Tuesday, 27 November 2007

June 1951

This photo is of Barry and I in the back garden in June 1951 when I was twenty months old. I do not remember the swing; sadly it had gone by the time I was old enough to recall things. I love swings and when I was nine and ten I used to go around the corner to my friend and school fellow, Susan Paddock, in Rockville Road,. who had a swing in her garden.

Just to the right of the swing is an Anderson shelter which served as Dad's shed until 1972 when he got a wooden shed as his retirement present. The Anderson shelter was designed in 1938 and was named after Sir John Anderson, the Lord Privy Seal with special responsibility for preparing air-raid precautions immediately prior to the outbreak of World War II. Anderson shelters were designed to accommodate up to six people. The main principle of protection was based on curved and straight galvanised corrugated steel panels. The shelters were 6 ft (1.8 m) high, 4 ft 6 in (1.4 m) wide, and 6 ft 6 in (2 m) long. They were buried 4 ft (1.2 m) deep in the soil and then covered with a minimum of 15 in (0.4 m) of soil above the roof. Anderson shelters were issued free to all householders who earned less than £250 a year, and those with a higher income were charged £7. 150,000 shelters of this type were distributed from February 1939 to the outbreak of war. During the war a further 2.1 million were erected. Once the War was over many were reclaimed for their metal whilst others were dug up to become allotment or garden sheds like ours.

Sunday, 25 November 2007

The Standard

This was Dad's first car - a Standard 8 with a Standard 10 engine in it. Dad not only changed the engine in it but also re-painted it (so that later it was dark blue). It was the car on which I learned to drive. Among my early long drives as a learner were one to Aberystwyth and back and a few around the Trough of Bowland.

Friday, 23 November 2007

Moel Famau

I climbed my first “mountain”, Moel Ffamau in North Wales, on 21st August 1956 at the age of six with Dad and GB. Moel Famau is the highest peak in the Clwydian Range at 1818 feet (554 m) . The summit offers wonderful views extending as far as the Isle of Man, Snowdonia, Cumberland and the Midlands with Blackpool Tower and Liverpool’s cathedrals quite prominent (though there was only one cathedral in those days). Conifers now cover much of the slopes, forming part of the Clwydian Forest. The mountain became a Country Park in 1974.

On its summit are the remains of Jubilee Tower, built at a cost of £6,000 to celebrate the 50th year of the reign of George III in 1810. Even in ruins it is a prominent landmark – ‘the pimple on the top’ as we used to call it when viewing it from afar. The tower was 150' high and 60' in diameter and constructed in an Egyptian style. The building was never quite completed, and collapsed in a storm in 1862. There were unsuccessful rebuilding attempts in 1863 and 1887 and some restoration work on the remains in 1970.
Normally, getting to Moel Famau involved getting the bus to the Pier Head, the ferry across the Mersey, the Mold bus from Woodside (Birkenhead) and then the Loggerheads bus from Mold.

This is how Mold looked in 1955. From Loggerheads we would walk along the Old Bwlch and after walking to the top and back the journey then had to be done in reverse with Sunday bus times to be borne in mind.

However, this first trip was on a Tuesday which suggests that we were staying at The Imps, a holiday cottage in Pantymwyn, owned by Uncle JPD and Aunty Muriel; about which more on a later posting.

Wednesday, 21 November 2007

Ryebank teachers

Miss Twomey & Mr Illingworth

Most of the children at Ryebank stayed for lunch but I walked home and back again every day. So did Rex Goldstone. That didn't stop us from being caned along with everyone else in the class for some general misdemeanour that had taken place during lunch! I didn't mind the caning - that was quite usual - but I did object to the injustice. I recall that caning was carried out by Mrs Flynn - the hedamaster's wife - normally it was Miss Twomey who inflicted the punishment - she had a stronger right arm and used it to good effect. She also used a thick cane which made your hand bruised and made it throb. Mr Illingworth - who only caned me once, and that on someone else's orders, used a thin whippy cane that momentarily stung but the pain of which was gone in a few minutes. Nice man! I recall there was an England cricketer by the name of Illingworth and we speculated as to whethere they might be related - one did not ask teachers personal questions in those days so the issue remained unresolved.

Sunday, 18 November 2007


A standard photo of CJE - face hidden behind a camera. I got my first camera when I was about 11 and have only been without one briefly - at college when I was too broke to afford film.

My first camera was a Kodak bellows camera which resembled this one and which took an odd roll film which got harder and harder to buy as time went on.

Friday, 16 November 2007

Ryebank Preparatory School

The Villa Belamonte (a private house) prior to becoming Ryebank Preparatory School - it still had the cannon outside the door when I went there.
In those days you didn't start school until the age of five but because I was going to a Prep. School I was allowed to start at the age of four, in January 1954. After a few weeks it was realised that I had learned enough at home to be in with the five year olds so I was moved up from Kindergarten to Miss Dowling's class. That meant I had missed the first term and a couple of weeks more and I remember having a dictation that included a comma and I just wrote 'comer' because I didn't know what a comma was.
Being a year ahead of myself also meant that I took my 11 plus at the age of ten and was still ten when I started at the Holt. That backfired on me but that's a tale for the sixties…

Playing the coffee pot

This was the Gang of Five from Holt High school. We were in the same form at school for some years and went on meeting long afterwards in the more congenial atmosphere of the Fiveways Pub. and each other's houses. This was taken at our house - 68 Renville - in October 1964, probably after a game of cards, on my fifteenth birthday. Left to right are - CJE downing the port; George Bell on coffee pot; Keith Foddy being spooky; Paul Richardson smoking the candle snuffer and David Wynne Jones beflowered.
Paul is retired on ill health, lives in Liverpool with his wife Phyllis, is Richard's godfather and was last seen at Mum's funeral; George is a retired accountant and he and his wife Chris called in on a visit to Merseyside from their South Wales / Spanish homes last year; I'm not sure what David Jones is doing but he still lives in Speke with his wife Alison and is in touch with George; Keith is the only one we have lost touch with entirely.

