“I’m not quite sure about this you know…” my mother had her doubts, I could tell, you could tell by that worried look on her face, she had her doubts.
“Not quite sure about what ?” my father didn’t have much patience with my mother, to be fair he did have a point, she was probably the most naive person I have ever known, naivety born from ignorance in the ways of the world, daft as a brush was my mother, she made us laugh all the time.
“About all of this…” she waved her hand in a broad sweep, “I mean, is it legal ?”
“Course its bloody legal” my father was getting exasperated with her again, “he bought it in a shop didn’t he ?”
“Well yes, but are you supposed to make so much ?”
“Who bloody cares, its a nice drop of lager is this”
“Well I think when this next ten gallons is brewed he should stop for a while, this place stinks like a brewery and there’s no room in the airing cupboard for clothes now”
She had a point, I had bottles of my home brew stored all over the house, all of my pocket money went on buying empty beer bottles and those press-on metal tops that you pressed on with a special tool and then hit with a mallet to seal, I had a production line going with a ten gallon brewing bucket sitting festering and bubbling away in the corner of the Living Room and eighty pint bottles all sterilised and lined up in the kitchen ready for filling with a single length of hose.
Bottles of beer were stacked in every cupboard, every shelf filled, as soon as one brew was complete and bottled I’d be off with another and more pocket money would be spent on the next stack of boxes of empty beer bottles, my father had to start taking the beer to his club to sell it to his mates which didn’t go down well with the club steward so he sold it outside on the car park which still didn’t go down well with the club steward, we even gave two pence back on the bottle return just like the professionals did.
“Are you listening to me” my mother was starting to put her foot down “I said I think he should stop after this next ten gallons has gone”
“Theres no harm in the lad brewing beer” my father complained, as far as he was concerned a source of income was being threatened.
“There must be well over a hundred bottles in the cupboard under the sink, and he’s got three sorts of wine going in the airing cupboard”
“Aye I know, I’ve taken orders for that when its ready”
“Its not right, he’s only fourteen”
“One of them is Martini you know, eight bottles of it, I’ve sold the bloody lot”
What with my selling programmes at the rugby games and selling illicit alcohol in club car parks after hours I was turning into quite the little tycoon by the age of fourteen, publishing and brewing my twin portfolio, and art, my dad was doing quite well with the horses head painting, painted onto the back of a sheet of primed hardboard (the rough side) it was a brown horses head sticking through a stable door with actual real string stuck to it for the mane, painted in oils I could knock them off at the rate of one a week and the women at his club all wanted one, I think I sold that painting twenty or thirty times in the end, if ever I get famous after I’m dead there’s going to be a lot of households in Meanwood ringing Sotheby’s up saying “I think I’ve got an early JerryChicken in my loft, my mother bought it at Meanwood Con Club off the artists father when she was drunk one night” and the auctioneer will shake his head in disbelief and mutter “How fooking many of these did he do ?”
And what did I spend all the money on ?
More home brew kits and more bottles and thats where the business plan failed, right there, you see the raw materials cost more than the retail income, especially when you had a queue of kids all the way down the street waiting to come around your house on a Saturday night when your parents had gone out, all getting blind, staggeringly drunk for free on your home brew, for a time in 1971 I was personally responsible for almost 50% of all juvenile delinquency drunkenness in the city of Leeds and 100% responsible for all of those kids who were found unconscious in front gardens and privet hedges all the way down Green Lane, especially Rodney.