Re - Written for 2020 'My Childhood Room'

Brand new chapters and content for up and coming book based on the original 'Childhood Room published in 2016 

My Childhood Room Introduction ( Newly Written updated )

My Childhood Room Introduction

My father had finished serving in the military. Twenty two years of distinguished service, boy and man. Together with his wife, my mother, they had settled on buying one of the millions newly built homes that were springing up all over England. Our new house, a semi detached, centrally heated with shared drive way, single garage and back garden, was expensive, at the limit of my parents financial range. But with a new job already secured, the prospect of exchanging a life of duty for civilian job became easier. The adjustment was having to be made, and this house was the place to settle. It was an exciting yet sad time for us children. Leaving establish friendships, schools and the familiar surroundings for a brand new start. Ian was the youngest, he was just about walking. Then came Amanda. Adrian was the eldest. And they I was the middle child. This true story I will recall from memory, and hindsight. My Childhood room was the bedroom I shared with my elder brother. The room was nothing special. Eight foot by six foot. It look large to my childish eyes. A vast space, downstairs. I am sure this room would have been built as a dinning room, but with the six of us having to be housed it made a prefect bedroom for myself and my brother. Bunk beds were built and positioned against the inside wall. Net curtain were hung for privacy. Pale yellow paisley drapes that were far too long fell from the rail above the single radiator almost to the bottom of the floor. Green carpet floor tiles covered three quarters of the hard cold concert floor. The space underneath the bed had just been left bare. On the far wall a board had been fixed. This was for any pictures that we may want to display. Under no circumstance were we allowed to stick, paste or hang anything from any of the freshly painted yellow walls. I was to share this room with my elder brother for the next few years. To understand the location of my childhood room you would have to know the location of our house. It was position right at the bottom of a hill directly in line with the road that gave access to all the other property's on the avenue. Driving down the hill you could see my bedroom window directly in line with the road from the top. The road would loop around a small round a bout that lay at the top of our slopping drive way , that we shared with two other families. The Budd's next door and the bungalow to the left of them , the Pink's. Mr Budd or to give him his full title ,Mr faddy daddy prawn features. It is funny now looking back but this poor man had acquired his nick name from my mother who had taken an instant dislike to him. He seemed alright to me , yes old , but then everybody was. His cellaret would echo through our downstairs lounge wall on a Sunday morning as he practiced 'Stranger on the shore' insanely over and over again. The two house were attached via the living room wall and when our house was silent you could hear the Budd's moving around especially in the mornings or late at night. I had no idea who Mr Budd was , what he did or even how old , he was just the man next door. I had once offered him one of my mustard sweets from a old tin that I kept them in , over the green plastic partition fence that separated the two garden's. He took one unwrapped the gold foil by twisting the end's , pop it in his mouth and exclaimed " really nice , thank you" I swear I saw his face change from pasty white to red then purple , but he just kept nodding his head and saying "very nice". I still believe to this day he did not want to admit he had been got ! On the other side were the Greenland's we would say hello but that was about it , Mr Greenland would answer his door from time to time with just an old dressing gown on that he would be rushing to tie in the middle to protect his modesty. Next door to them The Hassel's and their two young daughters , then an Indian family with five children and finally The Levitt's and their two sons Mark and Kevin. All of the children would play together out the front of the houses on the round a bout , or how we used to it 'The circle'. No cars would ever come down it was only the people who lived there that had any need. From my bedroom window I could see everything , who was playing out , what cars came down the road , postman , milkman and so on , I would also be the first to know when my father got home. My mother would threaten me from time to time with the menacing statement , "just wait till your father gets home , I will tell him what you have been like". I hated this because I had to wait all day to face him. Out the back of us was the village green , a large patch of green that over the years acquired a cricket square and a football pitch. To the left of the football pitch was the primary school that I had attended for three years. Directly outside our garden gate was a footpath that lead down passed the old peoples accommodation ( Hanover Housing ) modern church and health centre opposite each other down passed an another field to the covered shopping arcade which had the paper shop , fish and chip shop , the shop we rented our telly from , a music shop that sold organs and piano's finally leading out to 'Pricewise' supermarket and The Fox public house. All within walking distant. I take myself back to the time when my father had discovered this location just before leaving the Royal Air Force. He must of thought it was the ideal place to bring a family up , everything you could possibly need was all here.

Foreword (New for 2020)

The book 'Childhood Room' is based on a young boy's life growing up in 1970's, in a suburban district of Cambridge, England. The year is 1971, and he is nine years old, and just moved with his family to a new house, and shows the sad and difficult circumstances which he grew up in. The years chart his progress into adolescence and emotional times the family had to face. Some aspects are extremely moving, whilst others hilarious making you laugh and cry at the same time. You will enjoy the 'style' in which the author has written, bringing to life 'The Childhood Room' where a lot of his time was spent. Also the mischievous side to this middle child, playing pranks on the family, to get undivided attention. How 'Sport', was his outlet, where he escaped, and gained recognition for his abilities, especially football. A very energetic and eager character, who would participate in all Team Sports, still retaining a sense of fun, whatever his circumstances. Fear never held him back, in fact it pushed him onwards to achieve;and with his sharp wit and humour , even in dark times he would be amusing, and endearing. All of your emotions will be touched in this heart rendering story. The rest is told in the authors own words.

My Childhood Room (re write) Fred and Monkey

 

Life at home had it's moments. With four children and I must not forget our black and white cat 'Fred'. A large Tom with a gentle and playful nature. He would take turns with all of us sleeping at the bottom of our beds. I would leave my bedroom door slightly open and wait to hear his silent entrance, tail held high. Because I had the bottom bunk I could see his white blaze on the front of Fred's face. See if you can picture him , mainly black with a... white under belly, with an upside down white triangle passing between his dark green eyes and down over his mouth. If Fred decided to jump up to be with my brother, or didn't make an appearance I would be disappointed, even jealous. Fred was simply the best. He would come up under my chin alongside my head on my pillow and 'purr loudly, or hang off my arm play fighting kicking and nipping but he would never use his claws or break my skin. We all loved Fred our very special cat. I can still remember the day when returning home from school, when our mother annoced that Fred had to be put down. Her cold and matter a fact voice. We all knew as Fred grew older that his kidneys were playing up but we had not been warned he was even going to the vets. Our mother could be extremly cold and distant. Not uncaring but her emotions were on a stwich. We never knew which version of her would welcome us home from school. I never did say goodbye to Fred, but remember him all these years later. When your life is always changing, the consents are very welcome. Fred was always the consistent, kind, loving and fun. Everything our mother lacked. Another stable was our family car. It had seen better days, an old Ford Cortina, midnight blue. If you can remember this make and model you would know how prone Cortina's were to sliding. The rear end was lighter than the front which meant it need some ballast in the boot. I can remember my dad 'soldering the radiator because the old girl had sprung a leak. However the back seat was large, us children had a pecking order. Adrian next to one window, me next the other window, and my sister and younger brother in the middle. Fights would erupt if that order was ever changed. My poor sister would get car sick, unless this was just a ploy to sit with my mother in the front ! No regulations , no seat belts ! Seems incredible to think of what it was like to travel. A box on wheels, safety just was not a concern. On long journey's to Lowestoft, my mother had a board game called 'Spot a Lot'. And yes it was all about spotting different vehicles and landmarks on the road. It came with a magnetic board so you could move your coloured car counter around the road etched out on the board. Very boring and not that exciting. I would always try to cheat by pretending I had seen something unusual worth loads of moves , augments would start and the now famous and well waited for line would come out of my dads mouth..."Don't start , or I'll finish it !" Then he would light up and drown us all in acrid smoke, whilst we were pushing and thumping each other with sly disguised movements. I would reach across and pinch my brother, he would then retaliate, I would scream and he would get told off. It worked every time like a charm.. I had even on one journey wound the back passenger side window down, by winding the little plastic handle. No electric windows in those days. In a fast motion throwing Adrian's favourite soft monkey cuddly toy out of the car whilst moving. I was a horror. The satisfaction of making my elder brother cry, was all the reason I needed. Although my father stopped, went back trying to retrace the pervious mile, my brothers friend was never found. Car journeys were something else.

