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.


August 23rd 15:30 Re-cycling.

August 23rd15:30…Re-cycling.

  Many years ago, re-cycling, would have been called ‘Make Do and Mend’.

Also, there was no such word as ‘Fly-Tipping’; there was nothing that a normal house-hold would want to throw away, we kept it, just in case it would come in useful one day.

  A tradesman, such as a carpenter or decorator, would take away all his surplus material, either back to his workshop, or to the local council-run dump, for a small charge.

  Now, dumps are very choosy about what they will take, they turn away tradesmen, who have to take the stuff to an expensive depot, miles away.

  A gap in the market appeared, a man and a van would roam the streets, and offer to take all your rubbish away for just a few pounds; problem solved, or rather moved, to a place like St Annes Hill, nice and quiet! 

   Fly-Tipping had arrived!

The five-pence charge on plastic bags is a huge success, that small charge has made us think twice about using one.

   Perhaps it would have been better to place that charge earlier in the manufacturing process.

  Ok, a cucumber will rot a few days earlier without a plastic rapper, but then it will be added to the kitchen compost bin instead of the house-hold rubbish, complete with its plastic overcoat.

  We all know it is hard to change our ways, but we have very little time before it all becomes unmanageable

  It’s all very well for me, a retired man with plenty of time on my hands, to do all these things.

  But, I know there are lots of busy people, who do find the time to sort their recycling, I am full of praise for them.  

  An easy way to start—which just needs a change to your shopping habits—is to encourage the return of the milk-man, he won’t come on his own, unless enough of us do it.

  Two plastic ‘bottles’ a day, produces over 700 of them a year per house-hold! I know they are recyclable, but only into more plastic, whereas, a glass bottle is collected by the milk-man and re-used again and again.

It also gives some-one the opportunity to start their own business.

  What’s not to like?

  By the way, we are lucky enough to have a milkman, he calls four times a week. 

August 22nd 10 pm The crime wave..

August 22rd 10 pm…The crime wave..

I see posts from our group complaining about the increasing level of bad behaviour in the Chertsey area, but I think, any town, the size of Chertsey, would certainly have some very nasty people living in it.

But, not so long ago, before the internet, the knowledge of their wrong doing was only known about by the people affected and their neighbours—in other words people living a mile away would probably never be aware of it.

Now with the blessing of our social media, the news of a stone thrown through a window, is instantly shared to thousands of people, thus creating an in image of a lawless town.

Of course, I am not condoning these anti-social idiots, I am just saying it has always happened, we just did not always know about it.

In the 1940’s, the little area surrounding Pyrcroft Road, provided Mrs. Salmon and my mother, with enough gossip to push a steam roller.

As a child I would listen, or rather watch, the two of them exchanging the latest scandal, it was never meant for my ears of course

When I say I watched them talking, I mean they would move their lips without uttering a sound; my brother Don called it ‘Gum talk’, we could easily read their lips after a while, so it was all quite pointless.

I found these stories very exciting, there was the man in Barker Road who had a gun, I don’t think he ever used it though, another, was of a young girl about sixteen, who had given birth to a little girl, apparently, the father could have been any one of her own family!

Then there was the ‘Black Market’ during the war, most things could be had if you could afford it.

I was once asked to deliver a suitcase full of Army blankets to a man in Staines Lane, I was paid a shilling! I suppose it made me a partner in crime—I was only eight!

So, rest content in your beds tonight, the chances of it happening to you has hardly changed—but just to be on the safe side, keep one eye and an ear open at all times.

Just saying.

August 22nd 01:00 From Plonkers to Conkers.

August 22nd01:00 From Plonkers to Conkers.

Enough about plonkers, lets talk about the conker.

Today, in Alexandra Park—donated to Manchester by a local industrialist in Victorian times— which is just across the road from our house, there is wonderful avenue of huge specimen trees: Limes, Oaks, Sweet Chestnuts, and best of all in my opinion, the ‘Conker tree’.

 From early spring to early autumn, it delivers pleasure; who remembers, in school having a sticky bud in a jar of water, changing colour before opening into leaf?

 Then, that lovely sweet smell of the white or pink blossom on the tree, almost before winter has passed.

 The velvety leaves, followed by the shiny brown conker in it’s shell; which brings me back to my walk in the park today, there were dozens of them, every one would be a prize for a child to pick up.

Playing conkers, was one of our delights as children, throwing sticks up into the tree to have that beauty that was just out of reach; the best trees in Chertsey, were in Mr Stanfords farm, next to the Pyrcroft House little stream. He never worried us while we climbed his fence and into his fields, as long as we didn’t scare his cows.

The most dangerous part of playing conkers—although some killjoys wanted to ban it—was pushing a meat skewer in the conker to thread the string.

The playground then became a battlefield, with always some boy claiming his conker had shattered at least a hundred others, never to be proved of course.

Science played its part; several ways of making the conker a champion was tried, among them, boiling in vinegar! It didn’t work, I tried it!

