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
Our poor Basque grandson has been sleeping uncomplainingly on this sagging folding bed the three times a year his family comes to visit. Quite by chance, I decided to do some of my physio exercises in the spare room on that bed and felt I might sink through right onto the floor.
Had to go to the South London dump to dispose of it and the electric blanket that decided to give up the ghost as soon as the weather turned chilly.
I have fond memories of the Rag and Bone man with a cart pulled by a scraggy old horse coming regularly through Petticoat Lane. He would never give you money in return for your offerings – only give you a little useless gift in exchange.
Excerpt from Chapter 3 Woman in a White Coat
I loved it when the coal man came. We could hear him calling ‘Coal for sale’ from streets away and I would be sent down to ask for a bag of coal.
Josh decided he no longer liked the soup bowls we’d had for years and having four children there’s always someone to pass things on to.
We scoured the Oxford Street stores, found possible white embossed bowls in House of Fraser but weren’t sure.
Love it or hate it – ‘it’s only something we picked up in IKEA’ we say – but we rarely come out of IKEA empty handed.
We found some possible plain white bowls for £1.30p and some little glass dishes we’d been looking for at 80p each.
Then on the long, long walk to the checkout we saw some very similar bowls at 65p.
At £5.20 for eight they’ll do fine. After all, it’s the look and the taste of the soup that counts and we have soup and a cheese platter once a week. Shame the small cooked breakfasts we ordered were cold. Couldn’t be bothered to waste the time complaining.
When I lived in Petticoat Lane 1931-1956, during the week the stalls mainly sold food – fruit, vegetables, fish and poultry, but on Sundays you could buy a variety of small household goods.
Memoir extract from Chapter 2 Woman in a White Coat Part 1
On Sundays the character of Petticoat Lane changed. The market expanded to Middlesex Street, Bell Lane and the cross streets. There were stalls selling leather, clothes, crockery and linen, and there were always mock auctions. Continue reading IKEA RIDES AGAIN→