Alan and Graham: Our Boyhood

Figure 1.-- I found this in the family archives. I am 18 months. old and my brother 3 years old. He is wearing a loose legged light-coloured romper suit which mother apparentky thought was perfect for paddling. I am probably wearing Graham's slightly used bathing suit. I think rompers were more common in France, but they were worn in Britain. Mother may have ewed this one. The snapshot was probably taken about 1932. Mum somehow got cut out of the image.I think Dad was only thinking of us and mother was concerned about me.

Our boyhood was just like that experienced by other middle-class boy throughout Britiain. Of course special to us, but in no wad extrodinary. Graham and I being so close together in age did a lot of things together. Of course two years makes a big difference in younger children. So Graham always had a leg up on me. And I got to wear all his hand-me-downs. We of course played together at hime when we were little. Here we are at the beach (figure 1). When I was in pre-school. Mother used to take me in a push chair to and from school to take and fetch my brother. My kindergarten was only four houses down from Graham's school so we went together, once I had started school. I joined my brother at Franklin House School in 1937, when I was nearly 6 years old. By this time we walked the half mile or so alone, after we were seen across the main road outside our house. Mother would be wating at the gate when we returned. We played cricket and football with our class year boys. We mucked about together either in the back garden or in the local parks - never in the street. Such children were called 'gutter-snipes'. Roller skating was a great past time. We were not supposed to do it in the parks, and used to bait the park-keeper. We could skate faster than he could run. he had a pointed stick with which he used to spear litter. He would brandish this at us. Alexandra Park was a great place to meet up with other friends and play around in the landscaped grounds. There was the casing of a World War I bomb that had fallen somehow fins first, which were imbedded in the ground. and just the nose protruded. It seemed massive to a 7-year old, but I suspect it was only about four feet high. In 1938-9 we would go on the Underground train to my cousins from Wood Green to Enfiend West (four stations up the line.) The underground emerged from the tunnel system after one stop and was above ground in the outer suburbs. They lived in a partially completed housing development. It weas fun to ride bikes around the deserted roads on the estate. Also there was a lot of rough ground still covered in bushes. This was 'Wild West' country and we played Cowboys and Indians. Being a new development, there were a lot of children around. It is a sad that children now don't have that freedom in London. Adults perceive too many dangers. Our very ordinary English boyhood only began to change when we began to hear mum and dad begin to talk about something called war.


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Created: 11:14 PM 8/1/2012
Last updated: 11:14 PM 8/1/2012