I spent the first eight years of my life living in Newcastle on Tyne. We then moved to a small farm in the Pennines. I remember:
- Gas street lights. Newcastle may have been the first city in the world to have converted a street of gas lights to electricity (1881) but my street 'Julian Avenue' was still lit by gas when the picture, right, was taken in 1953. I remember a man with a long pole coming round every night and morning to switch them on and off. They were replaced before
1957 with electric lamps.
- I remember being allowed out after dark at night to get Fish (3d/1.25p) and chips (1d/0.4p). No worries then about children being abducted or traffic.
- I remember some children going to school in bare feet at my primary school.
- I remember shaved heads painted with a purple dye to kill ringworm.
- I remember smog so thick you could not see across the street. Everyone burnt coal to heat their house and in damp conditions the smoke combined with mist to make killer smog. My grandmother, who suffered from bronchitis, dreaded it.
- I remember at two recovering from measles - it nearly killed me and left me unable to walk and bothered by bright lights. I remember learning to walk again by steadying myself against the wall.
- I remember going with my sister to get her pram (that's her in the picture above) and, to strengthen my legs, my tricycle. My trike had a handle attached so that Mum could push when my legs got tired.
- I remember we were the first in our street to get a television and being shooed outside to play while my father and friends watched Aston Villa beat Manchester in the 1957 Cup Final.
- Kids programs at the time were all on BBC - it was the only channel. Highlights of my day were 'Watch with Mother' featuring Bill and Ben, and Andy Pandy. I thought they were boring but still watched them. Another kids program was Muffin the Mule (which nowardays sounds more like some weird sexual perversion!). I remember too regularly seeing a card saying 'Normal service will be resumed as soon as possible'. Between programs there was music and an 'Interlude' card. My Aunt bought a television too but her's had only a ten inch screen and was used with a huge magnifying glass in front of it.
- I remember moving with my parents to our new home, a small farm in the wilds of Northumberland. Our new house had no electricity and no flush toilet either!
- I remember going to bed with an oil lamp, 'stone' hot water bottles which made an awful thud if they got kicked out of bed, chamber pots under the bed and the sight of our useless TV in the sitting room.
- I remember an earth closet outside in a small whitewashed and very drafty building.
- I remember a bathtub built under a workbench in the kitchen. Our water supply came from a ditch above our house. In wet weather the bath water being brown with silt and worms being washed into the bath on occasion.
- I remember snow in a BIG way. Our farm was high up in the Pennines and in winter we would always have a stock of tinned food available in case we got snowed in. 1963 was the worst.
- In 1963s winter I remember getting tangled up in the telephone wires as I walked to the local village. They and the telephone posts were buried in snow drifts that were 22ft deep when they were cut out.
- I remember the first snow blower being imported from Switzerland by the council. They flew it in to Newcastle, took it by low loader to Allendale and then drove it towards an incredible 44 ft deep drift across the road to Carrshield. 200 yards from the drift it broke down and they had to cut the road open the old way.
- I remember being irritated to see the spelling of our local village in OS maps being 'Carr Shield' instead of 'Carrshield'. Guess what - they still have it wrong and so too have Multimap and Google!
- I remember greenhouses being flattened by those snow blowers until the council erected 'Snowblower - blow left' signs. I also remember how slippery the rut was that their steel guide wheel left in the snow.
- I remember silence, on a quiet night you could hear the river in the valley bottom, the wind in the trees and sheep bleating on the fells. Some nights the loudest noise was the sound of your own breathing.
- I remember that a busy road meant two cars per hour.
- I remember walking home from a neigbours house having forgotten my torch. No streetlights, no moon and a cloudy sky meant total darkness. I walked until I hit the grass verge then changed course slightly until I hit the verge at the other side. Passing the graveyard was creepy. There must have been some light since I could just see the white marble gravestones.
- I remember being sent away to boarding school because I passed the 11+ exam and was the worlds worst traveler. Travel sickness tablets made me sick - my parents didn't believe that until one day our journey was delayed and I threw up without ever getting in the car.
- As a kid with poor social skills, a hatred of sport and a love of books, bullying played a major part in my school life. I still remember the names of my tormentors and look forward to hearing that they have been run over slowly by a road roller.
- I remember and still have the newspaper clipping of Yuri Gagarin's space trip.
- I remember a girl from Liverpool at my school, Penny, raving about a group called 'The Beatles'. We all said they were rubbish. Later Penny went to a Beatles party and was given a cigarette by Paul. She kept it on her dressing table until the day her father found it and smoked it. She didn't speak to him for nearly three months.
- I remember being impressed by the Cuban crisis and the civil rights movement in the USA and thinking that Kennedy was a dead man if he pursued it. I was in the lower school common room playing table tennis when I heard he had been assassinated. Having been to Texas I still wonder why he was in an open topped car rather than a sealed air conditioned one.