Living in London as a child had its moments of adventure and terror!
My parents rented the bottom two floors of a terraced house. We had no bathroom and only an outside toilet. Bath times were in the kitchen – we used to call it the scullery – where a large tin bath was strategically placed in the middle of the space and filled with hot water from boiling a kettle – several times. I can still hear the whistle! If you needed the toilet, it was out the back door into a small yard, where we kept the coal for the fire and through a small wooden door. You had to be careful to avoid the rather large spiders in the summer months! The house was built on a slope, so the back door and yard were 15 feet below ground level. You could climb wooden steps into the garden, which was owned by the people upstairs, although we were allowed access.
My Christening (I’m the baby!). Mum’s holding me and dad is top centre right, with the glasses. There’s my brother, Colin at the front. My sister, Kath, top left with dark hair and brother Den on the right with the glasses.
My dad was a builder and decorator and kept his extending ladders leaning against the back of the house from the yard and soaring into the sky! I had a lot of fun on those ladders. I felt as though I was climbing into fresh air with every step. They were lashed with ropes onto a small balcony on the first floor which gave access to my bedroom. The balcony was a ‘secret’ meeting place for ‘the gang!’
I was an only child of my mother and father but had two half brothers and one half sister. Colin was my mother’s son from her previous marriage and Den and Kath my dad’s children from his previous marriage. Den and Kath had left home and married when I was very small, and Colin was in his teens when I was born. He was my hero. He taught me to jive to Bill Haley And The Comets who became famous in the 50’s releasing their biggest hit, “Rock Around The Clock” which sold 25 million copies! We had one of them, on the old 78rpm (Revs Per Minute – that’s not referring to how many clergyman eat cucumber sandwiches with elderly people on a Wednesday afternoon!)
My mother had a great singing voice often breaking out in song around the house. There would be Bill Haley in one room and Ave Maria in the other!
My own broad taste in music obviously springs from those early days as I listened, enraptured, to my mum’s favourite piece of music, Edvard Grieg’s Piano Concerto in A-minor and then trotted off to the next room to jive with Bill!
Saturday and Sunday nights were my favourite time when we sat around an open fire watching an extremely small black and white TV. Sunday Night At The London Palladium, Take Your Pick with Michael Miles and my special treat: a glass of cream soda with a dollop of ice cream in the top! I used to stir it frantically and then let it settle. All the ice cream would float to the top and harden. Then in I’d go with a spoon!
Nice! I need to close off now. Back soon.
Sorry, I still haven’t told you about the gang!