Saturday 31 January 2015

George Goodwin - my autobiography

From North to South
William George Goodwin 
Born 7th January 1938


Acknowledgements                                                     Updated: 14th of September 2016

I would like to thank the following people who have helped me with this work.

Firstly it has to be my friend Pat Boulting, who after listening to many of my stories about my experiences of my life, suggested that I write them down for my children and grandchildren’s sake.

Then our son John, who has been a real support with my ‘misunderstanding’ of the computer and sorting out all the mistakes and finding 'the missing bits'.

My school friend John and his wife Brenda, who helped me piece together some of our school life, our work and play.

To Gill and Paul Edwards, for coming with me on our trips back to our roots in North London (Paul was born and brought up not more than half a mile from myself in Finsbury Park.)

To Susan Louise Goodwins, a new contact through Genes Reunited, she has worked hard on her family tree and gave me so much extra information about the Goodwins.

To our niece Daryl, who answered a message on Genes Reunited and her children Nathan and Imogen.
To our nephew Dean, his wife Cindy and their children Taylor and Julia.
I thank them for being in my life.

To Sandy, my wife of nearly 50 years, who I love dearly and has been supportive of my many trips to my roots to North London.

I have been looking through my recent registration documents about my family tree and realised that I have undertaken this project for nearly 40 years. During this period I have found many interesting facts which have been hidden from me. As both of my parents have been dead for a generation now, there is no possible way to get factual information to confirm or deny anything. (A family break up has prevented me from getting any information that may have helped, through my brothers and sister)

However, through a website called Genes Reunited I have been successful in two instances.

Firstly when browsing the web site I have come across names that might be connected to the Goodwin family. Many times it has been a game of lottery when dates, names and ages seem to tally but then by the process of elimination, they do not.

Secondly, some time ago an enquiry came up on the message board from a Susan Louise Goodwins, from Lammas in Norfolk, saying she was a fourth cousin, once removed.
She told me that she has been researching her tree for a number of years and wanted to share the information with me. The outcome of this chance meeting meant that I had to download 68 pages of ancestors to get the information; from this I have created my family tree. I have also found and met members of the Wilkes family, who are direct family members from my dad’s side.

On one occasion the name Daryl White came up on the message board. I had made an enquiry about the name. This name came from a possible link with my sister-in-law, a Janet White who married my eldest brother Alf in 1954 in Tamworth, Staffs. They had two children, Dean and his sister Daryl. The message was simple as in all cases when researching, ‘are you related to …….’? The answer came back that ‘her mother was a Janet White married her biological father Alfred Leonard Goodwin’ and what was my connection with the Whites or Goodwins?
I had just made contact with my niece, my eldest brother's daughter after a gap of nearly forty years.

We began communicating and I was given her brother's e-mail address.I am now in contact with two of my blood line family members. Although Daryl was not as forthcoming as Dean has, and from what she has told me I understand her reasons and respect her feelings on the matter. (When your father tells you that he does not wish to see you when you reach 18, it must be a bitter blow.) I hope in the future she will tell me more of her earlier life.
She now lives in Derbyshire.

It appears that Dean has met up with my brother Alf, his father; he stayed with him in 1977 but lost contact not long after. He, like me, is disappointed with Alf as he was told indirectly not to make contact ever again at the address that he had. Dean has been living with his family in the United States since 1986.

The Early Years
It came as a big surprise when on a visit to meet my brother Richard; he told me that I had been evacuated to Somerset during the war. I had always understood that I had spent most of my childhood in and out of convalescent homes at various places, whilst suffering from tuberculosis.

I suppose I should explain how we appear to be a dysfunctional family. I have two older brothers and a younger sister. I parted company with those other members of the family just after our mother died in a traffic accident in 1969. At the time I thought it was right that my eldest brother’s estranged wife and children should know of our mother’s death. Alf, my brother, did not agree. I foolishly contacted her, unbeknown to him. My recollections are that Janet came down and there was a few harsh words spoken, by whom I cannot tell but it caused a rift that has never been healed (I have since found out that he had left with no forwarding address and had not made provision for the children. I had always been led to believe that he had divorced Janet before coming back home to live.)

This action affected my relationship with rest of the family. Although I sent Christmas cards for a number of years after Mum’s death, I often thought it to be hypocritical since we did not speak to them and they did not make contact with me, so I stopped sending them. My immediate family have missed out on the lack of contact; they are obviously Sandy and the children. Claire, John and Mark have not really met with their uncles and aunts or their cousins at normal family gatherings in the same way that they have with Sandy’s side of the familyn (Claire and John, at this moment in time, have 7 direct cousins and at least 11 second cousins who they have not met.) Over the years I have contacted the immediate family members. I did so when Claire got married and also when John was married and also when Mark died. I had no replies so I gave up the idea, although it has always been on my mind to keep in touch.

I did see my second eldest brother, Ricky, in 1985 when I was working on a community project and had to visit a placement in Tottenham. I had taken our daughter with me for a trip. Claire, our 18 year old daughter suggested that I contact Ricky and to call in and see them on our way back. We spent some time with Ricky and his wife June, chatting but nothing came of our visit. In 1996 I started to think about getting in touch with Alf, Doris and Ricky but I wasn't sure how to go about it. I spent many hours looking at a plain sheet of paper trying to put words on it that would make some sense. I gave up the idea until 3weeks before Christmas of 1996 when I plucked up enough courage to write to all three. My main fear was the thought of rejection to my letter. It was a long time getting it down on paper. Eventually it was done. I wrote a duplicate to each. As I put those letters into the post box, I panicked. Had I done the right thing? What would they think? Would they even read the letter all the way through once they knew it was from me?Well it was too late now, I would just have to wait and hope. About a week before Christmas in 1996, I had a phone call from Ricky, my second eldest brother asking me to explain the reason for writing. We spent about an hour on the phone and the outcome of it was to make arrangements in the New Year, to meet. I did not hear from Alf or Doris and as of this date (2011) I have had no reply. Sandy and I went to have a meal with Ricky and June a couple of weeks later at their home in North London. It was very pleasant. We chatted about many things but most of all was about our childhood. It was during this discussion that I found out that I had been evacuated during the war. I have not mentioned to Ricky or June that I have been writing my life story over the past couple of years, as I am not sure of the response at this moment in time. I hope that when we meet again we can follow it up by a long term programme of discussing our childhood. Ricky is aware that I have been doing some family history, but not about this biography.

Our parents
Our father, Alfred Thomas William Goodwins was born 1903. He came from Shoreditch and was the only child to survive of four children, who were born to Alfred Richard and Harriet Amelia Goodwins. Incidentally he had a twin sister who unfortunately died soon after birth.
When I was growing up, I recall Dad being a man with fair/gingery hair. I do not think he was very muscular. From his army records he was 5'4" tall, but I always thought he was taller. He died in 1957 from an heart attack.

Our mother, Doris Amelia Heaton was born in 1905. She came from Islington and was the second child, her sister was Florence May born in 1902, in the Islington Workhouse, who were born to Walter and Florence Amelia Heaton. Mum was slight in build and with brown mousey hair. She died in 1969 after falling from a bus and fracturing her skull.
As both parents are now dead, it is somewhat difficult to put a lot of this information in chronological order, some of it is guess work.

My earliest memories are back in the early 1940s
I was born 7th of January 1938 to Alfred and Doris Goodwin. At the time, they had two other children; Alf who was born in January of 1933 and Dick (later known as Ricky) who was born in the November of 1934. I have very little memory of them as I grew up in London, as they were evacuated to Somerset for the duration of the war. From what Ricky has since told me, I too was evacuated to Somerset. My only memories are of staying with a couple, who I found later to be called Field and they lived in a place called Rode. My stay there was curtailed because of my apparent bed-wetting.

I recall living in Playford Road as a child and going to Pooles Park infant and junior school at the top of Playford Road. (I returned there recently and obtained a copy of my entrance to the school where I was admitted in May of 1947 and attended school until March 1948 when we moved to Essex Road, N1.) I have been back to my junior school in Ecclesbourne Road and also my senior school in Queens Head Street and have some record of my attendance there. Like many children born before and during the 1939/45 war we suffered death and deprivation, as did the adult population. Food was scarce so we had to make do with what we could find in the shops. A meal time that sticks in my memory is scrambled eggs, not the meal that we gave to our children or even our grandchildren, but a bright yellow rubbery mess. It was made from powdered egg and tasted revolting, it came in a grey packet and mother would mix it with water or milk into an omelette or just as egg on toast. I can still taste it today. It wasn’t very palatable but I suppose it was better than nothing under the circumstances.
Whilst living in Playford Road during the war and going to school, I enjoyed playing in the streets with the other children. Whilst the war was on, Mum worked in a factory not too far from home (I think it was called Premedcos) I was looked after by Mrs Boulter, an elderly local resident, along with other children in our road. I recall one incident with her. She lived halfway down our street, so after school when the weather was fine we were allowed to play out in the street and she would sit and watch. We had a boundary that we could play but if you went outside of it you got told off. On one occasion I ran past the boundary whilst playing and Mrs Bolter called me to go and wait inside. I felt that I had been harshly treated and refused where upon Mrs Bolter came after me with threats of "no tea" unless I came in which of course I refused to do. At this point I decided to find my mum. Somehow I found where she worked and made my way there with the sole intention of telling her how unfair it all was. She came out and was very upset that I had come all that way on my own and that she had to leave work to take me home. With a clip around the ear and the words "wait till your father gets home" ringing in my ears, we came home. That expression was to be said to me quite often over the next few years. 

I have vague memories of the 'war' years but these are mainly from Mum and Dad talking about them as we grew up. I do remember seeing the barrage balloons, floating like grey elephants tethered to the ground and also the flying bomb or 'doodle bug' as it was known, flying over Finsbury Park. It was one very sunny day with clear blue skies, as I was going into our house I heard the fateful drone of the engine as it flew across the sky. I was so mesmerised by the sight that I failed to hear the footsteps of my father coming home from work. I felt a cuff around the ear and him telling me to get inside. The bomb landed a few streets away, many people were killed and streets were turned into rubble.

During this period when I was 6 or 7 I broke my leg. I was playing with a gang of children of mixed ages, when I was being chased by one of the gang. I was playing a game where you had to get your feet off the ground and sit on a window ledge or you were 'it'; I tried to do this by darting through some railings that were situated in the front of the house. I just got through when the lad or girl chasing me landed on top of me, breaking my leg. I was admitted to hospital and some time later, I am not sure when, they took a swab test from the back of my throat (I think that this was done routinely with children who were hospitalised during the war) I had an X-ray, the result came back that I possibly had some infection. The X-ray confirmed that it was tuberculosis. I had a spot on my lung. Of course I knew nothing of the severity of my illness, but I did know that my parents were very worried.
For a number of years I spent time in and out of hospital with chest infections. Fortunately I did not have consumptive tuberculosis, I had the dry symptoms. If the illness was serious I was sent to a number of 'open air' schools to convalesce. These establishments were situated around the Home Counties and were of a similar nature. The ideology behind the treatment was that fresh air would be the answer. There was a suggestion that I might be sent to Switzerland for the fresh air but nothing came of it. I can recall some of the places and know for certain at least two places where I spent some time but in which order I do not know. I spent some time at a place in Benslowe Lane, Hitchin in Hertfordshire and also at Burrow Hill School, which is near Frimley, Surrey.

The school at Hitchin was a very large building surrounded by oak or fir trees. The one thing that I can recall one time was finding the schools pet rabbit, dead, under one of these trees. I also recall a local beauty spot called Windmill Hill where it was reported someone sledding down during a snowy winter and impaling themselves on a fence at the bottom. I cannot recall anything of significance that happened to me whilst I was here.
I returned to Hitchin sometime ago. My friend Pat has a friend in Hertfordshire Social Services and she helped with some photos of the area but was unable to find the home where I stayed. All that I could recall was the alley ways that we used to walk through, on our way to the town sometimes. So having established where Windmill Hill was, we retraced our steps along these alleys that I remembered until by chance we spoke to a lady who gave me the name of Benslowe Lane, which rang a bell in my mind. After a bit more luck we found the home at the end of the series of alley ways. It is now a nursing home but the grounds were still the same. We found, because of extensive renovations being done, some old prints of the home as I knew it. It had been a German hospital between the two world wars and was taken over during the Second World War. I am certain that this was the first place that I was convalesced to.

Burrow Hill School
The other place was Burrow Hill School near Frimley. I spent about 18 months there and it was nothing like the other places that I had been to whether it was to convalesce or to be evacuated. It had been used by the Royal Air Force as a sanatorium prior to the local authority taking it over. The buildings were the type of barracks used by the Army; with long dormitories that slept about a dozen boys in each. It was very Spartan-like with wide open half doors that seemed to be open most of the time during the day and sometimes during the night. They were often left open during the winter and the doors were only closed if it rained or snowed. There was a communal dining hall, some classrooms and a large barn like place where we would all troop down on Friday /Saturday evenings to watch films. They were black and white, possibly silent, but I do remember a character called Willy Whopper and I think Betty Boop and of course Laurel and Hardy, Charlie Chaplin and Mickey Mouse. We finished the evening off with a couple of slices of bread and Marmite or dripping and a drink of milk. They were great times even though somewhat austere. Just outside the grounds of the school was the training ground for the Ministry of Defence. We would often see soldiers from the local barracks at Aldershot, on the hills with rifles and half-track vehicles racing up and down. We were taken for walks in the fresh air and it was here that we would sometimes come across soldiers hiding in their dugouts. Frequently we would be told "clear off" in no uncertain terms. During our walks we would often come across empty rifle or mortar shell cases. We were always told not to touch or pick them up, but boys being boys we did not always listen and learn. The nearest we got to having a real accident was when one lad found an incendiary device and tried to open it. Lucky for us he was stopped before it was broken open. Another memory that I have is of the Saturday morning visit to Frimley village. We would line up outside of the office at the school and those of us that had pocket money, would be given a set amount to spend. Not every boy had monies sent by parents, as postal orders, as times were hard. It was very demoralising to find that your parents had not sent the money postal order and there you were like Oliver Twist asking for more money than you had. Even if you had no money, the trip was still on to the village. At the corner shop we were allowed to spend our money and the idea we had was to buy as many sweets as you could for the money. Some of you readers will not remember how much a halfpenny could buy. We would buy blackjacks, gobstoppers, sherbet fizzes and a kind of spaceship, about the size of a fifty pence piece, made of rice paper and filled with sherbert. My favourite was buying Beechnut chewing gum which had about 4/5 pieces in each packet and you could buy two for a penny, good value in those days. I have been back to Frimley quite a few times over the years. John Benzie and I have been there on our scooters. I have actually visited the school itself. I met up with some ‘old boys’ via the internet and we met there. The security staff were very helpful and even produced a photocopy of the school in the late 50s, with some plans. Cirencester and Trowbridge seem to surface in my memory from time to time, but as yet nothing positive has come of it; they may have been places that I was evacuated to during the war.

