Ronnie and I were standing in our front garden, every now and again getting out of the way of the men who were helping the old man carry furniture out of our house and put it into a van.
Ronnie was about eight; I was six.
Maisie was in the house. I knew that as I could hear her raised voice. She was shouting something at the old man. Young as I was I knew something was wrong, very wrong. I remember thinking mam would know what to do but she was at work; so was ‘our Teddy’. I didn’t know where Mabel was but she certainly wasn’t at home because the men had just put her bed in the van. Chairs, tables, linoleum and rugs - I wanted to ask but daren’t.
Looking at Ron’s face I knew he was near to tears, so was I, but I didn’t know why. The van was nearly loaded with our home. I started to cry and the old man gave me and Ronny a penny but it didn’t placate us. He told us to be quiet and looked furtively up and down the street.
Window curtains around the houses were beginning to twitch; we were being watched. We gripped the pennies tightly. We didn’t know it then but it really was ‘hush money’, our pay-off, all that our lives and future was to become, a penny, whilst he took away our home and the roof over our heads, leaving us defenceless. Judas sold a man for 30 pieces of silver; my family, less the old man, went for tuppence.
Life with the ‘old man’ – 9 Martival, Leicester
New arrivals from Scotland
It was my ‘pick up’ day and I went into my Senior Boys’ school secretary’s office to collect those visits which had to be done. The school building was old Victorian, gloomy & forbidding from the outside but inside clean, friendly and warm.
The boys (and I always thought of them as ‘my boys’) were a mixture of races who shared a disciplined and caring friendliness. They were chatty but never cheeky to me, and this friendly approach was extended to any visitor to their school, whatever their business. Without being asked these boys would go up to any stranger wandering lost within the building and, after asking who it was the visitor had come to see, would escort them to their destination. Now, if this sounds normal for a school in England then just remember that most of these boys only a year or so previously, were living in Bombay, Calcutta or even on the plains of the Punjab. Quite simply they were maintaining the traditions of courtesy and public service for which the school had been noted for over many generations.
As I walked through the musty smelling hall that cleaning never seemed to sweeten any, I was greeted as an old friend by the lads changing classes. I boast that every lad in the school knew me. It was all smiles and cries of,