- Contributed by
- Richard Teague
- People in story:
- Mr and Mrs Kingdom
- Location of story:
- Background to story:
- Article ID:
- Contributed on:
- 28 April 2005
I was five years old when I was evacuated to Templeton near Tiverton,Devon to live with Mrs and Mrs Kingdom-a farm labourer and his wife.
Mr and Mrs Kingdom didn't have children of their own at that time,and my four year old brother and me were very much an experiment to see what impact having children about the place,would have on the Kingdom household.
Mr Kingdom used to take me with him when he set mole traps and rabbit snares and gin traps.
He showed me how to skin a mole and skin and paunch a rabbit,and explained that he paunched a rabbit on the spot so that it would be lighter to carry home.
He trapped moles for the bounty that he received on their skins,and reckoned that nothing would eat the carcase, which he left in the fields to decompose.
He also showed me how to make a whistle out of a cutting from an Elder branch,and for some reason,taught me to say the alphabet backwards!
When I met up with him forty or so years later,he was tickled pink to learn how much of what he had taught me,I still remembered.
The Kingdoms kept a pig and several chickens and ducks.Now and again they would go into the field at the front of their house where their clothes line was,sit on wooden stools,and start killing the chickens and ducks.
They did this by holding the squawking birds between their knees,opening their beaks and - as far as I could see-slitting their tongues with a very sharp thin bladed penknife(it surely must have been less gruesome than that).
They would then hang them by their feet from the clothesline and let them drip drain (so to speak).
Although the pig didn't like it at all,my brother Mick and me used to ride on it's back. It would hare around the yard squealing like a stuck pig(sorry)until it had unseated us.
We both loved this pig and it came as a great shock to us when Frank Kingdom said at breakfast "today we are going to kill the pig".
Although we had been allowed to watch the misery meted out to the chickens and ducks,we were not allowed to witness the demise of the pig.We were taken for a walk by Franks father,and when we returned,the deed had been done.
I used to have to get up in the night for a wee,and the toilet was an outside one reached via a back passage to the house.
On the night following the slaughter of the pig,I got up for my usual visit and met the pig's head hanging from a hook in the ceiling of the passage.I ran back to bed,wet it and continued to wet the bed for the rest of the war!
The Kingdoms possessed a bath-something that we had never had in Kilburn,but after the pig was killed,we couldn't use it because it was filled with joints of our pig being salted down.
We ate all of our beloved pig! Chitterlings(which I was told was the pigs intestines,cut into flat bootlace size strips,plaited and then fried),giblets(my favourite)and trotters(feet) which I now think must have been roasted because they were lovely and sticky and sweet(not like the drowned body appearance of those that I cooked many years later in homage to the Kingdoms).
For breakfasts we would eat either what the Kingdoms called sop,broth,or bread and milk.
Sop was cubes of bread soaked in sweet tea(unfortunately complete with grouts),broth was cubes of bread soaked in hot water and seasoned with salt and pepper,and bread and milk was cubes of bread in milk and sugar.
(I served these dishes up to one of my children many years later when he had a school project on 'Evacuees'-he could not finish any of it).
On Christmas Eve,Frank took me round the fields with him while he cut holly for the Christmas faggot.This was placed in
the grate and ignited as part of the Kingdoms Christmas ritual.
I loved everything about the Kingdoms and their way of life,and my short stay with them influenced decisions made in my adult life.
I first of all left London in 1965 to live in Hamstreet Kent,while working in London, so that I could recreate the pleasure of living in the countryside.
Five years later I moved to Lincolnshire to achieve my second objective-to both live and work in the countryside as the Kingdoms had done.
I am still here 35 years later,and it has all to do with Mr and Mrs Kingdom who are no longer with us.
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