But the easiest way to win was simply to use last year’s conker, they were like a rock. But ruled out as cheating—we were all so fair as children.

I wonder if kids play conkers today? they are surely missing out if they don’t!

August 21 st 16:00 Careful what you wish for, part two.

August 21st 16:00 Careful what you wish for part 2.

Since the referendum in 2016, I have, like many others, been literally forced into taking more interest in politics.

I have followed with disbelief, how our politicians, of every colour, twist and turn from one day to the next.

A year or two ago, we saw statements made by these people—who we trust with our nations wellbeing— promoting the only way forward is to go down this particular path to prosperity.

Now, some of them are saying the complete opposite.  

At eighty-seven, and reasonably with-it, you would think, wouldn’t you, that I would be able to understand what on earth they are up to.

I’m afraid it beats me!

Why would the Conservative party, risk losing the Union of our nation, and even the very party they belong to—let alone the Irish troubles returning—to take us into, what they freely admit, is a very uncertain future, for decades to come.

And why would the Labour party want to leave an organisation that has improved our worker’s rights, let alone our human rights? All now threatened by the same people who want us to work till we are seventy-five—in some areas of the UK, we will not reach that age.

Fortunately, there is a move afoot, that if the Politicians really want to find out what, we, the people want—now that we have been given the facts of what is in store for us.

 They will bury their differences and unite, it doesn’t matter who will be the temporary prime minister, just do it! 

And show us, for once, that you put the interests of this lovely United Kingdom, before any of your vested interests, what-ever colour they are.        

August 18th 23:00 Careful what you wish for.

August 18th23:00    Careful what you wish for.

        I am old enough to remember, the whisper going around town, of some bacon in ‘Denyers’, a local grocer, and of the queue of ladies, that quickly formed outside, hoping to have a few rashers, before Mr Denyer would say “That’s all folks, it’s all gone”.

Of course it will all be different when we leave the EU; the ladies will be sitting in their cars in a queue outside the overflowing ‘Tesco’ car park, now full of other shoppers sitting in cars, who have driven there from miles around, just because someone said there was some bacon in stock.

That all depends, of course, on whether they were able to find some petrol to drive there in the first place.

OK, that’s a bit fanciful. It wouldn’t be like this……………..would it?

 The truth is no one knows!

August 17th 2019, 01:30….If I was a rich man.

August 17th2019, 01:30…..If I was a rich man.

I have found, the quickest way of losing a friend, is to paint their portrait.

Another good way is to discuss politics.

But, in todays world it is impossible to avoid.

The thing is—and it is only my opinion—the politicians we have in our once proud little country, are like puppets, controlled by a few ‘newspapers’.

The owners of these papers, are only interested in preserving the wealth of the country, in the hands of a few people.

 These same people, have no interest in the wealth and well being of the rest of us.

Once upon a time, our little group of islands, really was Great Britain, we punched above our weight.

There are moments, of course, not to be proud of what we did, but we gave the world many of the better standards that the rest of the the world take for granted now. 

Now these ‘buccaneers’ are willing to break us apart, for one very good reason.

They are terrified of having to pay their share of the taxes that we ordinary people have no choice but to do.

So scared are they, of having to do this, they are quite happy to forego the very generous subsidies they receive from the EU— just for owning great swathes of land in our country.

It was not always like this, some very wealthy manufacturers, ploughed some of their profits—admittedly from the poor working conditions that were normal at that time—into model towns with wonderful parks and such like, solely for their workers.

In my home town of Chertsey, a wonderful park—St Annes Hill—was given to the people of the town to enjoy.

Can you imagine any, any, employer doing that now?

So, don’t blame the politicians that we have at the moment, they know not what they do.        

August 15th 03:50 Good old Stepgate’s.

August 15th03:50…… Good old Stepgate’s.

School day’s, are supposed to be the happiest day’s of your life. I can’t say I was unhappy, but I was so glad to leave the place.

The lessons were bad enough, especially English, so many odd rules that made no sense; maths, or sums, as we called them, at least had proper rules—now they are called mathematics, unless you are in America, then it’s called math, it must be easy to have just one sum to learn!

It was in my first week at school, that I realised that children from other parts of Chertsey, had a special smell; from then on I seemed to be constantly envious of any other child that was different from me.

First of all, the smell, I was not aware that I had a smell all of my own (I bet others were very aware) but I noticed that children from ‘the top of the town’ smelled of Lifebuoy soap, and some even, of Wrights Cold Tar Soap—my sister’s soap that I was never allowed to use but liked to smell. 

Shoes or boots were another source of envy, shiny brown shoes were a thing of beauty to me, but fancy being jealous of boots, so heavily encrusted with hobnails that the wearer walked like a zombie—this girl turned out to be the schools champion sprint

Now, in my eighties, I have taken to writing, my punctuation must make some people cringe, but I have an English rule of my own ‘when in doubt, leave it out, or drop in a semi-colon now and again to make them shout’.