Tell us about a sensation — a taste, a smell, a piece of music — that transports you back to childhood.
Grandad in his glory, relaxing on a chair at my aunts and probably thinking about having a smoke. He always rolled his own cigarettes, but usually about ten at a time, so there was always a supply. He lived with us downstairs, so this old photo certainly transports me to my childhood.
Bombed sites, remainders of the second world war in London: my playgrounds, the more dangerous the better. It was even a bontanic paradise in a way. The flowers that had been growing in the little gardens before the war were still growing. Today they call them “adventure playgrounds” with all sorts of shicky-mickey constructions for the kids to play on, painted in all sorts of bright colours. We just climbed around the rubble, not thinking that it might be a little dangerous.
Rats, yes rats. James Herbert, who died a couple of weeks ago unexpectedly, is a well known author of horror books and guess what? Yes, he grew up in the area where I grew up. His parents had a stall in the local market and sold vegetables. I did not know him, but his first book was about rats. He wrote from his childhood and I know what he was talking about. Walking down the Bethanl Green main road in the morning to school I saw them. Bombed empty cellars left from the war. The rats had moved in and taken over, hundreds of them. It was a sight to see. They had many spectators watching fascinated. The cellars no longer exist, a factory has been built over them, but who knows? Perhaps the rats are still there and waiting for their chance to take over – read The Rats by James Herbert, I have and I know where he got the idea.
A walk down the Lane on Sunday morning with dad. I mean so-called Petticoat Lane. There was a market and you could get everything. Stall holders with their cockney cries selling everything from crockery to old 78 records and you could buy four comics for a shilling. My dad always made sure I never went home without my comics and he always found a music piece recorded before the war. On the way home we stopped at the pub, dad had a beer and I had a lemonade. I remember he always stopped at the pub where we could sit outside together. Children were not allowed inside the pubs and he never left me alone with my drink.
Bethnal Green museum on a Sunday afternoon. Mum and dad had their Sunday afternoon sleep and I would take a walk to the museum with a schoolfriend. They had a good collection of paintings on the ground floor and the first floor was children’s toys from the Victorian age. There were also Victorian articles of clothing and shoes, just fascinating for an eight year old kid. I think I knew every exhibit. Today it is known as the Museum of childhood.
Leicester Square Mecca dancing on a Saturday evening, meeting people from all over the world. I suppose it was an attraction for the continental students of english in London. They had two bands, a full orchestra and a smaller group. You were never lost for a partner, although I noticed that we girls were always bombarded with requests if a slow tune was playing – I wonder why?
St. Pauls Cathedral, Tower of London, Buckingham Palace, the Bank of England, Monument, River Thames, the underground trains – I was a London girl and knew every street, nook and cranny of central London and London City. Our local park, Victoria Park – it even had a swimming pool and boating lake. Today it still exists, has been freshened up because of visitors to the Olympic games which took place in the are. It can also be a dangerous place today if you are not careful. Things change over the years.
Open doors in the street where I lived, neighbours sitting outside on a chair enjoying the Summer weather, playing in the street with the local kids, wheeling down the road on roller skates and playing hopscotch on the pavement. There are many “favourite things” that come to my memory, but times change, and things are really no longer what they used to be – are they grandad?