John Pye Auctions Weekly Story – ‘Faithful Friend’

I have always felt that the people who have worked for me over many years have also been firm friends – none more so than 10-pints-a-night George Pitchford, who features in so many of my stories.

We came together in 1959 when George pulled up in his clapped-out truck at my farm at Blidworth and asked if I had any scrap to sell him.

George was working at a mill at the time and buying the scrap as a sideline, so he knew his stuff and we got on like a house on fire straight away. The mill closed and George came to work for me as my porter and that was it for the next 54 years, great times, full of fun, as well as great experiences too. The people who work for me are part of my life and when I take to someone they will be the best in the world. I will cosset them and help them in any way I can.

Of course, in the difficult world of buying and selling, there have been times when I have made my presence felt; not difficult for me, a tall and well-built figure who spent time weight-lifting. I have had to give some people a clout at times and I have had to set people off at work.

But there have always been ‘diamonds’ at my side – people like long- time book-keeper Ena Radford, and George, who would sup a double scotch as well as his usual 10 pints of bitter at the end of most days before going home to Southwell to his tiny cottage, where he lived with his wife and family of 10 children (one for every pint!).

Much to my sadness, George died 13 years ago. We had worked together for over half a century, through difficult times but also those golden days when laughter was in the air constantly. My connection continues with one of George’s sons and a grandson who now work for the company.

An example of George’s devil-may-care attitude came one day when I asked him how he managed to cope each night after drinking all that beer and only having an outside loo at the cottage. George told me that he had a large pee pot under the bed which he had got used to using in the dark. Then I asked how he knew when it was full and he replied: ‘That’s when my thumb gets wet!’

*George’s humour was ever-present, none more so than on the day when he was talking about rabbits to my son, Jamie, a 10-year-old at the time. George asked Jamie what he gave his rabbits at home and the youngster said: ‘Oats and dandelions.’ George replied swiftly: ‘Oh, we give our rabbits onions.’ Young Jamie said he had never heard of that. But George added: ‘Oh yes, rabbit with onions… they go together very well in the stewing pot!’

Naturally, rabbit-loving Jamie was very distressed at hearing that and I had to console him. But his tormentor just ruffled his hair and chuckled. That was George; always that wicked sense of humour!


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