ΤHE PETTICOAT LANE EXPERIENCE

My first photo at Jews Free Junior School age 7

I was thinking about all the skills that were needed when I lived in Petticoat Lane 1931-1956.

From 1938 until September 1939, when WW2 was declared and we were evacuated to Ely, every weekday I walked down Bell Lane on my way to Jews Free Junior School in Frying Pan Alley. Then 1942-1949, I walked on through Spitalfields Fruit and Vegetable Market to Central Foundation School for Girls in Spital Square. At the beginning of Bell Lane there were shops and houses with wooden doors that were regularly repainted. I would watch as the painter rubbed down the old paint then applied a pale coat and let it dry. He’d then paint the door with brown varnish and draw a comb though the wet varnish creating intricate patterns of wood grain and knots. He was a real artist.

The porters in Spitalfields Market could carry a tower of 5 or 6 circular baskets of produce without dropping even a leaf while the fruit and vegetable stall holders in Wentworth Street created works of art out of the produce they carefully polished.

The itinerant tradesmen included the knife grinder who had a large stone wheel attached to his bicycle. Scissors were the most expensive. If you brought him a pair to sharpen he’d let you have a go sitting on the saddle. The chimney sweep appeared at the beginning of winter. We’d clear everything away from the fireplaces and cover the floor in front with old sheets. He’d screw together tube after tube and finally the circular brush. A few brisk twists up the chimney and out would come a load of soot. Quite often there would be a few feathers from the pigeons that roosted on the chimneys and occasionally a dead bird.

The coal man called all year round as we cooked and heated water on the black iron range. He’d come up to us on the third floor carrying a hundred weight sack of coal on his back, hardly breathless at all.

We cooked with enamel saucepans that were liable to develop holes where the vertical sides met the bottom. You could buy tin washers to screw in place but that was a temporary measure. When the tinkers’ caravan appeared, we took down our saucepans to be repaired properly.

Few grocery items came ready wrapped. The assistant would carve off a lump of butter, slap its sides with wooden paddles until it was a neat brick and wrap it in grease-proof paper. On getting it home, the butter would be placed in a saucer of cold water and covered with a damp muslin cloth whose ends dipped in the water. Evaporation of the water kept the butter cool. We had a small wooden cupboard on top of the coal bunker on our balcony, its sides enclosed with metal mesh. The butter was stored there as were bottles of milk, but after a day the milk had often turned sour. My mother drained it through a muslin cloth and made cream cheese with it.

The grocers dispensed loose products like granulated sugar and tea in paper funnels. The paper would be folded into a double square, then a triangle, opened and the point rolled tightly to seal it and the goods poured in. Salt came as a brick. We grated it as needed – mainly for Koshering meat. Cube sugar came in packets, as did some biscuits, but there were always large square biscuit tins along the floor in front of the counter containing loose biscuits. One tin always contained broken biscuits – the cheapest of all and all too tempting to little thieving fingers

All those skills no longer needed!!

I thank all those lovely people who read and commented on my memoir ‘Woman in a White Coat.’

Lots more stories like this in my memoir ‘‘Woman in White Coat’. Buy it on Kindle at £2.99 or as a paperback on Amazon at £9.99

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EMIGRATING TO THE USA

My mother (at the back) with friends and one of their daughters just before she left for the USA

As far as the shadchen (matchmaker) was concerned, my mother was no matseer (bargain). She was pretty enough, and a capable dressmaker who could earn her own living, but she was a fatherless girl and lived with her widowed half-blind mother, who would have to be part of any new household. She’d hardly known her father. He died in Russia when she was only two years old. He’d made a living carrying sacks of ice on his back to deliver to the rich; caught pneumonia and died. There was certainly no dowry on offer.

Then my mother met Harry at a kiddush after a Saturday service. A personable young man, he was an accomplished tailor who had decided to emigrate to America. They were soon making marriage plans, but he was determined to make his way in the USA before getting married. He left a couple of months after they met and promised to send for my mother and grandmother when he had found a job and somewhere for them all to live. My mother started making her trousseau – silk blouses, tweed and plain skirts, lacy nightdresses, a silk negligee.

He wrote to say he was now settled in and to come. My mother was to go to America first and send for my grandmother later. She took the train to Liverpool and boarded the ship for New York and Ellis Island. She was surprised and put off, when Harry came to meet her with the daughter of the boss of the factory where he worked on his arm. He assured my mother that they were just friends, found her a room in a nearby lodging house and a job with a young dressmaker making her way in the new country.

