Chapter 5 … Pets, up to 1953

Over the years we had many pets at 201. We had a tortoise that we kept in the backyard. And a  large brown toad that would turn up now and again.  We called him Percy.  Dads favorite was a green budgie called Cecile. Dad loved to let him out of his cage and fly around the room.

Dad loved it best when Cecile would fly around the kitchen and land on his beer glass. Cecile would then proceed to drink the froff of off the beer. After about 5 minutes Cecile would then try to fly around the room. He would then fly in to the mirror which was hanging above the fireplace. He would then crash to the kitchen floor. Dad would then pick him up laughing his head of . And then put him back in his cage to sleep it of. Yes the little fucker  was drunk! From drinking beer froff.

We used to get a lot of cats come up to the back kitchen door. If I spotted a cat i would tell dad and he would go to the sink and pour some cold water into a bowl. Then he would slowly open the door to the back yard and then pick up the bowl of water. by then the game was on.The cat would sense that something was up and would  start  to run towards the back of the yard to escape the dreaded bowl of water in  which  he was about to be soaked.Dad would come back into the house laughing his head off.

When I was in my first year at Paddington  Secondary School  come the summer time in the science lab the teacher asked for volunteers to look after the animals . So  I volunteered to look after a little mouse for the summer. So after school I took it home ,of cause my mother knew nothing about the mouse. So I had to hide itAll the rubble could be sorted into harbors and the like . After a rain storm it was the perfect playground. Lolly sticks became battle ships which we floated in puddles . Half submerged twigs became submarines. Small pebbles became bombs to sink the German U- Boats.

At about 12 years of age I went to Petticoat Lane. It was located in and around Liverpool street station London. Petticoat Lane was a giant flea market which was only open on Sundays. I had been there many time with dad as he loved to shop there. This time I was on my own.
I this bloke was selling among other things puppies. I, knowing that mum and dad would be pissed, but I still bought one. I said to the bloke is it a boy or a girl .“Cause I want a boy.

He said” there you go mate” holding the black puppy on it’s back, showing me the belly of the puppy.
When I got home mum and dad were pretty pissed at me. But they said you had better build a kennel for the puppy. which I was going to name Rocky. but on further inspection of the puppy I had to name the puppy Roxie.


from her. Well  Pauline my sister had this huge dolls house  in the front room, so I  put the mouse in a square box and put the box at the back of this huge doll house.

I had this mouse in the doll’s house for about a week when thing’s  started to go wrong Teddy our tabby cat gave me away you could say he ratted me out!  Teddy kept going to the door of the front room, looking up at the door handle to signify that he wanted in.

In the end mum oped the door and let Teddy into the room. Teddy goes strait up the the dolls house and starts sniffing at it. so mum opens up the dolls house and spies the small square box in the corner of the dolls house. So she picks up the box and opens it . When she saw the mouse she threw the box up in the air and ran screaming from the room. I think that dad found this funny but he never let on.

To say the least I was able to talk my way out of trouble but I had to get rid of the mouse. I took it on my paper round and left it on someone’s doorstep. Never heard any more on that one.







Talking about my paper round , half way tho’ my paper round was a fucking great black giant poodle. His owner would let it out in the morning on it’s own. If he ever saw me he would  come charging at me . and I would run like fuck into one of the apartment entrances, and get behind a door. The poodle would sit outside the door growling but would eventually fuck off, and I would live to fight another day.

One day I was at the dogs address ,  thank god there was   no poodle  about . So I  was watching  my back in case he got me from behind.    As I was putting the newspaper through the mail box slot, it was grabbed  by the fucking  poodle who was waiting   on the other side of the door. The bastard was waiting for me! It scared the shit out of me. So I thought , ” I’ll teach that bastard a lesson ”

vicious poodle

So I held on to the newspaper and the dog pulled on  the newspaper  some more i could hear and feel the newspaper giving up the ghost . Yes , with me hanging on to the paper and not letting go ,it drove the poodle nuts . I could hear him growling the other side of the door. He let go of the paper and I wriggled it at him thro the letter box. So he attacked the newspaper some more.