Match Stick verses Lipstick ( Re write ) 2020

All families are the same, that is what I had believed up until I was twenty. The facts are each family is individual to themselves. Our family was certain different to those of my friends but only with hindsight could I have understood this. When you are growing up nothing really rocks your world more than a new brother or sister. My youngest brother was this unexpected bolt from the blue, understanding why just did not come into the equation. He just appeared one winters day at the end of November. Much to my sisters disgust as her birthday is 30 November. Ian was born in the early hours of 25 November 1967 five days earlier than his elder sister. I think this must have distracted from her birthday. My sister was two years younger than me and 5 years older than Ian. A difficult gap as I well knew being 4 years younger than my elder brother. The age gap can be a blessing and a curse all at the same time. I was not as charitable to my little brother as my older brother had been to me. Yes I did watch him grow up , and I did take him around with me as I got older, but in between times I have to admit I did not treat him that well. Practical jokes, dead legs, which he reminds me of today meant he become scared of me as he grew up. I now regret treating him that way. No excuse. I am sure his attitude towards me now was born during his growing up years. I can remember his first steps, his first words, the fact that he used to roll around the floor, never crawl. A mild manner baby that grew up in the shadow of an elder sister and brother. Adrian had left home at 16 and then again at 17 so although he was a part of the early years, an eleven year age gap is wide. I would take him out , play football with him but the age and strength difference would prove frustrating for both of us. One of my earliest memories linked to Ian was his joy of drawing. He could never get enough paper or pencils. He would draw on his arm and legs at the age of three. I can still see the boxed imagines of his people drawing in my mind today. I know my mother would have to watch him carefully as he would disappear , quietly vanishing into a corner just to draw on himself. I was not a good brother, I would encourage him to draw on his arms and legs just to annoy my mother, who would have to scrub his limbs clean. On one fateful morning my mother was busy in the kitchen, no doubt doing the clothes washing in her twin tub. Us children were all at a loose end and Ian had run out of paper and pencils. So the three of us took Ian upstairs into our parents bedroom. We were never allowed in under any circumstances. I knew we were doing wrong the moment we opened the bedroom door. My mother had a large unit wardrobe, not fitted just built in the room and lent against the wall. Dressing table in the middle, over head cupboard space and side wardrobe for clothes. The unit was very large, with much surface space. I think you are ahead of me ! I gave Ian my mums lipstick and pointed him in the direction of all that waiting space ! Needless to say he did a good job covering the whole unit including the mirror, in lip stick match stick drawings ! I think he was very quiet for well over two hours, finally returning downstairs by himself with his hands ,arms and legs covered in mum's makeup. Watching the horrified looked on my mother face , priceless ! Then the realisation of why Ian had gone unnoticed for a few hours. Following her as she ran up the stairs pushing her bedroom door open slowly, the four of us closely running to keep, hardly daring to look, peering from behind her loosely fitting apron. Ian had indeed been busy. His unique art work covered every square inch, including the mirror and the strip light. Red lip stick match stick men, women and dogs. This was brilliant ! Ian had done a far better job than any of us could have expected, even the walls had not escaped. Our mother's face, etched in horror, her over reaction to any situation legendary to us children, was for once warrantied. If you have ever tried to get lipstick off anything you would know how difficult it is. Even after my father had taken to sanding down some of the panels in a vain attempt to remove the lipstick the faint outline of Ian's efforts remained. My mothers dresser carried the scares of that morning for many years. Faded areas where the sandpaper had taken all the varnish off. Faded match stick men and match stick women enbeded in time. Ian has told me since this was one of his earliest childhood memories. He did not espace my father roff. He was mad, and even taking Ian's young years into account, poor Ian got the hiding of his life. Violence sticks in the memory. I am sure that my father knew no other way, repeating how his own father would have reacted. Learnt behaviour is no excuse for violence. But it goes some way to explain why. This took me many years to understand. This episode was not Ian's fault, nor should the responsibility fall on my shoulders. A lack of supervision was the issue. Children are unaware of dangers, right and wrongs, they need the attention and love from their parents. This was always lacking in our home. They would react and blame when we misbehaved but would seldom praise or encourage. Ian has recently said to me that he did not blame our mother for her lack of empathy, love and understanding. He believed that her own childhood had scared her so deeply that coping with the stresses of bringing up children was just too much for her. For a younger brother he has good insight. He has forgiven her for everything she lacked. I am still catching Ian up. That day still plays out in my mind. My part in it still hangs around, laced in guilt and laughter. But instead of anger, I have learnt to thank my mother for the lessons that I have come to learn and understand many years later.

Childhood Room. Sercet Plan. (Re written) New for 2020

It was the dead of night , I lay awake thinking of what I had to do. If I got this right it may change the all of our lives. The pervious day I had brought with my pocket money (10 pence ) a small packet of cigarette crackers. I had found this tiny shop tucked away up a long street in Cambridge. It sold every type of practical joke you could imagine , squirting flowers , black face soap , nails through fingers and so on. I was to become a regular visitor over the next few years. The shop it's self was crammed full , selves overflowing with slightly faded packets , dark corners , an old fashioned till stood upon a glass counter. Laid under the glass flip top lid , were small white packets with a comically drawn face of a man, with an exploded cigarette in his mouth. His face blacken and puzzled , the remains of a once long and slender cigarette now scredded and in taters, still between the lips of the cartoon pictured on the packet. For a child who was backwards in Maths and English I had not trouble in plotting. I could see my father's face manifesting on the pack, the wheels in my head had been firmly engaged. With a wicked grin, and a quick point of my index finger, I paid the old man behind the counter, and in an instant had the packet safely secured in my pocket tightly wrapped in a small brown paper bag. The corners of the bag neatly turned over in a fast well practised motion by the old man in the joke shop. I could tell by the way he looked at me he knew I was up to no good, but he did not care, his shop was a Mecca for all children , some as old as my father. The journey home was longer than normal, I longed to open that brown paper bag, but never no privacy on the back seat of the car. Just a slight russle of a bag would attract the attention of my siblings, nothing was ever just mine. Sweets had to be passed around, shared. I would never open a packet of crisps till the coast was clear, though I had mastered the art of hold the bottom of the packet very firmly so when offering the open bag to my brother he could not grab a whole hand full ! We were nearly home, If I was smart I could get in the house first. The car coasted down the slope of the drive way I jumped out. Pushed the telescopic car ariel down, and opened the unlocked up and over dark blue garage door. Quickly running inside the house through the convient joining door. Straight into the down stairs toilet, the only room in the house with a lock on. This would give me the privacy to unwrap and examine what is was lurking inside the small white match box sized packet. Opening packet with the care of a surgeon making his first incision, it contain what I may only describe as little triangle pieces of cardboard , no bigger than a babies thumb nail. I laid them out on the plam of my right hand. Counting them out loud in my mind, ten, even in my tiny hands it would be easy to misplace or lose the incredably small bringers of revenge. I was a little disappointed. How could such a tiny little piece of cardboard do all that damage ? Was the cartoon fake just to attract my attention ? The instructions read , " Push into the end of cigarette" , then in large letters "ONLY ONE CRACKER PER CIGARETTE" Of course I was going to completely ignore the last instruction. How could one of these microscopic pieces of card be enough ? My father was a man of routine. In bed most nights by 11 O clock , up for work around at 7 am. Each morning I would hear the same thing. The sound of heavy footsteps from upstairs , the loud rather musical sound of him passing wind with every third step of the staircase , the sound of him pulling out his chair next to the table , the fumbling for his packet of cigarettes , not looking just tapping around the table until his hand came across the familiar feel of the cold metal of the lighter placed directly on top of the packet , half dazed still , the rattle of the silver paper , then finally the 'click , click of the lighter before he drew his first long drag of the day , closely followed by a long coughing fit. It was the same routine each and every day. I would even smell that scent of smoke come wafting into my room , under my quilt and right up my nose. This day was going to be different , the night before I had pre loaded the front two cigarettes not just with one cracker , but four ! This will teach him to smoke without any consideration, I thought as I carefully replaced the foul smelling cigarettes back into the green and white flip top packet, making sure to place the box and the lighter back in the exact same position that my father had left them in before climbing the stairs to bed the night before. I fell asleep. I had not meant too. I had wanted to be wide awake, in prime position to experience my fathers downfall. But here he was already accompanying himself down the stairs to his usual tune. I gathered myself, rolled out of bed silently not to wake my sleep brother, who had no idea what was about to happen. I slipped out of my room, down the hall and stood by the open crack in the inside of the sitting room door frame. The light jutted out at a forty five degree angle straight across me, and on to the bathroom door. My heart thumping so loud in my chest , I saw my fathers chair being pulled out. His deep chesty cough echoing round the walls. I watched transfixed as his hands shaking reached first for his cigarettes. The rustle as he pulled off the silver paper guarding the filters, the same silver foiled paper that I had replaced so perfectly the night before. He hardly noticed the extra creases. Pulling one cigarette up he lifted the box to his mouth. The filter was now between is lips. I had no idea which cigarette he had choosen. An unknowing partisapate in a game of Russian roulette. I braced myself, hardly baring to glance through the crack in the door. Clunk, the sound of the heavy metal lighter failing to work. Again clunk, clunk and then what seemed like hours the familiar sound of woosh as the flame leapt from the device much higher than was healthy ! Now I had made sure the crackers had been pushed about half an inch down inside the cigarette. The instructions had indicated that if the cracker was exposed it may go off perpetually. The idea was to get the victim to have at least two long drags before ignition and take off ! Now if you are a smoker you will know what my father did next. The first lung full of smoke for the day would create a coughing fit, so as he drew in a large lung full, finished coughing stretched his free arm out in front of him and to the side, sat back, relaxed and took the next fatel drag. Boom the cigarette disintegrated into a million tiny dust partials, the filter remained caught between his now quivering lips. I was now watching transfixed through the crack in the door, busting not to laugh. My hand stuck across my mouth my eyes wide. He stood up and whether or not he realised he was doing it, patted himself down to make sure he still had all of his limbs. This was one of the funniest things I had ever seen. My father standing up next to his chair, face black, cigarette filter intacted in his mouth, using his hands to check he still had all his bits and pieces. I will leave the rest to your imagantion. The bang was so loud it woke up the house ! My mother came runny down the stairs, to see my father standing bewildered by the table, still shaking after the shock, white as a sheet. Face black as the coalmans. The house was so busy it was the best diversion. I had managed to run and to leap into bed before my mother had appeared. I was under my sheets trying hard not to shake with laughter. The image of my fathers blacken face etched with fear as he thought a bomb had exploded under his chair, had imprinted its self in my minds eye. He never did get me to confess. I am sure he knew who had spiked his faggs, but there was no way I was going to own up. Maybe he saw the funny side, in private. But because I had been so careful to cover my tracks, not telling a soul about my plan the repercussions from a memorable childhood moment went unpunished. Sadly even the shock of being got by a nine year old was not enough for him to give up smoking. His morning routine stayed the same. A little more careful when lighting up his first ciggarette of the day though, just in case I went for the rerun.

