Ikey was a livestock dealer, and had a few bits of land around here, which he farmed. However on Spa Common near Bacton Wood Mill was a round concrete pillbox; it’s still there. Ikey used to keep ferrets in the old dark pillbox. It was dark as a grave. One day someone gave Ikey a big old cat to get rid of. Instead of shooting it Ikey threw it in the pillbox with the ferrets. The pillbox was swarming with ferrets. A few days later Ikey got an order for some ferrets. Into the dark old pillbox goes Ikey armed with a torch and an old fishing landing net. Shining the torch around the box to find some ferrets to catch, all Ikey could find was one very large fat cat. The old cat had killed every ferret in the pillbox. Ikey was gutted, but he decided to let the old cat go and he had it on his farm for several years. I don’t know what sort of mouse hunter the cat was, but it knew how to kill ferrets.
Ikey liked to have a few caged birds around him, and he would breed gold finches with canaries to get what is known as ‘a mule’. Anyway down Marsh Gate, old Cockle Bell’s boy ‘Cyril Bell’ used to hire a pightle with a large shed on it. This is where Cliffy Cushion and Cyril Bell started up in the scrap trade. Cyril had spotted a gold finch’s nest at the top of an old thorn bush. He told Ikey about it and Ikey watched the nest until he thought the young fledglings were ready to fly. Ikey said to me “I have a little job for you Mike”. I said “what’s that Ikey?” “Come with me,” he said “and I will show you”. Down to Cyril’s pightle we go, Ikey backs his old battered truck up to the thorn bush. Then he stacks loads of old wooden chicken crates on top of one another. You should have seen them; they were higher than old ‘Giant Hales’ from Somerton.
I said to Ikey “what do you want me to do?”. He said, “I want you to climb up on them crates, take this fishing landing net and catch them young gold finches. Put the net over the nest and catch them birds”. “Bloody hell, Ikey, who do you think I am ‘Superman’?” Anyhow he kids me up to climb up the old shaking crates, I felt a right pratt. It took all my balance to stay on the crates. Anyway I saw the small nest, it was about a foot away from the top of the bush. I swooped the old net over the nest, my god did them young finches move. They were out of that bush like bats out of hell! You wanted to hear Ikey—was he mad, “You pratt” he said “you have missed them, you bloody pratt”. I said “who are you calling a pratt? If you wanted them, you ought to get up there yourself”. You could not help these old boys, if anything went wrong, they would try to put you down.
Marshgate Lodge, Spa Common, North Walsham, Norfolk NR28 9LG
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