I was loving it the poodle was getting madder and madder . The paper was slowly getting trashed when I  heard  the dogs owner yelling at  it . Then I could hear him beating on the dog and the dog yelping. I ran out of the mansion laughing like a drain.

I couldn’t wait to tell Denis what had happened.  Denis was as scared as I was of the fucking dog. We laugh about  that bastard dog walking all the way back home that morning.


Petticoat Lane London

  As I got older. I went to the market at Petticoat Lane on my own.  To get there you had to take the tube. Get on the Bakerloo line and change to the Northern Line  to go to Liverpool Street .. Liverpool Street …. Petticoat Line consisted of acres and acres of land . Some of it cleared bombed sites stools in side streets. Etc. Just one big mess of people selling things.  You could buy anything there from drawing pins, to  steamrollers.

You had to be careful of what you did buy . Dad bought some stockings for mum for Christmas one year.

When  she opened up the packaging there was not one matching pair.

There were stockings with two heels, there were stockings that had two or three feet in them there was stockings that were two different length. No two stockings were the same colour. But at the end of the day we  all had a good laugh over them. 

We were not rich we were properly one  level up from extremely poor.  No matter how poor we and other people were there was always money for cigarettes and beer. dad used to go to the pup every Sunday morning where he would play darts with all his mates.

One particular Sunday, dad was very late returning home from the mum  put his dinner plate on top of a sauce pan of  water.  With the stove plate on it would keep the plate and the food on it warm.( No Micro Wave yet)

So dad arrives home a little worse for wear and sits up the dinning table.mum put his food in front of him.he has a few mouthfuls and asked mum for a glass of water. So, mum gives him his water  and he then  proceeded’s to pour the water on his dinner.Mum said,

“George what are you doing?’

He said,

“it’s too hot so I,m cooling it down”!

With that Mum picks up his dinner plate takes it to the back  door opens it  and then  proceeded  to throw the dinner  and plate out side on to the lawn. So after that  dad never poured water on any meal. Ever.

At the age of 11 or 12  I was good with my hands with making things. So I built a  kennel  that  Judy the dog that I bought down Petticoat  Lane  lived in for many years.  Along with the kennel I built scooters and carts. 

Surface Grinder
A surface grinder is used to grind metal flat.

So that now  when I got to Secondary School I was ready to work with metal and more wood. To me hands on stuff just came naturally. So on reflection becoming a Tool and Die maker was a natural step after leaving school.

But  art was where I should of have stayed with.  Who is to know where I could of have gone with painting. Although I did get to The University of  Guelph at the ripe old age of 70. There I got good to high marks at painting and higher  marks in sculpting. Which we worked in wood and then metal . Well working with metal was a breeze

I was not about to tell them that I was a retired tool and die maker. I loved the University of Guelph . and when after about being there for five and a half years part time . I had 11 credits . So I had 9 credits to go for my 20 credits.

But i decided that i did not want to spend the last few years of my life writing art history essays.  I had done all the hands on stuff painting sculpting and I didn’t want to work on Essays alone . I had learnt a lot about art, knowingly and unknowingly.

Back in the day the highlight of any week would be going to the pictures on a Sunday. Back in the 40’s and 50’s you would get to see two pictures. A “ B “ picture and the main feature an “ A “ picture.

About 1947 give or take. Mum took me to see “The Wizard Of Oz. “I was scared shitless by this movie and hide behind my hands for most of it.

Wicked Witch of the West

  I just looked up the movie on line. The Film was made in 1939. The story about the making of the movie is a book in n itself. The picture here of the wicked witch of the west is enough to scare me at 78. Evidently some scenes were a bit too scary and were cut from the film The stories about the making of this movie makes really  good reading.

Around about 1949 when I was 8 , Mum took me  to the dentist to have a filling done. The dentist overlooked the Cut  ( Canal ) at Little Venice Paddington.. But back then I don’t believe that it was called Little Venice.

