This morning’s dominant bird calls at The Firs were of wood pigeons; those without a mate crying ‘uni-ted’, and those happily paired off ‘take two cows taffy, take two cows’. I worked on tidying the bed inside the concrete ring and digging over a bed outlined earlier in the year.

The combination of gardening, my mother, and my sisters got us reminiscing about the garden we grew up with in Stanton Road.  This was a very small, bare, patch which went with our rented maisonette.  I don’t remember much growing there at all except for the Browns’ plum tree suckers and incessant convulvulus.  These permanently invaded our garden and it was my job periodically to have a blitz on them.  Elizabeth does remember some plants I successfully grew.

Mr. and Mrs. Brown lived next door.  In sixteen years I don’t remember ever having seen either of them.  I think there was a disability involved.  Mr. Brown made Elizabeth a doll called Minnehaha.  It was the Browns’ television, I believe, which was responsible for my teenage fantasies.  No, not those fantasies.  In those twilight moments between being awake and asleep, I would hear the three discordant notes which Mum said were coming from their television.  I believe it was a closing down signal.  This led me into thinking how wonderful it would be if you could have a picture frame on your wall and a gadget that could tune in to and display in this any of the films currently being shown on any of the four cinemas Wimbledon then boasted.  We didn’t have a television and the only one I had ever seen was a small wooden cabinet bearing a postage stamp sized screen.  This was for the occasion of the coronation in 1953 when those of us at school who didn’t have a television were billeted with those who did.  Being a tall lad I was seated at the back from whence I peered at a tiny black and white haze.  Little did I imagine, in that teenage dream world, what my grandchildren can now hold in the palms of their hands.

Elizabeth and I took time out to visit the current exhibition of her artist friend Hilda Margery Clarke, where we also met another local artist, Susan Anderson, and had a good chat.  As I have mentioned before, Margery was a tutee and close friend of L. S. Lowry, as is evident in some of her work.  This collection was a fascinating forty year retrospective.

Jacqueline brought Mum up to join us for the evening meal.  My niece Danni and her boyfriend Andy had also arrived earlier.  This naturally led to the usual reminiscing, some of which may find its way into future posts.

The journey back was through gorgeous early summer evening light, bringing everything into sharp focus and casting long shadows across the fields.


  1. The description of your neighbour’s television sound and the sequence of thoughts it triggered is priceless. You were definitely a prescient boy.

  2. I may have mentioned this before, but my grandfather and other men of his village banded together to build their own TVs for the Coronation. The vicar went down to London to get the parts and they ran evening classes to complete the sets. I still have the screen magnifier they used to use in front of the tiny screens (I believe they were 7″ in those days.)

  3. My Dad bought a television in 1953 to watch the Coronation. I was only 1 year old, so don’t remember, but apparently half the street packed into our 3-room upstairs flat to watch it. We had the same television when I was old enough to remember watching Andy Pandy, and Muffin The Mule. It was BBC only, though later converted to receive ITV by the use of a ‘plunger’ at the side that switched channels. Reception was poor, even in central London, and it used to spin constantly, like the wheels of a one-armed bandit.
    Later in life I also lived in Wimbledon. From 1977-1985, in Braemar Avenue, Wimbledon Park SW19.
    Best wishes, Pete.

    1. I liked your Forgotten post. WP wouldn’t let me like and rejected my e-mail when I tried to follow. This is not the first time that has happened

  4. Great memories. From 1960 we lived near Rugby close to the Rugby Radio Station which was a hub for UK military communications (It has gone now of course). Quite often our TV set would pick up interference as soldiers posted overseas phoned home via the masts. Mum was forever on alert to switch off the TV if any of the conversations became inappropriate, if you know what I mean!

  5. We didn’t have a television till the early 1960s. My grandmother, however, did. We’d go to her home once a week for supper and television. I often spent the weekend at her home so I could watch two favorite programs – The Untouchables and 77 Sunset Strip. The next morning, she’d make me toast with homemade rhubarb jam and soft-cooked scrambled eggs. (I understand that is the way you make them in the UK. My grandmother had home economics training in school as a girl in Scotland, learning home arts that way and, of course from her mother. I fix scrambled eggs that way myself now, not the cooked to death way most Americans make them.)

    Those b/w postage stamp televisions of the early 1950s cost the equivalent of $10,000 in current purchasing power. I paid just short of $400 for a television a few months ago when the 25-incher/ 64 cm wore out. It is 45 inches/ 114 cm, color, high definition, can be used to stream movies, show videos and photos. I’m sure it does much more if I played with it. Oh, it’s closed caption capable, can…um do much more.

    How amazing it is over the television my grandmother had. Though it had 13 channels, there were only two broadcasters in this area, one of which came in poorly. When a third channel came on in the late 1960s – public television – we thought the world had opened up miraculously! I remember watching the first trans-Atlantic satellite broadcast on Gram’s b/w 21-inch/ 53 cm television. Now, of course, that’s so common as to be unnoticeable!

    I have no idea how many hundreds of channels are available to me, though I only watch five or so total. It is almost as strange as having no choice to have too many!

    1. I’m pleased to have stirred these memories; and agree that too many choices is a problem

      1. Yes, remembering my Scottish grandmother is a pleasant thing I should do more often. She was a hoot! I still remember the day at age 40 when I realized that what she called children – “wee fairts -” wasn’t Gaelic, but her Scottish-accented expression for “wee farts”. I had to laugh!

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