Childhood Room (Re Write) Radio Times

Radio Times.

It was not that late , I was huddled up in my bottom bunk , covers , quilt pulled up tight up over my head. One ear on the pillow and a small creamed coloured ear piece in the other. This time was my time , just the warmth of my bed and my little blue , battery driven , manually tuned radio. This radio was my window on the world. A world that could not be manipulated, a world that conjured up image after imagined image, filling my head with visions  of the world. Introducing my young self to culture, language and all the different jarrahs of music.  I have brought the radio from an old Electrical appliance shop in Lowestoft. I had saved up the £10 over a year, birthday money , pocket money, corona bottle money. Corona bottles were a brilliant way to find money. Three pence per bottle retrieved and returned to the newsagents.  I would scrawler the building sites around our house, especially in the summer. The builders plasterers, carpenters, roofers would all discard the empty bottles. Three pence not much for an empty bottle for them, to me it all added up and helped to make  my first large purchase. Nearly all of my money went into my radio fund.  But I still had mustard sweets and sneezing power to buy.  The day I walked into the shop and came out with my blue Japanese transistor radio is still one of my most favourite childhood memories. I had had to wait a fair few months. Trips to the coast to see my Grandparents we rare. Once a year. In the seventies Hight Street South in Lowestoft was a busy thriving street. Long before the big supermarkets took control of the shopping. Each shop would sell just a few items, but you could walk down one side and back up the other gathering all you needed for the day ahead. Everyday would start with a trip to the shops. The shop I was going to visit had been in the same place since the second world war. It would hire out televisions, sell alarm clocks, hoovers, even electric knifes ! The front of the shop had small mental mesh a quarter up the front display window. Like a jewellery shop. Large plastic stickers were stuck on the inside advertising top brands, Yamaha, Sony, Toshiba and the inventors of radio Marconi. I would peer in through the mental mesh eyeing up the display items. This was where I first saw the radio I was going to buy a year later.The thrill of walking in that shop, the smell of the electrically equipment filled my nose, everything looked large, televisions on mental stands, their bright reflective twenty two inch screens, dark wood stained cabinets, stood scattered around the shop. Music centres, long and slender, cassette deck, record player, with a long radio dial. Plastic lids left half opened that gave these entertainment centres a mystical air, alongside the price. Much more than I could have ever saved up. But state of the art for the seventies. The radio I had come to buy with a pocket full of change was stacked behind the counter in a bright blue and white cardboard. The shopkeeper reached over and took the box of a pile of other neatly stacked radios, placed in it a brown paper bag. After counting out the money I had turned out onto the wooden counter, sliding each coin off the edge whilst counting invisibly in his head, lips slightly moving as the coins fell into his spare hand. After what had seemed like hours, and hoping that I had counted right myself, the shopkeeper smiled and handed me the bag containing my radio, his brown over coat riding up at the sleeve exposing his white cuff, as he reached across and down into my waiting hands.Tightly tucked away from view I exited the shop through the heavy front door, not looking back.This moment had taken me a year. A year of collecting bottles, saving my pennies and going without to achieve. I was going to treasure my prize.   Opening the box the radio was tightly wrapped in plastic. The smell of the new electrical radio, then discovering the cream coloured ear piece , total joy. The radio it's self was small, the size of a packet of crisps. One inch thick, a slide off panel in the back for batteries. Sky blue in colour, a dial that you had to rotate with your thumb on the side wheel to tune it in. This was difficult because you needed to be precise. A  telescopic aerial for 'FM' reception folded neatly into the top. My life long love of radio started that moment.My music would come live from radio Caroline, or Radio Luxemburg. Mainly popular chart music but I did listen to the world service, radio three, classical, and radio four. All broadcasted by the BBC.But Radio one and radio two had me tuned in most of the time.The pop chart countdown on a Sunday evening between five pm till seven pm. Alan Freeman, Toney Blackburn two of the amazing disc jockeys that become very influential on my later life, when I went to work myself as a disc jockey on radio Caroline anchored in the North sea.Football was my first love though.My favourite the day had to be a Tuesday or maybe on the odd occasion a Wednesday. I'm sure my parents thought I was being really good, getting to bed early for school the next day, but the truth was I wanted to listen to the football commentary on radio two ! Back in the early seventies the evening kick off time would be at seven thirty, only broadcast on radio or 'Sports night' if you could stay up until eleven the same evening to watch recorded highlight's. No video, or even repeats, just the one chance to see the latest action from division one of the football league. Or the F.A cup. Nothing else was televised until regional television came around with a Sunday highlight show a few years later. So here I was tacked up under the covers listening to the match from the Victoria Ground Stoke on my radio. Arsenal had drawn Stoke in the quarter finals of the F.A Cup. Playing for Arsenal, Pat Rice, Bob Wilson, George Graham, George Armstrong. I will not go on though I still can name every player who played for Arsenal Football team during the 1970's. The game was transformed by radio. I remember it was a foggy night, I could see in my minds eye the floodlights being caught in the gloomy atmosphere as the smell of the pitch being kicked up mixed with a thousand cigarettes being smoked by the crowd. Radio brings you everything and to this day I still prefer listening to football than watching it. I can not remember the result , though I do remember Stoke winning, after extra time Alan Hudson scored for Stoke that night and ironically he was to go on and sign for Arsenal the following season. That little blue radio brought me many more moments like those. I would listen to Brian Johnston, bringing the Test cricket alive in my ear piece whilst at school. I would hide the ear piece down my sleeve and behind my rather long seventies style hair, with the main body of the radio tucked neatly between the top of my trousers and the snake belt that held them up. I was always very careful not to get caught, I would know which teachers not to push, waiting for 'play time' to catch up on the cricket score from Lords, or Old Trafford if lessons did not allow.Radio paints the pictures in your mind. My early days were made for me by the experiences I had listening alone to the broadcasters of the day. From world history, to Slade, anything that mattered in my life was on my radio.  No one would ever take that radio away from me.

