Anthony over the road

Mr Hall over the road had two offspring, a son and daughter, both of whom were university students at the time we moved into the new street, so considerably older than us then, old enough for Ned and I to regard them as adults in that way that you have to classify everyone older than yourself when you are young – “students” is what they were classified as.

Mr Hall over the road, through judicious surveillance of our bungalow quickly came to the conclusion that at least one of either me or Ned would benefit from the use of his son Anthony’s old school cricket boots shortly after we’d moved in and in an act of conciliation following his habit of staring in our house at all hours of the day he brought them across to us one Sunday afternoon,

“Would one of your boys benefit from these rather excellent, if a little used, cricket boots of our Anthony’s ?” he asked of our dad at the door, and of course our dad received them, thanked the rather posh Mr Hall over the road and didn’t mention the constant staring in of our windows although he must have been busting to do so, receiving free gifts being further up the ladder of importance than asking awkward questions like “Are you a nut or something, staring in our window every hour of the day like that ?”

The cricket boots went straight into the inner hallway cupboard, never to be seen again for neither Ned nor I had the slightest bit of interest in cricket, wearing boots or not, but that didn’t matter, it was the offering of conciliatory gifts that counted.

The inner hallway cupboard of the bungalow was where you put things that you didn’t need, like well worn cricket boots for instance, the outer hallway cupboard of the bungalow was where we kept the shoes that we would wear everyday, we had two cupboards in the bungalow, posh weren’t we, we had cupboards enough to rate their contents in order of importance.

Mr Hall over the road’s son Anthony was your archetypal 1960s university student, lanky, black NHS spectacles, a face that wore a constant frown as if he were considering the worlds hardest sums, and a mop of black curly hair in that 1960’s style that all university students wore to the barricades of protest, the look that our dad described as “bloody scruffy dirty hippy”, Mr Hall over the road’s son Anthony was a bloody dirty scruffy hippy.

And thats where the matter would have laid for our dad had no desire to correspond with bloody dirty scruffy hippy’s, if only Mr Hall over the road’s son Anthony had not brought home an old Ford Anglia one day.

We could only assume that he found it somewhere for surely he had not paid with money for it,  for it was knackered beyond belief, so knackered was it that if we kids had come across it randomly in a field one day, as sometimes we did whilst out roaming the farms of our neighbourhood for people were far more willing to simply drive their old cars into a field and leave them there in the 1960s, if we had come across it randomly then even we kids would not have stooped so low as to want to vandalise it, as was our normal want, for this old Ford Anglia was even beyond a young boys vandalise-o-meter.

And yet Anthony over the road was convinced that once restored by his own fair hands it would be the most desirous of motor vehicles and almost like a script from the John Travolta musical Grease, Anthony over the road spent all of his spare time out on the driveway underneath the car, probably humming the refrain to “Greased Lightning” had it not been for the fact that we are talking of an era that preceded “Grease” by about fifteen years.

And finally, one fateful Sunday afternoon Anthony over the road, the bloody dirty scruffy student, turned the key in the ignition enough times to start up the engine just before the battery gave out…

…and thats when our telly went dool-alley.

In the middle of “The Golden Shot” with Norman Vaughan we were when suddenly our TV viewing was interrupted by lots of wavy lines across the screen and a buzzing noise that increased with pitch at exactly the same time as Anthony over the road revved the old Ford Anglia up and down.

Our dad knew immediately what the problem was, that bloody dirty scruffy hippy over the road was what, “He’s not got that car suppressed !” he exclaimed again and again as he paced the floor, “look at our telly, The Golden Shot, ruined!”

Then the engine cut out and we returned to our normal Sunday afternoon viewing pattern of anything that our dad wanted to watch for in those days your dad picked the family’s viewing and in the pre-remote control days it was going to be obvious that you were going to change the channel as you rose from your seat to walk to the TV, “Leave that bloody telly alone” is all you’d hear even as you started to push yourself up from your seat.

The following Sunday afternoon brought the same on screen interference, this time in the middle of the Yorkshire TV football game featuring Leeds Utd (on every week) and Martin Tyler commentating – this was an interference too far for our dad and having paced the carpet in the front room for several minutes he banged on our window at Anthony over the road yelling “Bloody suppression, get some bloody suppressors you bloody idiot…” all of which had no effect whatsoever as our dad was still inside our own house and Anthony over the road was over the road with his head under the bonnet of a very loudly revving Ford Anglia.

It was too much to expect our dad to sit down and silently fume, and so he stormed out of the house and over the road, we dashed to the window to watch the show.

It was like watching a silent movie as our dad confronted Anthony over the road, complete with Anthony over the road jumping up at our dads first barrage of insults, banging his head on the raised bonnet as he did so. There followed lots of arm waving and pointing over the road at our TV set and we could clearly lip read the repeated use of the words “bloody” and “suppressors” and “bloody dirty scruffy hippy” and at one stage, pointing at the Ford Anglia, “heap of junk”.

“He’s called it a heap of junk” I repeated to our Ned and our mum as we stood at the window watching the show, the football on the TV forgotten about.

“Ooooh” said our mum in shock, “go fetch him back, thats not very nice”

“In a minute” we both said, this show was not over yet, not by a long chalk.

Mr Hall over the road came out of the house to see what the problem was and our dad had to explain all over again, arms waving in despair, pointing over the road at our TV set, me and Ned standing at the window also pointing silently at our TV set just to add emphasis to the matter.

Mr Hall over the road was suddenly enlightened, his TV set also suffered from the same interference, in fact in those days when old cars were made without any electrical suppression at all, ALL the bloody TV sets in the street would be suffering the same interference.

“Get some bloody suppressors!” is what our dad shouted, we could read his lips most clearly, and then they all stormed over the street to our house and we scurried from the window to sit back down again as if we’d been sitting silently ever since he left the house and not staring out the window at all, but they didn’t come in the house, instead they all got in our dads car and drove off somewhere.

Charlie Browns is where they went, Charlie Brown, the well know motor accessory store, probably the only store that opened on a Sunday afternoon, they bought a motor suppression kit and came back and fitted it.

And I’d love to say that that was the end of the story.

But it wasn’t.

The Ford Anglia was made of sterner stuff and refused to submit to some mere suppressors fitted to each of its four spark plugs, the TV interference was lessened its true, but it was still there, some Sundays worse than others, and so Sunday afternoons became a predictable round of dads up and down our street banging on their windows at Anthony over the road, demanding that he curtail his car repairs until the football game was over, ideally curtailing his car repairs until Bishop Jess Yates and his Stars on Sunday religious rubbish came on.

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