Returning to family life
These periods away from home affected not only my schooling but also the relationships with my brothers and my parents. (As I became older I realised just how much effect it had on me, after my parents had died.) During these periods away we had become strangers. The fact that Alf and Ricky were evacuated away together to Somerset and I would be at home, possibly on my own and then they came back as I went away because of my illness. This often caused friction between us. I can remember my mother coming to visit me when I was away, but she was normally on her own with Doris. There was the exception when Dad came as well. He worked on the railway and he may have had concessionary fares. I do not recall either of my parents being very demonstrative in showing their affection and I cannot remember birthday parties or even a party when I came back from being away to convalesce. Although I was not made to feel unwelcome there was not the warmth that one would expect from ones who you love. I also found it hard to accept my brothers; they were just as strange to me as I was to them I suppose. We used to fight over silly things and I would take or break their property just to get my own back on them. Later on though, when I was there more often and we were older, things changed for the better I am glad to say.

The school years
When I came back home I went to junior and senior schools like other children of my age. I do not recall making friends at junior level but when I went to Queens Head Street, Secondary Modern School for Boys I met up with my long time friend, John Benzie. We would walk home together; John lived about halfway between school and my home. He lived with his mum and dad, older sister and younger brother in a tenement block. They were typical for the period built by the Peabody or Guinness Trust with the aim of providing houses for the poor. Outside they were grey monolithic structures with granite staircases, unlit most of the time and when they were it was by gas lamps. They did change to electricity whilst we were at school if I remember correctly. Inside they were very nice, although I only visited one or two, but they were clean and comfortable. I cannot remember how many rooms they had but I know they were cramped for space. I have since found out that John's place was a 2 bed roomed flat, John's parents had one room, John, Stephen and their sister Ann shared the other bed room. They also had a dining room, kitchen/scullery and toilet at the end. I was at senior school from the age of 11 until I was 14; I left school in December 1952 as I was 15 in the January 1953. I was looking at some old records from school recently and it brought back to me the schoolmates of all those years ago. We had four houses in our school, all named after famous people:

Rutherford, scientist/physician        (1695-1779)    Blue
Masefield, poet                                     (1878-1967)    Yellow
Elgar, composer                                   (1857-1934)    Red
Wedgewood, potter                             (1730-1795)    Green

John was in Rutherford House, the same as me. I think that the name changed from Queen Head Street to Tudor Rose in our last year. The uniform was a brown blazer and grey flannels for the boys and brown blazer and grey skirt for the girls, they also wore berets. Our school badge was a Tudor rose on a black background. John and I never had a uniform but had the badge. Until our final year John and I would spend each term together, going through the various classes for Maths, History, French, English and Geometry, we also had PE and games. In our final year we were put into different units, I went into 4X, John went into 4Y. This meant I finished at Christmas and John finished at Easter. I can honestly say that I enjoyed school even though my attendance may not have been regular. We had several good teachers and being taught by them was to be beneficial to me later on in life, although at the time I did not know it. Mr Ranner was our maths and history teacher. As our history teacher I remember him telling us all about the Romans. (He was a thin cadaverous individual who always dressed in a 3 piece, pinstriped suit including a bowler hat; he did not wear it in class though.) Mr Jolliffe was our other history teacher who taught us about the Renaissance period in the 16th century. This period was very boring though, but ironically the Tudor period is now one of my popular periods. Mr Milner taught us English Literature and Language, along with a Mr Pearson. The latter used to read and encourage us to do the same. We read about a salmon named Silver and its life cycle. I can still remember it to this day. Over the years as I have grown older, the knowledge that I had hidden away about my teachers and the subject matter, has come to fruition. I love reading and also I have a keen interest in the Tudor Dynasty. My maths isn’t too bad either. (I muddle by on woodwork)
We used to have nick-names for some of the teachers as most kids do.
Mr Butler, Mr Milner and Mr JJ Cripps were Jewish and somewhat unkindly we referred to them as such. JJ was an old boy even then. He was heavily jowelled with large gaps in his teeth that made him look quite fearsome. He reminds me of the bulldog in the Tweetie Pie and Sylvester cartoons. Mr Milner was renowned for his corporal punishment. Now most teachers when having to resort to punishment only had to make a reference about the cane, to bring the class to order. Many are the times I have been in Mr Milner’s class when some misdemeanour has occurred and a pupil is sent to get the cane and book, when this happened you knew without fail that someone would be on the receiving end of the cane. Whilst the hapless person went the head’s office, all of the class had to move their chairs and desks right back so that there was an area by the teachers desk that allowed him to swing the cane. The fear of having the cane was bad enough but to have to walk all the way to the office, explain why and then return knowing that this was no idle threat as it was with some teachers. Often you had a choice of either on the hands or on the backside. Either way it hurt. On returning with said cane and book the boy was made to stand in front of the class whilst Mr Milner lectured on the reason for the punishment. As he is giving the lecture, he took off his coat, rolled up his sleeves and then brings a chair from behind his desk for the boy to bend over and hold the rails. He then administers the punishment. The reason it seems so spectacular is that once having the cane by Mr Milner very few people misbehaved in his class. I am glad to say I was not one of those to be punished this way, although I have had the cane once or twice but with a different teacher and not with such pantomime.
There were other forms of punishment meted out by teachers but they were often the short sharp shock, like having a piece of chalk thrown at you or the blackboard eraser or rubber. One teacher, a Mr Williams always had a size 11 Plimsoll in his drawer that he used instead of the cane. It was just as effective but swifter. As I indicated earlier I attended a boy's school but there was another part of our school which was for the girls that was divided by a chain link fence. We never had mixed lessons even though we were so close.

After school
Another enjoyable aspect of my school period was when I got home from school.
I must have met my sister, who would have been about 6 years old, from her school. We were the only ones at home until about 5.30 p.m. we had to make or prepare the tea ourselves. I suppose you would call us latch key kids in today's world. The enjoyable time was when children's hour would come on with people like Uncle Mac etc. Before we listened to the radio we had a routine that we both shared and it was as follows. I would tidy the place up and lay the fire whilst Doris, my sister, would make the tea. (I am not sure about the exact details of the last event, but they seem very clear to me, only Doris might be able confirm or correct this.) The fire was lit from underneath by means of a gas bar underneath the coal, which enabled the coal to burn. Once alight the gas was turned off. We had the coal delivered and put into an outside hopper on the landing. You could reach it by means of a small door in the hallway that had a panel that held back the coal until the next shovel full was extracted then the next lot of coal dropped down. Once the fire was going and the tea was made it was time to cut the bread and spread butter or marge and top it with jam or in some instances, sugar or condensed milk as a treat. We would then sit by the fire sometimes with light out and listen to the radio by firelight. It was a magic time because you could listen to the programmes and involve with the characters in the story. One of my favourites was a science fiction programme; there was a character who would say ‘this is the voice of Hesikoss’ in a deep and resonant voice. I also enjoyed the antics of Just William and other similar programmes. This enjoyable pastime would continue until Mum and Dad would arrive home and proper tea was made.

Family life
There were many programmes that the family used to sit around and listen to. Before the Archers became the longest radio 'soap' we would listen every night to Dick Barton Special Agent, and this had everyone glued to the radio between 18.45 and 19. 00. As a kid I can remember coming in from playing outside just to listen to it and the worst punishment you could have was to be sent to bed before it started. I cannot imagine it having the same effect on today's children of being stopped watching Neighbours, Home and Away, Superman or even Blue Peter, can you? When watching title fights on television nowadays I am reminded of sitting round the radio with Dad and Mum listening to the likes of Bruce Woodcock, Randy Turpin, Tommy Farr and others like them taking on the world’s best. Dad had loose connections with the fight game; he once told me that he had an uncle who was a second. He would point him out to us in the papers or later when we had television, I could see the resemblance. I don't know it if was true but I would like to think it so. Waiting for the football results was another memorable experience, as a strange hush fell over the family at 17 00 p.m. each Saturday as the results came through. "Arsenal 3 Liverpool 2-Birmingham City 1 Coventry 1" and so on. No one was allowed to speak until the last score came in. We always seemed to have to wait for the Scottish league to bring that elusive jackpot.
Needless to say it never happened to the Goodwin family. Because I have had the experience of television today, I would liken radio in those days as television with no picture, if you understand the meaning. The joy to me was to imagine what was happening to characters like Brian Reece in PC 49 or Tommy Handley in ITMA( It’s that man again,) Henry Hall’s guest night and on Sunday, just before lunch it was Wakey-Wakey with the Billy Cotton Band Show. It conjured up all sorts of images with these shows. Max Miller was brilliant with his gags but it did not have the same effect when transferred to the small screen. Something got lost on the way. I still like to listen to the radio as it has never lost its appeal to me and the Archers are still a favourite.

My friendship with JB (he is known as JB because we have so many Johns in the family)
As I said earlier, it was when I was at senior school I met my lifelong friend John Edward Benzie who is 2 months younger than me. We spent some time together whilst at school but when we left we would spend most of our free time together as most teenagers do. I used to think my parents were strict but I had more freedom than John. Even after we left school and before he did his national service, John would have to be home before me. John’s dad had been a Full Sergeant in the Scots Guards and I think John would agree that his father was a disciplinarian. With his height of over 6 feet he was a very imposing figure. I used to feel quite intimidated by him when I called for John. I could never bring myself to call him by his christian name, Charlie, even when he told me to later when I was older. He was always Mr Benzie. John and I have sent birthday cards to each other for more years than I care to remember, we have met at various family get together and special occasions. We always manage to slip back into the old routine of laughing at the same stupid things.
I am not sure how this is viewed by our respective partners, Sandy and Brenda but I think there are times when they must think we have not really grown up. Still that's what friendship is all about.

Going out to work and learning various trades
I left school in December 1952 at the age of 14, my birth date allowed me to start work earlier. (I have recently found out that I was also confirmed at St James’ Church in Prebend Street and took my first communion in December 1952.) In January 1953, I started work. My brother Ricky had joined the Royal Air Force and I had taken over his place of employment whilst he did his national service; it was often a common practice for siblings to follow on in this manner. I am not sure of the exact times and dates of the following employment.

Watch case making
I enjoyed my first year at work, for that was just how long it lasted. I worked for a watch company making Avia, Newmark and Timex models. I had an altercation with the supervisor over his dangerous horseplay, I complained to the manager the manager, Percy Gill, but he told me to get on with my work. Being young and very headstrong at the time I refused. I was told to go and get my cards. It was usual to receive your cards immediately you left your employer along with any pay that was due to you. It was humiliating to go to the office downstairs and wait whilst they made up my wages and then present me with my cards and pay. Other employees who knew me came and asked why but I was too embarrassed to give an answer. I recall now that it is the only job in my working life that I have been sacked from.

The printing trade
My next job was working in Central London, for a printing firm called the Universal Drawing Office in Bloomsbury Square that produced blueprints for architects and surveyors. I used to ride round on a bike with a long carrier on the front to hold the printed work. I wasn't very happy there as the ammonia used in the printing gave me headaches, so I left.
The Rag trade or learning to be a tailor
I was fortunate to meet a school friend named Sammy Spencer who worked as a trainee tailor in Hackney. He said they were looking for workers so I thought I would give it a try. I started at John Fairdales in Kingsland Rd as a canvass cutter. I worked there for about 9 months but left when the supervisor wouldn't agree to train a number of us as he had promised.

Becoming a van boy
I had seen an advert for van-boys with the Initial Towel Supply Co. in Goswell Rd. I got the job and was put with a grizzly old man called Bill Kearns. He was one of the old school of drivers who had driven everything from horse and carts to the then present day vehicles. He was the first person to explain about driving, he showed me how to change gear, about road position and also a bit about the engine. We worked in the City and West End delivering towels and dusters for the office staff as well as providing the same for hotels and private clubs. Once we had loaded up in the morning we would then deliver them to an area in the City, then we might travel to the West End to collect those towels that had delivered the previous week. It went on like this every day delivering to a different area so I got to know London very well. With waves of nostalgia washing over me I recall our lunch breaks with fondness. As I said we were always in a different area each day and not always at the same time did we have a break but Bill knew the cafe's well. Bill had an old metal biscuit tin between the seats that contained 2 mugs and some sugar and a large enamelled jug. It was my job to go to the cafe' of Bill's choosing and get 2/- (10p) worth of tea, a sandwich and a cake for him. He knew those places that gave the most tea, some places would fill it right up and others only half way. He would sometimes buy me a cake, which was nice. During my time on the van I got to know London very well. We would go to the places that the general public wouldn't normally be allowed, such as the Bank of England, Mansion House, Guildhall, Bush House, Shell Mex House on the Embankment, Fortnum and Masons and a quite racy place called Esmerelda's Barn in Knightsbridge. It was a renowned place frequented by people like Princess Margaret and her likes. Whilst working on the vans, I met another van boy called Freddy Lee. His dad worked in the meat market at Smithfield and was trying to get Freddy a job there. The only way to get in was if you had family or friends in the meat trade. It was quite by chance that I met him when getting tea at a café called Lester's in Smithfield (at this point I would like to describe the café. It was a real working man’s café, with scrubbed wooden tables and bench seats. It was operated by Lester on the ground floor and another person down in the cellar kitchen. The only communication was by shouting down the shaft of a ‘dumb waiter’ to the cook.)

