Made In Chertsey.

I’m eighty seven, and this is my life blog/Memoir, I was born in nineteen thirty two, in Chertsey, Surrey.

I need to set down the important—and not so important— moments in my life so that I have something to pass on to my family.

My parents were Charles, and Ethel. They were married in 1920.

I was born in 1932 and was the youngest of six children, 3 boys, Bernard, b 1924,Don, b 1930, and myself, b 1932, and 3 girls, Deidre, b 1921, Iris, b 1922 and Christine, b 1927.

I am the last one of this family living,

I have 2 sons, Iain and James, 3 grand daughters and 2 grandsons.

My father died on his way to work in Weybridge, he was 34, he had been ill with ‘flu and because there was no sick pay, he probably returned to work too early.  After cycling up Woburn Hill,  he fell from his bike, and died before a doctor could be called. The cause of death was influenza myocarditis.

My mother was 34, with 6 children to bring up on her own, there was no welfare state in 1934, my mother relied on her friends and neighbours to manage.

In 1937 my mother met Fred Barker, he moved in and took responsibility for our family, he must have been quite a man to take on six kids. I was young enough to think of him as my dad, although we all called him Fred. Mum and Fred had two children, David and Sylvia.

I am using this blog, so that this story is passed on, the stories are mostly unedited and as I remember them— with just a little imagination.


July 17th, 09:22 Technology.

July 17th09:22 

   My first car was a 1933 Ford Eight, with a six-volt battery, my present car is a Hybrid with a battery that would last a thousand years in my old Ford, so much for technology.

But now, I am now a bus and train user, after 70 years of driving I have switched to the easy life.

When I say easy, I just mean the bit of sitting and being taken here, there and every-where, it’s lovely.

 For the train, I just apply for my ticket with my new mobile, the ticket is easily shown when needed, with just a touch of a button, or so my Grand-daughter told me. 

The panic set in when I was asked to show my ticket, I just pushed the button and lo and behold, nothing happened.

The ticket man had seen it all before and with fingers moving fast that I could not follow them, he produced the ticket. It looked so easy.

I now need to be able to show my return ticket in a few days, so I tried it again………. it’s hiding from me, no matter what I do.

From now I will buy a proper paper ticket.

It was so different when I worked at the Airscrew, in 1946, I caught the train from Chertsey, and bought a little card-board ticket and simply handed it to the porter at Addlestone……… In theory.

I sometimes wonder how British Rail ever made a profit from the workers trains, some of us made our own tickets from a bit of Cornflake packet, and with so many men rushing past, the tickets were rarely looked at.

 Talking of batteries, one of my jobs as a child, was taking our radio accumulator to Mr Hydes electric shop, in Guildford Street, to have it recharged, it was quite big and heavy and only lasted a week.

Another shop, near the station, sold bikes and such like, including carbide, for another sort of battery, this was the carbide bike lamp, the ‘battery’ was charged up by placing carbide granules in the lamp and then adding water, this gave off acetyline gas, which when you lit, gave a very bright light and lasted for an hour or so.

Another wonderful use for this carbide, that Laury Zubiana found out, was, that if you put one granule in Brenda Lambs inkpot, it would bubble up and cause a stink and frighten her and everyone else, good job no one smoked.

 He was a clever boy, that Laury.

July 15th, 11:45, Country Cockneys.

July 15th, 11:45. Country Cockneys.

  At Stepgate’s, in the 1940’s, the children who lived in Lyne were bussed into school every day, and we Chertsey kids thought they came from the deepest country, because they had an accent like someone from Wiltshire or some such place.

On the other-hand they thought of us as Cockneys; yet we lived just a couple of miles apart.

Even in Chertsey itself, such was the division between ‘the top of the town’ and other parts, such as the area known as ‘The Apache’s’—mainly council houses— there was a difference in our accents.

So, it is not surprising, that a bomb falling in Pyrcroft Road, was, at the time, not known about, just a couple of miles away.

     On Saturday, at the Black Cherry Fair, my Friend Alex told me about the day he was bombed out, in Fordwater Road, at about the same time as I was.

 We each knew nothing about the other’s bombing out, until last Saturday.

Both our homes had the windows and front doors blown in, but his bungalow had the roof lifted up.

 On the opposite side of the Alex’s road, in Mr Turners field, the bomb had landed in a haystack, which burst into flame, shooting burning straw into the air and setting the tails and manes of his horses alight.

Mr Turner, for some reason, that I can’t quite understand, slept in the pig-sty, I suppose he though it was safer there.

 So, he was able to save his panic-stricken horses, it must have a horrific scene, which Alex actually saw that day.

 Later on in the war, he actually saw the ‘Doodle Bug’ that fell on the house in Addlestone Moor, he was on the Fordwater Road bridge, a few hundred yards away!

    What a difference, If these two events had happened today, Chertsey Chatter would have all this information in every ones inbox in two minutes flat!!

Being connected by groups such as ours, is such an advantage.  

20th July 2019, 05:00.

20thJuly 2019. 05:00.

I have been awake since about four o’clock, thinking about my lovely day in Chertsey for the famous Black Cherry Fair—and also buzzing about my recent lottery win.

I have been staying with Alex and Sheila in beautiful home in Ottershaw, thankyou both.

After all these years it was my first time for the fair

I have always loved our quirky little town, but this was something special, the work that must gone into organising everything was so worth it. We sometimes forget, that it’s always the same little group of enthusiasts, giving up their spare time to make this happen.

Thankyou, everyone one, you made my day, and for all those crowds enjoying this special day.

We walked all around the places I remember, The Abby Barn where I was first told to get lost by my future wife Ann, but she softens in the end.

