Two Old Codgers

How the World strikes us

I don’t mean the unimportant stuff like, trigonometry or Latin, I mean the big things you learn early on in life, lessons which you then keep for the rest of your days.
Do you remember being told that when you shook hands it was like shaking hands with a wet fish? From then on you gripped the hands like a vice, until you recognised that the people you met were wincing.

Being told ‘‘Don’t tuck your shirt into your underpants, it makes a ‘bulge’’ or “Change your underwear before you go out in case you have an accident” Standing on the table singing ‘Old Macdonald had a farm” was OK when you were three but a bit embarrassing when you were fourteen.

Breaking wind when you were five was great fun, it made uncle Henry laugh. Apparently it didn’t amuse the vicar and his wife when they came to tea. The same vicar’s wife looked somewhat startled when you asked if she ever trimmed her moustache.

The song with rude words you heard when you went to football with uncle Henry made you both laugh but when you sang it for aunty Esme when she came for tea on Sunday, nobody laughed, although Uncle Henry choked on his tea.
Football song

When I first started work, I heard someone comment about my ears sticking out. Each night I secretly Sellotaped them back when I went to bed until I realised that they really didn’t stick out more than anyone else.

Then there was learning how to walk. I don’t mean the first baby steps but adopting a walking style, usually when you were thirteen or fourteen you practiced stepping out like Spring Heeled Jack, rolling you shoulders like a sailor or point your toes out and walking splay footed like Charlie Chaplin. You noticed that farmers leaned slightly forward and walked with bent hips and knees (Just try it). Waiters and waitresses had distinctive walks, as did nurses and policemen.

You read somewhere about the ‘Liverpool Lime Street crawl’. This meant holding the front, bottom left edge of your jacket, swinging you other arm across your body and taking quick short steps. It looked a bit common so you quickly abandoned that. As I was always a bit self conscious, I eventually settled on hunched shoulders, head down and what my Dad described as trudging.
Boy & Girl

Then there was Ben (At least let’s call him Ben to save his embarrassment). When Ben was at primary school he recognised there were two sorts of pupils, one lot in trousers and one lot in ‘frocks’.

He dismissively described the second lot to his family as ‘Knicker girls’ - not worthy of serious consideration. He was fourteen or fifteen before he learned there was something quite interesting about them. Just shows how attitudes can change.

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