This was John Woollans pride and joy, a plumb tree that never grew a plum - or that was the impression he got after we stripped it clean every year and hawked our booty from House to House for either a penny a plum or two for a fag.

This of course was a seasonal heist on private property where if you were caught prowling about ( usually for the spear fencing that surrounded the house that made the best spears in Oxfordshire and, as a bonus, a glimpse of Angela Woollan's legs) you'd better have a very convincing reason for being there although I can't think of a better reason than for a glimpse of Angela Woollans legs - even in waders or a boiler suit)

Now, one sunday a group of us boys were gathered around the front door of Norwich House - the next House up from the Warden's - gnawing happily on plums and flogging them to all takers - including the housemaster's wife who's name now evades me."Yes Miss, fresh picked this morning, two for a tanner but fags will do if things are tight and of course, being a housemasters wife being skint is commonly practiced for this time of the year on The Hill or, for that matter, any time of the year on The Hill"

This deal however fell flat on it's face as she cleverly switched the deal in her favor.

"So right it's, cigarettes is it. Well what price plums if I report you all to my husband. Eh? at which point the very Warden his very self was out walking with his very wife her very self who spotted the plum fest in full swing and intervened.

Good afternoon Mrsxxxxx, boys, and what have we here ?

Tomato's Sir Desperately lied the lead spare boy as he spat out a mouthful of plum pips.

Well boys, I'm afraid you have all been well and truly mislead,and for your information they're plums as his expression changed into a suspicious frown.

Plums. Now let me see he continued "I wonder where you got them from..." knowing full well he had the only plum tree on The Hill as he pushed his suspicions to the point where six of the best apiece first thing monday morning after assembly not only seemed like a possibility but an absolute dead certainty !

Well actually Warden intervened Mrsxxxxx "I bought them on the Chipping Norton fruit market and since we're not likely to eat them all I thought I'd share them with this group of passing spare boys (though she didn't exactly say 'spare' as she hadn't been on The Hill long enough to know that, in fact that, we were even spare at all)

Ha well replied JW not believing a word of it "That explains everything then. Good afternoon again to you all" and, as he continues his walk towards Sheffiels surrounded awash with discarded plum pips, Mrsxxxx inquired.

Now boys.How much did you say per plum per dozen?

Dizzy D

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