By the time she sent for my grandmother, my mother was suspicious of Harry’s intentions but sent the ticket money just the same. It was not to be. By law, there had to be a doctor on boats carrying emigrants to check that they were healthy and didn’t carry any communicable diseases. When the doctor examined my grandmother, he misdiagnosed her scarred eye and cataracts as trachoma – a highly infectious eye disease – and refused to allow her passage.

Harry said he couldn’t help himself; he’d fallen in love. Broken-hearted my mother booked a passage home, but at least she could tell everyone she had come home because her mother couldn’t follow her. She needn’t admit that she’d been jilted.

By this time, the shadchen had persuaded my father, one of seven sons of a wealthy family, that my mother was a worthy wife for him. She hadn’t got over Harry, but my mother thought at least she was marrying a rich man. She didn’t know that he had gambled away his inheritance, nor that he was saddled with taking care of his younger brother. They married in 1918 and moved to Old Kent Road with my grandmother and uncle and opened a Newsagent and Tobacconist shop there.

Harry came back to the UK when my elder sister was 2 years old. He begged my mother to go back to the USA with him. His marriage had been a terrible mistake and he would divorce his harridan of a wife.

But my mother wouldn’t leave my grandmother once more and they never met again.

I thank all those lovely people who read and commented on my memoir ‘Woman in a White Coat.’

Lots more stories like this in my memoir ‘‘Woman in White Coat’. Buy it on Kindle at £2.99 or as a paperback on Amazon at £9.99

http://bit.ly/Woman_in_a_White_Coat

FRIDAY NIGHTS IN PETTICOAT LANE

My sister and me, evacuated to Ely 1939

I loved Friday nights. My middle sister Hannah and I would sit in the kitchen sparkling clean, as my mother placed a scarf over her head, lit the four candles and intoned the Sabbath blessing. She always lit the candles in the brass candlesticks first. They were the ones she’d bought with her own money long before she got married. The silver ones were a present from my father’s wealthier parents and not nearly as precious.

Except in the depths of winter, when the Sabbath came in too early for there to be time between the end of school and the beginning of the Sabbath, my mother would take Hannah and me up the road to Goulston Street baths. She would buy just one second class ticket and bathe my sister and me together. We would then wait on the polished wooden bench in the corridor outside, while she called for more hot water and had her bath. The attendants bustled past in their immaculate white overalls, holding their badge of office – the big brass key that controlled the flow of water into the big porcelain baths. It was only in the First Class baths that you had your own taps and could control your own bath water.

My mother didn’t wash our hair in the bath. She was sure that walking the couple of hundred yards home to our tenement in Wentworth Dwellings would result in a cold or worse. She’d wash our hair over the sink when we got home, heating kettles of water on the stove.

When my father got home from synagogue he would lift the embroidered cloth covering the ‘challah’, say the ‘brochas’ for wine and bread and pass around the ‘kiddush’ cup for a sip each and a piece of the poppy sprinkled bread. Supper was always cold fried fish, potato salad and home-made ‘chrane’ – a fiery mixture of grated beetroot and horseradish. We tried to make it last as long as possible. Nothing like grating horseradish root to make your eyes stream.

After supper, we all had something to say as we sat around the table. We sisters had to take turns. When I thought no-one was looking, I would pick some warm wax drips from the candles and roll them in my fingers under the tablecloth. If she caught me, my older sister, Rebecca. would smack my hand and hiss ‘They’re the Shabbas candles. Mustn’t touch.’

The only bad thing about Friday night is that I had to go to bed in the dark – it was forbidden to carry out any work on the Sabbath – switching on a light was considered work. I would pray not to have to go to the loo in the dark. The long clanking chain made me think of ghosts hauling their shackles behind them and I’d scuttle there and back as fast as I could.

Hannah went to bed early too. She would offer to tell me a story. It was always a ghost story, that nearly frightened the life out of me. Then she would say that her name was Cynthia Levy and that she had trapped my sister, who I loved dearly, in the light bulb. Unless I id everything she ordered me to do, she would whip Hannah until she bled. It meant me doing things like switching the light on and off – though it was forbidden– and crawling under my bed amongst all the dust bunnies. I’d finally be allowed to creep under my parana – Hannah now saved from the light bulb.

In spite of ‘Cynthia Levy’ I still miss those magical Friday nights.

