August 3rd 01:30 Perambulators

August 3rd01:30 Perambulators. 

Perambulators, or to give them their normal name; ‘Prams,’ are really amazing things, they have such an extended life, I can’t think of another every-day item in most people’s homes that are used in so many different ways, as the humble pram.

You could tell how well off a family was by the size of the wheels on the pram, not only did they have very large wheels, the back wheels were bigger than the front ones, such as The Marmet, a very fine coach built affair and very expensive, or The Silver Cross, another brilliant design and very popular.

 Large wheelers were for the people up Ruxbury Hill, or St Anne’s Road.

Sometimes one of theses desirable vehicles would find it’s way down to ‘Apache’ country, and be highly prized, as they were so easy to push. The large wheels also allowed a large tray to be fitted under the body, perfect for the shopping. 

 Chertsey was a baby factory, large families were the norm; at one time these family prams must have been new, but I can only remember old ones, a little past their best.

One pram could be used by several families, going backward and forward between them as new children arrived, no one seemed to own them, they were communal.

Eventually the plastic interior would start to crack and crumble, and they would start to smell—always like condensed milk for some unknown reason— and the pram would take on it’s next life, it was the perfect shape for logs, coke or anything heavy, that needed carrying any distance.

Once the coachwork had been worn beyond any safe use, it would have been stripped down for a trolley for the kids, the spring arms were perfect for holding on to when we were daring enough to hurtle down St Annes hill.

Then there was the commercial use, cheaper ones with a metal body, were prized by the muffin man, he could put a little pile of glowing coke in the bottom, to heat his muffins, it’s a wonder it didn’t go up in flames. He would be out for several hours in the evenings, around our streets, ringing his bell, in the same way as todays ice cream men do.

Another man would sell winkles and cockles, measured out in a pint jug, again from an old pram, not very hygienic, but no one seemed to be the worse for it, perhaps we were all immune to a bit of dirt in those days.  

Of course, as these families did all their shopping in Chertsey, they were perfect, but when Staines or even Addlestone began to have a better variety of shops; The folding push chair such as the McLaren was king, but to us kids, no way near as useful. 

Eventually, just the wheels and axles were used on a plank of wood with a bit of rope to steer; Such a simple fun making device, so much better than playing alone on some computer game.

August the 2nd 22:00.

I have been in Manchester, for about three months, and only now, have I sorted my things out.

Who would have thought, that a boy living in Chertsey, just after the war, with just one set of clothes, would now at the age of 87, be embarrassed by having two many pairs of trousers? ………Seventeen pairs to be precise! 

 Not only that, but what about all the shirts, socks, pants and god only knows what else?

 The simple truth is, that I never throw anything away,

OK, I have really lost any hope, that my lovely pair of flared jeans, may, one day come back in fashion. But on the other hand if I do actually throw them out, you can bet they will be all the rage immediately.

Mind you, I haven’t got the bum for them now. In fact, my legs look as if they are attached to my shoulder blades, without anything to fill the back of my trousers!

  This habit of hoarding, that most men have, and certainly in my case, goes back to the time, just after the war, when we only had one set of clothes.

My brother Bernard came home, after being demobbed, with a lovely light grey, double breasted, worsted wool suit. I don’t think he ever wore it, he was a very quiet man, and hardy left the house, due to his war experiences in France. 

This lovely, light grey, double breasted, worsted wool suit, was given to me, it was my first suit of any sort let alone one such as this.

I thought I was the bee’s knees, I looked dashing complete with my white plimsolls, heavy with several coats of white Blanco, and open necked shirt.

But, like so many things that look wonderful one day, the suit soon lost the factory crispness that it once had, the first thing I noticed was that the lapels started to droop, no matter what I did they just hung down, as if they were very sad, which in fact the whole suit must have been, everything just drooped.

A year later, I am back to one set of clothes, not at all suitable for a visit to Mr Croft, the dentist, next to the Town Hall.

Now my other brother comes to the rescue, Don was in the Army Cadets, and had a full uniform, there was a slight problem, he was of average build, and I was freakishly tall, nothing really fitted.

The other option was to wear my sister Chris’s Land army uniform, that would have been a better fit, apart from her breeches, the last thing I wanted was to look ridiculous.

So, when Miss Chase—who had been very kind to our family during the bad times—came to collect me in her Rolls Royce Shooting Break, I was very smart in Don’s uniform, albeit a bit tight.

I will never forget the dentists look of astonishment when I walked into his surgery, I must have looked a bit odd.

July 30th 19:00. Wood Burners.


  Last week, it was so hot—even here in Manchester! That I was seeking some shade, luckily there are plenty of large trees surrounding our home.  Now it is so cold and wet—as it is in most parts of the country, that, Amanda, thought we should light the wood burner in the kitchen.

