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As Time Goes By: All Change.

In a diary of 1969 I noted that shopping at Ealing Sainsburys I bought a joint of pork at four shillings and fourpence per pound, which was not as expensive as Scotch beef at eight shillings a pound. On shopping trips to London, a cup of tea was eightpence at the Ceylon Tea Centre in Lower Regent Street. This was before we changed to Decimal currency.

Eileen Perrin recalls what life was like in Britain five decades ago.

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


We bought our first car, as did many more people in the 1950’s, so it should not have been a surprise in 1955 when Dr. Richard Beeching published the report which brought the closure of many rail services country-wide.

Due to the expansion of road traffic and goods going by road, the rail companies were losing money. The Great Western Railway Company, the London and North Eastern and Southern Railway then came under the title British Rail. By the 1960’s 4000 miles of line and 3000 stations had been closed.

There is a section of track in southwest Devon, designed by Isambard Kingdom Brunel which still remains in use today. It is right beside the sea, alongside Dawlish beach. We always enjoyed that part of our trip from Waterloo down to Torquay when the children were small.

Taking holidays abroad became the norm and this probably also accounted for the gradual closure of the open- air swimming pools, which had been such a great success in the 1930’s.

Looking back I remember in his last years at school, Val took a weekend job with Dewhursts the butcher in Sudbury Hill. Then he took a job with Apthorp potato merchants, going round at weekends to collect money for the bags of potatoes their lorry had delivered to the doors. Later John Apthorp bought up some of Victor Value stores and in 1968 founded a frozen food outlet in Stanmore named Bejams: the name derived from initials of his family. By 1989 they were bought up by Iceland stores. Other memories I have of life in North Greenford were when the horse-drawn Express milk floats were replaced by quiet electric motors.

Our son Val left school in 1966 to join other medical students at University College. In 1967 he went hitch-hiking round Greece and the offshore islands with another student. They went by train from Victoria to Athens: it cost £29 return.

At this time the Beatles were all the rage, and the song ‘Penny Lane’ came out in 1967, featuring a trilling introductory flight of high notes played on the piccolo trumpet, which after hearing this instrument played in a recital of Bach’s 2nd Brandenberg Concerto, was added by Paul McCartney. It was followed by ‘Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band’.

Having conquered the depression which dogged me after leaving teacher training, I at last decided to go back to work, and in 1967 found a job with the British Postgraduate Medical Federation, in Guilford Street, off the Grays Inn Road.
This was a leading International centre, believing postgraduate training is best carried out in a research environment. It dealt with promoting academic excellence in medical and dental research in partnership with associated hospitals. The B.P.M.F. communicated with bodies such as Institutes of Psychiatry, of Child Health, of Neurology, of Ophthalmology, of Cancer Research and the Hunterian Institute (the Royal College of Surgeons).

Although in Guilford Street there was Coram’s Fields - a 7 acre green space where it would have been nice to sit at lunch times, one could not go into it without an accompanying child. It is owned by the Thomas Coram Foundling Foundation and is primarily for children.

I bought lunch in a canteen run by the National Hospital in Queen Square, where I shared tables with ambulance drivers in from the Home Counties, nurses from Great Ormond Street and staff from the National Hospital for Nervous Diseases. One of their Occupational therapists took me on a tour of her department, where there were typewriters, cooking equipment, tableware, various tools, paintbrushes and all kinds of paraphernalia, to help people regain manual dexterity and confidence in their everyday use.

At the B.P.M.F. I worked in a small office shared with a young woman and an elderly man - an habitual smoker. I was worried about the cigarette smoke drifting under my nose. After less than two years there, I decided to leave.

I applied for a clerical job in Hammersmith Hospital where I impressed the lady doctor inter-viewing me when she heard me faultlessly spell ophthalmology, which I had used daily. The job entailed typing reams of medical reports. I was not a touch typist; I did not take it.

Films out in 1966 and 1967 that I remember included ‘Dr.Zhivago’ with Omar Sharif and Julie Christie, ‘Sound of Music’ with Julie Andrews and Ava Gardner, ‘Born Free’ with Bill Travers and Virginia McKenna, ‘Alfie’ with Michael Caine, ’The Graduate’ with Dustin Hoffman, ‘Far from the Madding Crowd’ with Alan Bates, Julie Christie, and Terence Stamp and ‘Bonnie and Clyde’ with Faye Dunaway and Warren Beatty.

Val was very keen on photography, and in 1968 he had a one-man exhibition in the basement gallery of Dixons in Oxford Street. That year he hitched round Iceland, and the following year he visited the Camargue with its black bulls, white horses and flocks of pink and black flamingos. For his holiday job in 1968 and ’69 he was a grave-digger with Ealing Council.
Cathy left school in 1968 and went to Harrow College of Art for three years. As there seemed to be no openings in the Art field, and having been a Saturday girl at Perivale and Wood End libraries since the age of fifteen, she joined Ealing Library School in the autumn of 1971, attaining A.L.A.in 1973. She then took a job with Ealing Libraries, leaving home to share a flat in South Ealing with friends.

In a diary of 1969 I noted that shopping at Ealing Sainsburys I bought a joint of pork at four shillings and fourpence per pound, which was not as expensive as Scotch beef at eight shillings a pound. On shopping trips to London, a cup of tea was eightpence at the Ceylon Tea Centre in Lower Regent Street. This was before we changed to Decimal currency.

The first summer Rock Festival in the Isle of Wight in 1968 attracted 10,000; which grew to 250,000 in 1969 with favourites like Joan Baez on the guitar, Jimi Hendrix, Ravi Shankar playing on the tabla, and lastly Bob Dylan. This year the Beatles hit ‘Hey Jude’ came out.

In 1970 a mind-numbing crowd of 700,000 attended in the mud-filled fields near Fishbourne.

On July 20th 1969 while on holiday and staying in a Shropshire hotel near Craven Arms, we watched the Moon landing: American Neil Armstrong was the first man to walk on the moon.

In 1969 a clerical job in a London College of Education was advertised in an evening paper. I applied successfully and became one of the General Office staff at the Kingsway College of Further Education in Keeley Street, off Southampton Row, just round the corner from the Masonic Hall, near Drury Lane.


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