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Archive for September, 2015

untitledbrUnfortunately, our Mum started to suffer with chronic bronchitis which affected her breathing, and though she would never make a fuss, some days she would have to take to her bed.

Being the eldest girl not working, I would have to stay home to help Mum, and in the winter months I was often absent from school causing problems for Mum with the school authorities.

I also lost my place in the school team as they said I was unreliable, and I can remember how upset I was at the time.

Mum still had her job in the hospital but it was getting too much for her, and now that my elder sisters were working and helping with the household bills she decided to stay at home. As there were still eight of us to look after she had more than enough to do.

571957_mediumKath, my sister, had trained to be a secretary which I thought sounded very posh, and when she told Mum that she wanted to be a land girl, I was surprised. We all missed Kath when she left home to start her new life on a farm.

Kath was always a pretty girl, but after she had been working in the country for a few months she looked lovely; it must have been all the fresh air and food. It was while she was working away that she met her future husband, Den, who was in the Royal Navy.Women's-Land-Army-1917

My sisters were all growing up, and it was not long before Lil and Mary were both courting. They had met their boyfriends at the same wedding. They brought them home one night to introduce them to my Mum, and a very unfortunate beginning it was.

As there were no lights in our hall, any strangers would not know that there were three stairs halfway down the passage, and as we were all used to them we often forgot to tell visitors.

Lil and Mary came in with their new boyfriends, and there was no mention of the stairs. Then we heard such a commotion in the hall. First there was a cry from someone as they fell headfirst down the stairs, and then there was a terrible howl as whoever had fallen had also flattened our poor cat.

The man picked it up and said it was not dead, but badly injured and he would put the poor animal out of her misery. He then asked for a bucket of water and to our horror, proceeded to drown the cat. We were all so shocked that no one asked the man if he had hurt himself.imabges

Mum was standing there not knowing what to do or say when Lil said: “This is Les, my friend, and he is very sorry for what he did to the cat.” Mary then told Mum that her boyfriend was named Jim.

We did not expect to see them anymore after what had happened, but they still called, being very careful when they walked down our hall. My sisters eventually married Les and Jim.

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imagesAS84KQ72The three boys were getting quite a handful for Mum. They were not bad boys, but being boys they were noisy and messy. One of the windows at the back of the house had already been broken with their ball. The lawn had completely disappeared where they played football and had turned into an ugly bald patch. I think the worst for the neighbours must have been the noise they made when they were playing cowboys and Indians.

They would run through the house and out into the garden whooping and screaming, and shouting, Bang! Bang! as though they had a gun in their hands. Also, my brother George was in the habit of hanging out of the bedroom window shouting and screaming that he wanted to go with Mum every time she went out shopping.

I think now, with the memory of Dad leaving our house and never coming back, that he must have believed that Mum would do the same. Mum did not let him go because she knew that my two other brothers would want to go, and they were too much of a handful while she was shopping.

One other cause for complaint from the neighbours were the Saturday night parties that were a regular feature in our house.

images0N04S226On Saturday evenings Mum would usually go to the local pub with my elder sisters and their boyfriends. There they would meet other people and invite them home for a bite to eat and a sing-song, and by the time they left the pub a few more had joined the party.

As soon as they arrived back at our house the noise would start, with Mum thumping out tunes on the piano and all the visitors singing at the top of their voices. As they left – and this was always past midnight – they would shout their goodnights to one another. No wonder there were complaints. With hindsight, I think they were justified.

imagesFYJRM8S3Once again we had to get used to going to a new school, which was nearby in Stoke Newington. The short time I attended the school was very enjoyable, as all the teachers were helpful, and while there I made some good friends.

We were encouraged to enter the different sports, and for the first time I tried swimming and rounders. I was never much good at rounders, but I loved swimming and diving, and eventually was good enough to be in the school team and compete with other schools.

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untitljedHolmleigh Road was situated in Stamford Hill, in the North of London. It was a very affluent area, mostly populated by Jewish business people. They were all well dressed, and lived in expensively furnished homes. I can only guess at what their reaction must have been when my family arrived to live there.

Somehow, Mum had managed to keep a few decent bits of furniture, along with her piano, but the rest of our belongings looked quite shabby as they were carried into the house. When this was followed by Mum, five girls and three noisy, scruffy boys, we must have looked like the original neighbours from hell.

100px-Sewing_toolsIt was not long before Mum had her first argument with one of our neighbours. Their name was Mr and Mrs Rose, and they had a tailoring business. There were no children, but they had a live-in maid.

The trouble started when my brothers began to play football in our garden, and kept kicking the ball into next door’s immaculate garden. They had run next door a couple of times to retrieve their ball when the maid came out, and told them she would keep the ball if it came in the garden anymore.

untitlfedShe must have been watching from a window, because when the ball was kicked over again, out she came, and took the ball indoors before my brothers could get it back. My brothers were football mad, and the loss of their football was a blow to them. Mum said she would have a word with Mrs Rose when she came home.

In the evening Mum went next door to ask for the ball back, and Mrs Rose refused, saying that she had given the boys enough chances. We could hear Mum shouting at her from our garden.

It was not long after that Mrs Rose had a high wall built along the whole length of her garden. Mum called her ‘a miserable cow’, and in the end Mrs Rose must have had enough of our noisy family as they moved out.imagesUEQHMVZI

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