Well , back  in those days  the drill was a noisy belt driven machine . which was enough to scare the shit out of any self-respecting eight year old.  So I let the dentist drill the hole in my tooth . But when it came to filling the tooth I took a whole different attitude . When  I saw that  fucking great syringe  coming towards me  to put the filling in my tooth,  that was enough. I leapt out of the dental chair down the stairs and up the road towards Maida Vale,   Mum chased me pleading with me to go back but I absolutely refused to go back.

While I’m talking about the canal   we would love to  hang out at the canal ( the cut ) The barges would come along some driven by a motor. But at that time   most of the barges were  pulled along the cut by huge cart horses on the tow path with a long rope attached to the front to the barge. One feature that stood out on most of the barges was the exterior paint work . They were highly decorated. The barges were long and slender. And were used to transport goods as far away up to the midlands. Not only did the barges carried goods but the owners of the barges used to live with their families on board. When I ever saw them they reminded me of what I would of thought of at the time, as, gypsies.

We just loved used to fish   the Cut..  And we had a rather unique way to catch fish.  

horse pulls barge in canal
horses were used to pull barges along the canal

First of all we had to find a bicycle wheel. We would then take all the spokes from the wheel and we were left with the bicycle wheel rim. The next thing was to find some old sacking. Then some string. We would then cover the bicycle rim all the way across with the sacking. then we would stitch the sacking around the rim with the string . The next thing was to tie about 3  three foot  length of string to  the rim in three  different  places. Spread equally

The next step was to join the three pieces of  string together above the centre  of the rim and the sacking. Then we would get some rope from somewhere and tie it to where  the three pieces of string met.  Now we were ready to fish. We would put  bread crumbs on the sacking with a rock placed there as well This was to give weight to the fishing thingy. I don’t remember what we called it . Thingy will do for now.. Must not forget the bread crumbs that was the bait. we threw the crumbs on the sacking  Now we were all set. We would lower the fishing thing into the water  once on the bottom we let it sit for a little while . then we would haul it up fast.  Keeping the pressure of the water on the fish so that it could not swim away.

stickleback in London canal
Kids fished for sticklebacks in London’s secret canal using bicycle wheels

Once the fishing thingy hit the surface . If we were lucky the might be a stickleback laying there. If there was we would then pop it into a milk bottle filled with water. At the end of the days fishing , we would take our milk bottle home to show our parents our days catch. They in turn would give us shit for playing around the Cut , when we knew that it was of limits.  And if we fell in we would drown.  ( Which was properly true as we hadn’t learned to swim yet. )Then to boot, they would flush our days catch down the lavatory.   This would piss us kids of. So as we got older we got smarter and wiser. So when it came to telling them anything that went on in our lives we told them nuffing.

When I was making big bucks as a high level paper boy. I was able to buy a fishing rod,  nylon line with a reel and fishing floats , fishing hooks and floats and fish like adults did.    

Back in the 40’s  the treats and sand some of the foods of the day were . Tizer an orange flavored drink. Mars bar that is still around today. And I also remember Wagon Wheel  which is also around today.) 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 has shrunk almost down to nothing .  Tizer was a great drink that we liked to buy on a stinking hot day to quench our thirst.

Wheatabix cereal
Weetabix is a whole grain cereal arriving in UK in 1932 from Australia.

In the 40’s Weetabix was the cereal  that mum would buy for us along with Kellogg’s Corn Flakes. Porridge was a staple to  along with Shredded Wheat.  I remember eating porridge at Kettleston Hall in Derbyshire.  The brown bread “Hovis “was a bit of a luxury to eat. Remember we were just out of 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 at the pub and mum and dad would bring a bag home as a treat.

There were two parks near my house at 201.  To the left was Queens Park with swing and lots of grass and trees and shrubs.  Queens Park was about four or five blocks away. We would walk there . I liked to go to the park with my cousin Tony Rogers . A Block from the park was  a  bakery on the corner at the bottom of Salisbury road. . There was a window at street level if it was open we would call out to my Uncle Charlie . Tony’s dad. He worked at the bakery. And sometimes he would come outside a and talk to us and give us a penny bun each.  We were in heaven. Treats were in short supply. To the right 1949.about six blocks  from  201 Not to far from Kilburn Park Road was Paddington Recreation Ground  it also had swings and roundabouts. And a large red graveled area  on which we would play football for hours and hours.  Till exhaustion.

