Perhaps I had ambitions to be an MP - or an undertaker!

Monday, September 1, 2008


And in that year you could buy -

20 cigarettes for 5p
An all-wool cardigan for 25p
Silk stockings for 31p
Pair of shoes for £1.20
Lady’s coat for £3.15
Lady’s watch 18ct gold for £3.50
Man’s 3 piece suit for £2.00
Wardrobe, dressing table, and small chest for £21.00
A brand new car for £200.00

And a gallon of petrol for 8p!!!

Only the very rich folk would be able to afford this 1925 Lancia Lambda which was considered an Italian masterpiece.


And thinking about cars, reminds me of -

I’ve mentioned before that in the 1930s there were really very few cars on the streets. People could walk quite safely on the main road, and the side streets were the areas where children played.

The only people we knew who had cars were one or two doctors (although one who lived in our street used to do his rounds on foot or by bicycle), and some tradesmen. And that was the case until Andrew came on the scene.

Andrew’s family had a good class gents’ outfitters business locally and he often had the use of their car, an Armstrong-Siddely. At that time he was courting an aunt of ours, and my adventure began one day when the car appeared outside our tenement building. He was probably delivering a message from my aunt to my mother, but the outcome was that he would take me out for a run in the car.

Now, I had never been in a car before, and no doubt he thought that this would be a great thrill for me. But oh, no, it was the opposite! As we drove away, me sitting beside him, I thought he was taking me away for good. I know I didn’t cry, but I’m sure I sat there terrified, uttering not a word.

When I got to know him better of course, things were quite different, and Rita and I used to enjoy a little outing in Uncle Andrew’s car.


WHEN I WAS SMALL, I think I was always seeking approval. I wanted to be liked - by relatives, teachers, other boys and girls, and most important of all (and this is something that lasted into adulthood), I wanted to please my mother. You might say that this is something that is common in some degree to all children, but it becomes more important to a child who perhaps doesn’t have much confidence in himself.
However there was something in which I did feel confident , and that was my musical ability. I knew I could play the piano and play it well. When I was 7 and Rita 4, we were sent for piano lessons to an aunt of ours (not the school teacher) and we both made good progress. This aunt used to hold piano recitals in a local hall when she would hire 2 grand pianos and all her pupils would sustain an evening of solos, trios and quartets. From that time on, I was hooked on the idea of playing in public, and I think I probably became quite a musical show-off.

However, have a look at this clip of a 4-year old pianist. Now he really has talent!!!

At secondary school it was the custom for the pupils to march in and out of school in the morning, at intervals, lunchtime and at home-time. Music was provided by a rota of pupils on the piano in the assembly hall. The classrooms were on 2 levels positioned round the central hall, and there was a very satisfying echo as the music soared upwards. Very early on, I joined the group of pianists, and had a lot of fun finding well-known music which, though not necessarily marches, could be adapted to march time.

Outside school three friends who were violinists joined with me to form a quartet. We practised in each other’s homes and sometimes had the opportunity to play in public.

On one occasion, we were rehearsing in the assembly hall for a school event, when the interval bell rang. As it was my turn to play the pupils out, the violinists joined me in playing “Deep in the Heart of Texas”. And instead of marching out, a host of pupils gathered round to join in - “The stars at night are big and bright, CLAP! CLAP! CLAP! CLAP!”

Listen to Gene Autry’s version of the 1941 song, written by Don Swander and June Hersey.

Gene Autry 1907-1998, the Singing Cowboy was famous for his films, radio broadcasts and gramophone records. For many years he was held up as a worthy figure whom young boys could emulate. He created the following “Cowboy Commandments” which he hoped his young admirers would follow.

The Cowboy must never shoot first, hit a smaller man, or take unfair advantage.
He must never go back on his word, or a trust confided in him.
He must always tell the truth.
He must be gentle with children, the elderly, and animals.
He must not advocate or possess racially or religiously intolerant ideas.
He must help people in distress.
He must be a good worker.
He must keep himself clean in thought, speech, action, and personal habits.
He must respect women, parents, and his nation's laws.
The Cowboy is a patriot.


In conclusion, an EIGHTY PLUS quote -
Should we slow down because we’re getting older, or hurry up because we’ll not get any younger? (Anon)


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