Read more stories like this in my memoir Woman in a White Coat on Kindle at £2.99 or as a paperback on Amazon at £9.99

http://bit.ly/Woman_in_a_White_Coat

THE KINDNESS OF A STRANGER

Don’t know whether they had solutions like this in the 1940s

Nowadays having lice is almost a badge of honour. I realised this when my very upper crust neighbour rang the bell to tell me that her daughter Fiona had lice, and that I should check my four for the nasty little things. She sounded quite proud of the fact. So different from when I was a child. Then if you had lice, it meant that you were poor, came from a dirty home and probably your mother didn’t love you. Same parasites – different time and different attitude.

It was Sophie who noticed the navy blue suited figure crossing the playground.

‘It’s Nitty Nora,’ she hissed, loudly enough for the whole class to hear.

The Health Visitor called at our school on a regular basis, checking for lice and scabies. Our form mistress, Miss Evans, came to our classroom at the end of Latin.

‘Make your way to the First Aid room, girls, and line up in alphabetical order. Behave yourselves now. You don’t want to make me ashamed of you.’

I was last but one – Waterman came before Zaperstein.

‘Hold out your hands,’ the Health Visitor directed. ‘I’m pleased to see at least one girl has got nice clean nails,’ she said, as she inspected my hands for the tell-tale burrows of scabies.

She went on to look through my hair, especially in the warm places behind my ears, and then dismissed me.

Miss Evans stopped me as I queued to leave at the end of the afternoon and handed me a small brown envelope. You used to be able to steam those envelopes open and be forewarned about any wrongdoing on your part, but the teachers now sealed the envelopes with a strip of sellotape.

I held my breath as my mother opened it.

Dear Mrs Waterman

This is to inform you that your daughter Abigail Waterman has been found to be infested with lice. You are required to take her to Finsbury Square Cleansing station at 8am tomorrow morning. She will be unable to attend school until she is certified free of lice and nits. 

My mother was furious.

‘You insisted on washing your hair yourself and now look at the state of you – lice indeed. You’ve disgraced me and disgraced our family. They’ll think I’m a bad mother.’

She insisted on washing my hair twice that evening and there was certainly no supper that day.

I went on my own to the Cleansing Station, sitting as far as possible from anyone else on the bus lest they see lice crawling through my hair. I stood at the top of the stairs leading down to a mahogany door with a porthole in it filled with pebbled glass. The brass handrail gleamed in the winter sunlight as did the fittings on the door.

Instead of the ogre I was expecting, a jolly plump red-faced woman opened the door wide, a beaming smile on her face.

‘Come on in, my dear. I don’t bite.’

She washed my hair twice with anti-lice shampoo that smelled strongly of carbolic and combed it with a toothcomb. Towelling it almost dry, she sat me down in front of the fire with a sweet cup of tea and a biscuit.

‘Don’t be upset, sweetheart,’ she said. ‘I get plenty of clean girls through my hands. Anyone can catch the horrid little things. I’m afraid you can’t go back to school today, my love. You need to come back tomorrow and if there are no lice or nits left, I’ll give you a note saying that you are free of them.’

I felt like kissing her, but I was too shy.

No-one at school seemed to know or care why I had been away for a day and I never had lice again as a child. It wasn’t until I had four louse-ridden children that I caught head lice again – but that’s another story.

I thank all those lovely people who read and commented on stories like this in my memoir ‘Woman in White Coat’.

Buy Woman in a White Coat on Kindle at £2.99 or as a paperback on Amazon at £9.99

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MY RUSSIAN GRANDMA

My grandma in clothes my mother made for her

My two older sisters and I adored our maternal grandmother. She lived with us in our cold water tenement in Wentworth Dwellings in Petticoat Lane until she died in 1937, when I was five and my sisters 11 and 17. We were broken-hearted. It took years before it stopped hurting.

There were six of us – my parents, my bubba, my two sisters and me. The flat had three rooms – a bedroom, living room and kitchen, together with a small balcony which had a coal bunker and outside toilet. My parents shared the bedroom, my sisters, my grandmother and I slept in the ‘living room’, while the tiny kitchen was where we sat around a small oilcloth-covered table, talked, read, cooked and washed at the china butler sink. There was only a cold tap, so water for washing or, when we were little for the zinc bath, was heated in a kettle on the black iron stove cum fireplace. My sisters shared a pull-out sofa while I slept with my grandmother in the large mahogany double bed that had been my parents’ until they changed to the more modern twin beds. The living room was freezing in the winter – fern-like Jack Frost etched on the windowpanes – so it was lovely curling up against my grandmother’s warm back.

