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South Shields premier political blog

Horse shit and rhubarb

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horse manureThe odd things we Twitter about

Just been having a look at Cllr. Ahmed Khan’s Twitter page and discovered that (a) he’s been given some rhubarb, and (b) he’s dealing with a complaint from Whiteleas about horse shit, two subjects which immediately compelled me to think of my childhood in the streets around the riverside in South Shields.

Both rhubarb and horse manure seem to be rarities these days yet back in the late 50s and early 60s they were almost indivisible, the one being an essential ingerdient to produce the other. Many tradesmen delivered locally to the residents of the terraced housing crammed along the banks of the River Tyne, those streets described by Catherine Cookson as “the long streets” which ribboned from way down Laygate by the Lord Clyde all the way to Kennedy’s at Tyne Dock, and many of those tradesmen delivered by horse and cart, the age of the commercial vehicle had not yet fully arrived. I can remember seeing such deliveries from coal men, Sykes, Villa, and Evans pop, Ringtons Tea, fish wives, and fellows with bags of chopping sticks (used to build the coal fires which warmed our sitting rooms). Many of the youngsters used to hang around with small coal shovels and wooden boxes in the hope that some old nag or Clydesdale might deposit it’s waste product on the cobble stones, whereupon it would be quickly scooped up to sell to those lucky few who had allotments for a few pennies. The rather warm aroma seemed to do wonders for the lungs too, not many children missed days at school because of coughs and colds!

Horse manure was a ready and cheap fertiliser to be dug into the soil and leek trenches, and sometimes in place of pennies we might receive a little produce from the allotment horticulturalists. I’m not suggesting that Cllr. Khan steps on the toes of the elected representatives of the Whiteleas ward to suggest a bartering scheme with the people of the Holder House allotments, but as he sits down to enjoy his rhubarb crumble and custard he might like to ponder on how times have changed and how we actually recycle less now than we did then.

He might also like to consider that back then, as now, a good 50% of our elected politicians still use both ingredients in large measure.

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Written by curly

June 12, 2009 at 10:22 am

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