Chapter 1: 0 to 5 years

My name is Bryan George Rogers.

bryan rogersAt the moment, I am 77 years young.   I decided about 5 years ago, to write my life’s story called,  “I’m Not a Doctor, But I’ll Have a Look”.

I dedicate this book to my friend and neighbour Maurice Hellewell from Swindon 1960’s  who passed away at the age of 82 . 2018.

I should warn you now, that some parts of this book may be rude, crude, or even worse, but  it is what it is.

This book will not be a literary piece of  art, so if you are looking for good grammar etc.,  you won’t find it.

My Parents  with my grandmother Butler

I am looking to spread out my life because it has been very varied.  I have done a lot of things, not necessarily exciting things, but things that may been slightly different from the norm.  

As you go through the years,  I think that you will notice that I have added things that have touched my life and that may be of interest to the reader.  

These “things “ may or may not break up the flow of the  story, but what’s the rush !  Here we go !  

I would like to start by giving the background on my parents.   

My father was George Rogers and he was born on the 15th of July in 1914.

My mother was Frances May Butler and she was born on Dec.2, in 1917.  They both came from Kilburn, Willesden, Middlesex, London, England.

Dad, as already stated, was born 15th July 1914. The Rogers family lived at different times at No. 2 and no. 4 Stafford road, Kilburn. Which was 2 blocks from 201 Carlton Vale.

For many years he volunteered in the army reserves, and loved to go away every September to army camp.

Even though dad was not a very big bloke. (He stood  5 foot four and a half feet in high.) He loved to play sports.

He swam on the swim  team at senior school. He was also on the cricket team, football team and loved to box. He left school at 14 years of age. But still continued  on with his sports.

My mothers name was Francis May Butler.   I have no idea exactly where mum was born.

It would have been either in Kilburn in London or there is a possibility that she was born in Ipswich where I believe that Nan Butler, mums mother, had relatives.  

My Grandmother Butler sent my mother away when she was a young girl , to relatives in the country.

But when mum was 14 my grandmother brought her back to London. Made her get a job then took most of her pay away from her.

I guess that things were really tight when it came to money, and getting your kids out to work was a priority.

When dad was 85 we were having a chat in the retirement home that he was in, in Plymouth England. He showed me a photo of the football team that he was in.; He was 18 at that  time.

The footballers on the team, were all sitting there in their white vests with their arms folded across their chest and their hair all slicked back 1930’s style.

He then proceeded to name all the players off one by one. He told me that this team that he was on were winners of the second division and played the winners of the first division for the ‘”Cup”.

He went on to tell me that they won the “Cup.” And that they got free beer for a week. I said how that was.

Well, he said we took the Cup to every local pub for a week and all the locals bought them beer all night.

In September 1939 at the age of 25 dad went away to the annual camp with the army and came back 7 years later.

Because while he was at camp Neville Chamberlain Prime Minister of Great Britain, was the one who declared war on Germany  when Hitler attacked Norway on the  3rd September 1939.

Not only was my dad in the army in WW11, but my Grandfather George Rogers was killed in action in WW1.

His memorial is on the wall in the cemetery in Arras in France, on bay 2  of the Bay Walls. 

My grand dad George Rogers is located in the Arras mausoleum.Arras Memorial Bay 2

We were able to go to Arras in France in 2011 and Mitz wife number 3  found his name on the Bay 2 Wall. Acting Sergeant George Rogers. to say that I was very proud of him is an understatement. That was a tough sell !

They the army never found his body. That’s why he is on the bay wall instead of in a marked grave: “Acting Sargent, George Rogers. Killed in action 16th May 1917 Arras France.”

As far as I can ascertain he was about 40 years of age when he died,  at that time  dad was  about 3 years of age ,so I’m almost lucky to be here.

There very little to tell about my mother, I’ll pick up her story a bit more as we get into the book,i there is one thing that I can tell.

My Grandmother Butler sent my mother away when she was a young girl , to relatives in the country.

Somewhere in the Norfolk Broads But when mum was 14 my grandmother brought her back to London.

Made her get a job then took most of her pay away from her. I guess that things were really tight when it came to money, and getting your kids out to work was a priority.

I was born 10th December   1940 In Hitching Hertfordshire.

