Sunday, June 24, 2007


Today I am supposed to be repairing and then painting our garage doors and indeed yesterday got one of them all newly clad and ready for paint, this morning was halfway through the second door when the rain started, just a gentle rain but its half the excuse that I need and tools have been downed, coffee brewed and now I sit looking out of the window typing this, listening to Springsteen "Tom Joad" album and imagining that its still raining outside, I think it is, I hope it is, it certainly looks wet-ish, I may get a full days reprieve from joinery work if I'm lucky.

T'wasn't aways so.

In my youth the Sunday routine was well ordered and unaltered for years.

My gang of friends had a football team based at our local pub The Fox, they played in the Leeds Sunday league and so very early, stupid o'clock every Sunday morning they would gather in their cars outside the Co-op on Green Lane and drive off in the rain to their destination municipal playing field to kick shit out of another team for 90 minutes in the game called nancy-ball by us rugby league followers.

Me, I was wiser than they.

Saturday night out entailed an endless cycle of beer, laughter, cigarettes, dirve to another pub, beer laughter, cigarettes, drive to another pub, beer laughter...well you get the idea.

Saturday night culminated in a five mile dash to Otley, a nearby market town where the pubs stayed open a half hour longer than Leeds and we could grab another two rounds, laughter, cigarettes...and a fish and chip supper on the way home.

Yes of course we all drove home drunk, it was safer that way when everyone on the roads was drunk, (including the police), drive sober amongst drunks and you are the danger - its not like that now.

How they all managed to crawl out of their beds at stupid o'clock on a Sunday and play football is beyond me and they all tell tales of several players coughing up last nights beer and fish & chips on the touchline five minutes after kickoff (referee included), but me being the sensible one I could stay in my bed on Sunday morning until the hangover dissapated and noon drew close.

Licensing laws in the 1970's were strict, Sunday opening was from noon to 2pm only, two hours only, and so not a minute was wasted - I would be stood outside the back door to The Fox every Sunday at 11.59am waiting for Norman the landlord to open, served and seated by 12.01pm the football team would arrive hotfoot from the game often still clad in muddy shorts and shirts, football boots abandoned in the porch at the back door, the tap room would fill to bursting by 12.05pm and much beer and revelment would ensue.

I loved those Sunday dinnertime sessions especially on cold wet winter Sundays when the coal fire in the tap room would fill the room with steam from the wet clothing and the volume of conversation and laughter would rise to ear-hurting levels until at 2pm sharp Norman would ring the bell and call last orders.

After several pints within the allotted two hour spell we'd rise from our seats and drive home (for ten minutes at 2pm every Sunday everyone on the roads would be drunk again, the drink-drive rule applied once more, the sober ones were dangerous), drive home to our mothers Sunday dinner.

My dad would arrive home, drunk, from the golf club and my brother would arrive home, drunk, from the pub where he hung out with his friends and the three of us would sit quietly in the front room, steaming, around the dining table waiting for our mum to serve our Sunday dinner, whilst in houses all over the country the same routine was being played out - thus was life on a Sunday in Great Britain.

Our mothers Sunday dinner was always the same, slices of beef, yorkshire puddings (of course) mashed potatoes, two or three veg, thick onion gravy and pan-roasted quartered potatoes that would either be soft or rock hard depending on how late one or all of us menfolk would be in returning from the various pubs, there was only one rule to sunday dinner, it didn't start until all of us were home and the last one in would suffer berating from the others even though the last one in would invariably be the drunkest and care not one jot.

Nothing tasted quite like those Sunday dinners, all with an underlying flavour of Tetleys Bitter - I've tried the Sunday dinners that they serve in pubs these days, served up by professional chefs, but they just don't even come close.

Today I may have a sandwich, or nothing at all, but to para-phrase a line from Steve Goodman's "My Old Man" - I'd give everything I own to eat one of those Sunday dinners again.

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