down the field along ‘a me.

I bet they thought that
was fantastic, didn't they?

They did! They went up and down the field. And Iris …he
said, "I bet Iris want to go to Dereham," he said. He went across and he see
her. She said, "I want to slip into Dereham, will they be alright?" "Yeah," he
said, "They'll be alright." And that's where they were, they kept there till
she went to Dereham and back.

Happy memories.

Did they like horses?

Yeah, but now you wouldn't get ‘em near one, not now.

Did they inherit your
love of horses, then?

They used to love ‘em, they did, yeah. They used to spend
hours following me on the field they did.

They weren't any
trouble?

No trouble at all. They'd sit on there as happy as little
sandboys they would.

You can imagine the
health and safety now!

God almighty, they wouldn't have none of that now!

That was a hard life, but that was a happy life. I've
known hard times, but there we are, we got over it.

You were doing something
you loved, and you were very good at, it was very highly skilled.

The milk round and later life

Just to finish off, how
did you get on when you had to leave the farm? How did you get on after that?

I left the farm and I went onto the milk round, and I was
still mixed in with people at that sort of thing all day long.

Did you have a horse driven
van? No.

When you were going to
deliver milk or going to pick milk up?

So you were meeting
people, which you liked.

I love meeting people.

I go out to the fox hunts now, and they nearly all know
me. I took June with me the other Saturday. I said, "Do you want to go?" "I've
never seen one," she say, "and I'd love to go." I took here there and I said,
"Now, look, they'll be across this road in a minute. I'll open the door and
you'll be able to look out and you can see ‘em." And I pulled my car up and I
got out. I stood in the middle of the road and they all went past, "Morning
Sid!" "Morning Sid!" The whole lot of ‘em and they all knew me. "Co'" she say,
"You're well known, aren't you?" "Yeah", I said, "they all know me." And she
was thrilled to bits to see all these hounds and the huntsmen in the red
jackets.

There was one woman; on Monday I was talking to her son.
He go hunting, riding of course, and his mother, Tanya, she's Master of the Hunt,
his mother is. And I used to work for her father-in-law, Bullard of
Gressenhall. And she was talking to me one day and she say, "You must come over
to mine so we can have a good talk about this, and that." Well they had a hunt
one day and I went down there and I shew her where my stables used to be. She
said, "Yeah," she said, "We thought that that was a stable, and we've got that
now as a hay-loft, a hay place." She say, "I thought that's what it was." I
said, "All this place has all altered completely." I shew her where m' stack yard
was, and where I used to turn the horses out onto meadow and that sort of
thing. She was ever so interested.

But now every time I go to the hunt she look for me. I
used to be teamsman for her
father-in-law.

He's not the Scotsman?

No, that was another one.

Just to round off. You
did all sorts before you finished, practically any job. Also you worked for
charity and raised money. There you are there getting the Maundy money. Iris is
there?

Iris is standing behind me. £149,000 I raised for the mentally handicapped.

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