The meat trade and becoming a butcher
Freddy had left the Initial sometime earlier and was working with his father in a small retail company as a bike boy. He told me the money was good and that they were looking for another bike boy to make deliveries in the City and would I be interested. The idea of more money appealed to me so I applied for the job and got it and started a couple of weeks later. There were four of us working in the shop, Len Hartley who owned the shop, Fred Lee senior, Freddy and I. Len was a person without much humour, he did not say much but this did not matter too much because I was out most of the time. Freddy and I would deliver meat, eggs, bacon and cheeses to cafe's, sandwich bars and restaurants in the City of London, we each had one of those bikes with a small wheel on the front with a wicker basket to carry the goods, it also had a waterproof cover stretched over the top.

This was the time of cobbled streets and police officers on point duty at busy junctions, long before pelican crossings, underpasses and flyovers. Once when racing Freddy back to the shop, I came across the cobbled section just outside of St Paul's. The police officer on duty allowed Freddy to go through but turned his back on me to wave on the traffic from his right. I braked but because the ground was wet and on the cobbles I lost control and the bike slid from underneath me. It finished up at the feet of the police officer, who upon hearing the racket the bike made, looked round and found me sitting in the road somewhat red faced with embarrassment. I was given a lecture about riding safely and then helped on to the bike. I arrived back at the shop later than Freddy and I then had to pay for the teas for the rest of the week as a forfeit for losing. There were quite a few times when carrying the meat and other goods around in the front basket, that when the bike was stationary it would tilt to one side, emptying the goods onto the road. I would be standing at the lights or junction with one foot on the pedal ready to move off when I could suddenly feel the saddle swing to one side and try as I might I could not stop the bike from tipping up. It was very embarrassing. Fortunately the meat was wrapped in a muslin cloth or later on we used polythene bags so it did not get dirty. Sometime later Freddy left and another lad started with us. His name was Terry. If memory serves me correct, he had ginger hair and I think that went with his temperament, which was fiery to say the least. On one occasion we came to blows, over something silly. We finished up rolling on the ground but nothing too serious. Quite by chance I met Terry a few years ago. Although he came from the Kings Cross area of north London, he moved to Roundshaw which is a housing estate built in the 1960s, which is not too far from where we live. He is a taxi driver. We have met in the Sainsburys Supermarket, where we have a chat about the old days, I am not sure of his age but think he may be about 5 years younger than me.

Later I had the opportunity to work with a commercial butcher called E R Russell and Son, just around the corner in Bartholowmews Close. They were offering better training and as Len wasn't I thought I would take a chance with them. It was at this time of changing jobs that my father died. I was 19 at the time. I felt very much alone at the time and the new job did not encourage too much dialogue with my workmates as I was working in the basement refrigerator. I also had the task of making dripping from the waste fat and bones that were produced from the boning out of the meat. I also had to clear the floor for the cutters and supply them with various joints for them to cut and pass to the packers. As I said earlier I worked in the basement, it was actually a large walk-in fridge. It was extremely cold so I had to wear a heavy duffel coat over my dark blue denim smock, which was ankle length. At the end of the day all the meat taken out for processing and cutting had to be replaced into the freezer until the next day. After a period of time doing this aspect of work I was moved upstairs to the packing station. I had to pack the meat into cardboard boxes that had a form of dry ice packed with it to preserve it on its journey. It was then wired up with a special machine. These cartons were delivered by carrier to places all over the South of England. I eventually did some cutting and making mince and doing jobs nobody else wanted to do. I stayed with the company for about 6 months but was persuaded to return to work for Len with the offer of a van should I pass a driving test. I thought the offer was too good to be true but I was willing to give it a try.

It was in 1958 that the Great Fire in Smithfield took place. It started in the basement of the cold storage area. With centuries of fat/bones and rubbish left there, it took hold quite quickly. It burned for quite a few days; the sad part was that two firemen lost their lives in tackling the blaze (rumour has it that the rats that fled the fire were as large as housecats, how true that is I will never know.)

 I continued there until one day Len asked me to deliver an overloaded basket of meat on my bike to Stoke Newington that is about 4 miles away. This job was normally done by taxi or someone who had a car but on this occasion it was an emergency and had to go there and then. I did the job but bearing in mind that the bike was liable to turn over on me I said I wouldn't ever do it again. We had an argument about it and I told him to stuff his job, which for some obscure reason prompted him to offer me a pay rise and the possibility of a better bike for some reason, an offer which of course I took. There had been a number of changes in my short working life, losing my father, the different jobs and meeting all these different people, but things were about to change.

Behind the butchers, E R Russell’s, where I had previously worked, was a small yard and sometimes during my lunch break, I would often help to unload the lorries that would arrive. I would be given a tip by the boss’ mother for helping. (The company were butcher's sundries men; they supplied butchers with dry goods such as, string, wrapping paper of all types, paper bags, knives and wood blocks for cutting.) During these brief periods of helping I got to know the owner’s mother quite well. She reminded me of the Queen’s mother with her looks and her manners. To cut a long story short she knew that I was looking for a change and after some discussions with her son Ron, I started work for them. I worked continuously for Thomas Ford of Smithfield for at least 12 years, until I left to go on the buses before attending college.

How I became a Driver Salesman
During this period of my life I learnt to drive, courtesy of the company, who paid for my lessons with the British School of Motoring. Apart from serving customers who came into the shop I had to take orders over to the vehicles parked in the market. I then began to take the company's Austin van for local deliveries. When I finished work I would bring the vehicle back to the yard so that a casual driver would then take it and do larger deliveries through out London. He would then take the vehicle home and return it early the following day, ready for me to load up again. Sometimes when I returned, Ron would offer to give me a lift home. As time went by he would also pick me up for work in the mornings if he was passing the bus stop outside my home. (I would make sure that I was there when he came by.) We would often talk about the work and how things were going as we travelled to work and it was during one of the periods that he suggested that I might do more driving for the company as the driver he normally used was not very reliable. The outcome of it was that I could take the vehicle home after I had finished my deliveries and as long as I put my own petrol in, I could use it for my own use. I readily agreed and it was at this point that my life to go in a completely different direction.

The time when Dad died
Dad died on Sunday 8th September 1957. I was visiting Alf and Janet when he died. Mum, Dad and I had been invited up for the weekend. Doris was working so she couldn't go and Ricky was with his then girlfriend June I think. That weekend Dad wasn't feeling too good so he decided not to come but would see us off at the station. I remember only too clearly Dad asking me to get a couple of Mitchell and Butler's bottles of brown ale for him. He had acquired a taste for it when he had been up there. Sad to say I never got the beer and he never had the chance to try them again. We received the message from Doris on the Sunday afternoon to say that Dad had died. Dad had prepared the dinner and they were both waiting for Doris to come home from work, she worked in a small grocery shop and they normally had dinner when she had finished work. Dad collapsed and died within a few minutes. For the next few hours we just comforted each other until we could get the train home. I think we arrived back on the Monday, to find Dad had been removed to the undertakers. Mum spent the night in the same room that Dad slept in; I think this was her way of dealing with his sudden departure. I did not see Dad to pay my respects until the day of the funeral, which was a Friday. When I came home from work during that week, I expected to find him sitting by the fire, which was his usual place. When I did see him again it was in the chapel of rest at the undertakers, when Ricky took me there. To see him lying there in the shroud made him look so small. All that could be seen was his face and a small tuft of pale, gingery hair poking out from his forehead. It was then that I came to terms with his death. My brother Ricky married his girlfriend June the following year. We moved from the maisonette to a 3 bedroom flat just across in another block a short time later, by this time there was only Mum, Doris and myself at home;  Alf would return at some later date. After some time at home Alf and I decided to move out. We first moved into a basement flat near Highbury but this was always damp, but JB (who was doing his National Service at the time, was fortunate enough to know somebody who had a top floor flat in Cross Street, near the Angel, Islington. We finally moved to a bed-sit in Mildmay Park near Stoke Newington. N1

The fun years with Alf as a singer and travelling around
Alf started out as a pub singer, firstly as a crooner in the style of Frank Sinatra, then he would also dress up in character (similar to the Black & White Minstrel show) and do Al Jolson numbers. He was good enough to go on Opportunity Knocks but there was very little demand for this type of act. The public were not interested with the music halls each week as television was making inroads into family entertainment. Still, he continued working in the pubs with the Sinatra songs and also a few of Benny Hill’s numbers. He was sometimes the main singer but more often he would fill in, like a warm up comic for the main star. Now that I had transport I became his ‘road manager’. I would take him to venues and look after anything that he needed. I didn’t get paid but got plenty of drinks and invites to parties after the pub had shut. It was great fun.
About the same time, if Alf was not ‘working,’ I would go away for the weekend in the van to anywhere that took my fancy. I teamed up with a boy called Bobby Parfitt who lived in the same block of flats where we used to live. On one occasion just after I had passed my test I borrowed a Morris Minor car from somebody at Smithfield, with the sole aim of going to Scotland to see a couple of old girl friends as a surprise. We arrived there only to find that they had new boyfriends, so it was a wasted journey. A long way for a surprise!

Circumstances that change your life
On the way up, we had passed through the Lake District but we did not have the time to stop, as we had broken down with a clutch problem near St Albans, we decided to spend some time there on our way back.  It was there that we met up with Pat, Anne and Valerie who were Youth Hostelling for a week. Val was the one I fancied, she was short and had a swarthy complexion similar to Italians or Greeks. For a while things seemed to be going along alright for me but she turned out to be a pain in the bum if she didn’t get her own way. Pat and Anne was fun to be with, they were just out to enjoy themselves, with no commitments. We carried their things around in the car for a few days dropping them off at the entrances to the various Youth Hostels. We had some good times with them and it was sad when we split up. Anne went off to Clacton to her parents, Val went home (I don’t know where) and we took Pat back to Rochdale to see her grandparents. I recall that we pitched camp in their garden overnight. When we left Pat, we decided to surprise Anne by going down to Clacton to see her. We had to travel all the way down by main roads as the motorway system was very limited. After seeing Anne we finished our holiday and returned the car to its owner. Incidentally, Pat became very close friends of our family, along with her husband Noel and their children Catherine and Alex. We met up again after a number of years, quite by chance. I was still working at Smithfield at the time and I was passing through Leytonstone which is in East London, when I saw Pat cycling along the road in the opposite direction. I caught up with her and we chatted for a while and then made plans to meet again. By this time I had met and married Sandy. We met up a few times, had holidays together and our friendship has strengthened over the years. We see one another quite often. Through the experience of driving for a living, I really enjoyed the prospect of going away for the weekend. Sometimes it would be fairly local like Brighton or Clacton. There were also times when I would take off for Land’s End or the Lake District. I would get home early from work on Friday afternoon; throw a sleeping bag into the back along with cooking utensils, clothing and food and then just go. When I think of those trips now I think I must have been mad. I would often get back home about 10 p.m. on the Sunday and be up for work at 6.30 am the next day. It was mad but fun! I have been to most areas of this country with the exception of the East coast which really has little attraction for me. (Strange that I should find out later that my origins lie in Norfolk)