I went back there many years later with my second wife, Peggy but  but could not locate the exact hospital where I was born.

It would seem that around the time that I was born they (Whoever they were) changed hospitals.

Hitchin Hospital nurses

When I returned there in the 1980’s there were three hospitals.  The personnel at the one hospital that I visited then said that at about that time (1940) they were Changing Hospitals as they had built a new one.

So it was tough to know which one I was born in.  Especially as at that time, the war was on. I would think that record keeping was not at the top of their priority list.

 As a baby in my first early years or maybe months, we, (Mum and I) lived at 84 Kilburn Park Road. Kilburn, Willesden, Middlesex London England.

But, as I have already said . I was born in Hitching in Hertfordshire why I was born there I have no clue but I was.

When we moved from Hitching to Kilburn I have no Idea, but I do know that mum was “ in service “ in the Hitching area. 

In some fancy knobs place as a maid. ( Kilburn , you could say, was the family base of operations. )

On Kilburn Park Road   We lived mum and I  on the fourth floor of no. 84 .   It was a Victorian terraced house., as were most of the houses in this part of Kilburn were .

As a matter of fact in this section of London the houses were  mainly all terraced houses they were either two, three, or four story, usually with a family living on each floor.

There was an old lady living on one of the other floors in 84. Mum used to tell me that the old lady  used to sit me on her knee, bounce me up and down and sing “Here come the galloping Major. “

Kilburn Park Road is to factor into my life in the early years. I first lived in # 84 which was basically opposite the Williams basement, where my best friend Reggie Williams  for many years, was to first live.

I first met Reggie after I fell on the freshly tarred and pebbled road where I had slipped and fell, ripping open my left knee.

Reggie helped me back to St. Augustine’s  infant and Junior School, and we were friends for many, many years after this accidental meeting.  Incidentally,  I still have the scar on my left knee.

Kilburn Park Subway Station

Kilburn Park Subway Station London England

In the very early  1940’s when  we were living at 84 Kilburn Park Road. 

I’m not sure when mum found 201 Carlton Vale but I don’t think that I was very old at the time. 201 was about six blocks away from Kilburn Park  tube station,  and three blocks from Queens Park Station.

Queens Park station London icon near number 201

queens Park London tube icon

Later she used to tell us. (My sister and I. Who was born in January 1947) that she moved the two  us and all of our belongings in a  my Pram (Baby Buggy).

I am sure that there could of have been not much to move. I would guess that at the time of this move to 201 I was about 12 months old.

It was wartime, and the Germans were bombing us everywhere in London.

Even though the bombs fell all around St. Paul’s  Cathedral  which is in the center of London.was not hit, and St. Paul’s survived the war.

St. Paul’s was built after 1666 it replaced the previous church on that site. which was destroyed  by the great fire of London.

Sir Christopher wren designed the Cathedral in classical baroque style. and supervised it’s construction.

Along with Westminster Abbey St. Paul’s is used for many state events.

 

St. Paauls Bomb damage                                      

 Rationing in war time could and did mean shortages. 

rationing in britain in ww2
rationing in England in ww2

 

At 201 Carlton Vale, mum had rented the lower floor of a three story  Victorian terraced  house.

There was a large bay window in front of the house. In front of that was a tiny garden with a low brick wall which was 3 feet high. And then there was the sidewalk or pavement.   

We never used the garden for anything.  The only thing that was ever in this small garden was cat shit. 

The pavements ( side walks ) back then then consisted of flag stones.   This was where the dog shit was to be found. I guess   that they have to shit somewhere. 

The front door of 201 was solid wood a purple plum colour.  I never remember in the 19 years that we lived at 201 that the door was ever painted. 

The door  had a  long knocker set in it high up on the door.  It was one knock for us as we were on the ground floor. 

Two for the Hatton’s on the second floor and Three for the Redleys on the top floor.  I can still to this day still hear the sharp laud sound of that knocker. 

This by the way is where the phrase “I’ll knock you up in the morning “comes from. Back then in the day, only knobs had electric bells instead of door knockers.

As you entered the Victorian built terraced house, there was a dark unlit passage and along  the  front part of the passage on the right was the door which opened in to a damp front room. As you passed the front room door the passage had a  right hand jog in it. 

