The Fourth of June, 2019.

The fourth of June 2019.

It’s 12:40 am; Once again, I have woken up with a thought, and I can’t sleep till it’s saved.

The thought is racism in Chertsey, or, as in my childhood, the complete lack of it.

There were very few dark-skinned people around then, and any person who was, would probably be called a “Darkie’. This was not meant to be hurtful, just as calling some-one with red-hair ‘Ginger’, no more than a friendly nick-name.

A few week’s ago, I told a true story about a man I befriended while I was in hospital, in the story I referred to his race or religion. When I read it my writing group, I felt an ‘unease’ go through the listener’s. This was in North London, an area with just about every nationality living happily next to each other.

I realise I now have to be very careful of what I say or write, every-one is so sensitive.

As a child, all those years ago, any-one with an unusual name or physical feature, would have nick-name—admittedly, some of these seemed cruel, like ‘four-eyes’ for some-one with glasses.

Most of these names were friendly, like Dusty Miller or Chalky White, but there were others that defy any logic, where did ‘Sykey Balchin’, ‘Kipper Field’, or ‘Pisell Sewell’ come from?

I had several nick-names, I never thought any were nasty, just how I appeared to some-one at the time; ‘Raggy-Waggy’, when I had holes in every-thing I was wearing, shoes, socks, trousers and my jersey. Another time it was ‘Blackie’, this was when my pregnant sister told me to put her liquid paraffine on my hair instead of Brycreem—it turned my hair black for weeks.

Today, what I once thought were friendly comments, such as ‘dear’, ‘love’, ‘pet’, are now frowned on and considered abusive.

 And never, ever call a grown woman a ‘girl’, that’s a hanging offence!

The 2nd of June 2019.

The 2ndof June 2019.

It’s 01:25, and once again I can’t sleep until I get these thoughts into my computer.

This time it’s the price Crisp’s!!

A couple of years ago, in well-known pie shop, I was charged 69p for a packet of crisps, as I was enjoying them, I thought how few Crisp’s there were in the packet compared with Smith’s Crisp’s I used to buy in 1945. Then they cost about tuppence—1p, and even had a little blue packet of salt!

In the war years, and for a few years after, most things were controlled by The Retail Price Index, and prices were very stable. Since then prices have gone up and down.

 Back then, who would have thought a packet of Crisp’s would ever cost a whopping fourteen shilling’s, and for half a packet?

Of course, the average wage was about £3 a week and most things were so much cheaper.   

 My first wage, in 1946 was eighteen shilling’s—ninety pence.

 I had seventeen job’s until I became self- employed in 1966.

Discounting my three years in the RAF. That is almost one a year!

They were proper 40 hour per week jobs too.

These jobs were all local to Chertsey, some of the factories were very large employers, such as Vickers, the Airscrew and Weymans. I estimate that the factories big and small,

 in our area, must have employed more than 20,000 workers.

 Where have all those jobs gone, and what do all those workers do now?

Increasingly, industrial work, including office work, is now being done by robots and artificial intelligence— there are even fewer jobs to be had.

There must come a time when these robots produce most of the things we need, but with the few jobs that are left, the human worker will not be able to afford to buy any of these products. 

The simple answer would be a shorter working week, so that the jobs can be shared, and everyone would earn enough money to live a normal life.

But instead of that, it is becoming more common for people to have two or three jobs, just to get by, leave alone, to be able to buy or rent a home at today’s prices.

So where has all the money gone, that these robots can produce so cheaply? Some products are definitely of better quality and much cheaper, but others, like my Crisp’s are not.

 And who would have thought that one popular domestic vacuum cleaner, that is made in a low wage country, would cost nearly £400, where as a washing machine made in a high wage country in Europe, can be bought about £250?

Answers on a postcard please.

The 27th of May 2019.

The 27thof May 2019.  

We all know the human brain is the most amazing thing, its ability to recall, in the greatest of detail, a scene from years ago, is astonishing.

This happens to me quite often; always in the early hours of the morning—this is the time I find the subject of most of my stories.

It is 2:30 am; I am wide awake; and I know I will not be able to sleep until I have entered this as a possible memoir into my computer.

The ‘seed’ that woke me so early in the morning, was ‘planted’ the previous evening—I was trying to remember the name of a Dixieland band of the 1940’s.

 As soon as I am awake, I have the band’s name, Pee Wee Hunt; once I have that, my amazing brain takes me back sixty-five years to a few minutes of sheer panic.

  It is December 1955, I am with my girl-friend, Ann, in her parent’s front room.

They have taken her young brother, Les, to see a Christmas pantomime, and as most courting couples will tell you, we are making the most of a couple of hours on our own.