The sad little bridge over the Abbey river with the floating water lillies, looking like a Monet painting. 

Willow Walk, where Benny Beech was always willing to sell you a cotter pin for your bike, even though it was a Sunday, from his big heap of nuts, bolts and anything to do with bikes that he had on his bench, a lovely man. 

There is no doubt that the place has changed, but at the top of the town, it can be seen what Chertsey used to be like when I was a child.

I remember being treated to my dinner in a café opposite the town hall, when I helped Bobby Salmon do his green grocery round in 1946; sausage, egg and chips cost him one shilling!

Bearing this in mind, I thought I would treat Alex and my friend Andy— who came down from London, specially to see what we had to offer—to a nice dinner.

Since my Lottery win, I felt in a very rare generous mood, we thought we would try the Thai Café in Windsor street, it was delicious.

Now, my meal in 1946 cost a shilling, and although the Thai meal very reasonable, I soon realised that my winnings of £2:90 did not go very far.

July 6th, 21:17.

July 6th, 21:17.

   My last post mentioned the ink monitor at Stepgate’s. He used to fill the little china ink wells on the desks, it must have been an onerous job, taking a lot of his play-time.

It soon came to the notice of the ‘Apache’ boys—anyone living round about Cowley Ave were called ‘Apaches—don’t ask me why.

The ‘Apaches’; always looking for ways to outsmart the teachers, soon realised if you were very good, neat, clean, and enthusiastic, you were rewarded with a job—more like punished— like filling ink wells, keeping an eye on the little milk bottles or sweeping up shavings after wood-work.

 That is why we were all so scruffy, and had lots of time in the playground……I could have just made that up.

   The kids from the top of the town—any where that was not a council house—had their own pens, and bottles of Quink for their Parker or Swan fountain pens, these even had gold nibs! 

We just had a stick with a steel nib stuck on the end.

No wonder the teachers couldn’t read our writing.

Talking of ink; I have just been told, a set of four printer inks will cost me 100 pounds, nearly as much as the printer cost.

 Each cartridge contains about 8ml of ink, this works out at about a thousand pounds a litre!!!

More than petrol, or even Vintage champagne!!


   I have to apologise to my friend, Alex, the milk monitor, as I sometimes mention him in my stories, he says he can’t go out in Chertsey without being accosted. Sorry Al. Ha, Ha, Ha.

July 4th, 14:15, Clothes Makes the Man.

July 4th,14:15, Clothes maketh the man.

  “Clothes Maketh the Man’; Mr Thomas, a teacher at Stepgate’s, was always quoting some old saying, another one he was fond of was, ‘Cleanliness is next to Godliness’.

Me and most of my mates failed miserably on both counts.

There were some kids who qualified on one or other of these ideals; my mates David and Alex were sent to school smartly dressed with lovely shiny shoes.

The only thing shiny on my clothes was the sleeve of my jersey—we had no such thing as a hanky!! You could tell if a boy was right or left handed by this though.

   I was not alone of course; we council house kids were all in the same boat, we considered it was a bit sissy to be so clean and smart.

  We really must have smelled a bit, but this had some advantages, being so aromatic, we were never asked to be the milk monitor.

  This sort of thing was left to tidy boys like my friend Alex Lees, come to think of it he was the ink monitor as well. If fact, he was the monitor for everything.

 I could have told old Mr Thomas, a saying my Mum often quoted; ‘Handsome is as Handsome does’, this of course did not apply to me and my mates in any way.

July 2nd, 18:05, I’m just an old Git.

July 2nd, 18:05. I’m just an old Git.

I’m just an old Git.

Not bad for my years.

Excepting, of course.

For the wax in my ears.

Sorry, I can’t credit the poet who penned this. But, for the last few days, it sums me up perfectly.

I was having trouble with my hearing, and as I am a bit of a do-it-yourself fan, I bought some drops from the chemist. They worked immediately, but not in a good way.

I became totally deaf.

This caused great amusement for a day or two, but now no-one is talking to me.

Today, liberation! I had my ears cleaned by our local surgery.

In my 87 years, I have never been in any real pain or had any serious ailments—apart from some acne on my shoulders when I was 17—even then, it was more of a bad itch than pain— but everything is relative.

 But, joking aside, I think deafness is a most debilitating condition; there was a boy at Stepgates who was profoundly deaf.

The war years meant there were no special schools for kid’s like him.

 I realise now, how desperate he must have been, not being able to join in the chatter of the playground.

I often write about the problems that the children from the poorer families in Chertsey had; poor clothing, bad hygiene and all the things that go with poverty.

But I bet he would have willingly changed places with us.

It makes me think how lucky I was.

June 29th 01:37.

June 29th 2019. 01:37.

 I haven’t posted for a couple of weeks. Because, I have realised, that as I was brought up in the late 1930’s and early forties’, I have a different view from todays unacceptable comments on race and religion.

Then, anyone could have said or written their view of these things—for or against—without anyone getting upset……….. It was called discussion.

In a few of my recent posts, I have told of things that happened to me as a child, that at the time would not have caused offence to anyone.

Today, it seems to me, that almost everyone is sensitive about the most obscure mention of race or religion—or both.

So, what do I do about it? Do I continue to write truthfully about the people I knew from those days? Thereby keeping the flavour of the views and opinions of that time.

 Or do I sanitise my stories for the benefit of any sensitive person who happens to read them?

We see on the news every day, of some atrocity dealt by some race or religion to another race or religion, and most people will say how terrible and move on.

But heaven forbid—and I use these words with my fingers crossed—That I mention an unmentionable word, or all hell will erupt.

It’s a funny old world we live in today.