Here in the corner there was the one and only bedroom, which obviously as a family we all shared for many years, from the bedroom the passage here continued on straight ahead to the kitchen door.  To the right of that was another door which lead outside to the yard,.

 On entering the kitchen there was a small coal fireplace in the middle of the left hand wall, and then in the left hand corner beside the kitchen door, there was a large dark larder.

Across from the fireplace there was a window. which looked out at a brick wall in the yard. The wall was about ten to twelve foot away and about forty foot long.

The yard opened up into a garden which was surrounded by a five foot high brick wall.

When I was really young there was an air raid shelter made of corrugated steel in the back right hand corner.

In later years, this was replaced with a huge lilac tree, which always had beautiful deep purple flowers on it.

Talking about the air raid shelter reminds me of walking to school in 1946-7 with mum and one day I asked her where are all the metal railing s from all the houses in all the streets .

Mum told me that all the 1943.metal railing s were removed to be used towards the war effort.

So the railings were melted down and used for guns and tanks and the like.

iron railing used for tanks

 

Other than an electric light the only thing that we had that was electric in the kitchen back then was a black and silver Marconi radio. 

The radio had an eclectic cord which was plugged into the ceiling light. The very small  kitchen  was our main room.

Above the kitchen  fireplace was a mantel piece that held a small clock and ash trays which were always filled with dad’s dog ends and cigarette ash. 

Above the mantel was a smallish mirror, there were no pictures or any type of decoration, things in the kitchen  were very sparse.

Strait thro’ the kitchen was a step down to another smallish room. 

At the time they called it a scullery on the left hand side of the scullery wall we had an electric stove sitting up against the middle of the wall, and an old chunky sink in the far right hand corner.

To which hung a mahogany coloured draining board. The sink had a silver  cold running tap no hot tap. 

In the far left-hand corner there was coal bunker which had split in half wooden  stable like door. 

Once a week  over the top half of the door the coal man  deliver a hundred weight of coal ( 112 lbs) which we used to keep  the kitchen fire going.

By the right side of the kitchen sink there was a door leading to the yard.If you went outside and turned left and took a couple of steps,there was a door which where the lavatory which was in the corner of the house behind the scullery.

The lavatory had an overhead water tank you flushed the toilet by pulling on the long dangley chain.

Squares of the Daily Mirror hung on a hook  on the back of the toilet door, this was used instead of toilet paper.

Behind the house was an almost  square back garden. The garden was surrounded by a five foot high brick wall.

At the back of the yard and at the two sides was a strip about four feet wide. There dad would grow flowers and tomatoes and lettuce.

Then at the house end of the garden there was always two beat up grey zinc dustbins.

Just to make things perfectly clear to anybody reading this who was born in the last twenty or so years.

We only had a coal fireplace to heat the kitchen, an electric light with a cord coming from it that ran to a Marconi radio. We had an electric stove, and electric iron and that was it!

No Land Phone, no 4th generation cell phone, no personal computer no printers no Skype no texting, none of any combination of these, basically we had by todays standards  nothing.

No calculators, we were drilled into learning our times tables up to 12 times 12. So we could figure things out on our own.

Carlton Vale itself was an almost major road for its time.. It was wide but only single lane traffic each way.

There were no cars parked in the road. Because in our neighbourhood nobody had a car.  And if they did have one, it would be black. 

I would guess that at that time Carlton Vale would be mainly used by commercial traffic at the 201 end.  The other end of Carlton Vale was the end where the knobs lived.The people who had money.

  About twenty houses away to the left at the end of Carlton Vale there was a lavatory, set in the middle and below the road level of  the road. 

It was protected with black wrought iron railings and stone steps went down below road level. It had an attendant and all the toilet doors were green. The W.C. had highly polished brass and chrome fittings everywhere.

The walls of this Lavatory were filled with white tiles.  With brass fittings on the urinals,  these were kept bright and shiny by an attendant. It would cost you a penny to have a poop but to have a wiz in the urinal it was free.

Even toilet paper was rationed.

toilet paper rationing ww2

Back then the toilet paper was pulled out of a rectangular  shaped box through a slit .It was ministry toilet paper with L.C.C. on it. (London county Council).

You would pull out a sheet one by one . this paper was famous for being really slipper when you wiped your rear end and it was almost brittle and almost hurt to wipe your arse. 

