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Geordie Doran ranks as one of the most remarkable fighting soldiers of the twentieth century. Growing up in Jarrow during the Depression years of the s, Geordie signed up as a private soldier in and embarked on a career spanning 40 years. Mousetraps were essential pieces of equipment in every household. What made matters worse sometimes was that a lot of people used to stick wallpaper on with a mixture of flour and water. That was fine until the damp caused the wallpaper to peel and, usually through the night, drop off.
Mice would then home in on it for a snack. The rats were not quite so numerous, but they were exceedingly bold. One day I was walking down our street when I spied a big rat squatting on its hind legs in the gutter. It was chewing on a lump of something which it held with its front paws. As I drew level it stopped chewing and looked right up at me. It seemed to be saying, 'Who the hell are you, and what do you think you're doing walking down my street? When I was 5 years old my mother asked me if I would like to stay at home or go to school.
I can't recall much about my time at that school.
The priest would take confession and then give absolution and a penance — usually a few prayers which had to be said later. I can't remember on that initial occasion having any sins to confess. I was only a nipper, when all was said and done.
If I went back today it would be a very different story: the priest would need a secretary to write it all down and I would be excommunicated on the spot! Our family was strict Roman Catholic. Besides going to Mass on Sundays and so on we had to say our prayers every night before going to bed. All of us children would kneel down and say our prayers together. Pa would usually be listening to make sure we said them correctly and didn't miss anything out. Religious fervour and young boys don't mix very well, however; I was much more interested in going out to play with the other lads in our street.
We were too busy climbing, fighting and playing games to worry about saving our little souls. No one could afford a football, so we played with old tin cans, each boy guarding his own back door and at the same time trying to score in another. Tin cans are dangerous missiles, and I've got a scar on my chin to this day to prove it. Paper aeroplanes were another popular pastime.
The type of paper used in the manufacture of an aeroplane is crucial to the quality and performance of the finished product. Pages from mail-order catalogues were the best: they were glossy, strong and stiff enough to hold their shape for long periods of active flying. Another popular use to which catalogue pages were put in those days was as toilet paper. Hard and glossy they may have been, but they were free. Newspapers and proper toilet paper cost money.
A good, big catalogue could last a family for a month or so, especially when economy was practised, whereby each page was torn into at least four pieces to make it go further. I still remember the names of some of my back-lane playmates.
All good lads and good friends. We all knew much poverty, hardship and grief in those days: poverty and hardship, because of the economic plight of Jarrow in the s; grief, because so many of our pals, relations and family members suffered and died in the war or from illnesses and diseases, most of which are easily prevented or cured now.
Donald Dixon would probably be surprised to discover that, considering my background, I now vote Tory. I have gradually become disillusioned with the Labour Party, which most of my compatriots supported ardently. As we grew older our back-lane gang ventured further afield. We would often play down by the Tyne ferry landing and downriver at Jarrow Slake, an old anchorage area mainly silted up by then but still with enough water in it to be attractive to children.
Also there was always an area somewhere in town where old houses were being demolished and the occupants housed elsewhere by the local council — in the s that was the start of council house estates.
Those places, plus the old pit workings where there was a deep pond, were very dangerous to play around in and were often patrolled by the police. If the cops, or 'slops' as we used to call them, managed to catch us, we would get a kick up the arse or a good clip around the ear. Some of the cops used to put pebbles in the fingers of their gloves to make them heavier, and when you had a clout you really knew about it.
It was no good going home to complain, because the chances were you would get another clout from Pa for getting into trouble. That made sense, because several children were drowned or injured in those workings. But kids will be kids, and we went and played there anyway. Another area was the slag heap just outside town: a very large, flat-topped mound of leftover moulding material from the local metal foundry.
It had been built up over the years until it covered an area of about 3 acres and was 60 or 70 feet high, perfect for playing cowboys and indians on! But our gang had to take great care if we trespassed on the territory of a local rival gang. Our street and the next one, Charles Street, had a long-standing feud with Ferry Street and Queen's Road, and we had many pitched battles with sticks, stones and fists.
In one memorable clash we used clothes props as lances. But even though the street gangs were all rough and ready and fought hard, they had a certain code of honour. We didn't pick on girls or smaller children, and if there was a stone-throwing battle going on between gangs and some girls or little kids wanted to pass by, then both sides would hold their fire.
If anyone failed to observe the temporary ceasefire, there would be a yell from one of the gang leaders: 'Hey, stop hoying them bluddy bricks, there's lasses and bairns trying ti get past, man! Proceed to Basket.
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Editorial Reviews. About the Author. Mike Morgan is a senior journalist with the Middlesbrough Evening Gazette. He is a winner of the government's national. Geordie: SAS Fighting Hero [Geordie Doran, Mike Morgan, Chris Ryan] on fundacumeco.tk *FREE* shipping on qualifying offers. Geordie Doran ranks as one of.
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