John Pye Auctions Weekly Story – ‘A bucket of acorns’

Despite his youthful impatience, John was picking up a latent interest that would flourish later in life. And it wasn’t just with high class interiors that his education was being enriched.

‘The biggest shock of my life was when the maids used to bathe us in the evenings. I was so embarrassed about it.’

Late evenings were spent away from the big house and in ‘the backs’ playing football with other miners’ children. Time was also spent on nearby farms, helping out and sometimes collecting a bucket of horse muck or even acorns – the latter earning him up to six coppers for pig fodder.

His eye for an opportunity is illustrated by an incident in the village one rainy day. He recalled: ‘I was coming up the hill when a horse and cart pulled up next door to us and Albert Draper, the drayman, was getting bread out of the cart. Underneath was a box with two or three drawers of cakes in and he pulled out a drawer. But he pulled it too far and all the cakes fell out, dropping almost 24 cakes to the floor. I asked what he was going to do with them. He said he would just leave them. So I threw my muck out of my bucket and picked up the cakes and put them in.

‘I took them in and I ate them all eventually. I never told my mother and father and I even went back out and fetched the horse muck I’d thrown away so that I could sell it.’


Buy the book, titled ‘An Auction of Laughs’, which is now available to order, priced £6 (£7 with postage) with all profits to be donated to the British Red Cross.

You can now order your copy of ‘An Auction of Laughs’ by John Pye by simply dropping a email to and we will happily arrange postage or via Waterstones (Nottingham)

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