/ Characters of the Past

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mypyrex - on 14 Feb 2010
Just been watching "Lark Rise to Candleford". Seeing the various characters - in particular Peg Leg - made me think that when I was a lad back in the fifties we had a few "characters" in our village. One in particular used to walk up and down our road. He wore an old trilby, an army great coat and, I think, cavalry type boots. He always had an old biscuit tin slung over his shoulder. He was a WW1 veteran and I remember my father saying that he was quite well educated and well spoken. I believe he had been (badly) wounded and lived a reclusive life in one of many tin huts built in some woods for war veterans. He was always referred to as Captain Kettle.

Real "characters" seem to have disappeared nowadays. Does anyone else have memories of any?
sjminfife - on 14 Feb 2010
In reply to mypyrex: I remember a few "nunky farra" who used to empty the bins.My mum used to give him old clothes.Trombone Terry who used to walk up and down the street playing the Trombone.There was a local "worthy" in Bothwell who walked around with his belongings in a carrier bag.He'd been in and out of Harthill and I remember one poor local bobby having to take a statement from him after a minor traffic accident..he was getting the whole life story.I wonder if a lot of these souls had shellshock?
sjm
Tall Clare - on 14 Feb 2010
In reply to mypyrex:

There was a chap who lived round the corner from where I grew up, an old irishman who would, given half a chance, wax lyrical about his love of the IRA. He had a half-dead dog - the front half was alive, the back half seemed dead, so he'd take it for a drag.
He tried to lunge at me and drag me into a field when I was a teenager. I wasn't impressed.

sjminfife - on 14 Feb 2010
In reply to Tall Clare: An old folks home near me used to let them out for a wander in the park.Some of the guys got carried away and exposed themeselves to the homeward bound Highschool girls.Caused quite a stir in the neighbourhood.
sjm
mypyrex - on 14 Feb 2010
We also had a road sweeper who was always chatting up the youngsters. I suppose nowadays he'd be branded as a pervert even though I think he was quite harmless.
sjminfife - on 14 Feb 2010
In reply to mypyrex: Aye,the old guys in the park were harmless and I even saw some of the high school girls egging them on!!
sjm
ericoides - on 14 Feb 2010
In reply to mypyrex:

Anyone who lived in Durham in the 1980s and early 90s will remember Rick the tramp. Looking like Alec Guinness's Fagin, save for the nose, in long dark cloaks and filthy tassled black hair he'd sit on the benches beside the Wear and treat anyone passing to soliloquies from Shakespeare. The story was that he was once an Oxford PhD student with an exceptionally promising future for whom something at some time had gone desperately wrong. He'd catch your eye mid speech, cadge a smoke and then return to his long orations. At some stage he disappeared and was never seen in the town again.
Toby S - on 14 Feb 2010
In reply to mypyrex:

'Domhnall Ban' (Fair Donald) used to live in a Black House down the road from me in South Dell, Lewis. A born and bred Niseach he'd been in the Second World War and would head out Guga hunting every year. This was in the early Eighties, he had no electricity or gas in his 'Taigh Dubh' and I think his only running water was from a stand pipe by the back door. He wore the uniform of your average elderly Leodhasach - an orange boiler suit with a tweed suit jacket.

He probably saved my life! I think I was about 8 and I had been playing in the ruins of an old house in the village. In amongst the rubble I found a large bullet shape metal object with a brass cap at the top. It had arabic writing on the brass section. I thought it was very cool and rolled it the half mile down to my house in the village. Intrigued I decided I was going to take it apart to see what was in it. I was eight, it was treasure! I spent a happy half hour attempting to twist the brass top off, when that didn't work I took a screwdriver to it and tried to prise it off. Still no joy so I bashed it with a hammer a few times. Nuthin' doing! Getting bored I kicked it down the road to my friend Robin's house to see if he could help.

As I was making my way down the road Domhnall intercepted me and asked 'De a seo a bhalach?' (whats this young man?). 'I found it, its mine' was my cheeky reply. He bent down to inspect the rusty and now slightly dented object by my feet, 'Mo Dhia!' he exclaimed and looked up at me, his eyes were now bug eyed and he'd gone very pale. "Where did you find it"? So I explained where I got it and helpfully told him how my investigation as to it's nature had gone.

'Amadan! It's a bomb!'

He hid it in the hatch of his black house and called the police. The bomb squad later disposed of it on Barvas beach, apparently it made quite a big bang.

True story, it was in the local news and everything. He was quite rightly viewed as a bit of a local hero.
sjminfife - on 14 Feb 2010
In reply to Toby S: Brilliant story.
sjm
Yanis Nayu - on 14 Feb 2010
In reply to mypyrex: Old Cyril. He was about 70 and used to wear a green beret, stuff his fags and mouth organ down the front of his pants and constantly tell you he used to be a sniper, while striking a sniper's pose with the "rifle" waving wildly from side-to-side. He'd do an impromptu turn on his mouth organ in the shop, and take out a picture of a gorgeous model from a catalogue and tell us kids she was his wife.
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The New NickB - on 15 Feb 2010
In reply to mypyrex:

We had a lad who thought he was Bruce Springsteen and used to perform outside of the cinema every night.

Still lives locally, although he does not get out much on account of his accommodation being of the secure hospital variety.

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