Monday, 6 February 2012

The Only Way is Stratford

The  war  babies  that  grew  up  having  to  wear   each  other’s   under wear ,
that had slept four in a bed with no glass in the window   were  now  the  smart set
  of  the  sixties  with  their  tailor  made  suits, crisp white shirts and  polished  shoes.  Most  people  had  a  car  that  they  looked  after  with  pride washing  and polishing  ready for  the weekend.
Our  Saturday  afternoons  were  taken  up  visiting  our  Nan  and  granddad 
 who   still  lived  in  the  east end  of  London  in  the  same  house  were  my  dad
 had  grown   up.   Every  Saturday   my sister  and  I  were  ready  to  go  with
 matching  outfits   that had  been   made  by  my  mum  shiny shoes  and  new  coats.
 After  the  short  drive  we  would  arrive  at my nan’s  parking around  the corner
  and  then  as  we  approached  her  block  of  maisonettes   we  would  have  to  hide  behind the  wall  while  my  dad  went  and  did  the  special  knock  on  the  door ,
 this  was  because  nobody  wanted  to  open  the  door  to  aunt  Mary . The  special 
 knock  was  done  the  door  would open  and  we  would  be  whistled  from  behind 
 the  wall  once inside  only  to  see  aunt  Mary already  sitting  in  the  armchair 
 smoking  two cigarettes  at  once .  She  lived  in  the  local  mental institution  and
 every  Saturday  would  climb over  the wall  jump  on  the  bus  and  arrive  at   my
 nan’s  to join  in the  fun,  her  tights  ripped  from coming  over  the  wall,  bright 
 red  lipstick  and  a woollen  dress  even  in  the  summer.  Mary  had  been  put  in 
 the  home  by  her  husband  because  of  postnatal  depression  and  just  stayed  there
  for  the   rest  of  her  life.
The  room  was  full  of  other   aunties  and  uncles  each  and  every  one  a  character,
  we  had singers   dancers  comedians  and  all  the  cousins  ready  to  join  in  the  afternoons  fun.  We  would  all  walk  along  to  the  local  club  for  a  few  hours  and  then  all  walk  back 
  again  a  few hours  later   all  singing  and  laughing , the  settee  would  be  pushed  back  to make way  for  the tap  dancers  all taking  turns to  do 
 their  best   James Cagney  or  gene Kelly  running  and  tipping the  armchair  over
  as  they  danced  of  the  other  side, then  would  come  Al  Jolson  impersonators  
 one  after  another   while  Des O’Conner  played  on  the  record  player  and  the television  would  be  on  for  the  horse  racing .  It  was  brilliant  bedlam,  ten  grandchildren squashed  on  a  three  seater    settee   watching  all  the  grown ups  enjoying  themselves    a  room full  of  stars.   we   had  Marylyn  Monroe ,Mitzi  Gaynor ,Dean  Martin  ,Adam  Faith , Dusty Springfield, Ginger  Rogers  and 
 Mr  Gable  by  early  evening  when  every one  had  had  enough my  dad  would
  take  aunt  Mary  back   but  she  would  always  go  in  through  the  front  door  
 as  she  was  also  a  star.   This  would  be  the  norm  fifty  two  weeks  a  year  and
  on Christmas  and birthday’s   we  would  really  live  it  up. 


  1. Wonderful to read, brought back memories. Families dont get together enough any more.

  2. I really enjoyed reading that Julie. Your family memories came alive for me. I could see it all so clearly.You have a lovely way of telling your stories!
    Don't stop writing!

    Love from Angela Zemp