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John Meads 2019 - from the Evening Telegraph January 8 2004
Joe Tells a Winter's Tale
(Joe Evans - Plumber)

Memories of 1963 and months of freezing weather.
When the frost starts to form or snowflakes flutter to the ground the first thing people do is to moan about the weather, but not a 77-year-old pensioner.
Walking down the street Joe Evans bumped into some friends who compained about the chilly weather. This comment got Mr. Evans, who has two children, two grandchildren and three great-grandchildren, thinking about the past and the true British winters.
He said: "It brought a smile to my face. Unless you have lived through the winter of '63, you do not know what bad weather conditions are. The snow fell over Christmas and did not thaw out for four months. We got a taste of the winter to come as the snow fell on Christmas Day and the flakes continued to fall for days. Temperatures plummeted to below zero and there was 2ft of snow."
Mr. Evans, of Station Road in Burton Latimer, used to be a plumber and learned his trade at John Smith's in Burton Latimer."When you are involved, like plumbers are, in unblocking pipes and suchlike in the cold weather, the winter really sticks in your mind. After all, it was my life and my livelihood."
Now known to some of his friends as Smokey Joe or Old Joe, he battled with the elements and got on with his job. "We were lucky as many labourers were being laid off, but all the plumbers were in demand" he said. "We trudged around with blowlamps and cans of paraffin. As pipes froze and the frost set in, I can remember one family lit a fire in a tin bath which melted all the lead pipework. The funny thing was one day I came home from work and my late wife Florence told me to eat my dinner quickly because the water tank was frozen. I was always in demand during that winter."
Mr. Evans looked fondly at his blowlamp and paraffin can which remind him of the times before central heating.
Sitting looking out the lounge window as the sun shone through, Mr. Evans remembered standing in his garden with Mrs. Evans watching the world's first sattelite, Sputnik !, pass over his garden. He said: "It was absolutely fantastic. It was a very cold night in October, 1957, but it was well worth it. Memories are so special, and life is so precious. There is no point moaning about the cold weather, instead we should remember how lucky we are. Things now are so advanced."

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