Meeting my wife Sandy
It was on one of these madcap trips that I met Sandy, my wife. I had been down to Buckfast Abbey with a couple of friends, one whom I shared a flat with. At this point I must explain that when we went away we had an arrangement that we would take turns to chat up the girls. It was rather sexist really but I felt somewhat aggrieved that I did not have the same opportunity as the others because I was the only driver. Anyway that’s how the arrangement came to be. On this occasion here were the three of us, Joe Mallon sleeping off the effects of Buckfast Abbey wine in the back, Roger Kett and me in the front. We saw 2 girls standing on the forecourt of a disused garage, thumbing a lift we stopped and asked them where they were going and fortunately they were going to London. Roger must have thought his luck was with him, to have a girl sitting on his lap all the way to London. No such luck!! One of the girls, Sandy’s friend Sylvia, turfed Roger into the back with Joe, still asleep. I then had the company of two girls to ‘choose’ from. Sandy and I nearly didn’t become friends and marry. Sylvia was sitting next to me and Sandy sat against the door. She proceeded to take her Scholl sandals off and stick her feet on the dashboard. Rather childishly, I thought she had a cheek so I chatted with Sylvia, kind of ignoring Sandy. I am glad to say that it all turned out all right for us both as Sylvia became chief bridesmaid at our wedding later that year. They had been down to Sylvia’s parents in Dorset. They lived in a quaint village called Whitchurch Canonicoram and Sandy and Sylvia would often hitchhike down for the weekend or when they had days off. They were student nurses, sharing a flat for six in West Hampstead and training at University College Hospital in London. Jo came from York, Evie and Kay came from North London, Sandy came from the Isle of Sheppey in Kent, Sylvia from Dorset and Sybil from Bath. There was a German girl called Marietta Kessler, who I think was a friend of Sybil’s. It was a great change for me to be monopolised by the two of them. We drove towards London but decided to stop off at Runnymede, which is near Windsor, to see the monuments that commemorated the signing of the Magna Carta in the 13th century and also the new Kennedy Memorial. Having seen the monuments, we then had a game of rugby/football- Joe having now joined us, sober. During one of the scrummages, I inadvertently took the glass and hands off Sandy’s wristwatch. As one can imagine I was not very popular and even when she said it was ok, I felt that I had to get it repaired. At that time, I was sharing the flat with Joe in Mildmay Park N1. (As I said previously, I had shared a flat with Alf but on this occasion Alf and I had fallen out and he had to leave. He moved in with Hetty, his girlfriend.) In the flat above lived a couple named Janik and Bobby Majewska, who came from Poland. He worked in Hatton Garden but also worked at home as a watch repairer and jeweller, so it was quite easy for me to get the repair done. I had found out from Sandy that they were finishing on a late shift a few nights later, so Roger and I turned up to the hospital to pick her/them up. They seemed surprised when they came out to find us waiting. We offered them a lift back to their flat and were invited in for coffee. We also met some of their flatmates. Roger met up with Evie and for a while we would go out as a group. During the next few weeks, Sylvie’s boyfriend, Brian would come up from Dorset and complete the trio of couples. Brian and Sylvia were engaged, Roger and Evie seemed to be hitting it off quite well and Sandy and I were together. (By this time I had realised that Sandy was the person for me, of this I had no doubts.) There was some discussion about us all going to New Zealand. I had often thought of travelling around the world and I may have promoted the idea. The idea was that as soon as they had finished and passed their final exams we would each buy a camper van and travel over land via Europe, the Middle East and then over to Australia and then on to New Zealand. With these thoughts in mind and the fact that Sandy was the one for me, I went out and bought an engagement ring. I was working out at Harrow doing my deliveries, when I stopped near a jewellers shop. I happened to see a ring I liked; I went inside and bought it. Later on, I think the same day, I picked Sandy up from work as she was on a half day and while we were having coffee I told her that there was a present for her in my coat pocket. As I recall there were two responses from Sandy, the first was a flood of tears, which I hope were of elation and when the flood subsided the next one was what were her parents going to say, bearing in mind that I had only met them a couple of times previously. Needless to say it all turned out OK; we had met and married within six months. Our main objective was, with New Zealand in mind, to save as much as we could by living in my flat and putting all of Sandy’s money into the bank. When I recall this fact I realise that I had never had a bank account before I met Sandy. With the money saved we would soon be able to buy a camper and then set off. It all seemed quite feasible at that time as Sylvia was still with Brian and Roger and Evie seemed happy.

Change of plans and starting a family
We were married in the November of 1965. My mother acted as a go between with Alf and we made up and became my best man at our wedding. So we had met and married within six months and living in the flat, but by January we found that we were pregnant with our first child, Claire. As you can imagine this put a hold on any plans to travel at that moment in time. It’s quite strange looking back at one’s life how the direction is changed through circumstances. We now had to find a house to bring up our child. Sylvia’s relationship with Brian was going through a rough patch, them being so far apart and also Roger and Evie were not as compatible as was first thought and had cooled somewhat, so it just left us. Some time later we managed to find a place in Wallington, where we have lived since 1966, bringing up the rest of our expanding family. Quite by chance we were out with Sylvia and we were going for a drink to celebrate the birth of John and Brenda’s son Paul. I had arranged to meet with John and Brenda’s brother Norman at the Old Bull and Bush in Hampstead. Brenda was still in hospital at the time, so Norman came as well because he was staying with John. I had met Norman a couple of times before and he is a bit of a nut but an enjoyable one so I didn’t think they would mind. From what I have recently gathered from John and Brenda, after our drink at the pub we had gone to a party, but no one can recall what the party was for or for whom. I could see that Norman and Sylvia were getting on OK so I was not surprised later on when he asked her out. The only surprise was that of all places to be asked advice was in the gent’s toilet. I had just gone in when Norman arrived and asked if I thought Sylvie would go out with him. It had been fairly obvious that they were attracted to each other so being put in the position of matchmaker. I told him to “go for it”. Happy to say it worked but unfortunately for Brian, Sylvia broke off her engagement when she met Norman.

Memories of youth
The last experience that I have just described was in part affected by my friendship with John Benzie. I first met John when we both started at our senior school, Queen’s Head Street Secondary Modern N1. I was eleven in the January as John was eleven in the March. We met and became good friends. He lived about half a mile from me with his parents, an older sister Anne and his younger brother Stephen. Mrs Benzie was a rotund homely person who was a housewife. John and I used to meet sometimes during the school time but we spent most of our time together after school and at weekends. Because of the slight difference in our ages I left school at Christmas and John at Easter, so we lost contact for a while. I went to work at the watch factory and John went to work with his father at an electrical wholesaler in Charing Cross Road. As I have said before, jobs were often gained through members of the family. When I look back I realise that we have been friends for over 65 years to this date (2014) it seems incredible that we still fall back in to the same sense of humour that we had then, even if we have not met for some time. We used to spend most of our time together, walking everywhere. The radius of our walks could be 5 or 6 miles in an evening. We would first meet then decide which direction we should take. This was often determined by the knowledge of girls we may have recently met or possibly a place of interest to us both. There are not many places in North London that we have not visited either on foot, bike or bus. It was great fun to go out in the evening with a few shillings in your pocket and know that you could have a good time. Those were the times when you could meet a couple of girls, have some friendly banter with them, maybe finish up going to a local coffee bar or cafe and if you were lucky, see them home. There were never any bad feelings if one’s advances were rejected; one just accepted it as part of life and growing up. The girls often gave as good as they got. As I said earlier we would travel all over the area, either by foot, bike or at a later date when we had scooters. When John came back from his National Service stint we bought scooters. John bought his first. It was a Lambretta Li 150 cc, coloured red and off white with a registration number XXE 992. I purchased mine a short time later. (I was able to buy one because had my father been alive he would have never allowed me to purchase one.) In those days you would have to take out an HP agreement and then pay the balance on a monthly basis.) Mine was the same model but it was blue with off white and my registration number was XYW 214 (its funny how snippets of worthless information stick in one's mind.) With our scooters we were able to travel so much farther. We both visited my brother Alf, who was at that time married and living in Tamworth which is near Birmingham. We really had some good times on our scooters.
We once got involved with the Salvation Army movement. We were in a pub one evening when met up with a couple of really attractive girls selling the ‘War Cry’. We chatted them up and followed them around for a while until they arrived back at their Citadel meeting place. They did invite us to go in but we stayed outside, waiting for them come out after the service. We did this on a regular basis on a Friday night. It was whilst waiting outside, one evening; I was foolishly swinging on the support arm of a window blind when one of the officers came out just as I was in mid-swing. He suggested that I could find something more useful to do with my time. I was too embarrassed to disagree with him so we followed him into the hall, with the main aim of seeing the girls again. The outcome of all this was that we spent a few months going to the meetings and enjoying their style of worship until they attempted to enrol us into their group. We then realised that we were not cut out for this lifestyle, interesting as it may have been. We had many escapades with girls over the years, sometimes even swapping girls when the situation arose but mainly we went around as   friends. There were times when either one of us didn’t have a girl but one just made the most of it.

Back in time
When we reached National Service age I applied to join the RAF, following Alf and Ricky but I was unsuccessful as I wore glasses. I then tried my father’s old regiment, the King’s Royal Rifle Corps (KRRs) but again without any luck. After some discussion with one of the staff, I applied and was accepted to apply for Royal Army Ordinance Corp (RAOC.) When I had my medical I found out that because of my eyesight and history of TB as a child, I was classified as C3 and the entry requirement at the time was A1 or B2 so I never did my National Service. (One thing I did find out from the medical was that I had a perforated eardrum, news to me!) My friend John however wanted to join his dad’s regiment the Scots Guards but he finished up in the Royal Fusiliers based at the Tower of London. I think John did his 3 years mainly in Aden. He went to Kenya and then was flown out to the Persian Gulf for 6 months instead of 6 weeks. He then came back to East Africa before spending the final 4 months in Malta. He spent a total of 17 months abroad with the colours. He would get leave and during these times we would return to our old haunts. There were times when John was home that he would wear his uniform when we went out. It had its advantages as well as disadvantages. Girls were impressed by his appearance, being over 6 feet tall made him stand out in a crowd plus the fact that as part of the uniform he wore in his black beret, a large white plume of feathers called a hackle. This made him appear even taller. One of the downsides was that he would also be singled out by boys or men and had fun poked at him. Fortunately it did not cause too much of a problem for us. When John came out of the Army he went back to Wholesale Fittings, the electrical goods company in the East end of London. It was here that later he met Brenda. (We now had our scooters and were more mobile)
We continued to hang around together until John got engaged to Brenda. John had been engaged to a girl over in Leytonstone but that went pear shaped and he broke it off. Such is life. After John met Brenda and got engaged, I lost contact for a while. I was now a single person (single in the sense that John and I did not do the same things together that we had done before) so I was able to do other things. For some strange reason I never went to their wedding. As I have said before, I had moved out from home with Alf and was living in Mildmay Park. Some time later when Alf and I had a falling out, he moved in with his then partner, Hetty. It was then that I shared the same flat with Joe Mallon... he had shared the next door flat with his friend Ted.

Different people, different activities
Before he moved in we used to go out as a trio for weekends or just for a drink. It was during one of these weekends, when Ted and I had been out for a drink, on our return Joe was going on about the girls that he had met and how they thought he sounded like an American. This really came from his Irish accent that mixed with his London accent did have a passing resemblance to an American. The outcome of this little scenario was that we had a bet that we could chat up a couple of girls by making out that we too were Americans. Joe agreed to buy us a meal if we succeeded, I should point out that at the time both Ted and I were both sporting crew-cut hair styles so we were halfway there. We decided that we would go up to the West End for the evening and try it out. We chose the next Saturday to put this game into operation. We both dressed as best as we could in terms of what we thought was the American style, we then took the van and headed off towards the bright lights. Having never done this before we needed to test it out on someone before we tried to use it as our chat-up line. Who better than a policeman to try it on, so the first one that we met was in the Strand. I leaned out of the window and asked for directions to Trafalgar Square, emphasising the ‘Traffaaalgar’ as the Americans do. We tried this approach a few times just to see if it would work every time. I am glad to say that it did. We arrived at the old Covent Garden and we saw 2 girls walking along, we stopped and had a brief conversation with them, asking about various places that they knew and might be of interest to us. We parted company with them but only drove around the block after a few minutes, to meet up with them again. They seemed quite enthusiastic about showing us around so we set off for a sightseeing tour of London. (remember our arrangements about choosing the girls, well it was Ted’s turn but unfortunately for him, I had the nice one sitting next to me and Ted had the other on his lap, much to his annoyance.) We had a great time travelling around but I had to remember not to know where we were going, there were a few times when I only just remembered not to go until directed by our hosts. The outcome of the evening was that we were invited back for coffee to their flat in Pimlico. When we arrived there I stayed in the van with my partner whilst Ted went in with his to make coffee. It was whilst I sat outside I explained to her our plan because I could not keep it going any longer. She took it in good heart but as we went back in she asked not to say anything right away, she wanted to string her friend and Ted along a little longer. The look on their faces when we both burst out laughing as they carried on the conversation as if we were Americans. The other girl was now trying to talk like us. We won our bet and at a later date Joe met the girls and paid for a meal with good grace. We did put this ruse in to practise another time when Ted and I took off for Land’s End one weekend. We left on the Friday and arrived in the early hours of Saturday. We slept in the back of the van, when we awoke we had something to eat and had a look round. It was a bit later when we met up with Jean and Eileen, who were from Manchester. They were down for a few days and were going back on the Sunday so we spent most of the time with them until they were ready to leave. We left at the same time as they did and we followed their coach for some way until we had to turn off and head towards London. They were quite tearful as they waved goodbye from the back of the coach, having persuaded two old dears to change seats with them. We arrived back home on the Sunday and a few days later we got a number of cards from both of them telling us how wonderful we 'Americans' were. We wrote to them and said that we might visit sometime in the future. A few weeks later we decided to go away for the weekend, this time taking Joe along. We had thought to go to Manchester to see Jean and Eileen so that’s what we did. We arrived in the early hours of Saturday morning and slept in the van on a piece of waste ground more or less next door to where Jean lived. We called in to see her about 10 o’clock. She was still in her night-clothes and there was a mad panic when we heard her mother call up the stairs, “those 2 Americans, George and Eddie are down here to see you” I should mention that Ted had changed his name to Eddie as he thought it was more ‘American’. We were invited in and met all the family, about 15 minutes later Jean came down suitably dressed and somewhat embarrassed by all the fuss. We managed to get a girl for Joe and then the trio went to the cinema with them to see It’s a Hard Day’s Night with the Beatles. We had a great time with them and it was sad to leave, but we had to get back home. Don’t forget we were still using the American accent and by this time it was getting pretty problematic trying not to speak with our normal accent. They were a little put out when we told them of our game but they accepted it in good faith. We did meet with them a couple of times but the distance was too great for anything to come of it. They wrote for a little while but eventually it ceased.

Back to the family
I wasn’t very long after this that I met up with Sandy and her friends. I have been very lucky in my working life to have been able to take advantage of situations as they have arisen, like being able to get away with the van each weekend and meet so many people etc. For example, since 1965, after meeting Sandy, things have happened that have really changed my life. We married in November of 1965 and within 2 years we had an established family of Claire (born July ‘66) and John (born November ’67.) Mark, our adopted son came along in 1970. We started to attend our local church on a Sunday as a family and got to know a few of the local people. It was during one service that the vicar asked for a volunteer to help run a small youth group at St Francis’ church hall near to us. The group would close if no one could be found. The long and short of it was that I was persuaded by the curate; a Canadian named Klee Newhook, to take it on and help run it. This, in time, led to running the Young Adventurers for 7-9 year olds at St Michael’s along with the new curate named Andrew Stamp. This involvement lasted for about a year and during this period I got involved with another group who were much older. They were mainly the children of some parishioners. Along with Andrew we got together a small working party called St Michael’s Action Group otherwise known as SMAG.

