The British Legion (ex-servicemenís organisation similar to the RSL) had a cricket team. Both Dad and Les played for it, Dad bowling medium pace and Les bowling slow left arm. I donít remember either of them taking wickets when I was watching.
Previously I mentioned my lack of knowledge about sexual matters. It goes without saying that I also knew absolutely nothing about menstruation. Every few weeks (probably every four?) I was handed a two shilling piece and a note on a small piece of paper and had to hand them over in a small drapery shop around the corner. In return the lady would give me a soft, fairly bulky package wrapped in plain brown paper. I was never told what I was buying and I never asked. Adults had many mysteries. This was one of them.
A stray thought that probably goes back to our time in London. ďBack to Square OneĒ has pretty well gone around most of the English-speaking world. I think I know how it started. In the days before television the BBCís biggest radio (wireless) broadcast of the year came from Wembley Stadium and was the Cup Final. The BBC published a weekly program guide called The Radio Times. One year just before the match it included an outline of the pitch divided into numbered squares. They employed a second commentator who gave out numbers to help listeners to visualise where the action was on the field. It went something like this: C2: Square One. C1: The goalkeeper boots the ball up the pitch to the inside right position. C2 Square Six. C1: He canít make any progress and canít find anybody to pass it to so he returns it to the keeper. C2: Back to Square One. Thereís probably a better explanation but Iíll settle for that one.
Now I think I can move on to 1935 again. We moved to a better residential street. This was a quite old terrace. Our house had an insurance companyís plaque on the front wall. Before municipal fire brigades the companies had their own units and they attended only to fires in premises insured with them. Inside there was an indicator in the kitchen showing in which room the bell had been rung so that the servants could attend accordingly.
Next door lived a deaf lady who had been a teacher and who tried to help me with my handwriting. Nottingham had a rotten convoluted script that I found impossible. Iíll try to write in one or two letters below.
Youíll see that even using a ballpen Iím not very good at it. At school we had pens with steel nibs. We dipped those in small inkwells. You also needed a sheet of blotting paper to dry your writing and to mop up any blots. The latter was severely frowned upon but I was probably better at making blots than writing script. I think you were supposed to make up strokes thin and down strokes thick. Very funny. I had the utmost difficulty making the letters at all without trying anything fancy. Fortunately they werenít too fussy at the secondary school and I think you were even allowed to use a fountain pen. New nibs didnít write very well so you sucked them first. I can still remember the metallic taste. I donít know what the saliva did but it worked. Similarly a new gas mantle had to be burned in. A mantle was a thin cotton structure about the size of an inverted egg cup. It fitted over the burning gas jet and diffused the light quite pleasantly. My generation is probably the last to know what a gas mantle burning in smelled like.
Dad, incidentally, wrote a rather good copperplate. His writing was neat and legible. During the war when he had to sign orders for noticeboards etc he always signed his name very clearly so it would be read and remembered by higher ups. It didnít do him any good but I suppose it was worth a try. next