Childhood Room (re write) Dare

I can remember one dull Sunday , now we always hated Sundays. The day before going back to school. Sunday morning was always drab. The radio was on with boring classical music , or my father would play Gilbert and Sullivan over the stereo system he had rigged up. Neither appealed. So this one Sunday my elder brother am I decided to play dares , the one who completed the most dares would earn five pence from the other. In todays money five pence is such a small amount. For me at the time five pence would buy two bars of delicious Cadburys chocolate, a copy of the latest Shoot football magazine. It was a big deal and I would do almost anything to win our bet. Little did I know that I was being set up by my devious elder brother. The dares started off small. My first dare was to tie a piece of string from my parents room door to my sisters room. The art of doing this was to open my parents room door fully, tie the string on the door handle. Then attach it to the closed door hand of my sisters room only a few feet away. Knock on my sisters room and run away. As my sister answer her door, my parents room door would bang shut, scaring the life out of my sister, and if I was lucky would anoy my mother. My first dare completed and chaos achieved. One up to me. Now it was Adrian's turn. I dared him to remove our fathers cigarette lighter. I would keep him talking whilst my brother would move the lighter from on top of the usual green and white packet and hide it behind a pile of books our father kept in the middle of the table. These books nearly always contained something by a man called Spike Milligan. Tears of laughter would roll down our fathers face as he eagerly consumed each book in turn. A prefect hiding place for the infamous lighter. I did as I promised, and Adrian lifted the lighter and placed it behind the pile of books. Now we had to wait, not long as it happened. Our father did his normal feeling for his cigarettes and lighter without looking. His hand patting around, then the moment of discovery ! The box was there, but no lighter. He could be so lazy. His hand still fumbling a little further, still not turning round. I was now standing next to Adrian, holding back my urge to grin. He was now getting animated, a little more urgent. Standing up puzzled, looking down at the floor as the realisation struck. The lighter was no where to be seen ! You know that moment when all the pieces fit together, and you know something is up ? It was probably that he caught sight of the two of us in the corner of the room watching him. Adrian just looked and pointed to the pile of books. Not amused he walked the two paces, reclaimed his lighter and almost in a show of defiance lit the cigaertte already in his mouth. Still it was fun for a few moments getting our father at it ! Now it was turn again, this time something a little more difficult. My sisters room at the side of the house was located above the front door. Her window could be opened outwards. The whole frame would swing out leaving enough room for one of us to sit on the ledge, bringing our legs round so we were sitting on the window frame with legs dangling just above the flat roofed porch. It was then an easy task to drop onto the black stone ash felt, slide down the white supporting poles, finding yourself outside the front door. I had done this a number of times before, it was a great way of getting out of the house without having to explain where or how long you were going for. Our parents paid so little attention to us they would never know we had be out. Adrian, who always thought he was that little bit smater than the rest of us, dared me to climb out of my sisters upstairs bedroom window , clamber onto the porch that stood over the front door , slide down the supporting white polls and back into the house without being detected. Simple enough, I had done this on many pervious occasions , mainly to get out of the house without being noticed. I planned it in my mind, each step. First the front door. I had to place the door on the latch. This was a simple devise that stopped the door from locking, you could still close the door giving the impression of the front door being locked, but all you had to do was pull it open. I climbed the stairs , turn left along he landing and push open the door to my sisters bedroom. Took a good look inside , making sure sister was not about , open her bedroom window with a tug , move the net curtain carefully to one side , legs out , sat on the window ledge, drop the two foot down on to the flat roofed porch ,then slid down the poll. Walked the few yards to the front door push it open silently to see my Dad , Mother and brother waiting for me. Brother with a grin from ear to ear , mother with both hands on her hips and my father with steam coming out of his ears with a very angry red face! The situation was drastic, I was not going to hang around and explain. Before my father could get out the words " WHAT DO YOU THINK YOUR DOING ? " I had dashed between my brother and my mother taken a sharp left and locked myself in the downstairs toilet ! It was the only room in the house that had a lock on it and thankfully the smallest room in the house came to my rescue. This now presented another set of problems, and not only for me, as I had just taken possession of the only toilet in the house. My situation was not good. My parents were after my blood, my brother smug and here I was stuck, the tiny little window was far too small to even attempt squeezing through. So I sat it out, I knew my actions had consequences, painful consequences, but I had completed my side of the bargain, so I should be at least five pence better off. The minutes turned to hours, the hours started to roll by. Everyone was getting more and more desperate to use the toilet. Without breaking the door down there was little anyone could do. My father realising I was not moving decided to use persuasion. Instead of the loud agury voice his tone became softer, more understanding till I gave in and unlocked the door. The stampede for the toilet nearly flattened me ! I did try to explain that Adrian had set me up for money, but as usual I was not heard. What started off as a way to amuse ourselves on a boring Sunday had got out of hand. My mother as normal exaggerated, " You could have killed yourself !" My father more rational " Your sisters room is out of bounds and so is the porch roof !" He lectured. Adrian was spoken to as well about the responsabilties of being the eldest, and how he had let everyone down. Big deal. Emotional guilt never ever worked. I could cope with the telling off, even my mothers stupid rant. But I never did get my five pence, now that is something I would not forget. After all a bet is a bet.

My Childhood Room. ( New Chapters )

Look out for The New for 2020 'My Childhood Room'

NEW CHAPTER  Never before Seen.

No exaggeration I hated school with a passion. Having just left all of my old school behind and moved a hundred miles my new school was a different world. Too much new' to get used to. The school I left was old in every way. Old classroom, old playground and most of all old teachers. These old teachers had long lost values and strange ideas of how children should behave. In todays world it is almost impossible to relate to the methods of teaching. I am talking about the days of free school milk, tiny bottles top with silver foil lids that at 10 30 am every morning would be given out free to every child in England . No doubt a legacy from war time, twenty years pervious. Mrs Kurd an elderly slender woman in her early thirties ! Grey hair would penetrate her naturally raven black straight shoulder length hair. She was okay as teachers went, I just hated having to read out loud to the whole of the class. The fear of ridicule as I stumbled over simple words would put the fear of God into me. I also dreaded getting my English text book back. It would be filled with red lines and spelling corrections, normally acompled with 'See Me' in bright red letters at the bottom. Gold stars were for other children with a keener aptitude for the written word. Mr Cook the headmaster a round plump man with no hair would be rarely seen, but if you had to see him you were in trouble. An old fashion school that still put sixpence in the Christmas pudding. The whole school came together to celebrate all of the Christian festivals. Like many of the children of my generation I could not bare morning assembly, cold floors and Christian hymns ! Enough to put you off religion for life. One memory that I had of Merryworth Primary School was how the whole school was gathered together one cold frosty winters morning. Mr Cook, who never took assembly, stood stern faced in front of the whole school. In a menacing soft voice only just bearable said, " someone has drawn on the school toilets." And he wanted the culprit to own up and face their punishment ! If no one owned up Christmas would be cancelled. Unbelievable - no sixpences in our pudding, no school play or half day closing, all because a child of 6 or 7 years old had drawn a 'V' on the wall of the boys toilets. It worked and the two boys were expelled from the school in disgrace. How times have changed. My new school was nothing like my old school. It was modern, with younger teachers. It was also newer, only just built with brand new classroom with sky lights pointing upwards towards the sky in the middle of the hexagonal shaped rooms. Central heating in the winter, air conditioning in the summer. A long way from the dirty wooden building of Merryworth C.P. I still hated assembly and lessons, but at this new school psychical education was fantastic. The P.E. Lessons for the boys were taken by an ex proffesional footballer, who also ran the local paper shop. On a Wednesday afternoon the shop would close half day and Mr Small ex Luton, Everton and Liverpool.F.C. would teach us how to play football. The school football team in blazoned in dark green shirts, black shorts and green stockings was the best football team in the district. It was an honour to be chosen to play. This one simple thing of playing for the school football team was enough to get me focused on my lessons. It was simple if your English or Maths did not come up to standard, you did not get picked to represent the school at football. Every child has a way to their soul, mine was football. I played every game for my school team for three seasons. Other lessons that were different to what I had been used to were, drama, domestic science and pottery. As much for my dislike of Maths and English, I loved the new subjects. Domestic science or cookery to you and me was a revelation. It introduced me to a life long passion of cooking. Bread and cakes especially. This passion was to become much more important to me later in life. But as a child mixing, flour and yeast together was great fun, and I was good at it. A long way from the humiliation I would feel when asked to read out loud to the class. Confidence is a strange thing, find what you enjoy and watch it grew like the bread dough. Doubling in size in a few minutes. Pottery brought a new aspect to art, I loved the bright colours that would emerge from the kiln on the pots and dishes. Making items from clay also stirred a passion deep inside. But above all I would enjoy drama. Acting in the school plays nearly became as important as football. I discovered 'history ! The Vikings. The Tudors. Even Winnie the Poo. The big wide word of literature. I still couldn't add up or spell, but now I had other ways to explore the world. I came to love my school and the days spent there. When you live a life that is so restrictive, it is hard to believe that a different life may exist. All adults get tared with the same brush as you tar your parents with. Lack of attention, love and interest can not be replaced with aimless discipline and regimes'. Without warmth, care and more importantly love, a family is only a holding cell. I can see now how desperate I was to be loved. Neither of my parents knew how.

