Mr. Shopland (insurance man)

visited once a month in specs and a trilby,

scuffed ledger to hand,

chipper, breezily discussing the weather,

fair or foul,

his bike propped beside him

a Hercules with Miller dynamo.


Stood in our porch to collect insurance.


This ritual grew with me as a child;

the peremptory knock,

an inward gush of air,

red tiled porch as welcome,

my mother making small talk,

me making notes as small boys do.


On his bike a wooden box,

spare elastic bands,

a simple clasp,

cash always carried then.


Underneath his cycle clips

sturdy legs, he was not to be messed with.

Someone tried,

but during active service he had proved himself

a force to be reckoned with,

and blood was raised on the attempt.


When my father passed away

we saw the insurance agreement

in his deed box since the thirties:

one penny per week in perpetuity.

It was sad to have to submit it then

with its copperplate scrolled heading

stiffened with age,

proclaiming a lifetime opportunity.





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Thu 7th Feb 2019 18:22

Thanks Alan. They were the tough guys - tough as old boots in fact.


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Alan Travis Braddock

Wed 6th Feb 2019 16:51

That was my dad I think - he spent his life tramping the streets of Manchester for the 'Refuge'. I don' think that there are any of them left now
PS his shoes kept wearing out..

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Tue 5th Feb 2019 17:24

Thanks for your likes Philip, Jon, Anya and Paris !


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