I term my childhood as magical. My parents were a salt of the earth, working class couple, honest as the day is long. Hard working, clean living and whilst Mum was a typical, reserved English woman, Dad was a definite extrovert. He was tall and spare, she short and “comfy”. There was always laughter about – raucous, tear-streaming laughter. Dad was a Toolmaker, and before marriage, Mum had been a Psychiatric nurse. In her quiet way I think she must have been a bit of a dare-devil, because I clearly remember her telling us of the time she pinched Dad’s motor bike, rode it round the block and then couldn’t work out how to stop it. Those tales were rare from her though, and I’ve always harboured a feeling that there was a lot more if she would but tell. Each of them came from large families of 10 to 12 kids which seemed to be the norm for the times. Neither of them were really educated. She managed what little money there was, he brought it in for her. Every day he told her how much he loved her.
My paternal Grandfather was a Porter in Covent Garden, which I believe was the central food wholesale market for the London area. Dad was his helper as a young boy, and used to roller-skate bags of potatoes. He suffered terribly from chill blains and had skate wheels attached to his shoes so that he did not have to bend his feet. At some time, somehow, he taught himself maths.
I remember that at some stage he was kept away from home, and in his factory he developed the tools that made the mould for the first one-piece telephone (ear and mouthpiece together), so he was termed a Master toolmaker and for that reason was not allowed to go to war. So he joined “Dad’s Army”, but that’s another story.