Her new Collard record player is belting out Twelfth Street Rag, by………… Pee Wee Hunt!

 The coal fire is glowing, the room is full of the smell of burnt toast and Marmite.

Out of the corner of my eye, I see Ann’s parent’s walk past the window.

It all seems to be happening in slow motion, that is, until I feel my spine fill with ice.

 In a moment, Ann is fully dressed and at the back door before they reach it, leaving me, a panic-stricken wretch trying to gather myself together in the front room.

All this is as clear to me now, as the day it happened.

Wind forward to a 2019, my wondrous memory is beginning to play tricks, I can remember a moment of time sixty-five years ago, that can be pulled out just by the faintest smell or sound; but can’t remember something that happened just a few moments ago.

 OK, my brain is eighty-seven years old, and must be full of such moments, but sometimes, I can’t remember the name of a person that I have met a hundred times before. 

Is this the start of the time when my mind begins to fail? 

I will now keep a record of all the moments when my memory falters, while I am able to do so.

Ist of June 2019.

1stof June 2019.

A few days ago, I mentioned in a post that my memory was acting up. I was given some good advice by Diana Sheridon, on how to tackle this problem, thank-you Diana.

I showed the post to my son, Iain, and we started talking about human memory.

I said that I only needed a little prompt to bring back a long-forgotten story.

We then started talking about the things I have written about, things that happened in Chertsey all those years ago.

I said I was very keen on model making, and in 1944, with the money I earned as a delivery boy, I used to buy my model kits from a shop opposite Woolworths in Guildford Street.

As soon as I mentioned models, into my memory came my friend David Mawford, he was very good at making the most complicated kits such as the Golden Hind, a Galleon with intricate rigging, something I could never do.

I then described a little aero engine he had for a line-controlled model plane, that we used to fly up the Chertsey ‘Rec.

I said it was an ED Mark Two, a 2cc diesel engine, it cost four guineas—four pounds twenty.

I then said it was made in Surbiton, near Kingston, Surrey, and the firm was called Electronic Developments— hence ED.

As is normal for the youth of today, he Googled ED Mark Two, and up came an advert in “The Aeromodeller’ dated 1946. The advert was for the ED Mark Two, model diesel engine, the price was four guineas, and it was made by Electronic Developments, from Kingston Surrey.

Seventy-four years later, I can still remember my first car’s number plate from 1959—FH 94 94—but I struggle to remember my current cars number, which I have had for two years!!!!

Such is the life of the elderly!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sad David.

On Tuesday I had a cataract operation. I had the first assessment four months ago, the actual op’ was about fifteen minutes. I now look in the mirror in total surprise—as Don Williams would say.

It is incredible what we have with our NHS, I know people will say that we have paid for it all our working lives, but it must rank as the most cost effective health system that there is.

As I came out of the eye unit, I met a man that I had been in the same cardiac ward with a couple of years ago.

Of course, he didn’t recognise me—story of my life—but he was unmissable, I have never met such a sad looking man in my life.

I remembered how I tried to cheer this poor man up when we were in opposite beds, but everything I tried he found something to moan about.

He told me about his life and I could why he was so sad, he’s about sixty years old, he looked after his invalid mother for thirty years until her death, when ever he brought a girl friend home his mother would say she was not good enough and so he never married.

He told me that is the trouble with having a Jewish mother, no one is good enough for her son.

As soon as I realised he was Jewish, I thought I would tell him a joke that I had heard on the American TV show; ‘Old Jews telling jokes’.

As soon as I started he face slumped even more but I carried on regardless.

“An old Jewish couple living in New York, Rachel and Joe, Rachel was in the bathroom when she screamed for help, Joe rushed in only to see Rachel was stuck in the toilet bowl with just her legs and head and shoulder’s showing”.

David looked even more disgruntled, he said.

“That’s he oldest joke I have ever heard”

He then took over the joke, and I must say there is no one that can tell a Jewish joke like a sad Jewish man.

When he finished he didn’t even smile, and just said mildly funny, mildly funny.

I don’t think the the rest of the joke is suitable for the refined people of Chertsey Chatter, so I won’t finish it.

 

 

E.E.Wegs.

 

 

 

Most mornings you would find my mum scanning the Daily Herald and the Mirror.

Not for her the headlines on the front pages or the stories of banking scandals, or even the obituaries of famous people.

No, mum was focusing all her attention on the back pages, where the likes of Bouverie or Newsboy were holding forth on which horse would win the two thirty at Ascot or Alexandra Palace.

Such was her immersion in the written word of these racing guru’s, that no one would dare to interrupt her.

It was like she actually believed that the horses these tipsters were putting forward as likely winners were going to give her a good return on her sixpence each way five horse accumulator, (total outlay one shilling).