The outside loo had a long heavy iron chain with a wooden pull. The noise terrified me if I had to have a pee in the night. I don’t remember how old I was when it became my task to tear my dad’s newspaper into neat squares after he’d read it cover-to-cover. He’d then force through a nail, and thread some string through to hang the bundle by. There was no question of wasting money on bought toilet paper, but even when my sisters left home, and we were a bit better off, my dad preferred his newspaper to the bought stuff my mother and I used.

My bubba was a tall commanding woman, with dark hair piled on top of her head. It would have been a sheitel – the wig orthodox married women wear over their shaved head. I never saw her without it. Her left eye was badly scarred. It had been pierrced by a shard of glass when the Cossacks came riding through her village, pillaging and looting.

My mother and grandmother came from Mogilev in Belarus. My maternal grandfather died when my mother was only 2 years old, so my grandmother scraped a living turning her tiny cottage into a lodging house. The lodgers slept on a circular shelf around the pot-bellied stove in the centre of the room and ate at the table my grandfather had made my bubba as a wedding present. My father’s parents had died long before I was born.

I’m not sure whether my grandmother could speak Russian – she always spoke Yiddish to us and we replied in English. My mother could read and write Russian, so she kept the accounts required by the authorities. They emigrated to England in about 1903 and lived on the pittance my grandmother earned selling beigels on the corner of Wentworth Street and Goulston Street. My mother was apprenticed aged eleven to a dressmaker, earning 3d a week. Once she had learned enough to be useful, her employer stopped using her as a cheap servant and paid her a small wage. However, my grandmother refused to give up her pitch until my parents got married in 1918 and moved to Old Kent Road.

My bubba always did more than her fair share of the housework. She had a stroke while cleaning the stone steps leading down to the next landing. She was dead on arrival at the London Hospital. The neighbours blamed my mother.

‘Fancy letting her clean the stairs at her age, and her half-blind,’ they said.

But there was no stopping my grandmother doing anything she’d decided on.

Woman in a White Coat paperback

Lots more stories like this  in my memoir ‘‘Woman in White Coat’. Buy it on Kindle at £2.99 or as a paperback on Amazon at £9.99

http://bit.ly/Woman_in_a_White_Coat

1944 AND WW2 IS DRAGGING ON

 

Hither Green Scarlet Fever Hospital 1897-1997

Hitler was still sending nightly bombing sorties against London so we slept in our designated shelter, the converted basement of a factory in Middlesex Street. The authorities had installed black metal bunk beds, as well as lockers and chemical toilets against one wall. I would gather up my most precious possessions – my pressed flower book from the Holy Land, my best cardigan and the placemats I was embroidering – and stuff them into a pillowcase, together with my homework and a torch, so I could read under the blankets after the main lights were turned off.

We children expected to get one or more childhood fevers. I caught measles, chicken pox, rubella and whooping cough in turn. That was about par for the course. I was left with a cough for years and a few little pock marks on my face, but I was lucky – there was a significant mortality associated with these infections. Some children were left blind or deaf from measles and every school had children wearing leg braces to support limbs damaged by polio. The only immunisation/ vaccination we had was against smallpox.

The last infectious disease I caught was Scarlet Fever and I loved having it.

As I trailed after my mother to the shelter, I was feeling worse and worse. My head ached and my throat was sore. By next morning my chest was covered in a vivid red rash.

I don’t remember at which stage I saw a doctor, but I was soon wrapped in a soft red blanket and packed off in an ambulance to Hither Green Isolation Hospital – Scarlet Fever is very infectious. It was so exciting. I’d never been in an ambulance before. I loved it when they turned on the bell when they couldn’t get through traffic.

At the hospital, the examining doctor congratulated me. He said I had the classical Strawberry Tongue of Scarlet Fever and bemoaned the fact there were no medical students to admire it. The nurses took my clothes away to be fumigated and I was admitted to a ward full of crying toddlers and babies.

Antibiotics weren’t yet available so I just had to wait for the disease to take its course. After a couple of days, I felt fine. Fortunately, there was one girl of my age, Ellie. There were separate one storey buildings for each infectious disease, set in quite extensive grounds. Ellie and I could wander at will. The wards were called by different letters and each had a tree planted nearby whose name began with that letter. Being in Q ward, I met quinces for the first time.

It was lovely having a friend of my own age and wonderful not having to sleep in a crowded shelter, nor having to use the smelly chemical toilets. But while I was in hospital, Hitler started to send over Doodlebugs, unmanned explosive planes which didn’t have to wait for the cover of darkness to avoid anti-aircraft fire and could be sent over day or night.