Childhood Room Chapter 2 ( re write)

My Childhood room  

My Father

The Subbuteo table sat up against the wall , a small plastic fence surrounded the emerald green pitch that had been stuck into position so it would not become creased and effect the small plastic players as they were sent on their journey across the pitch with a single flick of the index finger. The ball would ping into action , flying in all directions when the round bottom player collided with the it , hopefully guiding the said ball towards the goal. The table we played on was something else. My father had spent most of his spare weekend time building it. He would not let us enter the garage during it's construction. This said so much to me , he wanted to make me and my brother happy. So after waiting with a sense of anticipation for a few weekends dad called us into the garage to see his creation. Wooden legs hinged , so they could fold back , a two by two rim supporting a hard board top that comprised of several pieces joined together to make a flat surface. And although over the next few year my father would threaten to take his axe to it during and after some of the horrendous arguments me and my brother had over games , he never did. That table gave me more pleasure during my growing up years than any other single object that was mine , with the exception of my radio. Both myself and my brother took table top football very seriously. We would run our own torment's , like the FA Cup. Starting off with 32 teams we would draw the matches using the team names. These would be the little cardboard cut outs that came with the scoreboard. Each team placed inside a sweet tin then written down in draw order. The games would then be played with the relevant coloured team. I believe we had collected around thirty teams , each plastic player carefully numbered with a transfer on it's back denoting the player it represented in the team. Our rules would slightly differ from the recommend official rule book. Each player could be flicked against the ball three times only , you then had to use another player . If at any time your player missed the ball , your opponent then got the chance to tackle and gain possession. Hence the game could move very quickly from one end of the table to the other. Now this was where we had a problem because the table took up so much room on the floor of the bedroom it was hard to get round quickly to defend your own goal , especially when possession was turned over. So it was decided that no shooting on goal until the defending player was ready. Saved the mass scramble back , knocking everything on and around the table flying. The rule was simple. 'You must asked before shooting "Ready" ? It did not matter what happened after but if the question "ready" was not asked or the opponent had not replied , any goal that was scored would be chalked off. This rule may have slowed me down but I would often shout ready hoping for my brothers reply rather than waiting for it. Goals would be scored and chalked off as my elder wiser brother would not answer first time knowing what was about to happen. He would even mutter the half word 'red' just to catch me out ! Which he often did. But we both understood our own rules. We would note goal sorcerer's , time of goals and of course match result. The only game that really truly mattered though was Arsenal verses Norwich. These game would be fearlessly contested with many accusations of cheating being levelled at each other. I can hear my father shout at us from his winged armed chair in the lounge , "don't start , or I will finish it !" In a loud booming voice. The truth was he just could not be bothered to get up out of his chair. If he ever did we both knew we were in deep trouble. My father was born on the 9 May 1930. The eldest of three children. A piano tuner father and a mother who earned money for her family writing. As there was little call for pianos to be tuned during the depression and then the war. It was my Grandmother who brought home the bacon , bread and even the odd cream cake. My Grandfather was an enigma to me. I hardly knew him. I still could not tell you much about him. His birthday, his history are both mysteries. Not surprising though, the little I did know was not that good. A stern man, little over five foot five inches. He would rule over his house hold with a rod of iron. He would keep said 'rod with him at all times. This fear inducing, pain giving rod. He would swing into uncontrollable rages, hitting my father for the smallest of indiscretions. His regime was brutal. My father described his own father as a coward and a bully. No wonder we never went to visit. My father was not as extreme as his father had been, but he knew how to swing a punch, and he too had an uncontrollable temper. He was the type of man who you felt safe and afraid of all at the same time. 5 foot 7 inches with a commanding voice that had been homed during his time as a drill instructor with The Royal Air Force. For my younger self he was fierce. Upset him at your peril. I can recall on more than one occasion that I had been hit, punched and even dragged out of my room by my hair or arm by his aggressive nature. As a child you just take the pain, you feel that you deserve to get beaten for mis behaving. The level of violence would never be tolerated in todays society, but I believed it to be normal. My fathers actions and behaviour were the legacy passed down to him by his father. It was the way he had been taught. Still did not change the fact he should have been accountable for his own actions. I would lay in my bottom bunk at nights times dreaming up ways to get back at him. I must have been that child that every parent dreads. Knowing that I could not match or disobey him seemed to drive me on even more. My father like most people who were born in the 1930's. He liked to smoke. He would tell the story of being given a packet of cigarettes and a lighter for his fourteenth birthday. 1944 cigarettes were not cheap during the war and his parents had little or no money , such a gift was rare. He had been a smoker ever since. He smoked at every opportunity, in the car , whilst watch television , even in the toilet. I hated the smell of that acrid smoke. As I lay in bed with the eiderdown quilt wrapped tight to my shoulders , facing the cold garage wall , unknown to my father I was hatching a plan , a plan that might if executed with expert timing , might , just might put him off smoking for the rest of his life.

Childhood Room - New Chapter.

A Matter of Trust

So much changes. The pictures you have in your mind of how things used to be are far nicer than the reality of how they are now. When I moved to our new home it was in the middle of a building site. New homes popping up everywhere. Great for me as new built houses would make for a great playground. The smell of newly cemented bricks and breeze blocks. Tarmac roads freshly laid, and rolls and rolls of tuff neatly stacked in giant piles just ready to lay. For me on my bike the ever changing scenery opened more possibilities. You hardly notice as the brand new estate grows and fills the landscape, meadows built over, new pathways, roads and homes all stretching out further and further away. Everything looks so big through a child's eye. Paths that looked so long and distant to my memory, become short and narrow to my adult sight. The newly built village that grew up around me was a piece of land that was two and a half miles around the circumference. That was the distance of the road that went around the edge of the buildings. The ring road would be a might journey on my pedal bike, Two large hills dominated, steep enough to have to get off my bike and push. But also great fun to 'free wheel down. For some reason it was the fashion to place a piece of plastic against the spokes in the wheel. Using one of my mothers pegs clipped on to the brake cable, I would position the 'plastic clicker so when the wheel turned the plastic and metal would meet. This would make a tremendous racket, especially down hill, legs high in the air and hands off the brakes. The adrenaline rush of the speed, noise and fear of not stopping became very addictive. Well worth the effort of climbing the hill. Ten minutes of hard work, ten seconds of exhilaration ! I had thought of what could happen if anything went wrong. As a chid I had no concept of time, distance, responsibility or how my actions may effect another persons thoughts. Are all children like this ? I do not know, but as a child the world of responsibility is a distant horizon that can hardly been seen, let alone worried about. The freedom to act without consequence is a narrow path that ends at the time it has only just began. My childhood was full of situations that required me to act as an adult. Long before I had finished being a care free child responsibilities, accountability and guilt caught me up. A game of tag that I was not able to run fast enough away from. I was 'it' from an age that should have been care free. Instead I was given the responsibilities of someone twice my age. One of these moment of adult responsibility happened in strange circumstances. Looking back as an adult I can not see my parents thinking. Or how they could have let a young child, me, and my even younger sister in my care, go to a public event alone ? For those of you of an age to remember the popular BBC television show. 'It's a Knockout' Three regional teams competing against each other. Stupid silly games involving plenty of water, ropes and slippery slopes. The winning team would then go forward to represent Great Britain against other European countries. The programme was being filmed in Cambridge, Milton Road. The home of Cambridge City FC. I must have wanted to go so badly that my father agreed to drop me and my younger sister off at the ground. I must look after Amanda at all cost. And my father would return to pick us both up from the same spot as he dropped us, three hours later. We must wait for him there. So on this hot sunny summer's afternoon my father dropped me and my sister off in Milton Road, waved goodbye and drove off ! The crowd of people was large, but together we negotiated the turn styles paid the £1.50pence entry fee and made our way to a vantage point to watch the fun and games. I can remember wearing a bright yellow tee shirt so if the television cameras were pointed our way I would be seen. It was fun. The crowd large and enfusiastic, loud music mixed with the voices of the commentators came at us from all directions through giant speakers. The winners were crowned and the crowd started to disperse. I waited for the main bulk to go, then holding my sisters hand firmly unshed her through the large now open gates. Brilliant we were early by ten minutes. This was the spot that my father had dropped us. We waited, thirty minutes. Nothing. The road was still busy, but not a sign of my fathers car. Another thirty minutes went past with no sign of him. The road was now empty. We both watch with hope as cars came round the corner and drove straight past. I was responsible. A decision had to be made. Should we wait as told, or start walking ? In my mind it was logical to start walking. I would follow the route my father was likely to take, so if he had been delayed he would see us and it would save him some time driving the whole way. About seven miles. We set off and just kept walking. Mile after mile, still no sign of him. Amanda was getting upset. She did not want to walk. I had to keep persuading her with sweets and promises of 'around the next corner ! We had just reached the top of our village, 6 miles from Milton Road, when my fathers car came screeching to a stand still just behind us. The road although busy was not unsafe. I had kept to the verge, the grass was short and the mud was hard and dry. But we were thirsty and getting tired. I believe our father was just relived. His normal red angry round face, was etched with the air of a person that had just discovered a large chunk of gold, by complete accident. I believe he had given up trying to find us and was driving home to call the police. That would have been one conversation I would have liked to heard. Amanda quick to shift the blame, jumped into the car crying, it was his fault, pointing to me. I never wanted to walk in the first place, still sobbing. She had no concept of loyalty. Or even gratitude for me getting her home ! Securing us both in the car, his short lived relief turned to anger. Of course I got the blame. I should have known better. And no I did not know what I was thinking of. But like I said earlier I had no concept of time, distance, responsibility or empathy. I was ten years old ! My sister was eight. The road we had walked along that faithful day was the A604. Many of you may now know it as the A14. In 2020 the A14 is one of the busiest roads in the country, being the trunk road linking the East coast docks with the Midlands. Lucky for us that on that summers day back in the seventies the A604 was just a two lane carriage way.

