September 17th 11:00 Throw us out your mouldy coapers.

September 17th11:00………..Throw us out your mouldy coppers.

 The other day while sorting my stuff out, when I moved to Manchester, I found a bag of old coins.

As I looked through them, I realise some are more valuable than they were originally, this is because of the silver content in shillings and florins etc, also a silver dollar and a Roman coin, all very exciting!

 There are lots of old copper coins as well, some looked very old and dirty, even mouldy.

And there was the trigger for my memory, ‘mouldy coppers’!

 Chertsey was a favourite short cut for coaches returning to London from the Ascot Races—we are talking about a time before the war.

All the kids knew when these coaches, full of either happy, lucky winners, or the unlucky ones, but most of them a bit tiddly.

The children would stand near the ‘Haunted House’—now a restaurant— at the top of Chelsey Green, where the coaches had to slow down and we would shout.

“Throw us out your mouldy coppers”

It was obviously a sort of tradition for both the regular Ascot race goers, and the Chertsey children, because they actually did throw lots of coppers out.

I had no chance of catching anything, of course, but I remember how exciting it was when we saw a coach coming down Thorpe Road, and all the kids, taking up the vantage points, and shouting so loud, it could be heard by the race goers before they turned the corner.

I wonder if anyone is still around that can remember this.

If you were lucky enough to catch a couple of pennies, it would be down to ‘Pipp’s for an ice cream, well worth the wait and good for a sore throat. 

September 16th 17:30. Escape to a story.

September 16th !7:30  Escape to a story.

After causing mayhem on Chertsey Chatter, yesterday, I thought I should quickly tell a story.

It is 1947, a nice sunny day. I am walking across the level crossings, on my way to the ‘rec, when I met the very lovely Diana Symonds.

She lives next to the Gas Works, and was coming out of the path that runs along the railway.

I am 15, and Diana, is one of our crowd of teen-agers who hang about up the rec.

Normally, she would be with a couple of other girls, like her friend Elsie Lemmin.

But as there was just the two of us, and I think she would rather be some where else, the conversation soon dried up.

Now, I should explain, since we were bombed out in Pyrcroft Road, I developed some nervous habits, such as an uncontrolled wink when I am under stress, also I have a habit of counting everything, such as stairs and railings.

I tried to think very hard of something interesting to say, and I could feel a bit of winking coming on, so I said. “Diana, do you know there are 280 paving slabs between The Bell and the Station Hotel”?

 She stopped walking and just looked at me for what seemed ages, and then said. “Oh dear, I think I’ve left the gas on”. And then turned around and ran back up the path that runs along the Railway.

 Later, whenever we met up the ‘rec’ with the rest of the gang, I never managed to catch her eye.

September 14th 10:27 Forest Gump?

September 14th 10:27 Forest Gump?

In June !950. I joined the Royal Air Force.

 The day before, I met a young girl in Staines, she said she would write to me while I was away.

 To my surprise she did, not only that, but she sent me some rock cakes that she had made specially for me.

  Now, as I have said before, I have never been very good with girls, and this was something new to me, I had never received or written any letters before, let alone one to a girl.

So, as I have always done when I find myself in trouble, I resorted to humour, I wrote back and thanked her for the lovely cakes, and said, jokingly, that they were just like real rocks.

 I never heard from her again.

Such is the mystery of girls!

Fortunately, I was posted to Egypt, and never spoke to another girl for three years.

But even there, I seemed to be the odd one out, all the other blokes were getting lots of letters and food parcels, of Penquin biscuits, and such like, I had just a letter from my mother now and again, no biscuits, not even a Mars bar!

 Then, surprise! surprise! I had a large parcel from my sister Iris.

 As was usual when some lucky Airman had a parcel from home, we all gathered round to share the goodies.

 I tore open the neatly wrapped parcel to gasps of amazement, as a large packet of ‘OMO’ washing powder emerged.

As I have mentioned before, I never seemed to get on with girls, now the boys are shunning me! 

Forest Gump, eat your heart out!

September 10th 01:00 Holding my breath.

September 10th 01:00. Holding my breath.

  The last few weeks have taken my breath away! 

Now we can all relax, or can we, perhaps I should continue to hold my breath, but it’s a bit like drowning.

They say, that when someone is going down for the third time, his life flashes past him.

 This could be true, it’s now past one o’clock, and here I am, back in 1942.

I hate school, I’d rather be up St Annes Hill. 

Eastworth Road, is so blooming long, kids are running past me, jumping up to glimpse the clock over the Convent fence.

