Sneak peek: Out of Copley Street – A Working-Class Boyhood

Thanks to our friends at Wakefield Press, here is a sneak peek into Out of Copley Street – A Working-Class Boyhood, written by Geoff Goodfellow.

I’ve always been an early riser, particularly through summer. As a young child, barely of school age, I shared a bedroom with my older sister at the front of the house. This meant that I’d inevitably wake to the clip-clop of hooves and the clink of milk bottles being dropped off by Lenny Sugars. Copley Street was then an unmade road, collared by knee-high grass. I’d often creep outside at 5:30 am and rip off a big handful of grass and handfeed it to Lenny’s draught horse. I was only five years old and most days Lenny would have one or two older boys working the milk round with him. One morning when he was working alone, I asked if I could come along in the cart and give him a hand.

‘I don’t know about that Bluey,’ he said. ‘How old are ya? I reckon you’d only be about five, wouldn’t ya?’

‘Yeah,’ I said. ‘But I’m nearly five and a half.’

‘Maybe I’ll speak to ya mum and dad on Saturday morning when I’m doing my accounts. See what they’ve got to say about it first.’

When Lenny knocked on the door with his brown leather moneybag on Saturday morning, Dad was running a paint roller up and down the walls of the main bedroom. Dad invited Lenny inside by asking him to wait a minute while he washed the paint off his hands in the kitchen sink.

‘Have a shoofty at what I’m doin’ Lenny. Geoff, take Lenny up the hallway while I clean myself up a bit.’

When Dad came into the bedroom, Lenny said, ‘Nice job of the cuttin’ in Johnny. Maybe you shoulda been a painter’.

‘I don’t think I’d wanna be doin’ that five or six days a week,’ Dad said. ‘There’s gotta be an easier way to make a quid than painting.’

Then Dad told Lenny how he chose the colour for the walls but insisted Mum choose the colour for the ceiling. Lenny thought that was really funny, but I didn’t see the joke at all. As Dad was squaring Lenny off for the milk, Lenny told him I wanted to work the milk round with him. Dad didn’t have any objections. He thought it would be good experience for me and seemed happy that Lenny would make sure I got dropped back home by seven. Lenny told me he’d pay me two bob each week and that I’d get it on the Saturday.

To continue reading, head into your local bookstore or visit Wakefield Press to secure your own copy!

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