Archive for August, 2015

I am honoured to have been featured on the youshare site. Thank you, Ashlee, for this wonderful opportunity.

bbUntitledAbout youshare

Youshare Project co-founders Nick Blewett and Ashlee Brown Blewett have over 15 years of combined experience working with international media organizations, including National Geographic, PBS, Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Smithsonian Channel, WGBH, The Washington Post, and NPR.

They have researched, developed, written, and produced content for books, the web, and broadcast and cable television. For most of their careers, they have focused on telling other people’s stories. But they believe the most powerful stories are unfiltered, unbiased, and told not through the lens of a particular media outlet or journalist, but delivered personally.

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Destruction of homes during the London Blitz.

Mum began to talk about asking the council for a house as she was finding all the stairs and lack of conveniences in Approach Road hard work. At that time there was a real house shortage as so many houses had been lost in the war.

They told Mum there would be a long wait as they had so many people to house. After numerous visits to the housing department we were allocated a house in Holmleigh Road, Stamford Hill.

After living in four rooms, with a shared lavatory, the thought of a house of our own sounded like luxury to us. But there was nothing luxurious about the house in Holmleigh Road. It was a lovely house, with two large bay-windows in the front.

Upstairs there were three large bedrooms and one small, and a decent sized bathroom. Downstairs consisted of a large hall, kitchen, small utility room and two further large rooms, one in the front and one in the back of the house. The house also had a cellar. Outside was a small lawn and an outside lavatory.

imagegassUnfortunately, there was no electricity in the house, and the only lighting was gas. The gaslight worked by having a mantle over the gas jet, and as the mantle was made of a fine gauze it was very fragile.

Each mantle cost half-a-crown (12½ new pence now) which was a lot of money then. Mum could only ever afford to buy one, and this was for the kitchen. It would break quite easily, and we ended up with half a mantle, hissing and spluttering, and showing a poor light.

images33X5DL4SThe water was heated by a coal-fired boiler, and the water stored in an old metal tank situated over the sink. As the water heated, the tank would rumble and bubble, and appeared to move about, even though it was attached to the wall. It looked and sounded a dangerous contraption.

As the coal Mum bought was needed for the boiler, the rest of the house had no heating, and it was very cold in the winter months.

So we ended up with a nice house, with plenty of room, but no conveniences. It was almost like the primitive conditions we had endured in Wales.

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imagescsOne day, some time after Mum had met her new friend, her daughter Rosie knocked on our door looking very upset.

She told Mum that her Dad had been involved in an accident at work. Mum put her coat on and rushed back with her to see if she could help.

Our Mum was gone such a long time that we decided to go and meet her. When we arrived at Mrs Holten’s house there was a sound of crying, and when Rosie opened the door to us, tears were running down her face.

We knew at once what had happened – her Dad had died. Poor Mr Holten had fallen off the scaffold at work and broken his neck; he had died before anyone could help him. Mum was upstairs with her friend, and Rosie said she was just taking them some tea up. I offered to take it for her as she seemed to have such a lot to do.

untpinitledOne of her sisters was moaning that she had to go out, and could not find her skirt. I was amazed to see Rosie pull a skirt out of a pile of clothes on the floor, and the young girl wrap it around her and fasten it with a pin. I was even more surprised when I went upstairs to the bedrooms.

There were beds everywhere, but not one had any sheets or blankets; all they had to keep them warm was a pile of old coats. It looked like a jumble sale. As poor as we were, our beds had always had clean sheets and quilts on.

untitlfaedOur Mum was sitting on the bed holding her friend’s hand and gratefully took the tea. I for one could not have drunk anything in that house, but it never seemed to worry Mum.

Later in the evening we all left to go home, and felt very sad for the family we were leaving, as we knew what it was like to lose your Dad.

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