I think I was in hospital about 2 weeks. The good thing was that when I was discharged home, there was now no point in sleeping in the shelter that I hated. I could sleep in my own bed, curled up in my lovely feather ‘parana’ – bed bugs and all!!

Hither Green Scarlet Fever Hospital was opened 1897 and after being used for a number of different medical specialities, it was closed in 1997. It was designed by Edwin Thomas Hall, who also designed the Liberty Stores in Regent Street. The hospital has been demolished and the site is now a housing complex, Meridian South.

I thank all those lovely people who read and commented on stories like this in my memoir ‘Woman in a White Coat’.

Lots more stories in my memoir ‘‘Woman in White Coat’. Buy it on Kindle at £2.99 or as a paperback on Amazon at £9.99

http://bit.ly/Woman_in_a_White_Coat

ON LOSING SOME OF MY MARBLES

A great book + some spilt marbles

I agree with Edith Piaf when I hear a recording of her singing ‘Je ne regrette rien’, but it sounds so much more elegant than ‘I regret nothing’!

I’m used to feeling a bit sorry for myself – coming from a poor family, being brought up in London’s East End in a cold-water tenement infested with bed bugs and mice, probably a bit malnourished, dragged away from my family to be evacuated far from home, childhood illnesses, a string of adult accidents and illnesses etc etc.

But I am now re-reading David Eagleman’s fascinating book ‘The Brain.’ According to him, all these experiences helped my brain to develop, forged new neural connections and put off the time I might finally lose my marbles.

I seemed to be doing fine after my heart attack. I’d had a couple of stents inserted to reopen my blocked coronary arteries, but then I deteriorated and needed to have an intra-aortic heart pump and be put on a ventilator. When I came all off those and the heavy sedation, not only did I have a series of weird hallucinations and delusions, but often I couldn’t think of the word for something (nominal aphasia). That’s gradually improved, though I think ‘It’s on the tip of my tongue’ more often than before my coronary occlusion. It makes me feel better when someone much younger than me says they can’t think of the exact word they’re after.

At 88, I no longer have the photographic memory that helped me through my exams, but I am attending classes in Music and Art History, I have piano lessons and I am about to join a beginners’ class in Classical Greek (PG).

I love being the oldest person in the class even though I may now be a penny short of a pound!!

I thank all those lovely people who read and commented on stories like this in my memoir ‘Woman in a White Coat’.

Woman in a White Coat paperback

Lots more stories like this in my memoir ‘‘Woman in White Coat’. Buy it on Kindle at £2.99 or as a paperback on Amazon at £9.99

http://bit.ly/Woman_in_a_White_Coat

BELIEVE IT OR NOT I MANAGED TO TURN 88 TODAY

I look pretty serious in this photo of me from 1934. Perhaps I was pondering the future of mankind or how to save endangered elephants and bears!!

The amazing part of it is that I have survived being in London in WW2 in the Blitz, and when Doodlebugs and V2 rockets were falling, a near-fatal heart attack, breast cancer, several broken bones, a slew of quite serious medical conditions. Perhaps it was having the same loving husband for the last 63 years and four fantastic children!!

I look back to a time when we could play cricket in Wentworth Street after the market closed. We’d scour the fruiterers’ refuse for a clean orange box that would provide both a wicket and the bat, hoping we wouldn’t miss a nasty smelling surprise of a rotten green orange in a corner that our rushed inspection had missed. Cars were few and far between even in Commercial Street, and none ventured down Petticoat Lane – except to deliver goods before the Sunday market opened. The everyday demountable food stalls arrived on barrows. The sound as they trundled along first thing in the morning accompanied the smell of bread baking from Kossoff’s bakery.

None of us had our own phones – an emergency sent someone running to the phone box outside Aldgate East station. You phoned your current boyfriend there too – getting an hour’s worth for a couple of pence. Now you can hardly walk along the pavement without bumping into someone too busy on their mobile.

Of course, they weren’t all good old days. My dad was out of work in the Great Depression. Not sure how we scraped by. And without our fantastic NHS and immunisation us children all got measles, or mumps, or chicken pox, or diphtheria or any combination of them (more later).

We’ve so much to be grateful for that just wasn’t available when I was a child.