You had to be careful not to put a crease in the toilet  paper because then it would almost cut your anus.  The Lavatory was lit though a glass roof which as I remember it made it bright down there.

There were no buses running up and down Carlton Vale, which was a blessing. But we could catch a red double Decker bus around the corner on Malvern Road. There was the 6, 28, 31 and the 187 even after all these years the numbers spring to mind. 

Carlton Vale,  many years later was to touch on the face of worldwide acclaim… Why? You ask.

Because at the other end of Carlton Vale was the world famous Abbey Road.

Yes the same Abbey Road that is on the cover of one of the Beatle  albums, and named just that…Abbey Road.

I probably went across that crossing many times when I was a youngster (The Abbey Road Album was released  Sept 26th  1969 ).

album cover abbey road

Pictured above is the famous Abbey Road album cover. I crossed at this famous crossing zebra crossing for years as a kid.

Rewind back to 1941

Adolf Hitler was pissed because  the German Luftwaffe  had lost “ The Battle of Britain “.

So he decided to attack London with his bombers  and bomb the shit out of the city until  Londoners  capitulated .  

The bombing raids started September in the daytime. Then in October when the Germans switched to nighttime bombing. 

This was known as “ The Blitz”. Bombing London was Hitler’s way of trying to  get the English to surrender. 

While the” Battle Of Britain “ and “ The Blitz “ was going on , My mother was happily carrying me around .

And and as already stated . I was born at the end of 1940 on the 10th of December .

Surprisingly I was not born in London , but in Hitching in Hertfordshire!

The  the first recollection I have of this life  was the  night sky,  it was almost pitch black .  I was in the arms of my mother Francis May Rogers. 

There was a huge yellow moon in front of me across the road where once the there was a block of houses. It was so big that I could almost reach out and touch it.

The  year  probably 1942. I was in my dark blue siren suit. We were in my Grandmothers Street; Alpha Place Kilburn London n.w.6.

The war was on! I was later to discover that most of these houses on Alpha Place had been seriously wiped out or damaged by fire and most were in an uninhabitable  condition.

 Behind   my grandmothers  house on  Alpha place there was two maybe three blocks  of houses flattened by the German bombs.

Also close by,  my Aunt Ruby’s ( my mother’s younger sister) house was burnt to the ground. She was lucky to get out alive. 

Aunt Ruby went on to live to 94, and passed in 2017.

kilburn park the tube icon

Kilburn Park Underground station was on the other end of the street from my grandmother’s  house  on the same side of the street ,on the corner.

The tube was fronted by Cambridge Avenue. On the other corner across the road from the Tube was a pub.

Then going back to the other end of Alpha Place on the same side as nannies house was another pub. The pub names I can’t remember .

At 77 some memories are as clear as crystal but other memories have faded into the fog of the past. 

Across the road from Nans place  as already stated there was nothing but knee high rubble, the reason that I was able to see that big yellow moon was because two blocks of houses had been taken out by German bombers.  

This is what was called “ The Blitz “ by Londoners Adolph Hitler would switch to sending rockets with wings on them . Doodlebugs.

The Doodlebugs were sent from Germany by Hitler the first Doodlebug to land on London was the 13th of June 1944. 

The Doodle Bugs had just had enough fuel in them to reach London and when they ran out of fuel  they fell out of the sky and smashed down onto the streets  and houses of London.

Hitler wanted to bomb and burn us into submission, but failed.  

Nazi’s loading a V-one bomb

Nazis loading a V one bomb

The first time that dad came home to 201, Carlton Vale he was on leave from the army.  So the first night of sleeping there. 

He got up about 2.a.m. to get mum and himself a cup of tea.  I guess because they were having a hard time sleeping . 

  So dad makes a pot of tea in a silver tea pot, with some milk in a silver milk jug along with some cube sugar in a silver sugar  bowl, and sugar tongs . 

All this on a round fancy silver tray  along with some fancy bone china cups and saucers. And of course a tea strainer.

He turns of the kitchen light and opens the kitchen door and goes up the dark passageway to the bedroom.

This was the law in wartime England. Called the “ Blackout “.  Any lights on the ground could be seen by the German Luftwaffe, German night bombers.

