During the early fifties (when I was a very inquisitive
seven year old), many newly weds in Liverpool started their married life in the front
parlour of their parents home. Such was the case of my Uncle John and his new
wife Jean, who found themselves enjoying the first throes of marital bliss in my Grans front room…
Uncle John was a bit of a character (in more
ways than one) but I won’t go into that. Every Saturday morning we would go to Grans and then on to the market (What a place- I will tell you all about
Paddies market soon), anyway Uncle John would always give my brothers and I
pocket money on the Saturday visit.
One day after he had distributed the pocket
money he announced that he had given us his last sixpence. "Never mind" he said,
"there’s plenty more where that came from"- and from his pocket he promptly
produced a strange looking contraption. "Right" he said "Come closer so you can
observe this magic…"
The machine consisted of what looked like two small rollers
connected with a piece of material. He moved the rollers together and fed into
them a blank piece of paper until it had completely disappeared, closed his
eyes and turned his head upwards as if he was saying his prayers, then
tapped the machine with his finger , very very slowly until the rollers started to turn and out from the machine
emerged a one pound note. We were flabbergasted!! Eyes practically popping out
of our tiny heads, he repeated the procedure twice before he announced "That
will do me for now!" and settled back into his armchair.
Imagine I thought if I had one of these! When I told my
mother, she smiled and simply looked at me with that expression a mother will
show her child when she recognises their innocence and doesn’t want them to
join the realities of an adult world..
was a couple of weeks later when something happened that almost made the hair
on my head touch the ceiling. Dad and I were in the tobacconist and while he was
waiting for his tobacco to be weighed, I wandered alongside the glass cases looking at
all the different coloured tobaccos and strange shaped pipes. THEN THERE right
in front of me was my Uncle John’s money making machine at a cost of one
shilling and threpence. I was about to scream with excitement at my dad, when I had a thought: if I say nothing and save up my pocket money, I could
come and buy one, and surprise everybody with gifts:- Dad could have the long
bendy expensive pipe he so admired but could not afford, Mum could buy the
cardigan from Sturlas fashion stores, the one with the long sleeves to cover the floppy skin on her arms that was to my young eyes a figment of her imagination, there’d be a tricycle for Tony
and a train book for Chris and finally a pair of roller skates for me.
week later, I walked into Lucies tobacconist. The old man who served (Lucies
father I guess) approached the me from behind the counter and said "Now then young fella
what are you here for?". I walked down the shop towards the money making machine and said "I want one of these please." pointing to where it had been the week before. But it wasn’t there!
"One of what?" said Lucie’s
father, with the cigarette that never went out dangling from his mouth, "It was
here, a silver machine and now it has gone!" I said. "Do you mean the cigarette roller?" he
Nooooo the money make….I stopped and thought, obviously Lucies dad as old
as he was didn’t realise that this machine had TWO FUNCTIONS.. "Yes that’s
right" I replied, "the rolling machine"
Why didn’t you say that in the first place?" he
home in my bedroom I prepared for the big occasion. Twenty sheets of paper cut
to the exact size of a one pound note. In went the paper as per standard
practise when money making. I closed my
eyes, head up to God and tapped the machine then turned the rollers. NOTHING , I
opened the rollers to reveal the mangled paper. I tried over and over again.There must be something else you have to do. I thought and thought picturing
the procedure that Uncle John did, mimicking every move, but NOTHING.Two hours later I gave up.
I was running down to grans to confront him! I felt cheated! I had to know.
was sitting in the front parlour newspaper opened at the horse racing page
(surely he would not waste the money he made on horse betting?)
"Uncle John" I said
breathless with running, "I bought one of your money making machines but it won’t
work, can you please show me how to do it and I promise I will keep it a secret
that only you and I know?"
John looked up at me from his newspaper came over and
lifted me off the floor, "Little man you cannot just buy a money making machine. My machine was a magic one but do you know what it has broken in two and will not work anymore.
I will never have another, but I still need a tobacco rolling machine so I will
buy the one you got and give you an extra sixpence for your troubles."
the thing is this George" he whispered "I quite like living in gran’s front parlour. If I was rich
I would have to buy a house and move out…"
By George May.