The Ticket to Ride By David Harris.


A Ticket to Ride

By David Harris

It was the winter of 1958 and I was nineteen out of work and out of a place to live. I scrutinised my options there wasn’t very many but I was a fit lad and I wanted to see the world so an army career seemed a possibility. I found myself standing at the bottom of the steps outside the army recruiting office just around the corner from the Majestic ballroom in the centre of Leeds. It was decision time a sea change moment had to be addressed. I decided to bite the bullet I ascended the stairs and presented myself to the recruiting sergeant. I came out of there with just A Train Ticket To Ride and the destination on the ticket was Wrexham and stern instructions to be there within four days with just the clothes I was wearing and no luggage.

I took myself back to the lodgings that I could no longer pay for and made plans to put my affairs in order. One necessity was the matter of my best suit that had to be found a place of safety and I decided ‘Uncle’ might be the best bet for the suit, ‘Uncle’ was the local name for the pawn shop, there was one down Green Road, you put you suit in on Monday when you were skint and drew it out on Friday when you were paid and off to the Mecca in it. Of course I was not expecting to retrieve my suit any time soon but I needed to know it was safe and I could think of no better place than ‘Uncles’. I made sure I secured the pawn ticket in a safe place and set off to the army camp at Wrexham in my second best suit. I enlisted in the army and completed eighteen hard weeks of basic training. At the end of those eighteen weeks we were all excitedly waiting for our permanent postings, wanting to see the world I was hoping for Tripoli, Hong Kong Singapore Kenya or even Christmas Island they were all ongoing posting at the time. Where did I get? Scarborough! They were clearing the moors all the way nearly to Whitby to build the new Fylingdales Early Warning Station. Those moors had been used during the war for manoeuvres and there were likely live ammunition still lying around. There was even a model village on those moors built during the war to decoy German bombers to drop their bombs on it rather than on a proper town or city, we had to clear that out too, there were unexploded bombs, bullets hand grenades all over the place, there was real danger in it for us, two lads had already been killed and seventeen others had been blown up and injured but survived We were well trained though how to deal with explosives and there was always a sergeant in charge of us and we had mine detectors strapped to our backs. If anything was found that was a threat we would tell the sergeant he would stick a red flag near it and the bomb squad would come in at the weekend when we were stood down and blow them all up.  There was one dozy lad in our squad who found a ten pound bomb and smuggled it back into the billet he wanted to prove to his father what we were doing as he didn’t believe him.  He could well have blown us all to smithereens, he was made to put it outside in a dustbin until the bomb squad came and blew it up. We never saw him again after that. He was probably discharged via the nut house.

But on a lighter note this was Scarborough in the glorious summer of 1959 and we had the weekends off. One of my pals from home, Phil Wilson, used to come over and spend the weekend by the seaside with us sleeping in the billet everyone just took him to be one of us, and we being red blood males were always ready to meet the young ladies with purses full of holiday money arriving at the train station on Saturday mornings, we used to meet them at the station in our uniforms and hope they would be generous to we poor squaddies. We would carry their bags and strike up conversations to meet up with them during the week.  If we had no luck we would meet the next train into Scarborough. It wasn’t a bad life.

After I’d had my fill of army life, it didn’t look like I was going to get to any exotic places overseas so I managed to work my way out of the army on medical grounds, it wasn’t hard. By this time I wasn’t broke and I had done an apprenticeship as a joiner so I soon found work got myself settled in new lodgings and thought, ‘Right first job get my best suit out of pawn’, I still had my ticket safely tucked away. So off I went down Green Road to ‘Uncles’ I got to the place where the pawn shop had been and found myself standing on a pile of bricks! You guessed it the porn shop had been demolished. I never did get to see my best suit again but I have still got the ticket ha-ha.

I hadn’t been out of the army long when an old mate, Bluey, looked me up, he said he had a new girlfriend and she had a mate did I want to make a ‘four’ up with them for a night at the Mecca? The mate’s name was Shirley; we were courting for four years and married for forty eight years. You never know your luck in a big city.

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7 Responses to “The Ticket to Ride By David Harris.”

  1. John Holloway \(Stronsay\) Says:

    Thanks again Peter. John

  2. peterwwood Says:

    Well done Dave. I always like a happy ending

  3. Douglas Farnill Says:

    David, you have a flair for telling your story. This, if it were the first page or two in a book that I was scrutinizing, would persuade me to buy it. If it really is your life, please write some more chapters. If it is the first page of a book your are writing, please write some more so that Peter can share it with us. I never knew that there was a lot of live ordnance left lying around in the vicinity of Scarborough after the war, I think I would have been terrified and applying for the job of cook. Glad you met Shirley and made a good impression right away,even if you weren’t wearing your best suit.

  4. Gill Dick Says:

    Thank you I loved that story David. Gill

  5. Elaine Beaumont Says:

    Another interesting read Peter
    I particularly enjoyed reading book 7
    Absolutely love the tales.
    Keep up the good work my friend
    Elaine x

  6. Maureen Says:

    Brilliant story really enjoyed it Dave

  7. peterwwood Says:

    Jackie Reed commented on About
    This is an example of a WordPress page, you could edit this to put information about yourself or your site so readers know …
    Does anyone have any information on John Lyons who was a milkman/ dairyman in this area?We have an early half pint milk bottle with his name and East End Park Leeds on it,but would love to know more.Also does anyone remember Miss Ward who lived at 6 Glensdale Mount until her death c1974.We spent the first three years of our marriage in the house previously occupied by her and have happy memories of being there,which is why we purchased the bottle.Thankyou in anticipation.Jackie Reed.

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