A rift that remains sadly unhealed
It was about this time that my mother died. She was going over to see my sister Doris on this day. Doris lived in Potters Bar with her husband Keith and their child Paul, and Mum would often travel over to see them. Mum was still living in the flats in Essex Road. She would catch a bus that would link up with one that took her to Potters Bar station. On 21st August 1969, Mum was going over to see Doris. She came out of the flats and saw the bus pulling away but stopping at the lights.  Mum must have thought she would have time to get on before it moved off again, she ran after it but unfortunately for her as she grabbed the handrail at the back of the bus, the momentum of the bus travelling forward threw mum backwards onto the roadway. She sustained a fractured skull and died later that evening after being admitted to the Metropolitan Hospital, Dalston the same day.

Our family
Claire was just over 3 years old and John was about 21 months when Mum died in 1969. I don’t think Claire remembers her, but she came down a few times when they were both babies. She would come on the train or I would pick her up on my way home from work on a Friday evening she did stay on the odd occasion but she always went back early on Saturdays to meet with  Bert, an old family friend . One of the sad things about Dad and Mum dying as early as they did was that they never saw my family grow up in the same way that Sandy’s parents did.

About this time we became involved in fostering; there had been a campaign to recruit more foster parents in Croydon and Sutton. We started with Croydon and then at a later date transferred to Sutton. We were foster parents for about 10 years and we fostered a total of 34 children during this period. We are still in contact with some of then.

In 1970 we adopted a little boy. He was already called Mark Ronald (Hayes) but we changed his name to Mark Andrew after a close friend and also his godfather, Andrew Stamp the curate. Mark was born in January 1970 and came to us in April of that year. He was placed with us as a long term foster child. As time went on we were aware that he would possibly be put up for adoption. When we knew of this we discussed the ramifications of us being adoptive parents. I am very glad to say that we were accepted and in May of 1971 our family had increased to 5.

Life changes
Going back to the church youth work, the group were involved with a number of projects such as gardening , providing Christmas dinners for those in need, visiting the elderly and collecting newspapers to sell for scrap. This particular part of the project helped to pay for the Christmas dinners. By this time I had become recognised as being the Youth Leader for the church and because I had the van to use I was able to ferry the members about when we undertook tasks. This was quite rewarding work for me but the more I was with the group the more I realised that they did not need me as they were their own youth club and leader all in one. I decided that seeing as I appeared to have the skill to communicate with young people; I would undertake some formal youth work training. At that moment in time I didn’t know if it existed at all. I remember going to the public library where they gave me the information that I needed. I then went to the local youth office where I met one of the youth officers for the borough. After a long chat with him, he offered me a choice of either Roundshaw or Hackbridge. I chose Roundshaw mainly because it was nearer but it also seemed a challenge. I had heard such bad reports of the estate and thought that it would be the challenge I was looking for, after the work I had done before with the church.

Youth work on a small scale which led to Further and Higher Education
Roundshaw is a very large estate built in the ‘60s on part of the old Croydon Airport in Surrey. It seemed to be divided in two, not physically but by where the residents came from originally. For example the left hand side of the estate, most residents seemed to come from South of London and from poorer areas with low incomes. Whereas the right hand side came from Sutton and Mitcham that was fairly prosperous and bordering on the upper working class. (This information will have no doubt changed and the residents may be offended by these comments now.) How do I know of this you may well ask? During my training as a part-time youth leader we had to undertake a study as to where the club members, parents and family came from. With use of a large map of the area and coloured pins and pens we were able to see these facts quite graphically. I started at Roundshaw in September 1970 on a part-time basis of one evening each week, for which I was paid £2 for a three hour session. When I qualified in the following April my pay went up to £4 per session. Having qualified I was given more responsibility by my mentor, John Israel the full time youth worker. Within a year I became his deputy part-time leader. By this time the club had developed to such a degree that we were open 5 evenings each week and providing a wide range of activities for the youth in the area. We then began a club for the juniors as well as a disco each month. The club also ran football, table-tennis and net-ball teams with some success. To advertise these activities we also had open days that involved many club members and all of the staff. We began to get a reputation in the area for providing many of the things that young people needed and also what the parents were expecting a youth club to provide. We, as a team, which included many of the senior club members, embarked on trips away from the club. This meant visiting other clubs for competitions or socials like discos. The competitions enabled the members to socialise and compete on a level playing field. Sometimes we came back with trophies but more often than not, they came back with good social experiences. On one memorable occasion, a party of members and staff went away to North Wales. The party consisted of John Israel, myself, Carol Carter and the most senior members who wanted to go. I think it would be fair to say at this point that very few of the members had been away for an activities holiday before. It came as a shock to them when we arrived at the bunkhouse near Llanberis, in Snowdonia. Many of them came with clothing that would be more suited to going out on a Friday night rather than a walking holiday. We stayed with the owner, Jesse James for a week. Yes, that is his name and he did all the catering for us. His bunkhouse was fairly basic but then we had to expect this as most people who normally used it just wanted somewhere to sleep and cook for themselves. It was warm and comfortable. Jesse was a tall, rangy, quiet person. He had a slight stutter but when he spoke, you listened. I had never met a person quite like him. We had a remarkable trip to the top of Snowdon in a blizzard of all things. Two things have stuck in my mind about the trip. The first was that one of the members did not change his clothes for entire time we were there. One could see the grime on his shirt collar but he would not change even though he was ribbed by the rest of the members. The other thing was our return to Roundshaw. The club had used two minibuses to get to Jesse’s, carrying the equipment and members and staff but on the return journey it was decided that all the equipment and personal effects would go in the bus that Carol and I would take, therefore giving John all the members to bring back in the more powerful vehicle. We set off ahead of John with all the equipment and planned to meet at the Corley service station on the M6. We made good time to Corley arriving there before the time agreed but after waiting a further two hours we decide that John had possibly changed his mind and gone a different route, so we set off again for London. This was the days before mobile phones! When we arrived back at the Centre several hours later, we were met by some of the parents. As we opened up the Centre the telephone was ringing in the office. It was Les, one of the members in Wales, telling me that he was speaking from a hospital because they had all been involved in a traffic accident. Unfortunately for them on the return journey, just outside Bangor on a straight section of the road the vehicle had careered off the road and finished up in a ditch, facing the opposite way. One member had a broken arm and others had cuts and bruises that needed hospitalisation. Afterwards they were to be taken back to the bunkhouse to await our return.
We had the task of telephoning the other parents explaining what had happened and placating them that their child had not been killed or badly injured (unfortunately for us there had been fatalities in the Cairngorms a few weeks before our trip and parents had been worried even then about us taking them up to Snowdonia) After all these things had been done and we had refreshed ourselves, we set off to make the return journey to pick them all up. I drove for about four hours but had to stop for a sleep when tiredness overtook me. We arrived at the Bunkhouse in the early hours of the morning to be greeted by a ghostly figure of Maxine, Les’ girlfriend, wandering around the place. She promptly burst into tears when she saw us, waking all the others up. We slept for a few hours then we set off for home. We had to call into the local police station for John to make statement. Later John had to appear in court and he was fined and had his licence endorsed or he lost it for a time, I don’t know which but the strangest of things was that nobody would talk about it or say exactly what happened on that road from Bangor. We also took a party up to the Lake District, this time with Diana Falkner and we camped near Grasmere. We had many other events afterwards and from this the club seemed to gel together for sometime. It was about this time that I had decided that I wanted to become a full-time social worker like John Israel.

Another changing point in my life
One evening at the club I was talking about enrolling at Carshalton Tech College for a couple of evenings a week to study English and Sociology, whilst I was still working. The outcome of the conversation with my colleagues was the suggestion that I apply for a full grant, take a year out from work and take 5 O-levels. This is what I would have to do if I were to go on a training course and become a full-time youth worker. The idea of me leaving my full time employment and going to college full time seemed crazy at first, but when I thought about it in more detail it made sense as I had recently changed from working at Smithfield to becoming a bus driver. The idea was of earning more money on the buses so that I could go to evening classes and still support the family, and then go on to college. This must have been some time in 1973 as I was still working at Ford's when I met Susan Huddy from the USA. I met her hitching a lift back from Brighton. She came home, met the family and stayed for about 7 months. It was great fun for the children as well as ourselves; we have remained friends for over 40 years now. I had to sort a few things out, first mainly to convince Sandy that it was the right thing to do and then talk to the Education department. The senior youth officer there knew of my keenness to become a youth worker and he in turn spoke to a colleague of his in Education and Grants section and after a chat with him I finished up with a full grant. He knew a college lecturer at Carshalton Tech and before long I was being interviewed for the courses that would enable me to get in to teacher training.
I left London Transport in the August of 1974 and started at the college full-time in September of that year. It was another turning point in my life as at the age of 36 I was embarking on an education course with a view of becoming a youth worker. In the September of 1974 I undertook a course of studies which included; English Literature and Language, Sociology, Geography and Statistics. I completed 4 parts of the set course, dropping Statistics. I sat the exams in June, failing Geography, so I finished up with 3 O levels which, although not good grades, were sufficient for me to apply to the Roehampton Institute for Higher Education, for teacher training. The course that I had followed opened my mind to so many things. I became an avid reader and was also in a position to write and make myself understood. Through Sociology I became more aware of things around me, things that I had previously taken for granted became clearer as I understood their meanings. Social issues like the environment, sexism, ageism and some youth cultures heightened my awareness. During this period I was also applying to various colleges, such as the YMCA and Avery Hill to be accepted in 1975 when I finished my O-levels.
It was during January of 1975 I went back to Southlands and spoke to John Yates as to the possibility of a place in the ‘75 intake in September. He had indicated that I would need at least 3 ‘O’ levels to apply and be accepted as a mature student on the 3 year course. Having sat the exams I was able to secure a place at Southlands College, starting in September 1975.
Being a mature student at Carshalton Tech’, I was the eldest in most classes but to my relief at Southlands, most of the others in my group who were mature students like me.
The next 3 years were a revelation to me. Apart from attending the obligatory education lectures, I along with others all doing Youth and Community as a main subject joined up with our colleagues over a Whitelands College on various projects and studies to do with the local environment. One of the most enjoyable parts of my 3 years was during our second year when we, from Southlands, were asked to spare some time for a group of American students over here on an exchange visit from other colleges in the Boston area of the USA. We arranged to take them out in small groups to a number of local venues. One girl came to our house and spent Christmas with the family. We also took a party of about 12 up to the Lake District, where we camped and catered for ourselves. I was the only one in the group to keep in touch with them after they left and in 1990, Sandy and I visited some of them when we went to America to celebrate our silver wedding. We had a small reunion with about 4 of them; they all lived within an hour or so away so it was quite easy for us to meet. The sad part for me was that they had not kept in touch with any of the others who came to Southlands in 1976.

Although I completed the course it was not without its difficulties. It stemmed mainly from my enthusiasm to become a Youth Worker that I went on a course that I found out later was really meant for those going into the teaching profession, even though our Youth and Community Work Course was meant for us. It took until I was halfway through the course to realise that this was the wrong type of course. Another aspect was that it was the first time this type of course was being promoted and in turn because it was so new, provision for our education lectures and information about our teaching practices were often missed out. This meant that we often only found out that we had missed lectures by talking to other students. A prime example was in our second years TP (teaching practice.) We found out that those students who were going to teach had to prepare their work for that term before going to the chosen school, with folders explaining to their mentors, their set work. We turned up at our placement only to be asked “where’s your lesson plans”. What lesson plans? So rather than leave and waste all the time already spent at college, I had a discussion with my group tutor and the Bursar, we planned a work scheme that would satisfy the college authorities and allow me to stay and also it would be of assistance when I left college, to look for employment. I left college in July of 1978 not really having sat an exam but completing the main objective of the course work relevant to Youth and Community.

