Uncle died years ago; if Owen is still around he's over seventy.
In my mind they are still there young and fit swinging hammers and hooping wheels/
Early memories, being strapped in my pram
After a good tanning from an angry mam;
The snows of Forty Seven when the Shires died;
Billy Bulson's farm and my only Shire ride;
Hooping day in the blacksmiths yard
When Owen and uncle worked so hard
Checking and balancing each wheel's trim
Before replacing each wheel's metal rim.
There was this big cast plate on the ground
With a ring of braziers circled around.
At the centre of the plate at the very nub
Was a hole to accommodate each hub.
You could feel the heat, each brazier red,
As each hoop was lowered into its bed
Where it would expand so it would slip
Around the rim to shrink and grip.
Each was quenched to speed the cold
And increase the tight firm hold.
They worked the whole day
That was the only possible way
Each wagon was ready for the fields
To transport that year's harvest yield
After school we kids watched, standing around
Well out of the way of the working ground.
If any kid got that bit too near
Uncle or Owen would clip an ear.
That was in the years after the war
Five or six at the most, no more
Before Fordson Majors and Fergies finally ousted the shires
And metal rimmed wheels were replaced by pneumatic tyres.
Close my eyes and I can hear the sounds
Of wooden wheels booling on the ground.
Open my eyes and it's a whole world away
Slower, gentler, nicer perhaps, than today.
Sometime I think now I understand why
Old people accept it's their time to die
Without a single kick or scream
Just slipping away into their dreams.