Letter to the Echo

Date Posted: December 17, 2008

(was this one of the boys in the photo)

I read with interest about the Mary Gordon Trust.

Sorry, I can’t afford to pay for its repair, but I do have lots of nice memories of ‘working’ on it when I was about 14 or so.

With Skipper Ross in charge, the Mary Gordon used to leave the Brayford every day at about 2.30pm for an afternoon trip up to the cafe by the waterside in Saxilby.

It was a trip that used to take about an hour or so which was made more enjoyable by the lad who sat at the front of the boat, playing such tunes as Living Doll etc on his accordion, while everyone sang along with them.

On a night time, the trip was to the Pyewipe where just about everyone on the boat used to buy Skip a drink, the result being that usually Skip (well inebriated) used to all but fall asleep on the way back and it was left to me, at the age of 14, to steer the boat all the way back and to the Holmes Yard swing bridge.

At this point Skip would suddenly come awake and guide us through the bridge into Brayford Pool, round the island and back to the berth, where he could be heard yelling “jump, jump” to encourage us to jump ashore while the boat was still about 10 feet away from the bank so we could secure the ropes.

This was often made funnier because we used to joke that Skip’s dentures used to belong to someone else, because they more often than not (because they were such a bad fit) used to fall out of his mouth and onto the floor, as he shouted his instructions and he then used to ignore what was happening to the boat, as he scrabbled around the floor in the dark, looking for his teeth.

Mostly we used to ignore this jump instruction until we were much nearer, but at times, obeyed and finished up in Brayford Pool!

How we never crashed or sank, I have no idea!

Oh, those were the days!

GORDON HARDEN Crete.

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