I was going into hospital with an appendix emergency so mum thought she’d better buy me one. I gave her a confused ‘WTF is this?’ look..
She hadn’t bought one before as there were nine of us kids and money was tight. At least we weren’t mad like that couple next door – they had thirteen kids. Hey, it’s not a competition!
That’s what it was like growing up in the 60’s. When we went out to play after school there was a swarm of us kids in the streets, kicking balls, playing games and generally getting away from our parents – and older brothers. We were like a plague of locusts, spreading across the streets and fields.
We were only allowed to watch telly when the weather was terrible. The huge heavy telly, a 18 incher, was mum and dads domain, we weren’t allowed to touch it. If we were lucky (and it was pouring outside!) we could watch The Flintstones, Pinky & Perky, and that brilliant new Scobby Doo. We never figured out who the baddie was in each episode, thank goodness Daphne had the smarts!
We bathed once a week, usually at the weekend, me and my sister in the same bath, no shampoo, just huge lumps of red Lifebuoy soap and lots of scrubbing. I don’t think I had a bath to myself until my sister started to develop boobs. From then on I had to have my weekly bath after her, in her dirty cooling water. I reckon she peed in it too. At least it warmed up the bathwater a bit..
During the cold winter months we’d wake up with ice on the inside of the window pane. There was no central heating, never knew it existed, mum would light a fire in the living room. We became expert fire lighters from a very early age – and sit as close as possible to the fire, one side of you went red with the heat and the other side was blue with the cold draught. We’d swap around, like those rotisseries chickens, to ensure we were cooked on both sides.
The coalman would come around once a week. And the breadman – he had huge long drawers(!) that he pulled out and mum picked the bread she needed – always Sunblest. White! I don’t recall there being Wholemeal bread, at least not until those Hovis ads appeared on the telly. For some weird reason the breadman also sold shandy. We got a bottle once when young teenagers, drank it and were drunk for the rest of the day. Yabba-Dabba-Doo! (or don’t in this case!)
One day in the 70’s I came home from school and mum had rented a colour television from Radio Rentals. We were amazed. We sat there for ages watching horse racing on the telly in COLOUR…look at the green green grass, the colours of the jerseys. It was like being at the cinema! And the evening snooker matches on BBC2 were so much easier to follow!
There were four of us in my bedroom, two sets of bunk beds. My biggest dream was to have a lockable box that I could put my things into, safe from my brothers nicking them. Trying to sneak out during the middle of the night for a pee was fraught with danger – step on a toy or bit of Lego, wake them up and you’d get a torrent of abuse. I learnt to creep around very quietly at night. Little did I know this was good training for my career as a cat burglar. Meowww.