63 years ago on this date – which was the Saturday of Easter 1957 – we were married at All Saints Church, Patcham, just outside Brighton in Sussex. At the moment many people are meeting adversity for the first time and not liking it very much. The generations of people who assembled at Patcham on that day had in all probability lived through two disastrous World Wars, and in order to get to Brighton had to all travel together by coach (hired by my parents). Why ? I hear you ask. Because another of our many very foolish Governments, never happy unless they are at war with someone, had chosen to attack Egypt, who turned out not to be such a soft touch as was expected, and the the Government’s surprise, many other countries thought they had done wrong, said so, and refused any form of aid. So, the Government had to curb its ferocious tendencies, and back out as best it could, having thoroughly messed up the Middle East and got the Suez Canal blocked in the process. Petrol was in short supply, books of petrol coupons appeared and hiring a coach meant you could shift more people per gallon and so was permissible. They all apparently enjoyed themselves and my father recounted hoe they stopped for fish and ships on the way home which was a great success. I managed to get from South Wales to Brighton by car only because my father sent me his emergency coupons.
No doubt we have better photos than the above, culled from Google Street View, but they are all safely put away somewhere and getting them out might/would cause a great commotion.
Mean while someone on Facebook posted a photo of themselves with their mother and suggested others might do the same thing. Then someone else posted a photo of themselves as a child with the same idea. Probably people of 50 years and under cannot imagine that earlier folks did not go round snapping anyone and everything as became possible with the advent of digital photography and then the mobile phone-plus-camera. But I did a bit of digging and found two photos which I have evidently scanned from an old album – and here they are . . .
I have guessed at dates. I would have been 5 years old in December 1938, 6 years in December 1939, so, dear reader, you must guess how old that little boy with the stripey neck tie is and work out your own answer date wise. These photos were taken at No. 141, Larkshall Road, Chingford, then in Essex. Looking ahead not so very far, by the end of 1940 my father’s employers who had their office on the Victoria Embankment in London had dispersed them selves to various sites and my father’s section were in Epsom in Surrey. Travelling across blitzed London from Chingford to Liverpool Street Station, walking across town from there to Waterloo and thence to Epsom had become very difficult particularly the City of London part where streets were often simply blocked by debris. So, father got an ultimatum to move nearer Epsom, or to Blackpool (I did not find this out till much later) – or, I suppose, lose his job, this was never said but even at that age I felt it was the unspoken alternative. So, off to Surrey we went and I spent the last weeks of 1940 and the Spring of 1941 in Cuddington Isolation Hospital having been through Scarlet Fever, German Measles and then septicaemia and operations on both sides of my head to drain large abscesses in my mastoid bones. One seldom hears of this now, but at that time before the advent of antibiotics (in civilian life anyway) it was quite common.
And by the end of 1941 My Grandma Newman was dead, their connection with Romford and Gidea Park was severed, their house vacated and Grandpa Newman was living with us, where he remained until he died in 1948. So does war split up families and disarrange their lives.