Here’s a wealth of readers’ stories about their own lives and shared experiences.
A childhood spent in a hospital bed.
My father was a labourer on a dairy farm in the 1930s, when it was not unusual for cows to be carriers of tuberculosis. This, together with bad housing, was why I contracted tuberculosis of the spine at the age of two.
My parents knew something was wrong with me and took me to several doctors, none of whom could diagnose my problem. Eventually they managed to get an appointment with Dr Pain (an unfortunate name for a doctor). An orthopaedic specialist at Leeds Infirmary, he diagnosed the problem immediately.
After spending some months for tests in Leeds Infirmary, I was admitted to the Marguerite Hepton Hospital in Thorpe Arch, Yorkshire, in July, 1937. I stayed there for the next five years. Read more...
Cough Up Please
Curing ailments in the pre-NHS years.
After asking how much, Dad had barely extracted a £5 note from his wallet when the doctor said, “That will do nicely.” For something that had taken less than five minutes, he pocketed what it took Dad a week to earn.
It all began during a voyage home from the Far East at the end of 1944, when smallpox had broken out on board my father’s ship. The seaman with the disease was quickly quarantined and, although he sadly died, thankfully no one else went down with the killer disease. To be on the safe side, all those on board were ordered to send telegrams to their families telling them to get vaccinated before the men disembarked. Read more....
Toogin and Me
Holiday fun in Dorset with a four-legged friend..
When I was six, I contracted a disease that was contagious enough for my pregnant mother to ship me off to her sister. It was the early 1950s, and my aunt and uncle lived in a wooden bungalow on a cliff top near Bournemouth, Dorset.
It wasn’t a promising start to the summer. I was there because I was ill and photographs show a small, delicate boy, wrapped up in an overcoat and wearing a school cap – and it must have been early June!
Granny’s Magic Potatoes
How Granny’s chip pan fed the local kids.
Every Friday, chunks of white cooking fat would melt in my granny’s blackened chip pan as she made ready to cook scrumptious long wedges of potato.
“Now take these chips over to Anne,” she’d say in her Scottish burr, “she’ll be waiting for them.”
Granny would assign duties as she bustled about her cosy kitchen, and each week it was her mission to serve up golden, crunchy chips to children who lived in our street. Read more..
A Force to be Reckoned With
Becoming a Sixties’ police cadet.
With secondary education behind me and five O Levels, I couldn’t wait to leave school at the age of 16. I could have stayed on but no, the world was a big place and I wanted to get out there and rampage through it.
The burning issue then became how I was to earn a living. It should be an easy decision; you simply picked a job and got on with it. It was then that I received my first shock – I hadn’t a clue what I wanted to do! Read more...
A Countryside Childhood
Delights of growing up in the 1920s’ Fens.
I was six before I started school. The three-mile cycle ride to the nearest market town needed strong legs and stamina. In winter it could be an ordeal with blustery winds sweeping across the flat Fenland fields, strong enough to topple you off your bicycle if you were not pedalling furiously.
I hated school! My father was a fruit grower, so we had few neighbours nearby and being the youngest sibling of six, all much older than me, I had few playmates. That did not worry me, as there were plenty of animals around to keep me amused. Read more...
Of Cuckoos and Conkers
Growing up on London’s Cuckoo Estate.
If you ever meet someone who says they come from the Cuckoo Estate, you can bet serious money that, within three minutes, they will tell you that Charlie Chaplin is the most famous Cuckooite. Technically, this isn’t true.
The estate was built during the 1930s, to re-house families from the more deprived area of London. The modern houses were regarded by the new residents as dreams come true. They had front and rear gardens, two or three bedrooms, an indoor toilet and a bathroom that made tin baths redundant. Read more...