I was born in, what is now not a very nice, area in Northwest London. I had one brother, considerably older than me. My dad worked as an Inspector in a factory, having served in the merchant navy since he left school at 14. My Mum always had at least two part time jobs on the go..........one in the morning and one in the evening, after I had come home from school.
Everyone else in the area were what people often referred to as "blue collar" workers. We had no fridge, no TV, no washing machine. Shopping was done on a daily basis.
Something I always remember from this time is how everyone seemed to help each other........if there was a heavy gardening or building task, neighbours would pitch in and help. No money changed hands as nobody had any to spare.
I had to share my parents room until I was six when we moved and I was allotted the "box room".
My early years instilled in me a sense of respect for others and for property which I still have.
It was my dad who first took me to the pictures.......as we called them at the time. My eyes lit up as I walked into our local ABC cinema
I joined the "ABC minors" and went along every Saturday morning proudly wearing my badge and watching all those American kids films that were featured so often.
My fascination with film has stayed with me throughout my life, although my visits to the cinema are very few these days.
I had this fixation in my mind that, if you were careful, didn't play on the railway and looked both ways when you crossed the road, you would live to a ripe old age.
When I was ten, I remember the morning when school assembly was cancelled and we filed into our classroom. The headmaster spoke to us all and told us that one of our classmates had died the previous evening. He had drowned while "acting the goat" on a bridge and fallen into a river which was in flood at the time.
It was the first time I had encountered loss. Those of us who knew him stared at his empty desk, his chair and the coathook on the wall with his name above it, and cried.
By the time I was 14, I had a "milk round" every Saturday and Sunday. I hated the cold weather when the empties which had been out all night had frost on them. I remember delivering milk to a very nice lady called Mrs Hornby (I was attracted to the name because Hornby made train sets), her daughter became famous as Twiggy
School, after the primary years, was a blur to me. I wasted my time and the teachers time............bit I made up for it later.
I always looked up to my brother. He was well known as somebody not to tangle with and I think his name got me out of quite a few scrapes!
I adored watching him play professional Ice Hockey and being introduced to his team mates. Many years after illness forced him out of the game, he used to make sure I got into many an event for free.
He passed away eleven years ago, but I still have his Ice Hockey stick, his jacket with his name on, and a pair of hockey skates which he bought for me.
Sleep well bro