Alan Stanley

  1937 -
  City of Birth:
Romford. Essex. Great Britain.

Alan's Story

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I am adding this additional chapter to my introduction, because after I initially wrote the introduction, it was very difficult to come back to it and try to make sense of all that I have experienced through the various stages of my life and the trials that I have endured or overcome.  I wish ...


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Alan's Story > Chapters > 7.Alan's War. A Serial. Part 7.

"Alan's War. A Serial. Part 7." 


Date Range: 01/01/1940 To 05/08/1945   Comments: 2   Views: 5,942
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One weekend we drove up to Colchester.
It took a while. Although dad worked in the war effort there were only a few stations that had petrol and they didn't tell you they had any. You had to stop and ask, and if they did you had to have the right documents and could only get a couple of gallons at a time.
We knew how to get to Colchester because, well, we had been there many times before but now you kept off the main roads, unless you had a death wish of a Stuka up your exhaust pipe, and that could make your eyes water, dad said. Didn't understand that and mum said she didn't know what he was talking about. Bet she did!
Went through the country back roads which could be bouring because of the high hedges, but it was also exciting because ours was almost the only car on the road and dad thought that he was at a race track (mum said). We got lost a few times because somebody had taken most of the signposts away and hidden them in case the Germans landed.
"Exkuse me. Sorry to run over your piddling little British car with my wunderba Fuhrer tank.  Which is the way to London?"
The house was on a road nearer to Sudbury than Colchester and was part of a terraced block of twenty, and although the houses were owned by the L.N.E.R, not everyone who lived there worked for them.
There was a small front garden full of, it seemed, rosemary bushes and aubretia. Rosemary ushered you along the path to the front door and the air was heavy with the smell of it, but then in the hall it changed to carbolic soap and then back to rosemary from the bunch in the vase on the hall table. Confusing. Still, it was better, I thought, than the smell of mothballs, which was Mrs Witham's house; and cabbage.
The house was cosy and nice and clean and scrubbed as a new pin. That's how we looked, mum said, after a bath.
Grown up's had all these funny sayings!
There was brown wood design lino in the hall with a brown narrow carpet runner leading you past the stairs to the kitchen door. Aunt Edna  scrubbed this runner every two weeks with a scrubbing brush and soap, summer and winter. That's what mum said. Probably took it up spring and autumn. Why?
It was Uncle John. He came in from the garden or the allotment wearing his gardening boots. He was supposed to leave the mud that was on them on a scraper that was outside the front door at the bottom step, but although he seemed able to remove most of the wet mud, there was always a bit of dried mud from the last time that he had worn them hiding under the heel. This lump always seemed to detach halfway down the hall as he arrived home carrying a cabbage or lettuce for the table, and sure enough on the way back out, he crushed it into the carpet. It was a wool runner with a gold acanthus scroll border to the brown center. Scrubbed,as I said, it was still going strong when we went home.

Going down the hall towards the kitchen you would have to pass the front room, which contained the posh furniture surrounding an expensive Wilton or Axminster square in the center before the fireplace. the curtains at the windows would be heavy velvet and would be the material and colour as the suite. The backs of the chairs and the arms would have 'antimacassars' on them, protectors against grease and hair oil and were usually lace. The room would have a piano and would only be used on 'special' occasions, such as after church on Sunday. The rest of the time the door would be locked.

The kitchen was porcelain butler sink, although they had no butler, exposed lead pipes and brass taps. The large black stove that took up one wall at the end was a coal or wood burner, which was fortunate as Uncle John's trains ran on coal. It did all the cooking and provided all the hot water and gave a background warmth in the winter, to the whole house. It also had to be 'blacked' every week.
A wood shelf, about a foot wide, and two feet down from the ceiling, ran around the walls of the kitchen. It was jam packed with screw topped and 'kilner' preserve jars. There were so many on the narrow space of the shelf that their bases were hanging over the edge in perilous fashion. A wood bracket, every foot built into the wood paneling supported the shelf, but every time we ran out of the house and slammed the door, we would stop, crouch down and pull our head down into our shoulders, waiting for the crash of exploding tomatoes.
It never happened from that but there was the time when Uncle John pushed a new jar into a space on one end of the shelf.
He pushed too hard and a jar, a large jar of pickled onions, popped out further along the shelf.
He was on the steps, and we were sitting at the dinner table, trying to pretend that we liked cabbage and parsnips and luckily well out of the way as it was lunched into space. He made a lunge for it, but he never stood a chance. He went one way, the steps went another, and the jar, which was probably too large for him to catch anyway, was projected by his outstretched fingers in the direction of the stove. The whole house shouted 'owch' and ducked as we watched the jar, in apparent slow motion, sail through the air. It burst wit a colossal  'BANG' and scattering pickled onions, vinegar, cloves and shattered glass in every direction, and I mean everywhere!
We had just about finished dinner, and were moving to pudding, when Uncle John fancied a picled onion with the last forkfull of meat on his plate. Aunt Edna wouldn't let any of us finish our dinner as there was glass on the dinner table. We had sweated and clawed our agonising way through the hell of the congealed gravy and cabbage that was the prelude to steamed apple pudding and custard and now Chris and I watched helplessly as she put the untouched apple pudding in the bin for the compost heap, under the sink. I remember tears filling my eyes. Strange really!
"What a mess. What a mess. You and your ------ onions." She groaned, filling a bucket with water and reaching for the mop. She moaned for weeks because the vinegar left a white mark on the hot black stove that never went away except when it was cold, and when would that ever be?









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Member Since
Aug 2007
Brian Childers said:
posted on Mar 22, 2010

I am totally digging these stories

Member Since
Feb 2010
Alan Stanley said:
posted on Apr 25, 2010
Brian Childers.

Thanks Brian.