Here’s another small 1960s exercise book, found amongst the boxes of childhood mementoes stashed away in my parents’ attic. They kept everything, including many of our school books. This one is a real treasure. It’s my “News” book, the one in which, at school on Monday, children would write about the weekends or holidays they had just had. Judging by some of the events depicted here I think I am 6 years old, so this would be the 1967-68 school year at Westfields Primary. I’m quite impressed with my 6-year-old artistic abilities (less so with my spelling!) and some of the pictures bring memories flooding back. Here, for instance, is The Spinning Wheel toyshop which stood halfway along Barnes High Street throughout my childhood – I recognise it from the toy animals hanging from the ceiling:
To my childhood self there were only two types of shop: toy shops and sweet shops. I remember the Spinning Wheel mostly for its stuffed toy animals and the sweet old man (probably not that old) who ran it. I also remember the two funny “old” ladies at Arts & Crafts over the road, which, as well as the crafty stuff its name suggests, drew me for the Britains toy farm animals I collected (I gather these are proper collector’s items today!) I remember 3 sweet shops: Sugar & Spice on the High Street, and Jewels and The Mascot on Church Road. As far as I was concerned these shops sold only sweets – mostly from giant colourful jars lined up behind the counter – but I guess they must have made a living with newspapers and tobacco as well.
My childhood friends feature frequently in my weekly reports, and there are trips to London Zoo and the Science Museum. I am especially pleased to find graphic contemporary reportage of some of the events I have covered in this blog. Here, for instance, is a dramatic trip to Churt, which I’m surprised I don’t remember:
Here is an example of a family Bonfire Night:
And here I am welcoming my Dad (who I don’t remember ever having been black!) and Brother 2 home from their trip to Amsterdam:
Here is a mention of one of our many lodgers, Mike Stonelake, who was kind enough to let all the kids in the street play on his motorbike – a very exciting thing for us back then:
That’s my friend Alex Mathew at the front, Briony behind him and on the back… a cat with long hair? That would be me then, imagining myself to be an animal as usual. Much to their exasperation, I’m sure; they were probably playing at James Bond.
There are many more delightful scenes from my childhood in this little book, and some will feature in future posts. I’ll finish with this one for now. It’s almost worthy of a medical textbook in its graphic depiction of illness, and may hint at the reasons for my lifelong aversion to the colour orange.