I was at college in Manchester in the late 60s and I shared what was euphemistically called a flat with two of my college friends. It was so grim that I would not allow my father to enter. He asked when he gave me a lift back there and I said ” No” . He asked me in as careful and friendly way as possible ” What’s it like Paul?” I paused for a few minutes in the passenger seat of his Triumph car and eventually found a suitable word: “Spartan”. He could find no more words, so I comforted him with the addition: ” No worse than school though”
I’d been at school in Preston, where I was of sixty boarders. People like my parents, my father a policeman and my mother a teacher, had aspirations for myself and my brother and as they foresaw many house moves thought it wise to send us to a school where we could stay throughout our secondary years. Both my brother and I thought this a good idea and something of an adventure. He soon changed his mind and hated it, I seemed to like it with its dreadful food and the chance to learn how to smoke. So we spent 7 years in lockdown, with rationed food and surrounded by a police state. There were occasional epidemics when one or more boys would be confined to bed with evil spots that were easily passed on in the close confines, but the school was equipped with an elderly matron and her fragile sister, so nothing to worry about there then. They seemed to have a limitless supply of cascara ( a powerful laxative ) that they always said would: ” Do the trick”
It’s a credit to my parents that they did not kick off when both my brother and I chose to go to Art School when our respective lock downs ended.
So it was then that my father left me in Rusholme to settle into my new abode with my new found friends. We spent as little time as possible within the confines of this apartment and much more time in the college or the local pub, by the college.
It was in the middle of the night when all three of us were sleeping when we heard the most enormous crash. It was a car, no doubt being driven by someone who’d also visited a pub, and it had gone smack into a lamp post.
When we peered through the darkness we could see the occasional light coming on at a house right next to the car. From the top of the stairs that went up to the front door there emerged a large man still adjusting his dressing gown. He looked down at the sorry mess by the lamppost and cupping his hand to his mouth shouted out: ” Kettles on!”
We three looked at each other, and nodded, muttering in agreement: ” Well, that’s alright then” and repaired back to bed. After all a decent cup of tea will repair almost anything.