That made me think of the amount of wood that was used for heating years ago.

It was quite a business in Chertsey, we had Mr Johnson’s small wood yard at the end of Chelsey Green, specialising in fire wood and logs, delivering all over the area.

   George Cawley’s much larger business, also selling logs, and involved in tree felling and a large saw mill for producing large planks of timber, which was stacked in the adjacent field to season.

  As a child, I remember going to see Mrs Cawley, with my mother—I believe the Cawley family lived in Pyrcroft road, and remained friends with my mother. I was friends with Roy, their youngest son. Now they lived in a bungalow next to the wood yard.  It was paradise for me, Roy had a pedal car with pump up tyres!! and they had an old car in a barn which was our playground—to have a car in any condition, must have meant the business was flourishing.

The river Bourne flowed past the house under ‘The New Bridge’, another playground for us kids, Mr Cawley widened the Bourne into a large pool beneath an over hanging tree with a rope for swinging.

After the war ended, while I and Roy were in the garden having a swing, we saw one of the Cawley boys come home from the war, with his big kitbag, It was amazing to see, even Mr Cawley, who was as hard a man as you could ever meet, break down and cry.

A few years later, I, like a lot of the local boys, worked at Cawleys, but only very briefly, after I saw a man cut three of his fingers off on a circular saw, this was an occupational hazard—as they say. 

In the nearby Johnson wood yard, Mr Johnson’s sons had all lost a couple of fingers at various times.

 I started to think I should seek safer employment after that.

July 24th 01:00 My first girl friend.

July 24th01:00 My first girl friend.

  My last post about my first kiss, triggered another torrid period of my life.

Although I have often said that I have only had two girl friends, there was another—more of a girl who happened to be a friend though.

I have no idea how it all started, but every Sunday, I went to her house in New Haw for tea.

Although her family were very nice to me, I didn’t really like the girl, but I didn’t know how to say no, so this went on for over nine months.

During this time, I never kissed her or even held her hand.

I don’t know if I attract odd people, or it is me that is odd, but those Sundays were certainly very odd.

First of all, the girl seemed to be intent on kissing me, she would keep puckering her lips as if she had a bit of toffee stuck in her teeth, but after the last misadventure in Drill Hall Road, I didn’t want any of that nonsense, after all I’m still only fifteen.

Her mother had a nice singing voice, and some evenings she would play the piano, her favourite song was ‘Come into the garden Maud’—not really my cup of tea—and unfortunately the piano had a few duff notes, and I had to endure a few minutes of buttock clenching anticipation, waiting for the odd plink plonk of the bad notes at crucial moments of the song, my buttocks have never been the same since.

Her father would have his bath in the evening and liked to have his back scrubbed, on one occasion I was asked if I would like to do it for him, I would rather have one of the mothers knitting needles stuck in my eye

As if all of this was not enough, I was too shy to ask to go to the lavatory, so when I left to catch the ten o’clock bus home, I was desperate for a wee, I just about managed to hold out till I reached the privet hedge in her front garden, I tried to be discreet but on a cold night the steam would make it very obvious what I was doing.

After nine months of this, the privet hedge gradually withered, and with it my interest in any more romance  

July 23rd 3:30 My First Kiss.

July 23rd3:30 My first kiss. 

  Some of you may have realised, from some of my stories, that in my early days I was a bit naïve……….. and some, probably still have that impression. 

You would think, wouldn’t you, that living in a house with four sisters, and a brother who seemed always to have some young girl hanging around, that I would pick-up some of this hormonal atmosphere.

  I did think about girls, but they always seemed to be for someone else, anyway I never knew what to say to them, and when I did say something, it seemed to come out wrong.

     But things changed suddenly, when I was coming home on the 237,,after working in Shepperton; there was always a pretty young girl sitting with her friends on the same bus.

But this time she had to sit next to me, and she began talking; now to most people this would be nothing out of the ordinary, but to me, it was very odd behaviour 

Not only that, she asked me if I would walk her to her home—it was the 1947 winter and very dark and icy, plus she didn’t have her normal friend to walk down Pound road with her.

  We walked to the end of Drill Hall road, and, I suppose, as a thank you, she gave me a little kiss.

   She caught me by surprise and made me jump, and then she said. “You have never been kissed before have you, did you like it”

“Yes, I did, it was very nice, it tasted of onions, I like onions, especially fried”

        In the next few days, coming home from work on the same bus, I could never quite catch her eye.

I remember thinking I must have upset her in some way.

  You can’t be too careful what you say to girls, they seem to be super sensitive. 

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.