College and Youth Work
It was during the time that I was at Roundshaw that Sandy got involved with the local Red Cross group. As a nurse she would train young people who were interested in working as volunteers with the organisation. Quite by chance, one Saturday she asked me if I could take a small group of her cadets to a local riding school called the Diamond Riding Centre that dealt with disabled people but mainly children at the time. I readily agreed because I had ridden before and I was interested to see how the organisation worked. This would have been about 1973-74 as I was still at Roundshaw and working at Smithfield. I spent the morning there chatting with the riders and also the organiser, Mrs June Webb. At that time I did not know that it was her and her husband, Keith Webb, who had started raising money back in 1968 to build a purpose built centre. The outcome of our conversation was that they were looking for more helpers and instructors. It so happened that I knew a colleague at Roundshaw who was a qualified riding instructor. When I arrived at club on Monday evening the first thing I did was to speak to Diana Falkner to see if she would be willing to make a visit there the following Saturday. Fortunately for me she agreed to go otherwise I would never have become involved and I spent the next 12 years as a volunteer at the Centre. I went along for a few weeks to watch and help the riders. During this period I met a young rider called Elaine Jones, who had Cerebral Palsy and she had great difficulty in getting on and sitting astride the pony. However she was a very determined young lady and I spent the next few weeks helping her to mount from the block, walking along side of her, supporting her back and encouraging her when Diana gave instructions to the ride. There were normally 3 of us helping, a leader and a helper on each side of the pony. We took it in turns to lead and also changing sides when it got too much. Because of other commitments and plans to go to college, I lost contact with the centre until Diana had to give up her role there for family reasons. She asked me if I would like to help with her last ride, when they would be having gymkhana games. I turned up the following Saturday, suitably kitted out in jodhpurs etc. and was very surprised by the reception from the riders and their parents. They had remembered me from when I took Di up there originally. Elaine asked if I would help her, which I did and we had great fun winning most of the races, mainly to a bit of cheating from me and a lot of enthusiasm from Elaine and her side helpers. At the end of the games and as I was preparing to go, Elaine’s mother Ellen asked me if I would be up the next week. Now I had not thought of becoming involved again but with the energy that they all had put into their riding and their enjoyment I felt I would be missing out on a great experience. I am glad that I went back. I started back at the Centre the following week and became a helper, leading when required, mounting the riders for the instructor and sweeping the yard and other duties if it was needed. As time went on I progressed from helper to deputy instructor, I also went on a training course for instructors. Having completed the course I was given my own ride, which coincidentally was the ride that Di took and it also had Elaine Jones on it along with many others who I had met before. As I was successful in getting into college I was also able to continue my voluntary work at the Centre, in fact I was allowed to use it as my placement whilst on the 3 year course. During my time at the Centre I became very involved with many aspects of its running. Because of its charity status it was heavily dependent on donations. As time went on I helped with the publicity at the Centre, giving talks, showing people around and helping at the various shows that were part of the Centre’s image promotions. It was during this period that I met up with Gill Haines and Paul Edwards, two people who became very good friends. Gill eventually married Paul.
Gill started at the centre in 1975 on Saturday afternoons as a helper with an Austrian person called Elizabeth Lusty who instructed as well. Gill also helped on the Queen Mary’s ride,  a ride that had been set up for the children who were severely mentally and physically handicapped, from Queen Mary’s Hospital nearby, on whose land the Centre was built.
I worked alongside another helper called Terry Bailey and between us we would travel round the hospital in the Centre’s minibus collecting the groups of children from the wards. We would then take them back to the Centre for a pony ride. During this period we might have about 60 children ferried down to ride. We took it in turns to either teach or drive the bus. Terry had been a volunteer at the Centre since it started in 1968, something I was rather envious of as I would have loved to have been involved with the original idea.
Paul started there in ‘75/’76 as helper on Wednesday evenings like me. We both moved to Friday evenings as we heard that they were short of helpers and Wednesday evening seemed to have too many. I was still taking lessons on Saturdays and persuaded Paul to help on the special Queen Mary’s ride where he met Gill. As I said earlier, whilst at Southlands College I was able to use the Centre as my Youth Work placement. My course Tutor, David Anthony was happy for me to work there. Each of the students had to work in some type of Youth and Community placement; most were in youth centres, I was lucky with this unique experience to work in. I was able to use a rider as my special study. I chose Elaine and was able to continue with her until I completed my course. I spoke to both her parents about the study and they were happy to help me. I met with them from time to time for more personal information about the family, which helped me with my course work. I became more involved with the running of the Centre and because of my aptitude to organise I became involved with various events. These were left for me to organise and I soon realised that for these to be successful there needed to be a team of like minded people who would be willing to work. I did not select these people myself, it was made up of individuals who I knew that when approached, would be very keen like myself to be involved. 

Around this time I had become the Volunteer Organiser for the young people who helped on Saturdays. I then formalised the running of the juniors by splitting them into two rotas (red and blue.) They came up alternate Saturdays except when we had special events like open days or any fund raising programme, when they all came up. Whenever we needed new helpers or young people made an enquiry, they were interviewed by me with their parents and then if suitable were taken on a one months trial. They were put with an older helper, to show them the ropes; they were given the responsibility for a pony. It was their job to make sure that the pony was ready and in the right place throughout the day. It was recognised that adult helpers went onto a Helpers Course as soon as there were enough people to run a course, so I suggested to the committee that this might be useful for the juniors to have the same opportunity. I am glad to say that the committee agreed. The course was in three parts, a child study, riding ability and stable management. I worked in conjunction with Pat Warren, the stable officer and Anne Newman, a physiotherapist and a mother of a junior. It was very rewarding for all of us who ran the course because we learnt from each other and made for a better working relationship all round considering that we were all volunteers, except for Pat who was a member of staff. Previously I mentioned of getting a team around me. That’s not strictly true. The group of people who got together really came from doing other things at the Centre but there was a hard core of Friday nighters like Gill, Paul, Terry, Carole, Steve, Debbie, and Joy, Fiona, and big Fiona, Pat and many others including myself. Ruth Smith was a member of staff, who eventually married Steve, also became involved when she left her post as stable staff. When I look back I suppose I may have been the catalyst for this group but however it got started it worked extremely well. For a number of years we organised or were involved with events at the Centre which put Diamond’s name in the forefront of people’s minds, locally. We raised quite a bit of money by sponsorship by getting sponsored for events, money that went into the Centre’s coffers. In the first year of the groups real existence we celebrated the Centre’s tenth birthday in 1978 by making a 6 foot birthday cake made of wood, cardboard and plaster of Paris, with a large mock knife sticking out of the centre. We entered this in the Cheam carnival and were surprised to win Best Float, Best Youth Group and £100 for the Centre plus a trophy. We took part for the next 3 years but without further success. One of the most important things about helping at the Diamond Riding Centre for all of us was, no matter how much you put in you always got more back in return. It came from the riders, the parents and others who visited the Centre, but sadly we got very little thanks from any of the committees who ran the Centre.
I did have a short spell on the Executive and Management committees, trying to make changes from inside but soon realised that it was a 'closed shop'. If you weren’t horsey or in business it was really hard to get over the grassroots feeling of people who really helped the Diamond to achieve so much. There were two things that I feel I achieved whilst on committee. First I negotiated with our next door neighbours, BIBRA to allow us to use their frontage for the ponies to graze on. It took some arguing about safety, vandalism and the general upkeep of it. In the end they agreed and it turned out to be a bonus for we were able to use it for shows as well. Secondly and more important to me personally was when a group of disabled riders were allowed to go to Olympia and take part in the Christmas show in 1981.

All this came about from the junior helpers
Before we started the rides on Saturday mornings, the juniors were given a free riding lesson as a special thanks for giving up their time. As they got better at riding we would get them to take part in games or small competitions. One group who were finishing their helper’s course were so good at their riding that we asked if they would like to take part in a demonstration musical ride. It took a further 8 weeks to put them through their paces and at the end we arranged for them to ride during the interval at a barn dance. Two groups were dressed properly in riding apparel with dark V necked jumpers, white shirt and black tie. They rode in formation to a pattern that we had worked out with suitable music. We followed this up with a few more demonstrations at a later date. They proved so popular that it was decided to ask the Diamond’s riders if they would be willing to give it a try.
So after some extensive training we decided to put on a ride at Christmas to show what could be done. The idea was to get together a group of riders, train them to a standard that would be suitable for a public performance. It was never the intention to go public as far as Olympia, but more of that later. After one of these performances, one of the mothers said she thought it was good enough to go to Olympia. (more of that later) The following year was to be IYDP in 1981. I got together with Pat Warren, the stable officer to select the ponies and Diane Falkner to put a ride together on paper, then between Pat and myself we would choose the riders. We had a hard time choosing the riders. Should we ask those who were so severely handicapped, that it would be noticeable from the outset that they were disabled or do we just ask capable riders who were disabled to ride? We chose the latter and selected a group that we knew very well. At this point I would like to point out that there were about 500 riders on the Centre’s register and therefore it would have been quite difficult to canvas all the rides and instructors to pick out 8 /10 riders who would fit the criteria for the ride. After we had selected the riders we were asked to find out if they would mind dismounting in the arena after the ride. There was a unanimous GET STUFFED by the riders, I am glad to say.

We chose the group of riders from Friday night rides, for two reasons, mainly because they rode together and because they had such a wide range of disabilities. For example, Graham Pearson and Martin Biggleston had cerebral palsy, this meant their co-ordination and balance was a big problem for them. Jane Upton was an amputee of the right leg; she lost it in a motor cycle accident.  Linda Fulker had polio as a child and also had a deformed foot. Debby Holmes had spina bifida and had no power in her lower limbs. Prim Fagg had a muscle wasting disease called myasthenia gravis. Christopher Eggs was born with no thumbs and other problems that are hard to describe but they weren’t so readily noticeable. The last rider was Stephen Nield and I believe he had a mild form of cerebral palsy. There was another thing that I have thought of about the group and that was the age gap. Christopher was coming up 13 and the youngest and Prim must have been around 50 then, so it was quite varied. Looking at these riders as they rode around, it was very difficult to say what was wrong with each of them and this is what was really what we wanted to show. Working along with Pat each Tuesday evening, we produced a ride that we thought at the end would be good enough to put on public display. There was an event planned at the Centre for sometime in the September, organised by the British Horse Society. So we arranged for the riders to spend about six weeks training for it. It turned out to be a success, everyone said how good they were and there was genuine agreement about their skills as riders. So much that when one of the parents remarked that it was good enough to be at Olympia, it gave me an idea.

Going to Olympia, what was I thinking?
1981 was the year for the disabled, namely IYDP so I thought there was nothing to lose by contacting the British Horse Society, who normally run the Horse of the Year Show at Christmas and see if we could be included in the show. They put me in touch with the Stars Organisation for Spastics, who in turn agreed that they would consider it. They came back to me a little later and said that if I could show them how good the riders were, they in turn would give serious thought to including us, as long as it was suitable. They gave us until October to get the ride together. I spoke to all those involved, parents, riders and the volunteers and explained what was required and how much time would be needed for training. They all agreed to give it a go. We trained every Thursday evening from 18.30 until about 22.00. It was very hard work as some riders were better than others and were able to grasp the many manoeuvres that had to take place in the ride. We had two substitute riders who were able bodied, this was in case a rider fell ill at the last moment or had an accident and it would be quicker to train an able bodied person. At our penultimate practice we were informed that there was to be a demonstration by a top eventer, with two of his up and coming horses. This would mean that we would not be able to continue the programme before the British Horse Society and the Stars Organisation for Spastics came down to see us on our last Thursday. We held our ground and made a compromise that we would use the audience that were coming as a yardstick during the interval to see how well we could perform and the eventer would follow on from the end of our lesson.  It turned out to be a great success, the ponies behaved very well and the audience’s response was very supportive. The group that were reviewing us came on our last training session. They seemed very pleased with the display and promised to let me know by the following day, they were meeting to decide which groups would be included in the programme. I left it until as late as possible the following day before I telephoned and it was just by chance that they had just come from the meeting. The lady in question told me that they had agreed that we should be part of the show. After I put the phone down I just realised what I had committed us to.
We had to arrange transport to the show even though it wasn’t for at least 10 weeks, so I left that to Pat along with getting the ponies their inoculations. The next thing to do was to get costumes made up as this was meant to be a colourful musical ride. The main idea for the costumes was to copy the Blues and Royals of the Household Cavalry, one red and one blue with costumes to compliment the colour scheme. We chose a theme from Alice in Wonderland with the King, Queen and Jack of Diamonds. Being the Diamond Riding Centre we thought it rather appropriate to have a diamond as our centre piece on the costume. It worked brilliantly. Each week after the riders had practised they would then dismount and go into the reception where a group of mum’s, helped Fiona to cut, pin and sew the costumes. Each rider had, over the top of their riding hat and jodhpurs the costume fitted. They all had crowns; the larger for the King and Queen, smaller for the others, then a tabard was fitted over a blue or red sweatshirt. The tabard was very expertly designed like those of a playing card. The costume was then finished off with colour co-ordinated leggings. The ponies were also in costume with small rosettes in the head bands, the saddle cloths were in the same colours as the rider with the letters DRC picked out in the opposite colour. It really looked effective. The day arrived and I took the riders and most of the helpers in the minibus up to Olympia, leaving Pat and the other helpers to arrange transport for the ponies. We all arrived and got sorted out with where we were to be, but then things went a little bit sour. During our rehearsal Debbie had a panic attack and I had visions of having to put in the substitute, fortunately she overcame her nerves and it turned out alright. Just before we were going on our chairman and some members of the Centre’s committee decided that they wanted to come backstage and say a few encouraging words to the group. Now in the normal course of events this would have been fine but seeing as some of the parents weren’t allowed to come behind because we had limited tickets, we thought it a little unfair to be let through. However we finally compromised and allowed only the chairman to come through. The tension was eased as we got nearer the time.
All of a sudden the riders were in the arena, being led by Prim Fagg on the blue ride and Martin Biggleston on the red ride. They performed very well under the conditions, the only problems arose when one pony, Pikey, decided to leave the ride and go off to the other end of the arena. Stephen was brilliant in bringing the pony back under control and back in to line. Both Debbie and Graham who were rather slower but because they were on the opposite rides it wasn’t easily noticed as a mistake. Pat and I were having heart failure in the corner of the arena until it was all over. The difference between our school and Olympia was not just the size; it was the fact that at Olympia the ride was contained only within the confines of a series of cones in the shape of a rectangle. So it would have been quite easy for all the ponies to scatter should they get startled. I am glad to say this did not happen. We then came back into the arena, each horse being led by us as leaders and then I was presented with a magnum of champagne and soft toys by the celebrities who were there on the night. It was one of the proudest moments of my life to see all the hard work by the riders come to fruition. It also showed the world what they could do, not what they couldn’t do. I will always thank them for that. I would also like them to be remembered as being the first Riding for the Disabled group to ride in such a public place.