I know it’s already too late, I’ve just heard the bell! but, I too, give a little jump to see the time, yes the big hand is still not quite there.

 On my side of the road, a lovely horse is standing next to the hedge, I give him a couple of strokes, plenty of time yet.

I think he belongs to the house opposite the Convent, where a poor boy has something called St Vitus Dance, he can’t stop fidgeting.

I had better slow down a bit, and pick some of the lovely, fresh Hawthorn leaves in the hedge of the Handicrafts School. 

There is something I have never been able to fathom, we call the leaves ‘bread and cheese’, and we eat them as if they are sweets!!

Actually, they are nice to eat, a sort of comfort food, before I meet Miss Slaughter.

There she will be, standing at the gate, swishing her skinny cane, another two on each hand I expect.

She does this for our own good, she says, but I think she rather likes to see a few tardy children running down Freeprae Road—or in my case strolling.

I meet Johnny Jones, he lives right next the school, in the Fairground, he hates school too.

They say, Corporal punishment is a way of making a child do as they are told, like doing things at the right time, getting to school early, and such like.

 It never did me any good, here I am, 77 years later, and it’s nearly two o’clock, I should be asleep by now.

August 26th

  August 26

  It is surprising, that the memory, which is so good at of reminding us of something best forgotten, can also hide something that should be a delight to remember.

  I have such a memory.

My friend, Roger Field, just mentioned the cardboard milk-tops, from Stanford’s Farm, that we used to play with at school.

   Suddenly, as if by some prime-evil process, a series of memories, came in to my mind.

  The memory, that Roger triggered, was ‘Balaclava’s.

 All the ‘crazes’ that swept the playground, like marbles or cheap model gliders, arrived as if by magic, one child would show off his new play-thing, and we all wanted one, almost like a seasonal thing—I suspect now, that all the local shops would stock up these things on a regular basis, just waiting for the flood of kids.

  The ‘Balaclava’.

 Every winter someone would start wearing one of these, but for some reason we were never so lucky. 

  Then, Norman Jefferies, a boy who lived at the town end of Abbey Road, came to school wearing the most magnificent ‘Balaclava’, he looked like a Norman Knight, every body wanted one.

  I asked my mum, if I could have one, she said, Deirdre, my sister, would knit one, but I wanted it now, not after the winters gone. 

Mrs. Salmon, who was sitting in the old green armchair at the time, came up with a quick fix, she said.

   “Alan, why don’t you just pull your jersey over your head and just look through the neck”?

Although, I had my misgivings about about this, I did as she suggested.

   Today, the memory of that afternoon, that has been hidden for the last seventy odd years, came agonisingly back in the greatest detail.

The sight of my mother and Mrs. Salmon, going into convulsions of laughter, as I posed in my new ‘Balaclava’, was a good thing to forget for all these years.

  I knew, in my heart, it was not the style I wanted to take school, but I don’t think they should have laughed for quite so long.

August 25th 11:40. Fairness of Children.

August 25th  11:40  Fairness of Children.

  I thought I would take a little break from writing, and I started a new painting.

  As usual, my mind takes me in a different direction, and here I am again, not able to sleep till I clear my mind of some memories, that just popped in.

   It was while I was painting, that I heard some children in a nearby garden, playing very excitably on a trampoline.

  It was obviously a new thing for them, but what struck me, was how these kids, between 5 and 8 years old, took their turns in the new toy, in fact the older kids were helping the younger ones to do some tricks.

  This bought back the memory.

In my school playground, this would be quite normal; we shared every thing, the games we played were mainly, marbles, milk-tops, fag-cards and collecting anything from foreign stamps to cigarette cards.

  The card-board milk-tops and fag cards, were flicked at other cards that were stacked against the wall, if you knocked one down, you gained that card, marbles were played in a similar way.

  The playground also became a market, where a child could swap one marble for three milk-tops, or some other treasured item, this was all done in a fair way, we all knew the value of each item.

   Of course, some kids were better than others at playing these games, and had pockets full of their winnings, but now and again, rather than keep them, they would shout ‘scrambles’ and throw all their cards or what-ever, in the air and we all ‘scrambled’ for them.

  This sharing of their good luck or skill at winning the games, allowed the games to continue.

  This is the natural fairness of children. 

Unfortunately, they have had to learn the ways of the world, and soon become acquisitive, it is more natural to hold on to your good luck than to share it.

  Welcome to our unequal society, some people go hungry, while others just over indulge.

  But, maybe some of those kids, who shouted ‘Scrambles’, are now the adults supplying and handing out the stuff in our ‘Food banks’.

  What goes around, comes around. 

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.