Tuesday, 13 November 2007

Thurstaston 1963

In 1963 Dad and I stayed at Rosa's caravan at Thurstaston for a few days. Only a dozen miles from home but it's the thought that counts. When the tide goes out at Thursaston it goes out a long long way.

Monday, 12 November 2007

BSA Bantam

How the Bantam should have looked - and (below) how it all too often did look!
I spent too much time trying to get it my first motorbike to go to actually ride it much – or even photograph it. It was a BSA Bantam 175. I’d sold my camera at College so this is a photo of someone else’s bike.

Pictured here is the Bantam engine - in bits!

More wheels

A car exiting a side road off Thomas Lane caused this Vespa 90 scooter to be written off, along with my right knee-cap, on Friday 10th June 1966. As 'O' Levels were due to start the following Monday all my revision was wasted. Instead I took the exams in the November after I had come out of hospital and had actually started in the Sixth Form on the assumption I would pass – fortunately I did.

Sunday, 11 November 2007

My Bike

My first bicycle. I was late learning to ride as I had difficulty keeping my balance (only decades later was I to find out it was part of my neurological disorder). At the age of 14 I had this bike specially made and at 15 I used it to tour the Cotswolds, youth hostelling on my own. The photo was obviously on a day when I had booked myself into the same hostel for two nights – otherwise my big saddlebags would have been on it. I had a fantastic holiday but like all good times there were the odd bad bits – most notably when I got a puncture on a main road (one of the very few I travelled along) and was wearing a yellow shirt which, combined with my perspiration, caused me to get covered in little flies. One of the best bits was trying to explain the ingredients of lemon meringue pie to two German girls in a Youth Hostel.

Saturday, 10 November 2007

My Trike

I got my first wheels - a tricycle which I loved and which looked vaguely like this one but had a metal boot and its pedals drove the rear axle - on 22nd February 1954. I’m not sure why that day as it wasn’t a birthday but that was the day recorded in Dad’s diary. It was one of the few non-gardening entries in Dad’s diaries! Perhaps he had a premonition how much the trike would mean to me. Unlike GB, who occasionally careered around the house on his trike, I rode mine up and down the pavement, being allowed as far as the lamp post. A couple of times I rode full tilt into the lamp post – my gross short-sightedness not being recognised until I had been at school a couple of years. I used to sit on my trike waiting for GB to come home from school and would cycle down to meet him.

4004 B.C.

Little bits of memory from as far back as the world began (which for me was not 4004 B.C. but 1949). I'm the one in the pram - the photo being taken early in 1950 and the Big Brother being Graham Barry (a.k.a. Bars when little; GB when big). I don't actually remember this far back and indeed I have few memories of my first years... I don't know what colour my pram was but I do know it wasn't maroon. There was a woman down the street who our family called "Mrs Maroon pram" as a way of identifying her! Lots of the neighbours had nicknames - not used to their faces but sometimes used within the family long after their names became known.

Even fairly close acquaintances in the road were rarely known by their forenames. You had to know someone really well to know their Christian name and even then you were unlikely to use it. Neighbours therefore included Miss Witham, Mrs Jones, Mr and Mrs Hudson, Mrs Brady, Mr and Mrs McCormack (despite Dad having gone to school in Birkenhead with Mr McCormack) and so on. Only John Dowd (a close friend next door) and Nora and Cyril Maude were known by their forenames (and the latter was because Dad worked with Cyril and had known them before moving to Renville Road). Mrs Davies (Hilda) next door was always known as Mrs Davies until a couple of years before she died when they were all in their late eighties and the concept of using Christian names finally caught up with them. Ironically, by the time I was in my late teens one had to know someone really well to know their surname!

This could be a mistake – creating yet another new blog. I may never be off the computer at this rate. Still, when Alzheimer’s hits me, other folk will be able to remind me of things that happened to me simply by referring to the web. Neat.

This Blog was inspired partly be seeing Wordimp’s More Beautiful Things blog and partly by coming across some old diaries. The occasional extract will be included but I shall do my best not to include anything that others might find hurtful or harmful. (And yes, there is a difference between hurtful and harmful. The former could simply be me saying someone was an ignorant toadying prat. The latter might include reference to unsolved crime reference Liverpool Constabulary 21/8/1969/a174). There may be a time limit on certain Official Secrets but there cannot really be a time limit on personal ones. At least a couple of generations need to pass on before people find out that their great grandfather founded a school for pickpockets or their great great aunt made her fortune from keeping a brothel. So that may reduce the number of entries a bit.

P.S. Did you know that the argument still continues among some folk as to whether the world began in the spring or autumn of 4004 B.C. My world began in the autumn!