When I got my first actual job, real employment after leaving school in 1966 aged 15, I suddenly felt ‘grown-up’ and more like a man & no longer a child. My mother had said over the weekend, “You are the man of the house now.” meaning I was the wage earner, the one providing the means to buy food, pay the rent, buy clothes!” . My first job actually meant me getting out of my bed at 4 am, I realised I was the only one awake & I had to get my own breakfast, make & light a coal fire, get myself ready to walk almost a mile to get a lift into town! In those days even the radio programme didn’t start till 4:30am and meanwhile it played a boring repetitive piece of music, drums & piano playing a rhythmical set of notes.
I was just about ready to leave the house when my mother got up, just before 4:45am she appeared in the kitchen and got herself a breakfast, we had an unwritten rule we all knew about since as long as I recall, for the first 15 minutes or so no-one actually speaks, just to allow for a quiet breakfast & for the brain to readjust from sleep & a warm comfortable bed where probably dream land made stuff seem great, to reality where it wasn’t so warm and getting all of the body awake and moving comfortably was a steady task. Just as my mother was ready to speak I was getting into some clothes so I could set off for my walk to the main road to town, she looked at the fireplace and crouched her naked self down to get warmed, then she said with a laugh in her tone, “This feels good getting warmed by a fire that somebody else lit. It feels good that you managed to get yourself up & moving in time to do all your things before having to go out, you are the man now, earning a wage & taking responsibilities for stuff.” I paused at the door wondering if I should answer or if I should just accept things, I felt good knowing I was setting out on a new phase of my life, I felt good knowing my mother was happy about things. I fastened my coat collar against the cold icy rain and looked back at mothers nude huddle, ‘… yep.. this is adult life!…’