Day 11 and the challenge is: – “Tell us about the home where you lived when you were twelve. Which town, city or country? Who lived there with you?
London 1950. We had recently moved from an apartment to a brand new house. My parents’ house had been taken for road widening or something before I was born and in addition to a paltry sum of money ( (their words), they were given a Council owned apartment to rent. This was in a low rise block in a good neighbourhood but as it had only two bedrooms it was rather cramped for a family of five.
So we moved. Again the house was Council owned but in a different part of the borough and totally new to us. It was in a group of ten houses five on one side and five facing them. Each set of five houses were attached and we were fortunate to have an end one. This meant we had neighbours on only one side of us.
The house had three bedrooms, a living room complete with fireplace, a dining room also with a fireplace. The kitchen was at the front of the house and had a fire that heated the water. A bathroom and separate lavatory completed this house – I think it was probably 800 sq feet in all. At this time I shared a bedroom with my elder sister and later with my younger sister. At no time did anybody think that I, as the middle daughter, should have a bedroom of her own.
Mother was delighted with the move and the house. She kept this house clean, polished and shining to within an inch of its life, and even polished the copper waste pipes from the kitchen, so proud was she.
But what I remember most about that house was the love and the laughter which outplayed any tears and cross words. Of course, with three daughters, two of whom were coming up to the teenage years, there was the occasional slamming of a door and a “no speak” phase but these didn’t last long. Mother was the disciplinarian and father the peacemaker. I often wonder how he kept his sanity in a house full of women.
He used to take himself off to work early in the morning but was always home by 6pm at which time, dinner would be ready and whatever plans we three girls had for the evening we had to be there for dinner. Oh, there were some lively discussions over the dinner table. Father usually had a funny story to tell us about something that happened at work. And of course, we all had to tell what we had been up to that day. Our successes were lauded and our (occasional) failures commiserated upon.
I clearly remember father singing. Beautiful love songs to his wife particularly if he thought we couldn’t hear him. For us, he sang Music Hall songs (Vaudeville for our US friends). I remember Lily of Laguna and Sorrento in particular. These have stayed with me and my children and grandchildren have all been entertained with songs of that far off time.
As I have written before, this was shortly after the war ended so there were few, if any, luxuries. But the love, the laughter and the friendship that existed within that little house have followed me through my long life and I hope that what I learned during those years has been passed onto my own family.