Childhood Room Aftermath

It's a knock out had been fun, but now for me I was experiencing it's a lock in ! I had been confined to my room for two weeks ! The summer was only just beginning and I had to stay in my room and amuse myself. This seemed unfair, a case of the punishment not fitting the crime. My sister had placed all the blame on my shoulders. I was used to her screaming, crying and exaggeration. I did not believe she would lie to save herself. I should have known better, especially after she had betrayed my trust in her perviously. The harsh reality was the buck stopped with me, and at such a young age. No wonder I believed that I was guilty for anything and everything that went wrong in our house. To me this punishment only went to show how much my parents did not know me. Being locked in was a challenge. How could I get out of the house without being noticed ? I had plenty of time to think about my escape route. Other punishments that would have been far more effective would have included, taking the batteries out of my little blue radio. Removing my football and UFO magazines. Taking away my sweets, and finely after all of those options banning me from going outside. How I figured it was, if I got under my mothers feet enough, made it difficult for my father to relax, smoking in his chair, the more likely that when I escaped through my downstairs bedroom window, they would be so grateful for the peace and quiet, they would not come looking for me. This worked a treat. The first day I put my plan into action. Hanging round, asking questions and just getting in the way. After two days I could sense the annoyance. Go to your room ! My mother would shout. As I was not afraid of her I would walk in slow motion towards my room, stopping to pull faces and make rude gestures when she turned her back. I know this behaviour was not good, but my situation was not that good either. My aim was to get out of the house, I knew my friends would be in the park playing cricket or football. There was a group of us who would play together in the evenings and school holidays. But I also knew that I could not get dirty or be out too long. My young mind had it all worked out piece by piece. Whether my mother was more concerned with her own things, or my little brother kept her occupied I am not sure. But after four days on my own, going mad, I loaded my ruck sack with a bottle of water, sultanas, biscuits and an orange. All that I had managed to get from different rooms downstairs after my parents had gone to bed. I was so careful. I would only stay out for two hours, making sure the bedroom window was closed tight to the frame without being locked. I then would return at lunch time, eat my lunch and repeat the same pattern, returning for evening meal, before bed. I was never discovered. I went unnoticed for the next ten days. Finding food at night, playing out with my friends before returning to my room. This one episode taught me a few lessons. The biggest lesson was nothing really mattered. Best to accept what I was given and change it quietly without telling anyone anything. Some might think that my childhood taught me to act alone and be secretive. That could well be true. I am sure I still carry around the mental scares of responsabilty even many years later. I would rather think of my childhood teaching me how to survive in difficult circumstances.

My Childhood Room - The New Chapters for 2020

COCONUT PYRAMIDS

We never had any visitors . The house as it was only had just enough room for the six of us. Family did not come and stay, I did not know any of my mothers relatives. After her father died in 1969 I had no contact. Nor were they ever spoken about. Still to this day I have never met my mothers brother, or his wife. I didn't even know anything about my mothers real mum, her life or anything about the family history. The name 'Zenden, although uncommon was a mystery to me until recently. But that is another story for another time. My Grandad on my father's side had just died. I remember coming back from my early morning paper round to be told the news. My father who was never that approachable made a point of sitting us four children down and announcing he had something sad to tell us. In an emotionless voice told us the news. I felt nothing. I had only seen him once a year. I had no attachment or love for him. He was just an old man who smoked and sat in the same arm chair, smoking every time I had met him. Looking at me over the top of his small rimed spectacles. I had wondered whether or not if he had ever moved from said chair. Well apparently not, he had died in that chair. His last words were something in the order of commenting on the food he had just eaten. This man who had brought a regime of terror, ruling over his children with a rod of iron literally, just fell asleep after eating his dinner. A peaceful death for a man who had been feared but never liked. His wife my Grandmother had done everything for him. Even during war time he had refused to sign up claiming that the draft would effect his ears. And as he made his living from tuning piano's the loud noise of gun fire would inhibit his work after the war. He used the same excuse to avoid working in the ammunition factories. He left it up to my Grandmother to make what little money she could by writing. Whilst he found excuse after excuse not to work. My Grandmother bless her soul was a brilliant author fortunately. This kept the wolf from the door. There was plenty of reasons for the lack of emotion in my fathers voice, as he told the four of us the news. As a child you know very little about anything, especially relationships between families. All I knew was that both my parents had seldom showed me any forms of affection, warmth or love. So when at the end when my father added that 'Grandma' was going to be staying with us for a few days none of us really knew how to react, or how this would effect us directly. The first change was to hit me fast. My younger brother Ian was moved into our room. His small bed tucked into the corner of our room. I was now sharing with Adrian and Ian. No privacy or silence. The three of us in each others way. Ian was three, Adrian fourteen and me in the middle. Ian's room was now Grandma's for the duration of her stay. I admitt to being excited at the prospect of sharing some time with my dads mum. I had never really got to know her. As a child you feel certain vibrations, atmospheres. And boy did I feel this distinct atmosphere from my Mother. She did not like her Mother in law and was perpared to share her dislike at any opportunity. My Grandmother had baked some coconut pyramids for us on one of our rare visits. The sweet coconut treat formed into little triangles and topped with a bright shiny red glacier cherry. Us children loved them ! But my mother would not eat them. She told us on the journey back that Grandmas baking should be avoided at all cost. My mother continued. "Your Grandmother never cleans her nails, she lets them grow long trapping all sorts of muck and dirt underneath" I was now listening intensely as my mother graphicly spelt it out. " When she bakes cakes she never cleans her hands first, in fact the only reason I know that she has been baking is because her finger nails are clean !" Could this be true ? Have I unknowingly been eating the dirt from underneath my Grandmas finger nails, disguised as cake ? I was now feel slightly queasy, what with the smell of my fathers cigarette smoke, the rocking side to side of the car plus the smell of petrol fumes, and the thought of my Grandmothers baking, I must have turned a very pale shade of green. How could I ever eat another coconut pyramid ever again ? Some conversations you never forget. And this was one of them. All these months later the image of my Grandmothers coconut 'finger nail dirt' pyramids had stayed with me. I had that feeling, the one you get just before a birthday or Christmas morning. The excitement of expectation. That feeling is far better than the event nearly always. Watching the road from the bedroom window, I could see all the comings and goings. I had lifted the net curtain up and tucked it into the wire cord that it hung from. I hated that net curtain that my mother had insisted that we had. No only would it block the light out, it would stop me from seeing out ! After what had seemed like hours I spotted my fathers harvest brown Morris Marina slowly coming down the hill. It was her Grandma had arrived ! The whole house stopped, mother put the kettle on and even Fred the cat awoke from his basket. The house became alive with expectation. And there she was, a little lady, much smaller than I had remember her, in an ankle length coat, round box top hat and a smile from ear to ear. In all the years of living in our house this was the first time she had ever seen it. The boot bounced open revealing a heap of boxes bags and one old cardboard brown suitcase with brass locks. "How long have you come for Grandma ?" I could hear my voice asking. Grandma not wishing to be drawn into conversation just stretched out her arms and gave me the longest, warmest hug I had ever had. Her joy at seeing us was etched all over her winkled round face. She smelt like my father, cigarette smoke and talc. That day was joyous. The house seemed more relaxed, more fun that I could remember. The truth was it was just different. Still as a child you have little to compare your thoughts and feelings with. I believed every family was like mine, it never occurred that other families could be different. I soon got back into my routine, yes the house was different, but there was a different atmosphere. One difference was Grandma just would not spot talking. Knowing what I know now I can understand a little better. But during this time the only moments of quiet were during Coronation Street. Grandma would go silent for the deration of the programme. It was amazing like flicking a light on and then off, the reach of Hilda, Eddie Yates and Vera and Jack Duckworth was nothing less than a miracle. This mircle had not got passed us children. We agreed between us to not stop talking during said television programme. We only had one television in the house, so we had little choice than to watch what my father watched. I can still see the anger in my father's voice when he realised what we were doing ! But what made this so memorable was how my Grandma reacted. She did not get angry, she simply smiled at us all and left the room returning moments later still with a smile on her face and something tacked behind her back. With a grand gesture like a magician pulling a rabbit out of a hat, Grandma produced a large sweet tin from behind her back. Wow she has brought us sweets ! We only ever saw chocolate at Christmas. Mum would buy a large tin of Quality Street for us all to share. I would wait until everyone was in bed and creep down the hall, open the drinks cabinet where the brightly coloured tin would be kept, fill my pockets and sneak back. I would share them with Adrian so he would not tell, but he only got a couple of toffee's ! I eat the chocolate ones. So with a flourish this tin was produced, and as Grandma opened the lid, first the familiar smell not of chocolate, but of coconut ! Then the realisation, not sweets, but COCONUT PYRAMIDS ! Before I could help myself my glace went straight to my Grandmas hands, her nails were spotless ! "Here you are children I made them specially for you ! Our faces must have been a picture, from joy to horror in a matter of seconds ! I had never gone to bed without a fight ever, until that night.

