Lavender taught me how to bag a bag of corn up, how to lift a bag of corn, how to catch a rat. Showed me how to pitch a bale of straw, how to stack a trailer with straw. Let me drive the tractor - all sorts of things like that. It was all part of living in the village.
In those days there used to be the Eastern Counties bus two or three times a day. When we were older we went to Downham to the pictures. You'd probably buy some chips on the way home and make your money stretch to 10 Number 6 fags. Ah, but then me and Stephen got really good - we had a pipe. We used to bike to school with a pipe on  - well, it was cheaper than fags, weren't it? Those days have gone now haven't they? We never got into any trouble - we were just enjoying ourselves. We used to have a crafty smoke but you knew if you got caught by a grown-up you'd get wronged for it. Yeah. Definitely. Smoking then was like drugs nowadays, weren't it? But I'd rather see the kids smoke nowadays than what I would see them take drugs.'
'Then come along a prat like Parfitt, didn't there? PC Parfitt (laughter). And he was big, weren't he? I mean you look at his hands - they're more like shovels, ain't they? Me and some of the lads got his bike and put it up on his roof one day - just for a laugh. He was good to you, you know. You knew how far you could go with him. And when he'd come and stop and talk to you - you knew he was trying to find something out. There should be more like him around today.'
'When I left school I went for a job at the Sugar Beet Factory, at Wissy (Wissington). Jim Smith, who lived two doors up from me at Methwold Road, was the Personnel Officer and he helped me get a job as an apprentice electrician. That was a good thing to do. We used to do 44 hours a week and we'd get about 9 wages. That was a lot then. I come home and I give mother a fiver. But I borrowed it back on a Monday.'
Graeme married his Jan and they moved to Whittington. One day a friend asked him to join him in a small new business.

'He said he'd got all this work and he crazed me to go and work for him. So, in the end he convinced me to go. I mean I'd got a mortgage round my neck, I'd got two kids, I'd got two goldfish, got a rabbit. And there I was jacking me job in and going to work for him. Well, that lasted six weeks. And then there was no work. We done the work and he'd got no more. So, I just started to do a few jobs for meself and that just escalated from there. Obviously it was word of mouth at the beginning, you just got passed on from one person to the next and that was it. I didn't know what to charge in the beginning, but you had to learn, didn't you? Just had to learn. There was just me and Jan - we managed. We got there.'
He did so well that he finally managed to buy the house he had dreamed of owning when he was a child - old Arthur Barber's house where he used to deliver meat. That's the house he still lives in and works from. He's got five men working for him and that work takes him all over the country.
Any ambition to get bigger and move away?
'No. All my friends are here, aren't they? I mean, I feel I can just walk up and chat and say what about so and so or what about something else. I can go and talk to John Haylock, I can stomp in Parfitt's back door and kick me boots off and you know - there's respect here and loyalty. No, I'm happy.'
Are you a bit proud of yourself?
'No - why should I be proud of myself - I've done it haven't I? But, behind every good man there's a good woman. Come on be fair, because without Jan, I wouldn't have done it. Janice has always done everything with me and for me. I tell you, without her I wouldn't be doing what I do. Without her I wouldn't do anything.'
And that's only a little of his story. His time with stock cars and Jason and Sarah will have to be told later.

Toni Arthur-Hay

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