So dad makes his way in the dark along the passage to the bedroom. He knew that at the end of this part of the passage that there was a wall.

Once that was reached the bedroom door was on the left.

He was in his bare feet. So when he thought that he was close to the bed room door , he started to feel his way along the pitch dark passage with his feet. Once 1944 having felt the wall at the end of the passage he knew that the bedroom door was on his left.

Well! His foot feels the toe of a boot and then next to it he felt the toe of a second boot. 

Right away he thinks there is somebody there. With that he drops the tray and lets rip with a hard right hand . And punched the wall.  

Unbeknownst to him, my mother had put his army boots outside the bedroom door by the wall because she couldn’t stand the smell of them.  

I can still remember the sound of the sirens that were turned on to warn Londoners that we were being attacked by the German Rockets or by German bombers, and to take cover.

If i remember correctly the warning sound was a  loud wailing up and down . Then the all clear would be one continuous single note held for a few minutes

 Back in the Forties  the treats and some of the foods of the day were . Tizer  an orange flavoured  drink.

Mars bar a chocolate bar that is still around today. And I also remember Wagon Wheel a large chocolate covered biscuit. 

Which was named because of its size. Which today should be maybe call Tiny  Wheel  or the like. Because it is barely bigger than an Oreo cookie.

The Drink  Tizer was a great drink that we liked to buy on a stinking hot day to quench our thirst.

We would go to the local green grocer on the corner of Kilburn Park Road and they would pour us a glass for a penny or two.

Brown bread “Hovis “ as it was called ,was a bit of a luxury to eat in those times.

Remember we were at war  and  after the war, food was tight and still in  short supply. We also ate and liked Smiths Crisps.

Which came in a bag with its own twist of blue paper with salt in it. Smith’s crisps were and still are sold in the pubs in England today.

Back in the 40’s and the early 50’s Mum and dad would bring a bag of Smiths crisps (chips) home as a treat from a night out on a Saturday night at the local pub .

Be it the Nelson the Albert or the Falcon. And they would bring home a copy of the War Cry a salvation Army publication, which the Salvation army would sell in the local pub to the drunks on a Saturday night . it was a good found raiser for the Army.

In the 40’s, Weetabix was the cereal  that mum would buy for us along with Kellogg’s Corn Flakes. Porridge was also  staple  in our diet to at the time.

 In my early years I seemed to have fun. I didn’t know any better. What went on was what went on.

Me at 2 years maybe 3 years!

Bryan Rogers at 2 maybe 3

I was at Kilburn Park Road Infant and Junior School. I don’t remember to much about anything. 

 Two or three years prior to going to school  I was evacuated out of London. With all the other London kids. We congregated at Victoria station ready for the train ride up north to Derbyshire.

I remember that I had been given a coloured book with Spitfires shooting down German fighter planes. 

In  Derbyshire we were sent to  and lived at a  place called Kettleston Hall. 

Kettleston hall was a huge mansion that  youngsters were sent to be out of the bombing area.

Was used as a safe house for kids from London . Also for cohort spying

 At Kettleston Hall there was a big wide driveway coming of the road  with big huge trees on sentry guard on each side of the driveway.

This all lead up to a huge house, Kettleston Hall at the end of the driveway.  . 

There are only a few thing that stand out in my mind from that time period. I remember being stung by a bee at a Fate that they held at the Hall one hot summer day.

I was also  sick and being in my bed and mum coming to visit me from London. I don’t know why but  I pretended to be a sleep.

I heard someone talking to mum. Telling her that I was asleep and that I was “poorly”, so mum had to travel all the way back to London without even seeing me.     

Porridge  for breakfast was a staple  in the mornings which I still like to this day.

In 1939, Britain used Kettlestone Hall  as a training camp and an intelligence station.

On the 5th of November , Guy Fawkes day, to celebrate, the people in charge of Ketteston Hall piled a lot of branches up on the back lawn and tried to set it alight .

They eventually put petrol on it and tried to light it that way.  I think it was raining that day. I can’t remember if they lit it or not.

Guy Fawkes was a political activist from the 1600’s who tried to blow up the Houses of Parliament.  I think that it had been raining.

Even thought I remember being there, hall I don’t remember leaving and going  back to London.

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