New Chapter The Other Side

I had little that I could claim as 'mine. A few games, an old red box drop record player and my collection of Subbuteo, and a large pile of 'Shoot's magazine. ( A football comic that published glossy colour photographs of all the English and Scottish football teams. ) I would carefully cut out my favourite pictures and paste them on my half of our bedroom board. We were not allowed to stick, hang or decorate any of the other walls. Just the six foot by three foot board was the only space we had to express our own personalities on. When you are eight it is rare you question anything. The way it is, is the way it is. My young mind would be interested in things outside my room, but I never really felt that I was that important or special. It was uncommon for our parents paid any attention to the things of interested to my siblings or myself. My father would make dismissive comments about 'football. I can remember his words even today. " Why would twenty two grown men want to chase a piece of leather around a field ?" He would continual. " As long as the eight score draws I have predicted on my Pools coupon come up I do not care about football." He had very little interest in sport, so why should anyone else be interested ? Looking back I can now see him for the person he was. For all of his achievements, intelligence and opinions he was narrow minded and according to him always right. Not a man to argue against. You have never known stubborn if you had never met him. I am sure he defined the word 'stubbornness' in the Oxford English Dictionary. Something else that I never questioned was birthdays. In our home birthdays were nothing that special. The memories I have from my day of birth are few and far between. Firstly I would never look forward to mine. It was September 15, that very date was by timing an unfortunate time to be born. Just after the new school year started, so I was always one of the eldest children in my year group. My dislike of school was only matched by my dislike of some of the sadistic teachers, home work and of course school dinners. I suppose all of these built up to a dislike of having to conform. I was on such a tight leash at home, coping with school decline was difficult. After all it did not matter whether I achieved or failed my parents were far too busy trying to survive to notice. With my birthday came the new school term. After six weeks of playing out, a sort of freedom. So I never wanted my birthday to come, because it signalled the end of the holidays, the beginning of school year, and the long dark winter nights were just around the corner. I have few birthday memories of my own. I can recall all the pranks and games that I played on my family or anyone who had the misfortune to cross my path. But only one birthday morning stands out clear enough for me to recount. It was going to be a lesson for me to remember. I was a nightmare of a child, my poor brother's and sister had put up with so much. Black face soap, hand buzzers, snappy chewing gum, mustard sweets. The list is endless. It was my turn now to be the victim. My brother Adrian was the brains, Ian and Amanda just wanted to be in on it. Imagine the scene, today is my ninth birthday. I wake up as normal, Fred our cat has spent the night curled up at the bottom of my bed, he had just woken and had made his exit. There in front of me was my brother Adrian, sister Amanda and younger brother Ian all dressed and ready for breakfast. Adrian and Amanda had broad smiles on their faces, Ian was fat too young to comprehend what was just about to happen. Happy Birthday ! Surprise ! They shouted in unionism. It sure was ! We never celebrated birthdays. It was the last thing I had expected. From behind them Adrian produced with the help of the other two, a large brightly wrapped box. When I say large it was so big Ian disappeared behind it ! Still in my pyjamas. I threw the covers off and jumped out of bed excitedly. A birthday present, and something large ! By now my Mother was standing in the bedroom doorway, and my brothers and sister were surrounded in her shadow as they knelt, crouching like one hundred metre runners weight for the starting pistol. I had the outside wrapping off in a second, only to discover another box inside the first box. The same again, and again until I was buried in a heap of newspapers and ever decreasing sizes of boxes. Finely the last box, a shoe box, wrapped in coloured birthday paper stuffed with newspaper. Throwing the scrunch up paper left and right, as my mood become darker and darker, and there right at the bottom of the last box my present. One single Black Jack chewie sweet. Ten black Jacks cost about a penny. My initical excitement at seeing the large present was now anger. I was besides myself. Upset, disappointed and non believing what had just happen. My Mother and three siblings were now laughing and pointing. This was the most humiliating moment of my young life. No doubt done to teach me a lesson for all the ticks and jokes and times that I had humiliated each one of them. A vaulable lesson indeed. Not nice being the victim. Nor easy to know how disliked I was by my brother's and sister, even my Mother, who seemed to gain an imense about of pleasure at my expense. It would be a while before I gained my revenge for that moment.

