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As Time Goes By: A New Life

...My parents were staying with us: Dad had taken little Val out for a walk ‘to see the trains’ and when he came back we told him to look in the cot in the corner of the bedroom, to see the little sister that Father Christmas had brought him. He didn’t seem impressed...

Eileen Perrin continues to record her life and times in fascinating detail.

To read and enjoy earlier chapters of Eileen's story please click on http://www.openwriting.com/archives/as_time_goes_by/

Not being able to afford a place of our own we carried on living with Mum and Dad in Tiverton Road until Val was one year old. We then saw an ad in the local paper that a house was for sale at North Greenford, which sounded suitable. I took the tube from Queensbury to Wembley Park, where I caught the 92 bus to the stop at the top of Horsenden Lane North.

Walking down to number 69, I appreciated the well-kept front gardens, and came to the semi-detached house opposite a church with a magnificent elm tree in its churchyard.

The house had three bedrooms and a detached garage, and a long back garden with a plum tree and an apple tree. The rooms were lofty and although there was no central heating, there was a back boiler behind the dining room grate, an immersion heater for baths, and an Ascot gas water heater over the kitchen sink. The front room downstairs faced the elm tree, and the kitchen had a deep sink, and a dresser with a let-down table.

This was to be it, and we moved there in April 1949, with help for some of the expense from Leslie’s Dad, but for an age there was no furniture in the lounge and not very much except essentials in the other rooms. We bought a Nathan Utility bedroom suite from an Edgware shop, new linoleum for the floor, and put down the rugs Les had made, at the sides of the bed. Lino for the downstairs rooms and hall and coconut matting in the kitchen and dining room.

I bathed Val in the kitchen sink. We bought a gas copper for the kitchen, and I remember one occasion when my ever-curious little boy found the tap and turned it on, flooding the kitchen with the water I had been saving to soak the nappies in.
Val was growing up to be a very inquisitive boy, and whenever he sat on my lap in a bus, he would ask countless questions about things he saw from the window. I recall one lady remarking to me, as she got off, that he was sure to grow up to be very intelligent.

From 1950 we used to have ‘Listen with Mother’ on the radio at 1.45 pm just before Womans’ Hour, and it became a favourite with Val. We did not have a television.
By the summer of 1951, I was expecting again, and our daughter was born in December in our downstairs front room which we had converted into a bedroom for the event, as it had a fireplace we could use to keep warm. On Christmas Eve I was up late decorating the tree in our dining room, and slept until six a.m. By ten o’clock in the morning Cathy had arrived to the sound of the church bells opposite peeling for the morning service.

My parents were staying with us: Dad had taken little Val out for a walk ‘to see the trains’ and when he came back we told him to look in the cot in the corner of the bedroom, to see the little sister that Father Christmas had brought him. He didn’t seem impressed.

Our local vicar invited me to join the Friday afternoon Young Wives Guild at All Hallows church, where the children played in the large hall while we had talks in the small hall.

We had a mortgage and needing more income, I later took on the job of cleaning lady to a neighbour in the next road, and then found a cleaner’s job advertised by the Ballot Box, the pub round the corner, and took that on, - but not for long. Little Cathy would come round to work with me, carrying a tiny basket with an apple and a biscuit for her ‘lunch’. The stairs were always dusty. I had no Hoover to help me. Their cats had left dead mice underneath the wardrobe on the landing. While Cathy was happy enough playing with their large Boxer dog, I was struggling to get several bathrooms cleaned. Les told me not to go on doing this.

Films in the fifties that made headlines in the news were ‘Kind Hearts and Coronets’ with Alec Guinness, ‘The Third Man’ with its zither signature tune, starring Orson Welles, ‘The African Queen’ with Humphrey Bogart and Katherine Hepburn. ‘The Lavender Hill Mob’ with Stanley Holloway and Alec Guinness, in 1953 ‘The Cruel Sea’ with Jack Hawkins, 1954 Michael Redgrave in ‘The Dam Busters’ and in 1956 Kenneth More in ‘Reach for the Sky’.

Les and I took turns in going to the pictures on Saturday afternoons, whilst the other stayed home baby-sitting.

King George the sixth died in 1952 and was succeeded by his daughter Elizabeth, who became Head of the Commonwealth following the granting of Independence to India. In order to see the Coronation in 1953 it was said that more than two million television sets were purchased. Not having one, I went over to the church hall to watch it. On the same day Edmund Hillary and Sherpa Tenzing conquered Mount Everest.

1954 brought the end of all rationing in the U.K. and our reconstructed ports were busy dealing with a stream of imports from all over the globe.

On Pathe News in 1955 came Eisenhower’s decision to send American troops to Vietnam. At the end of our occupation of West Germany there was fear of nuclear war from Russia.

We took the children to the seaside each summer, where the concrete blocks and barbed wire sea defences had at last been removed from the beaches. Leslie’s father bought a three-wheeled Robin Reliant and they went all the way over to Freshwater Bay in the Isle of Wight.

Through anxious days leading up to the Suez Crisis we listened to the Goon Show on the radio and Hancock’s Half Hour. By now, Val was anxious for us to get a television, so that he could be like the others in his class. We had said that we would wait for colour T.V. to start, which it did in 1954, when the first I.T.V. programmes began, so we gave in.

I joined the Parish Council and at a meeting in the church vestry, I became Parish Postman, becoming a distributor for the magazine, and with the job of organising the distributor’s rota. Then I must have suggested the church run Square Dance evenings, - all the rage round the country, and so found myself organising it in 1958. We had caller Bob Oliver to come and bring his music. It proved a great success, and I made coconut ice to sell in the tea interval.
Then we managed to get other dancers to give demonstrations in the intervals, and enjoyed Scottish dance, a ballroom dance demonstration, country dancing and Morris dancing. We made many friends at these evenings, which brought new interests into our lives.


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