One feat that I am ashamed to tell about ,  but it has to be told .I would be about eight or nine at the time  I would guess,  and I  was in St. Augustine’s  junior School  at the time.

Dad was off work with a broken foot or leg. He was getting around with a caste on. I went into the bedroom and  I stole his last one pound note.  Thinks were really tough in those days and for many days after. Money was always tight. I didn’t have to be told that. Kids can sense things.

Anyhow , I took the stolen one pound note to school   and come lunch time I took a bunch of kids to the ice cream shop and bought them all ice cream. I think that it was  Ann Williams. Reggie’s  older sister was sent up to our house  by her mother  to tell mum and dad that I was spending lots of money on the kids at school.  When I got home  from school that day I got the biggest hiding of my life, with  dads belt on my arse.  .

To me to this day,  this was a character making event of my life. I still  regret to this day taking dad’s last pound note. I was glad to take a hiding because what I did was wrong. And I was truly sorry, It still hurts to think about this shameful event,  I never ever stole anything again. My dad was a good man and did not deserve that. If he is up there somewhere I hope he is looking down as I write this and forgives me.

Across the road kitty corner from St. Augustine’s School was the St. Augustine’s  church gardens. Most lunch hours weather permitting we would run races around the church garden block . at the time the only shoes  that seemed to be available were Plimsoles.  They were made of black canvas and black rubber.  They were just cheap shoes for kids  In the autumn we would go over the church gardens  to get the ‘ Conkers “ from the horse chestnut trees.

Eleven plus  In 1952,  In England at eleven years ,we had the eleven plus  exam at junior school.   Which  ( It’s been a long time )   is to grade all the students. Then, at that time after the exams, the kids were slotted into three groups. This was to ship the students on to the next stage of their scholastic careers.  1952. I came up between Senior School and Grammar school.

This scared the shit out of mum and dad. The conversation was on buying school uniform. They could not afford it. So I was sent to North Paddington School, on the Harrow Road in Paddington. Paddington being next to Kilburn. At the Time the schools were run by the London County Council. It was a biggish school built solidly of dark brown greyish bricks.

With girls playground on one side of the school, and the boys playground on the other  1952. side of the school.

In the urinals, where I lost many a weeks dinner money to gambling. I believe that a week’s dinner money at the time was two shillings and a penny.

Being brought up in England it was all football. I used to love to play football Mum was a char lady and once she brought home some men’s dress shoes for me to wear at football, as I didn’t have any football boots.
So I played a game for the school team. I wore the dress shoes on the pitch at Wormwood Shrubs. The pitch was besides the prison.

It had been raining and the pitch was really muddy. Well I could hardly stand up , I could not play . I was at the point of tears. I was so upset I never said anything to mum. But I never complained to Mum as I knew that they could not afford to buy me football boots.
But once I did get a pair of football boots for Christmas. They were almost like today’s safety boots. When they got wet the soles used to get soft. This caused the nails in the studs to come through the sole and dig into the soles your feet. It was painful to play football in them .
The football back then was made of leather and when it got wet it hurt to kick it as it soaked up the rain water which made it extremely heavy. We would played for hours at the Paddington Rec. Sometimes we would play all day . Even the whole week end .

Now here’s the thing, talking about two shillings and a penny. Back in those days there was a three system of money . Pounds , Shillings , and Pence.  At times this three system ,system was so complicated for foreign visitors to England , that they would get ripped off by  taxi drivers and the like . One example  would be at the Queen’s Coronation, when the Capital was filled with visitors from abroad.

Since then it has been changed to a two system ,  system.     Pounds and Pence.

Being brought up with the three system monetary system it is as easy as falling of off a log when it came to using it. But try to explain this system to a complete stranger and even with all the coins on display it was very difficult.

I have tried in the past to explain the three tier monetary system and usually failed.







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