My Childhood Room New Chapter

A Piece of Cake

Our living room was the centre of all the actives we shared as a family. This room came into it's own on Sunday's. It was the only day of the week that guaranteed we would all be home together. My parents would not be up before ten am. My father would have the same routine, just delayed. The same journey down the stairs, his familiar sounds accompanying him to the downstairs toilet. The rustle of the cigarette pack, the cluck of his lighter and of course that acrid foul smelling stench of the cigarette smoke as it drifted down the hall way pasted the bathroom and right up my noise. I longed for clean air. For some reason the smells on a Sunday seemed enhanced .My Mother would follow a few moments behind. Sunday was the only day of the week that she cooked breakfast. Bacon sandwiches ! Again the aroma would fill the house from floor to ceiling, as all the children would gather in the misted up kitchen almost trance like called by the smell of bacan frying in my mothers rather large frying pan. My father now full coughed out and awake, would take his usual chair next to the table, sun light flooding the room through the large seventies style windows that had been exposed by the heavy curtains being pulled back by the cord rail that rolled it's way along the top of the upper window. Bacon sandwiches apart, I hated Sunday mornings. I hated having to wait, I hated the smells that downed out the air, but most of all I hated my fathers radio. Sunday mornings brought dull classical music in the mornings, 'Melodies for You', ( nothing tunful about that radio show !) it was down right depressing. And 'Sing something Simple' or as I called it 'Sing something Stupid' in the evening. I could never work out whether or not my father liked listening to such radio programmes, or if his sadistic mind would get some sort of twisted pleasure out of putting us through it with him ! Sundays revolved around food. The drop leaf table that stayed firmly stuck to the wall Monday through Saturday, my fathers cigarette table that his hard wooden back chair would rest next too would swing into action. My father had to move his belongings to the small coffee table, and it would take two of us to lift and re position the rather heavy wood turned legs, lift the flaps and kick out the supporting legs and slot then firmly into place. Making sure we had turned the table round 90 degrees. From a two foot by five foot the table extended into a large round table big enough to fit all six of us round. We each had our own designated place that never ever changed. At two pm we would all sit down together for Sunday roast dinner. Roast meat, vegetables, Yorkshire puddings, gravy. Our family was like every other family I knew at the time. An unwritten Sunday rule. The table manners were ritual like. Once seated you would not speak, unless spoken to. You would eat everything on your plate. Still no moving. Your knife and fork had to be placed on your plate at a slight 45 degree angle. No talking, once everyone had finished, you may ask to get down from the table. But you must say 'thank you for your food before attempting to leave the table. The regimented nature of Sunday lunch time was something to behold. A throw back to such times where food was not plentiful during the Victorian period of English history. All I can remember was trying so hard not to step out of line, but trying to provoke my brothers and sister to shout out in pain as I kicked them as hard as I could in the skins under the table. This would make the rather dull meal time much more fun. I had a few tricks up my selves. Sneezing power. A little pink plastic puffer bottle of this magic substance. Small enough to fit in my pocket and go unseen under the table. A few 'puffs into the air at the right time and the sound of knife's and fork's chickling on dinner plates would be broken with different sized sneezes. Little restrianed ones from my Mother and sister, to booming air splitting ones from my father. I would often get told off not for administering the douse of sneeze indoucing powder, but for trying so hard not to laugh that my face tight lipped and growing redder by the second would just explode into uncontrolable laughter. My father would not be amused, his very stern face and his rocket of a voice would soon change my joy into tears. Still these things had to be done, I could not bare silence. Then came the dreaded washing up ! The kitchen always looked like it had been bombed. All the dirty plates and saucepans piled up against the sink. It took what seemed like hours to wade through the gigantic pile. No time to rest, Sunday night time tea would appear at 6 30. Bread butter, sliced meats, pickles, salad, ( horrible spring onions ) and cake ! Thank goodness for cake. Now as you can imagine a Victoria Sponge did not go far between the six of us. If you think of portioning a cake it cuts into six. Down the middle each half cut into three pieces. The only problem was my father did not eat cake. I never asked him why this was, but it left us children with a dilemma. If I eat my piece fast enough would I be able to lay claim to the spare slice ? Or should I forget about the left over piece and savour every single mouth full slowly enough to enjoy the freshly baked cream filled, jam laden, icing sugar sprinkled sponge ! After consideration I eat my piece as fast as I could, hardly coming up for air in between mouthful's. Get in fast before it was too late ! Icing sugar and strawberry jam spread across my face from ear to ear ! This did not work. My Mother who would never say much during meal times, normally left everything up to my father. But she had a plan. From the kitchen she fetched a clean plate and knife. She placed the spare piece of cake on the plate, and asked, " who would like this last slice ?" Simultaneous hands shot into the air, chests stuck out as if reaching for the celling. " Alright then you can share it between you" " I want one of you to cut and the other two to choose" This had never happened before, we never got to cut the cake ! What is she up to I thought ? Adrian took the knife and with the precision of a lazier guided robot cut the cake into three exact pieces ! I could almost see through my extra slice ! How he managed this amazing feat of engineering with a cake knife I still do not know to this day. We all got the same, and no arguments ! Genius !

Childhood Room New Chapter Betrayal

Fourteen days seems like a life time when your a child.

I never did have much concept of time. So when Grandma left after being with us after two weeks it really did feel that she had been staying with us a lot longer. You adapt to most situations , and I had. It was no longer an intrusion having Ian sleeping in our room. In fact it had brought me another target to aim at with my practical jokes. I had become a master of 'the apple pie bed'. I would carefully fold down the top bed sheet, bring up the bottom sheet. The art was making the bottom sheet match the top sheet, creating a pocket. The unsuspecting victim would go to get into bed but would find their feet blocked by the pocket of the false bottom. If I was lucky my brother would not realise what had been done, and he would push his feet down the bed so hard that the sheet would rip. Or even better get so frustrated that he would rip all the blankets and sheets off in a fit of rage. Having to make his bed from starch. I would lay in my bed across the room and wait for the reaction, normally a shout of anguish, followed by one or two words that a child of younger years should not have known. Like any fun it is always funnier when it happens to someone else. My other favourite bed trick was reserved for Adrian. He had the top bunk, that was just the way of things. From my bottom bunk I could access the metal webbing that held his mattress in place. I can still picture it today. Metal webbing held in place by retaining springs attached to the four corners and the middle of the frame. All I had to do was release the retaining springs on one side. The three remaining springs would hold his mattress up just enough. Now let me explain. Adrian had a habit of climbing on to his bunk not using the wooden ladder bolded to the side of the beds. Instead he would clamber up the end of the beds. Two wooden ends fixed together by brackets that in themselves made a good climbing frame. He would reach his top bunk, balance on the end of his bed and dive head long landing with a thud amongst his eiderdown. The beds would rock with the impact. This was great fun to do, but did leave himself open for what I look at as an opportunity to make him suffer. The hardest spring to release was the first one, it had all the tension in it. But by using a screw driver that I had borrowed from my father tool box, I managed to prise the hook free. After a few minutes work I had all four springs freed. The mattress was now being held in place by the frame of the bed and the two remaining attached springs. Now it was a waiting game. I had it all figured out, I would wait in my bed till I heard Adrian come in. As soon as he started to climb up the end of the bunk bed I would roll on to the floor and wait for the inevitable. Time stands still when you are waiting. It felt he would never come to bed. My heart was pounding as I heard him say goodnight and walk down the hall towards our room. I had turned the light out so he could not see too much. The door opened, he took his dressing gown off and hung in on the small metal hook on the back of the door, the hall light shone through the crack, slowly disappearing as he closed the door behind him. I was preying he would not use the ladder, I was willing him to climb up the bottom of the beds. The bed rocked slightly as his bare feet appeared at the bottom of my bed before he skilfully clambered up pulling the bed with him to keep his balance. A slight pause, I rolled out of my bed onto the hard tiled cold floor just in time. He flung himself head long like he had done countless times before. But instead of bouncing softly to a landing on his bed, he fell straight through without warning. Mattress, bed sheets, eiderdown in a large heap three foot down on the lower bunk. A rather puzzled bemused brother with glasses skewwhiff and a pale expression of shock emerged from the scene of chaos. A little dazed not knowing what had just happened. I had witnessed the whole thing from my vantage point across the room. I was uncontrollable, just could not stop laughing as the scene played out time and time again inside my head. The look of pure terror and surprise on Adrian's face as he emerged from the heap of sheets dishevelled, shocked and trying hard to figure out what had just happened. Priceless ! To give Adrian his due he did not 'tell on me. For some reason Dad had not heard the crash, or if he had he did not react. Together this time with Adrian's help we rebuilt his bed. Carefully putting the springs back in place and between us heaving the mattress back into its rightful place. Adrian saw the funny side after all it was genius, he was either too tried or too worn out by the consent bombardment of jokes. One thing I must say before moving on is, Adrian never did climb up the end of the beds again, his days of diving headlong into bed were history. Grandma was now leaving. She said her goodbyes and left us all with a small gift. I was sad to see her going home. I had got used to her ways. Even the consent talking could be interesting and fun. She had a habit of starting a sentence with, " Do you remember" then a name, followed by "they died you kown." The first day you do not notice a repeating theme. After two week the pattern becomes so familiar you know what is coming next. Grandma would start the fimillar phrase and us children would all chirp up as one. " They died you know !" Poor Grandma she had no idea what was happening ! I would miss this humour in the coming months. Grandma's gifts were an unexpected bonus, we rarely asked or were given much, and when we did get something it had to be shared. Ian got pencils and drawing paper, brilliant. Amanda a doll. Adrian a Lego kit. And I got a magic book. Not a book of magic. It was the size of a hard back book with a cover and two inside pages, but when turning the second page the book revealed a dial. It was a book safe ! I loved it. How did Grandma know ? The secret to the lock was simple. It had no code to remember, all you had to do was push the dial to the left and the lock would release revealing a secret compartment. To close it you would slide the lock across to the right. The beauty was the dial turned as if it was a code related safe. I would tease my elder brother with this. I would offer him bets that he could not open my book safe. Adrian being Adrian would take up the challenge only to lose. No matter how hard he thought, or however many times he came back for more he always lost. The sliding dial had not occurred to him. I kept this secret for months, then I made a mistake. Although I was not close to my sister I trusted her. And one morning when she had asked me how the book safe worked I showed her. But before I let out my secert I made her promise not to tell. Which of course she did. I shared the sliding lock and grew closer because of the joint secret. I recall she lasted an hour. One whole hour only. She kept her word and did not tell him. She just showed him with a simple movement of her hand. Still to this day I do not trust Amanda, nor have I ever forgiven her for that moment of betrayal. My lack of judgement maybe in trusting, but this one simple thing had taught me loyalty was dead. The world was a tough place and you could not trust anyone to keep a secret.

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