Mike Edwards Photography

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I think my Dad was disappointed, that when I left Secondary school in 1947 in Co.Tipperary, I became a 'man of deeds' whereas my brother was a 'man of words.' You see, I had always preferred being out in the countryside with the dogs, and had hung around one of my Uncle Maurice's forges since I was a kid, so I learned the blacksmith's trade. Actually, my Dad was devastated! But I wanted to earn some money, so I could treat myself, amongst other things, to the occasional wet shave at my local barbers. Guess how much that cost in 1947. Thruppence ha'penny! That's two pence in new money!

In 1953 I finished my training as a blacksmith making horseshoes, and then as a farrier, that's a man who 'nails up' the shoes on the horses, and got jobs locally for a while.

Then, in 1956 I came to England through Liverpool, and within six months of arriving in London I was married. To an Irish girl! As a general blacksmith I worked in the Earls Court Road, making lots of gates during the post war rebuilding years. I moved around for a few years, including working for Edmonton Council, then decided to leave in 1968 on the advice of a friend who has greyhounds. He told me of the demand for farriers.

It's been a real tough job, and I've got my aches and pains, so now, at over eighty years old, I help out at some local stables, but not too much with the big horses any more. They are too strong and heavy. But because I left the Council, I don't get a pension, so I can't put my feet up just yet. (I shouldn't have listened to my friend!) You know I was thinking, my Dad said I am a 'man of deeds', but at the stables I always seem to have the last word! Mind you, who'd argue with me, with a hammer in one hand, and a rasp in the other! But I also love a well written poem, and they can make me quite melancholy too. Sadly, my first wife died long ago, but I remarried twenty years ago, and have a couple of teenagers at home. They keep me on my toes.

There's a couple of other characters in this book that I recognise, Sue at Chapmans the Butchers. I shod her horses for a while in the 70's, and Ron the Cobbler in North Chingford who I have been friends with for years. As lovely as he is, I'm not sure why after all these years he still calls me Colin. My name's always been Mick in England, and to all my family I was known as 'Mickle'!

Like the words of the French singer, Edith Piaf, I have 'no regrets'.