Lots more stories in my memoir ‘‘Woman in White Coat’. Buy it on Kindle at £2.99 or as a paperback on Amazon at £9.99

http://bit.ly/Woman_in_a_White_Coat

MORE MEMORIES OF PETTICOAT LANE

 

My third floor window faced onto Wentworth Street. It was then above a hardware shop

Amongst my most powerful memories of living in Petticoat Lane are the smells. I make my own bread and when I smell baking I’m taken back to our cold water tenement in Wentworth Dwellings. From 1943 we lived on the third floor with my bedroom facing on to Wentworth Street and Kossoff’s bakery. The smell when I woke first thing in the morning was delicious – it made me ravenous. Then there were the aromas of pickled cucumbers and pickled herrings from the barrels outside Marks, the delicatessen. I don’t like pickled – or schmaltz or chopped herrings – but I love the pickled onions that came with them. In a sandwich of rye bread still warm from the baker they are heaven.

My bedroom was above the hardware shop with its odours of carbolic acid and paraffin. I was often sent down to buy a packet of flypapers – sticky yellow curls of stiff paper that you hang up and wait for flies to attach themselves. When it is completely covered with dead and dying flies you hang up another – but there were always more around in those pre-fridge days. Bed bugs were a constant problem. We tried Flit sprays and pouring white spirit over the bed springs, but neither did much good. The springs were attached to the headboards by tightly curled wires in which bed bugs made their home. My mother would regularly pour boiling water over them but there were always more. When the war ended in 1945, we were visited by council workers with DDT sprays that did the trick – at least for a time. We didn’t know then that DDT was dangerous – for humans as well as for bedbugs.

Earlier, my family had lived in a smaller Wentworth Dwellings flat, this time facing onto Goulston Street. On our side of the road were the chicken stalls with crates of live chickens clucking underneath. On the other side, by Brunswick Dwellings, were the fish stalls. The fish was always fresh that day – collected from Billingsgate Market as soon as it was light – but the fish heads and bits and pieces chucked away under the stalls made that side of the road really smelly. I can still conjure up that whiff of ammonia and hated walking on that side of the street. The discarded offal from the chicken stalls added their own aroma to the mix.

And then there were all the street cries. When my husband wants to tease me, he’ll call out ‘Ripe tomatoes, shilling a pound,’ reminding me of my East End past. I’d rather he’d have chosen ‘Sweet strawberries. Melt in your mouth.’

On Sundays, Petticoat Lane was quite different – much more crowded and spreading to all the surrounding streets. Now the hucksters were calling out their crockery and linen wares instead of fruit and vegetables. Completely different smells – now of leather and fabric.

If you were lucky, you might hear Prince Monolulu crying ‘I gotta horse!!’, the long ostrich feathers in his headdress and his chieftain’s fly whisk waving in the breeze. They said he’d won what was then the vast sum of £8000 in the Derby in 1920. It brought you luck to touch or even be near him.

Lots more stories like this in my memoir ‘‘Woman in White Coat’. Buy it on Kindle at £2.99 or as a paperback on Amazon at £9.99

http://bit.ly/Woman_in_a_White_Coat

HAPPY BIRTHDAY BABE

The boys in dressing-up clothes

When your younger son is 57 today and his elder brother is 59 you realise you really are old!!

‘Babe and me thought it was a good idea’ is our family saying for when someone – not pointing at someone recently or presently in power today – does something unexpected and stupid.

When our elder son, Simon, was in nappies we had those terry towelling napkins you had to soak and wash daily. By the time Bernard was born, disposable applies were available and the make we used was called ‘Golden Babe.’ Unlike the rest of our family, Bernard had white-gold hair and his nickname was soon ‘Golden Babe’ or ‘Babe’ for short.

Simon was three and Bernard was 6 months old when we moved them out of the box room and into a junior bed and larger cot in the spare bedroom. To our horror, the first morning the boys were in their new bedroom, Simon scribbled all over one newly painted wall.

‘Why did you do that?’ We asked. He looked over at Babe, who had just learned to sit up alone, and certainly hadn’t yet learned to speak. ‘Well,’ he said. ‘Babe and me thought it was a good idea.’

We couldn’t be cross. It was such a great saying!!

The following year we opened our educational toy shop, John Dobbie , in Wimbledon Village and amongst our stock we sold fancy dress clothes. They both loved dressing up.

Read more of my memoir in ‘Woman in a White Coat’  on Kindle at £2.99 or as a paperback on Amazon at £9.99

http://bit.ly/Woman_in_a_White_Coat

Blog by Dr Abby J Waterman and her new book, Woman in a White Coat

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