I’m not sure how this bet works but I think it is something like this, a sixpence is placed on the first horse to finish in the first three, if it is successful, the winnings are placed on the second horse and so on to the next horse, if one of the horses fails to finish in the first three, the bet is lost.

This is how bookmakers or turf accountants as Gordon, my brother in law called himself, make all their money— ‘Tom Astor’, Turf accountant, behind the the old lodging House.

Mum never gambled with the house keeping or anything like that, she was a bookies runner for Gordon, she would earn commission for the bets she collected from our neighbours.

By the way there were several bookies runner’s nearby, Hoppy Wells in Barker Road, Sykey Balchin in Pyrcroft Road and my Mum also in Pyrcroft road.

There must have a great deal of gambling in our little area!!

The amazing thing is, she once won with this sort of bet, probably about five pounds, a week’s wage for some.

Her Non de plume was E,E Wegs, at the bottom of every betting slip was, AFC, (Anything To Come) and then another five horses, and so on.

It was not about the winning but the taking part, she might have said.

She was never upset if she lost, but she liked to tell us, if only that horse at Ascot had finished, she would be in the money.

Unlike some of our family, I never had the betting bug

I would take and collect the bets my mum had collected and realised it was nearly always a one-way trip.

Although, I have done the Lottery since it started, I am afraid to stop as all my numbers are birthdays.

 

Batwing Jumper.

When I am writing a story, one word would trigger another story. In my last post the trigger word was ‘Jersey’.

By now I had become more interested in what I wore, and this jumper looked just the ticket.

It was a ‘batwing style’, this meant the sleeves started at the cuffs and gradually swept up to about mid waist, it was black with a red stripe along the top of the sleeves to the collar, this was all held together with very large black stitches. I loved it.

 

My brother David had just been married to another Ann, and they were staying with us for a while.

I came home from work one day and was greeted by the jubilant young bride, she pointed to the washing line and said.

“Guess what”.

I’m never very good at this guessing game, so I looked to where she was pointing.

With what can only be described as my heart hitting my bladder, I saw my lovely black batwing jumper with the red stripe and black stitching hanging from the washing line by the sleeves, the body almost touching the ground.

“I’ve done your washing and it’s dry already”.

It may have been dry but not as dry as my mouth, as I said.

“That’s very kind of you Ann, I didn’t know it needed washing though”

I looked in dismay at what now looked like a large Manta Ray that some fisherman had hung up to display his prowess at fishing.

In a moment, the enthusiastic Ann, had removed the jumper and was urging me to try it on, actually it wasn’t too bad; it was just the sleeves that I could see might be a problem.

They were always a bit long, but now they were about a foot too long, but the ever-resourceful Ann, said.

“All we have to do is roll the sleeves up a bit.”

This, she helped me to do, I had the feeling that she had begun to realize that all was not well with the sleeve department, and I saw the jubilation drain from her body.

To save her feelings I said it all looked great— the rolled up sleeves looked like something Anna Karenina would wear as a muff in the Russian winter.

“At last” I said. “I may be at the forefront of men’s fashion, by leading instead of copying.”

 

But it never caught on.

 

As I am slightly colour blind, so hadn’t noticed that the lovely scarlet sleeves that had caught my eye in ‘Cecil Gee’s Outfitters For the Younger Man’, had also lost their vibrancy and were now a sort of rusty colour.

The heavy knitted woolen texture of the whole jumper was more like a cheap wool mixture, with most of the wool missing, this made it all rather floppy.

I soon found another problem with this loosely knitted material,

It made cycling even more difficult in an unexpected way

The ‘batwings’ would flap, even at quite low speeds, and if I were in a hurry, the whole jumper would inflate, causing a large hump on my back.

All this plus the ‘Anna Karenina’ cuff’s was not the image I had originally sought.

 

Like all my clothes, once I had tired of them or more likely they had become just tired I would then wear them to work.

This was a common practice and some worker’s could be seen riding their bikes dressed in clothes not at all meant for cycling.

The ride to and from the Vickers Armstrong factory was always an exciting affair, with so many workers arriving in the morning at about the same time— eight thousand of them— it was a race to ‘clock in’ at eight.

One of the most inappropriate of these garments was a single-breasted raincoat, which a year or two earlier were all the rage with local youths.

Now these younger workers could be seen with these cheap coats flapping around them, racing to work, looking like a posse of cowboys lead by Clint Eastwood` chasing Doc Holliday in a cowboy film.

As if this was not enough of a pantomime, some of the older worker’s had invested in a little petrol engine, which was fixed to the rear wheel of their bikes, with these, they were more than capable of overtaking the ‘posse’.

They looked a grand sight with their ex army waterproof capes billowing in the wind at twenty miles per hour.