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Lovin’ a bike don’t you?

June 25, 2022
Needs a padded saddle I think ….

My dad was a master craftsman with a growing family and other responsibilities he had limited resources and time to explore other creative and or business opportunities. He worked from dawn to dusk, six and a half days a week, in a boat yard where he repaired and cared for boats and their mooring in his charge. Whilst he built and renovated our houseboat, he converted a lifeboat for us to sail in at weekends and holidays.  He was always on the lookout for salvageable boat-building materials. In this regard I proved to be an able helper. One off my daily tasks was collecting firewood, it was a year-round job so I could ensure we had enough fuel for the fire during the winter.  The pickings were rich, (and I have discussed this more fully in previous posts) due to the extraordinary tides we encountered in the Southampton Water and the rivers surrounding.  The twice daily tides bought debris from ships and docks, and other boat yards to the creeks and water’s edge at Crableck where we lived, that could I gathered and sorted into the various requirements.  I was diligent and vigilant, even when looking at other interesting arrivals on the tide.  Useful wood was my priority but sometimes I found metal and soon learned to look out for brass, copper, and lead.  So, the wood like teak or mahogany might be used in further woodwork jobs or less precious burned on the fire. The metal on the other hand no matter how small and insignificant would be bagged up and taken to the scrap man in Southampton beside the Itchen River the next river along the Southampton Water and near the Docks.  When the bag was filled and ‘worth’ the journey my dad would take a costly bus ride and return with some cash and a little trinket for my mum.

During the war the scrap man was seconded into the war effort and the local community were expected to bring him metal, like fencing and gates and old worn kitchen utensils to melt down in a furnace to use in ship, aeroplane building and munitions.  Some people would bring other metal treasures which he would put to one side and sell. My dad would bring back a brass figurine or a copper jug which my mum would delight in polishing and showing on the mantlepiece. 

One time he came home with a bike for me.  I assume he rode it home and it was a long way and the bike far from comfortable.  It was at least 50 years old then and with solid rubber tyres and an ancient brake mechanism which required back pedalling! To cycle ail that way up and down the hills was no mean feat, but he was rewarded by my smile and enjoyment as I went on to ride that bike until I got another more comfortable to ride to secondary school and having a bike ever since.

Therefore, they feature much in my work and my sadness as my dolls will never ride a bike, that is until now. 

I discovered a neighbour who makes art out of scrap metal, I am not sure it is called that anymore. Nonetheless he uses waste metal from building reinforcement and his own motorbike making and repairing work with his welding skills to create art to sell art local art markets. I provided a ‘detailed’ drawing and a skeleton of a doll, and he was able to sculpt a bike with some moving parts that my dolls will be able to ride, with lots of artistic license of course. 

I am delighted with the outcome of this story, I delight in my dad’s ingenuity, thoughtfulness, and resolve as regards riding the bike home such a long and arduous journey with a precious return bus ticket in his pocket.

I love my dad and think of him daily.   

And Thank Darren and his Sticky Metal Art for his kind and cheerful attention to my dolls and their needs.  

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