Second Picture: Car Ferry to the Isle of Wight
Wow I have been married 44 years this week!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Another new school pal this week Tom West
Warm memories of childhood firesides
The childhood winters were always freezing when we settled by the fireside in the evenings in the 1960s. And this reminds me of Bonanza. What is the connection between Bonanza, the hit cowboy series of the 1960s, and your old coal fire at home? Read on!
Bereft of any form of central heating, we at home resorted to our open coal fires and electric radiators. Most of our houses were essentially Arctic wastelands in winter, except for the semi-circle in front of the coal fire. There was a strict pecking order for pride of place. The cat was usually first on the scene. Behind him would be the clothes horse with the washing or, alternatively, the bed linen “being aired” before it went on the bed. Finally, grouped around the fire like a well placed team fielding at a Test match, would be our family, dimly aware that somewhere behind the washing and the cat was a source of heat.
The fireplace was a place of great activity, with its gleaming companion set comprising poker, shovel, dustpan and brush (often slightly singed). There would also be a coal scuttle and possibly a toasting fork. This led to one of the fireside rituals toasting bread or crumpets. Father would sit, with the toasting fork getting ever-hotter in his hand, while lesser mortals (like me) would shriek with pain at the heat and drop fork and bread into the open fire. There’s something about toast or crumpets cooked on an open fire that is infinitely better than a toaster or grill. Then in the season there was always roasted chestnuts!
So, where does the reference to Bonanza come in? Well if you remember the opening credits, these used to show a map of Nevada and “The Ponderosa” being devoured by a flame that would start at the centre of the page. Igniting a coal fire at home could lead to something very similar. The process would start with a few sticks wrapped in paper or, with a commercial firelighter, Zip normally. Setting light to these fire starters was usually quite easy but the whole process could fall apart if, like me, you were over-enthusiastic and buried the flames to soon in half a ton of coal dust. However all was not lost if you could always “draw the fire” by blocking off the fireplace and causing air to rush through the grate and then up chimney. The blocking mechanism of choice was always a piece of newspaper, the bigger the better. I quite enjoyed this job, watching the paper being partially sucked into the hearth and seeing the flames begin to work their way up through the dust. However, if I lost concentration I would miss the telltale charring in the middle of the sheet and would suddenly find myself clutching the headlines as the rest of the paper vanished in flames. Then came the worry that you had set the chimney alight.
I never had this experience but my father did once and when it happened he shoveled as much of the fire he could into a metal bucket and then he dashed to the shed, grabbed an old potato sack, soaked it in water and stuffed it up the chimney in the hopes that it would stifle the flames and put the fire out. Luckily this worked. But what a mess was left behind. Firstly the bucket of fire had to be moved, this was not easy as the handle was now red hot and it could not be put down on the carpet or lino as it would burn a hole. Then, when the fire was totally out it was a case of clearing up the water and slurry left behind from the damp sack. But one of the worst things of all was the smell. Nothing else quite smelt the same it was a horrible cloying smell that seemed to linger for days. In fact it was very easy to tell if there was a chimney fire in your area, you did not look for the billowing smoke, you just sniffed.
Sometimes the fire brigade would be summoned but this was to be avoided whatever happened because if the Brigade turned out the householder could get charged for their attendance.
However there was one person who never minded chimney fires and that was the chimney sweep because it was almost guaranteed that a soon as someone had experienced a chimney fire, the sweep was called to clear the rest of the soot. I would have thought that was rather like closing the sable door……
Mind you the visit of the sweep with his brushes and vacuum machine is yet another story.
Stay in touch,
Memory is a funny thing, when I see a picture of a Ford Zephyr I immediately think of the bench seat and column change, leaving the rest of the front clear for courting!! And when I drive down Hilary Avenue I can still imagine Bert Ray (science), June Blitz (english), Norman Folland (maths), Mr Fentiman (art), Mr Ord (PE), and of course she who must be obeyed!! Miss Pipe.
News and Views:
A copy of the Beatles hit single Please Please Me signed on both sides by all four members of the band has fetched £9,000 at auction in Liverpool. The 1963 record was sold by a Liverpool woman who asked the group to sign it after listening to them at the city's Cavern venue as a youngster.The "very, very rare" item was among 322 lots at the annual Beatles memorabilia auction. Among other highlights was a cap owned by John Lennon which sold for £3,200. There were bids made from around the world.Other items at the sale, held in the Paul McCartney Auditorium at the Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts, included the door of number 38, Kensington, which went for £2,300.
On this day 8th October 1960-1965.
8/10/1960the number one single was Tell Laura I Love Her - Ricky Valance. The top rated TV show was Bootsie & Snudge (Granada) and the box office smash was Psycho. A pound of today's money was worth £13.68. Tottenham Hotspurs were on the way to becoming the Season's Division 1 champions.The big news story of the day was No Hiding Place (AR).
8/10/1961the number one single was Kon-Tiki - The Shadows and the number one album was The Shadows - Shadows. The top rated TV show was Sunday Night at the London Palladium (ATV) and the box office smash was One Hundred and One Dalmations. A pound of today's money was worth £13.25 and Ipswich Town were on the way to becoming the Season's Division 1 champions. The big news story of the day was Heller's Catch-22 was published.
8/10/1962the number one single was Telstar - The Tornadoes and the number one album was Best of Ball Barber & Bilk. The top rated TV show was Coronation Street (Granada) and the box office smash was Lawrence of Arabia. A pound of today's money was worth £12.89 and Everton were on the way to becoming the Season's Division 1 champions.
8/10/1963the number one single was Do You Love Me? - Brian Poole & the Tremoloes and the number one album was Please Please Me - The Beatles. The top rated TV show was Coronation Street (Granada) and the box office smash was The Great Escape. A pound of today's money was worth £12.64 and Liverpool were on the way to becoming the Season's Division 1 champions.
8/10/1964the number one single was Oh Pretty Woman - Roy Orbison and the number one album was A Hard Day's Night - Beatles. The top rated TV show was Coronation Street (Granada) and the box office smash was Dr Strangelove. A pound of today's money was worth £12.24 and Manchester United were on the way to becoming the Season's Division 1 champions. The big news story of the day was XVIIIth Olympics in Tokyo
8/10/1965the number one single was Tears - Ken Dodd and the number one album was Help - The Beatles. The top rated TV show was Coronation Street (Granada) and the box office smash was The Sound of Music. A pound of today's money was worth £11.69 and Liverpool were on the way to becoming the Season's Division 1 champions.