How I got from college and work that followed
After I finished at college, I felt at the time, because I had not gained the necessary qualifications from the course, I might find it difficult in finding work in the field of youth work as a full time unqualified youth worker. So for a period of time I took some casual work with an acquaintance of mine, driving and delivering self-build furniture from MFI (I would often work for him whilst I was on holiday from college) at the same time, looking at Social work as an option. Quite by chance I was invited to John Israel’s leaving party. He had been at Roundshaw for nine years and had decided to move on. Sandy and I had only been there for about half an hour when I met the Senior Field Officer, George Banks, of London Union of Youth Clubs. This was an umbrella organisation for some youth clubs in London providing competitions of a wide variety and also the venues for these activities. The LUYC were very much aware of the lack job prospects for youth at that time and were in the process of taking up a government grant to run a scheme, called the Youth Opportunity Programme (YOP.) It would offer the youth the opportunity to earn money whilst working in one of the affiliated youth clubs. There was to be an adult programme called the Special Temporary Employment Programme (STEP) they would need supervisors to run the two schemes. George asked me if I would be interested in YOP. I said I would think about it and later in that week I made contact with him and we met for lunch. The outcome of this was that I would apply for the post as a Field Supervisor, South West section. I was interviewed at the old County Hall and started work a week later along with three others in January of 1979.

The Youth Opportunity Programme with London Union of Youth Clubs
My role was to visit youth clubs in the south west of London and to promote the idea of any member of employment age, interested in working in their club for up to a year. Instead of receiving unemployment benefits the youth would receive an allowance which was slightly more. In return for this commitment the club would offer a number of choices for the youth to take up. For example, if the club was running a summer play scheme or football course, then the YOP placement would be given some responsibility for that programme. It was the intention of the scheme that the person may be offered work at the end of the period. It did not mean that the person would necessarily be given work at the club but in another area that they had developed as part of their training. They also attended courses for first aid, sex education, racial awareness or any course that happened to be the vogue at the time.

The Youth Opportunities Scheme
I was my own boss as I worked from home and was a bit like a sales rep, going out each day to appointments with club leaders or potential YOPPYs as they were known. I covered a quarter of London and my links with the job centres were very helpful. They in turn would provide me with names of people who they thought might be suitable candidates for our scheme. My capacity was to have fifteen YOPs in post within the first six months of the scheme starting. I managed this quite effectively and always had people waiting to start. Sometimes there would be two YOPPYs in the same placement if the club was big enough. I had been on the scheme for about two years when it was decided to change the emphasis of our involvement within the community. I became involved with the PHAB clubs. (The term means, Physically Handicapped and Able Bodied) both parties met on a level playing field and socialised together. Because of my commitment at the riding centre and the experience that I had gained working with the handicapped I applied for the post of supervisor for the PHAB clubs and other groups. This consisted of different agencies such as children’s homes, elderly care units and special projects for ‘free’ schools. I was still covering the same SW area but other groups as well. I also applied for a part-time paid post as PHAB officer with LUYC itself covering all of NW and SW London. Each year the scheme providers, LUYC, had to re-apply to central government for funding. This normally took place just before Christmas and they were notified in February the following year if the scheme was to continue or not. It would be closed down by the March of that following year if unsuccessful, so there was always a period of uncertainty. The Field Supervisors had to notify each placement about its status and hope we would continue. From the January of 1979 until I left in 1984, it was a continual worry for all of us, each year wondering if we had to start looking for a job or not. It was in January of 1984 that we were going through the usual routine of visiting the placements to inform them in advance of the situation, only this time it looked as if it might be our last year because the Manpower Services Commission were putting into place so many constraints about funding and how we were to operate that it became a near impossible task to work in a manner that would help the unemployed. It was whilst calling at one placement, an elderly care unit in West Lambeth, and explaining to the worker and the Senior Voluntary Services Co-ordinator what would be the outcome of the scheme ending. I was asked what I would do should this occur, the obvious answer was ‘to look for a job’. The next question was would I consider the post of Co-ordinator at the hospital. I found out later that the person offering me such a post had been impressed by my involvement with the workers at the hospital that she was going to approach me even if the scheme had not finished. I felt very flattered to be asked. I told Sandy about it and looked at the implications of the job and then applied for the post. I secured the post in June 1984, the same day that Sandy first went to America. She was attending a conference in Washington D.C. to present a paper and represent the Renal Unit where she works at St Helier Hospital, Carshalton. I would love to have gone with her but this job was too good an opportunity to miss out on by going away for 3 weeks just as I had started.

The South Western Hospital experience
I was very fortunate to have an assistant to work with. Lis Lifford had also applied for the post but the panel did not think she had the experience for the type of work that we did. I don’t know how they came to that conclusion. We worked as a team, so I found it hard to treat her as my assistant, more of a colleague and later as a friend. I often felt it was like being married to her, from the point of knowing and understanding our moods and anticipating the next move. She was the quiet, methodical person and I was allowed to create and develop situations that enabled us to provide a really enjoyable working environment for the Volunteers and a socially acceptable atmosphere for the residents at the hospital. This is not meant to imply that Lis did not create situations herself, but without the back up that Lis provided, we would not have been able to provide many of the changes that we did. During our time together we developed and brought into being many changes to the hospital way of life. We became part of the multi-disciplinary team working with doctors, nurses, physio and occupational therapists, the works and catering departments but most important, the sisters on the wards. Without their support we could not have created many of the things that occurred. Lis left the job in 1987. It was a sad occasion for me but a happy one for Lis and her husband Stuart, as they were starting a family. They had been trying for some time but without any success and were thinking of adopting or fostering. I was very happy when she told me the good news that they were expecting a child, although I knew she would have to leave. I still keep in touch with Lis and her family; they have 2 children, Rhiannon and Katy. I have been to see them a few times. They now live in Ipswich.

For me to continue the work that we had created meant that I would need an assistant. I made the mistake of encouraging one of the volunteers to apply for the post.  At the time she was a volunteer and seemed that she would cope with the job. Along with a number of volunteers and a few members of staff, myself and Lis included, she had created a small theatre group that put on sing-a-long shows in the evenings. It came to a point when were able to negotiate with management to take over a closed ward and create a social area for the residents and volunteers to meet in a convivial atmosphere. We had previously built a stage in a disused part of the hospital and had put on our first show. We named ourselves 'The Motley Crew' because of our varied backgrounds. It was a great success as many of the volunteers had never put a foot on the stage in their life, me included. I dressed in costume; I sang and became part of shows and pantomimes on several occasions. However good she was at organising pantomimes and shows, Jackie did not measure up to dealing with the work of organising the volunteers or for that matter acting on my behalf when I was away. She left voluntarily sometime in 1988. I really enjoyed my work at the hospital but with the Conservative ideology about Care in the Community and closing hospitals down, I began to realise that time was running out for our hospital and I did not want to be there when it was closed. So I started to apply for similar posts within the community and was very surprised to be short-listed for all of the 7 posts that I had applied for. Unfortunately for me I did not gain a post from any of the interviews. I then began to think that maybe I had come to the end of my usefulness and commitment to this kind of work, so I started to look at alternative jobs. 

Security Corps or the worst job I have ever had
I did find a job but it was the worst job that I had ever applied for. It was working for Securicor; I had to deliver plastic cash point cards to people’s home addresses. I had a uniform, a car and various other perks of the job but the job was bad. It lasted two days. I had just come back from holidaying in America celebrating our silver wedding anniversary and was looking forward to starting anew. After leaving Securicor I had a period of unemployment from September through to April. I was not paid for this period due to a mistake at the benefit office. They originally told me I could not claim for six months, instead of six weeks, because I had left the job on my own accord. I had accepted the ruling and it was only brought to light that a mistake had been made by a very astute member of staff at the job centre. I am glad to say that I received all the monies due to me, which was helpful. During this period I did a bit of decorating at home, visited a few friends, did some work for our daughter, Claire. I was also asked to decorate a close friend’s house for which I got paid. I was beginning to think maybe I should go into this line of work. Sometime after Christmas, Sandy saw an advert for car drivers for the Hospital Car Service. Drivers got paid mileage allowance for using their cars to pick up patients and take them to hospital for appointments and the return them back home. So I followed this up and for a few months I would work two or three days each week. I was still registered as unemployed but because I was not earning money they would not stop my unemployment benefit. I have said many times that I have been very lucky regarding employment, being in the right place at the right time and this was going to be no different.

My time with Dial-a-Ride
Ted Gates, who I met and became friends with at South Western Hospital, pointed out that there was a temporary vacancy for a driver at Lambeth Dial-a-Ride and would I be interested, as he knew that I enjoyed driving and had a way with people. I had met Ted and Greta Gates during the time I worked at the South Western. He was a patient in a special unit based within the hospital. Ted was admitted to the Phipps Unit, which is the specialised respiratory unit, after returning from the Far East. He had worked for a gold bullion company called Engelhard and was on his way back from a trip when he fell ill with flu like virus but within a few hours was rushed into hospital and within a short time he was paralysed from the neck down. He had contracted Guillain Barré Syndrome, a muscle wasting illness similar to Muscular Dystrophy. The first time I met Ted, I was delivering the morning newspapers on the ward. He was unable to speak as he had had a tracheotomy but with a bit of sign language and a few nods of the head we communicated quite well. Through my contact with him and also taking him on home visits using the League of Friends minibus, we became good friends. It was through this friendship that he passed on the information about the post at Lambeth. I went for an interview and started work the next day. I worked in Lambeth for about six weeks and during this time I heard there was a vacancy in the Croydon/Sutton Dial-a-Ride. I applied for the post and got it and after nearly two years as a temp, I had to apply for my own job. I eventually got a permanent post with the company. It has been a great job and I spent about 14 years working for the company, until I retired in 2005.

Since I started to write this autobiography, I have amended parts of it when information has come my way. There are also many things that I must have left out, not deliberately, but because I have written this as it comes to mind. There are some other parts which I would like you to read about.

My family
Mark, our youngest son born 20th January 1970 (sadly he died on 25th June 1999)
For a number of years prior to his death he had suffered with mental problems. These were brought on by his travelling to Thailand several years before, and becoming involved with drug taking whilst he was there. It was a harrowing experience for his uncle and brother to have to fly to Thailand to bring him home. The trip to Thailand affected him quite badly. Although he was not taking drugs at the time of his death, he had many problems. In the end he took his own life. We still celebrate his life on the anniversary by a trip to the Isle of Sheppey where we lay flowers on the water for Mark and both Sandy’s parents.

Claire, our eldest child  born 11th July 1966
Claire is our eldest child and after leaving school she worked at Battersea Dogs Home in the Cattery for a time. She then worked in a number of book shops in the retail section. She met and married Richard Oram in 1986 and had our first two grandchildren, Joe and Aislinn. Unfortunately their marriage did not last and they divorced. Some time later Claire met Nick, a manager at one of the shops she was working in. She had contacted him for a reference and the outcome was they started going out. They eventually married in 1998, after living together for a few years. By this time they had two other children, Jessica and Esme. They married when Esme was about three years old. Sadly, they split up a few years ago but are still married and the good thing is that Nick is still around and is a very good father to all of the children. When they married, he adopted the two older children.

John our eldest son (10th November 1967)
John is our eldest son and he too was married. He was married to Elaine in 1988 but it did not last and John has been on his own ever since. At the time of amending this, John went to live with his long time, long distant girlfriend, Alessandra (Ale). She comes from Uruguay and did live here for 4 years but went back a few years ago, homesick. We are hoping they will make a go of it and settle down, but unfortunately it did not work out. John returned home (2009.)

When talking about our family, it struck a cord with me when I was trying to remember some of the activities with the children. It was pointed out to me, quite openly by them, that there were many times when I was not around to take part with them.
I can only apologise! I was so determined to take advantage of the opportunities that came my way; I took my eye off the ball when it came to being there for them. I often put others ahead of the family.

Our social life
We have had varying holidays over the years with and without the children and I suppose it would be fair to say that the most enjoyable has been boating on the canals, although to be fair I think the best individual holiday that we had was in our converted ambulance when we travelled around Europe in the 70s. We enjoyed ourselves so much boating that we decided to own our own boat and 1994 we had our first boat built. Some time ago we sold it and bought a second hand boat, slightly bigger with a different layout. We have been very fortunate to have a group of friends who enjoy canalling and it has become somewhat of a ritual for us, over the past 3/4 years, to go on holiday with them. Canals have become our lives. Our final new boat is Queenborough No 3. We had it built in 2003 and we think it’s the ideal boat for us. We have combined all the designs and ideas from other boats to the one we have now, we shall definitely not be having another one.

Full circle
As I said at the beginning, I was surprised to hear that I had been evacuated during the war to a place in Somerset, not too far from where my two brothers were also evacuated. I had the opportunity to make a visit there some while ago. I stopped over with or friends family, near Bradford upon Avon for a couple of days. Noel’s sister Kit knew of Rode quite well and also knew someone there. During our visit I was able to visit the school but with no result regarding records but I did manage to find the place where I had stayed and also met some people who remembered the couple I had stayed with. Sadly there was no other information that anyone could give me. The only thing that I can do is to write to Regional Education Department to enquire if records exist about me. It’s a long shot but who knows? The reason that I have taken the time to write about myself is very simple. I lost much of my childhood and teenage years through Tuberculosis. I also lost the growing up part with my father dying early in my life. That to me is the sad part but good side of it is that I think that I have more than made up for it through my life experiences. Although I have covered this at the beginning, I felt it worth mentioning again as it will lead very nicely on to the family tree. As of 2006, I had some very good news that involved the family. During September of last year, as a member, I was surfing the Genes Reunited website when I came across the name of Daryl Goodwin. By coincidence this is the name of my niece, my brother Alf’s daughter. I have not heard about her since she was about 10 years old. This was due to my relationship with Alf breaking down. Daryl went to Canada with her family, but returned here to give her children a better education. It was around this time that she parted with her husband  which ended in divorce. She went on to a degree course and was studying when we made contact; strangely enough she was in Antartica when I read the Genes Reunited message. From the continuing emails I was given Dean, her brother’s email address, and I was able to make contact with him. Dean also left these shores; he went to America in 1986 where he now lives with Cindy his wife, and two children Taylor and Julia. He studied and went into education where he has a Doctorate in Mechanistic Organic Photochemistry (whatever that is, I must ask him to explain some day) I have had many emails, from him and Daryl, but mainly from Dean. He filled me in with his life in the States. I in turn have told him of my life since he was a baby in Tamworth, before his parents divorced. As Dean said to me on one occasion, there is a lot more to tell and I think he is right. He has made plans to come to England in 2007, for a holiday and to meet with us before he returns to Tamworth and then finally visiting Stratford-upon-Avon on his way home to the States. We held a family party at our home in July 2007, where he met the family that I have, namely the Chambers/Greig/Goodwins.

In updating this document, I realise that I am the only one reading it, so I am thinking of reprinting the whole epic for future readers. Before I undertake this, I would like to take you on another journey. As I said at the beginning that I was surprised to hear I had been evacuated near my brothers during the war. The early death of our father, the tragic death of our mother and the conflict that followed, prompted me to find out as much as I could about the family name of Goodwin and where we came from. 

January 2008 as I reach my 70th and enter my eighth decade
I hope that sharing these experiences with you, the reader and mainly my children and grandchildren, you will all have an insight into my life. I also hope that sometime in the not too distant future, I will be able to contact Alf and Doris and make amends, so that we can be a family again and be able to send each other cards at birthday and Christmas times, as most families do.

 November 2009
I tried to make contact with Ricky just after his birthday but we seemed to miss one another. I finally made contact with him as I wanted to wish him a happy birthday.
I have always experienced a certain amount of reluctance on Ricky’s side to have long conversations. Most have been monosyllabic but since June’s death he seems to have opened up. But this time he seemed somewhat hostile to me trying to make contact.

Early 2010
(When Ricky came down to us for lunch, earlier in 2009, he asked if we had a contact address for Alf. We gave him the one that we had found, a few days later he phoned to say he had visited the address but the people living there did not know of anybody of that name.)

Anyway, after resolving the reason for my call, Ricky then explains that he has made contact with Alf and Doris. It appears that he has, somewhat miraculously, found out where Alf lives. (Incidentally it is the same address that we gave him, as it is on Alf's death certificate.) He said that he had met Alf, somewhere away from the area (I am assuming he means not where Ricky lives) and with Doris. He was very aggressive about me sending letters to Alf and Doris over the years, even though he knows I have made many attempts to reconcile my differences with both of them. He then said that they had both said that they wanted no more contact from me and that I am to stop communicating with them.I am obviously disappointed with this news but not surprised. I have been the one trying to make contact and I suppose that I am a constant reminder to them. He made no attempt to understand why I had kept apologising to both Alf and Doris; he just said that I should not have interfered. I agree with him on this fact, but he seems to forget the fact that I thought it was right at the time. I was also a lot younger and had a young family. I cannot recall anything about what happened after Mum’s funeral, in relation to what was said, where we went and how it was left. I am assuming that we made arrangements to meet again, but this must have changed after Janet arrived to visit Mum’s grave at the cemetery sometime later. This is all totally irrelevant now as they have made it clear that they want no more contact.

As I have said about Ricky’s reluctance in keeping in touch, when I asked if we would still keep in touch he did not seem very enthusiastic about the idea. The same thing happened with Mandy and Shirley, after the funeral. I wrote both of them with our sympathy, asking to keep in touch but so far I have not had a response. Periodically I return to Islington and visit the places that I knew as a child and a teenager. I have traced all kinds of things about my childhood, but many of them have been replaced by new and modern sights/sites. One such place comes to mind, is Bentham Court flats. I have been back about half a dozen times and although the building layout is the same, the facade is modern with most of the red brick work covered and painted. I hardly recognise it at the flats that I knew all those years ago, as with many of the other places I have visited. (Most of the places/buildings and areas have been demolished or changed, like the flats so it is not the same place. For example Pooles Park where I was born and Playford Road where I spent my formative years, have been reduced to 50 feet of recognisable road with no houses, just cul-de-sacs.

I have come to the somewhat sad conclusion that I am looking for things that will never be there, ever again, a bit like my ‘relationship’ with my siblings. I would be very surprised if Ricky will let me know of the demise of Alf or Doris in the future or even if his children will have the inclination to tell me of his passing.

For those of you who may read this in the future, I will explain why I am finishing this biography. I saw in a booklet about Islington a few years ago, a picture of a group of ARP wardens during the war years, one of them looked very much like my father. I decided to trace this picture’s origin, just to satisfy my own curiosity. Unfortunately as with a lot of research, it came to a dead end. I think it was wishful thinking on my behalf in the vain hope that it was him, Sandy and son John, cannot see the connection. So unless something dramatic happens in my life, like Alf, Ricky and Doris wanting to be in touch again, I feel this is it.

I have enjoyed writing this, I have been saddened at times by the experiences I have shared but most of all I have been supported by a wife whom I love dearly, surrounded by my children and have the privilege of seeing my grandchildren grow into wonderful young people. Sandy's family have been my family, Jacquie and brother John have more than made up for the loss of contact with Alf, Ricky and Doris over the years.

I think I have done the right thing with the writing of my memories. At the beginning, I said that ‘we seem to be a dysfunctional family’ and I have come to the conclusion that Alf, Ricky and Doris have been just that or maybe the fact that I was evacuated, that I had tuberculosis and was away from home for varying lengths of time, maybe that caused the ‘dysfunctional’ bit. 

A few paragraphs back I said I was finishing my biography. Well, there is a twist in the tail for me and you the reader about finishing this.

Some time ago (April 22nd 2013 to be exact) I had a surprise telephone call from my brother Ricky. He dropped a bombshell of a question to me. He had met and spoken with Alf and Doris ‘sometime previously’, they must have discussed me at some length, and from this encounter he asked me this. 'Why had I been so bad to our parents when I was younger?' I was flummoxed but tried to answer. I don’t think that I was any worse than other teenagers of the time, but what Ricky was not aware of or chose not to remember was that our father was a drunkard and would hit our mother as well as us. There have been many times when I have had to step in to protect her or my sister and then I would be on the receiving end of my father’s aggression. Ricky seemed not to know about it, even though he never left home until after Dad had died (this is the first time I have mentioned about my father, out of respect and the fact he is not here to speak for himself.) He then went on to ask why I had not asked about Alf and Doris, well of course why should I, when I was told that they did not want any contact with me.

“Ok so how is Alf?” I asked?
“He died 2 years ago!”

I was given scant information about his death in UCH. He told me that Hetty, Alf's wife had died 8 years previously. I was then told that Doris’ husband Keith had died in February (2013) and Ricky’s eldest daughter, Mandy had died last year (2012.) So in the space of about 40 minutes I have lost a brother, a sister-in-law and brother-in-law and also a niece. Now that’s what I call a bombshell. I have since written to him asking a number of questions in return and stating that if they choose not to keep in touch, it will be their loss and not mine.

Since all of this has taken place, I have been in touch with Ricky and visited him just before Christmas. Rather than just turn up, I made the excuse that I was going to the History Societies monthly meeting at 19.30 at the town Hall that evening and would call in about 15.00. Whilst there he told me of his heart attack when visiting Doris at Potters Bar; this necessitated him spending some time in Barnet General Hospital and a further amount of time with Doris. We spent a long time chatting about Alf and Doris as one would expect. I told him that on some of my visits, I would go to Chapel Market just on the off-chance of bumping in to Alf and Hetty. He asked me what I thought Alf would look like now, as I had not seen him for over 40 years. He showed me a photograph of them together. I was shocked to say the least. I would not have recognised Alf in the street if I had passed him. I have not seen a photo of Doris. He then went on to tell me that the family had organised a pavement plaque to be placed just outside the Arsenal/Emirates Stadium at Drayton Park in north London. It has Alf's details inscribed on it. He also told me that some similar commemoration had been done at the Islington Cemetery/Crematorium. In the visitors room there is a commemorative board with leather embossed names and details of those who have been cremated or buried. They can be kept there for 3 years.

Since visiting Ricky I have visited both places and seen what was described and have taken photos. One other thing I should mention was that the next time I visit Ricky I will take my camera. It is my hope to take a picture of the pair of us together, a 'selfie' but I was not too sure how Ricky would react to this idea so I left it, but because I had the camera with me and I had the opportunity whilst Ricky made more tea, I took a picture of the photograph of the both of them, without his knowledge. (I have sent these photos to Dean but as yet not to Daryl. I have to choose the right time.) He did discuss his arrangements for Christmas with his family and has decided that he will spend it alone at his home. He has told them that he is going spend it with one of them but each thinks he is with Doris, Shirley or Mandy's family. I hope it works out. I visited Ricky the following day because I had left my mobile at his house, so I called up to collect it. I spent another couple of hours with him.

Since my visits recently, I have left messages on his mobile but so far have not heard back. Sandy has encouraged me to make contact but I feel if he is interested in keeping in touch, as much as I have been with him, maybe he should take this opportunity and telephone me. 
With this in mind and taking into account all that has happened over the years and the fact that the person with whom I have always wanted to make amends with is no longer alive, I have decided to finalise this record of my life. I am going to produce an updated version of 'North to South' for the future and leave it completed. To those of you who will read this in the future, you now have a complete picture of my life and times.

February 2015



The family tree of the Goodwins
I started my research into the Goodwin family tree about 1970, not long after mum died. It was through her death and that of my father’s that realised I had no reference to any information about us. I had no relatives to ask, although I had contact with one of my half-uncle, Les. He and his wife Cissie lived in Bridgewater, Somerset. I frequently saw them until their deaths some time ago. They were lovely people. I started with my birth certificate, then my parent’s marriage details and then their birth certificates. On my father’s it had a ‘time of birth’ which I found strange. It appears that the time is put on the certificate when it is a multiple birth. So here was a mystery. My father had never, to my memory, mentioned a twin sister. Now it may have been that he did not know as she died within the year of their birth. I then thought that if he had one sister, there might be more. I found that he had an older sister, who was born in 1897 and died in 1902. He also had a younger sister born in 1909 but she too died within in a year of her birth. I did not find more siblings, so I started with his parents checking his father’s side of the family. What I did find out from his birth certificate was that our name should be GOODWINS not GOODWIN, it was missed off my father’s marriage certificate and has been GOODWIN ever since. (Not a big deal in the overall plan of things but a pain when tracing your tree)
I had learnt during my brief entry into the world of genealogy, you have to take chances with your research in terms of guessing a lot.
I looked at the age which I married, then my parents, which was very similar. There was an average of 25 years in both our marriages. I then looked at my grandfather’s marriage and found out that he married in 1893 when he was 26. I was then able to get his birth certificate and continue on back through his parents.

This course of action took place over a number of years and some years ago, through Genes Reunited, I met up via the internet with another Goodwins. She is my sixth cousin, her lineage coming through an ANTHONY BUDDERY GOODWINS, but more of that later.
When I joined Genes Reunited, I entered the details that I had about all my known family members and allowed other interested parties to view my tree. This is how Susan Louise Goodwins made contact.Susan is a generation younger than me, her being 40 and me nearer to 70. To get a better understanding of our lineage, I have created our family in chronological order from c1750. Starting with James Goodwins in 1752, I am the 7th generation back to him. (Obviously we go back further than 1750 generation wise but you have to start somewhere.)

At a later date Susan sent a folder, via the internet, of 68 pages of information about us.
At this point I would like to say that I had always thought we were east Londoners, well in a way we are as our father was born in Hoxton, his father and his grandfather were born there as well. From the information she had, she told me that we originated from a place in Norfolk, called Lammas and our lineage came from a JAMES GOODWINS who married a RACHEL CATTON. They had three children, STEPHEN being the eldest, and it is from this descendant that we came.

Going back to our roots in Norfolk
When STEPHEN married a FRANCES AMIES in 1800 he was 18 years of age and she was of a similar age. They then had 13 children between 1801 and 1821. The most important child was WILLIAM who was born in 1807.
WILLIAM married MARY ANN HOLDEN in 1827 and they had 7 children. The next important child was their last child THOMAS, born in 1842. By this time he was living in SHOREDITCH.
THOMAS married CAROLINE SPRATT in 1862 and they had 4 children of which ALFRED RICHARD was the second child, born in 1867.
ALFRED RICHARD, my grandfather, married HARRIETT AMELIA JONES in 1893 and they had 4 children, my father ALFRED THOMAS WILLIAM being the second child and a twin and the only surviving child from the marriage.
in December 1930. I am the fourth child of this marriage. 
When I mentioned ANTHONY BUDDERY GOODWINS (born 1808) earlier, he is my WILLIAM GOODWINSbrother (born 1807) and is SUSAN LOUISE GOODWINS’ four times greatgrandfather.
Since the initial meeting, via the GENES REUNITED link, we have met with Susan and her parents. Her father is PETER GOODWINS and they still live in Norfolk, none of the BUDDERY side has travelled south to east London. When we met with them it was to meet another member of the GOODWINS family tree. ROBERT ARTHUR WILKES’ mother was our great aunt. She was CONSTANCE BEATRICE GOODWINS who married ARTHUR WILKES in 1928. We met Robert and Margaret at Swaffham, Norfolk for lunch during the latter part of 2006. He had come to England for a holiday; they had immigrated to Canada in the 70s. Sadly, Bob died of cancer in Canada in July 2007. In October of 2007, Margaret brought Bob’s ashes to be interred in his parent’s grave in Gosport, Hampshire. It was here that I was able to see the gravestone of a tangible relative of ours, namely CONSTANCE BEATRICE, my father’s cousin. I also met with Bob’s brothers, EDWARD BURTON and PETER JAMES and other family members. 

GOODWIN family tree (web link)


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