I was born in Bury St. Edmunds, at a very early age…
We lived in Maynewater Lane, in a brick and flint terrace that was demolished to build the police single quarters that have recently been refurbished and are now flats.
The toilet was down the garden on the right with strips of newspaper hanging on the inside of the door… trust me , it was better than the ‘IZAL’. The bath was a tin one that hung on the wall outside. Every fortnight it was brought in to the front room and we all had a bath whether we needed it or not. My father didn’t like to share much, but unfortunately one of the things he would share was the bathwater and the hierarchy dictated that the youngest got to bathe last…
We moved to Raingate Street. My first school was St Peters infants, then the Guildhall Feoffment primary. Unfortunately our year was the first that did not get the chance to go to the grammar school , which would have suited me nicely , it being just across the fields from our house. We DID however get a chance to win a scholarship to go to Culford School. We sat the exam, and awaited the result…
My Mother had a cleaning job at the education offices in St. Mary’s square. One evening, Mr Hill, the chief education officer, approached her for a chat. He said that I’d done very well in the scholarship exam and asked how would she feel if I were offered the place? She told him that we didn’t wish to accept it… later she told me that we didn’t belong with ‘that stuck-up lot’ and that we couldn’t afford special uniform, equipment and school trips. Ironically, the place was given to my best friend who’s father was a wine merchant and had a big detached house in Nowton Park where the plant nursery is now.
Westley school was a bit of a long bike ride on my Raleigh Chopper, so I got a Raleigh Olympus racer from Charlie Allen’s in Eastgate street. I used to do gymnastics competitions and whilst practicing one evening after school, I broke my arm doing a back flip. Mr Thomas and Mr Collier took me to the old hospital in hospital Rd where I spent the night enjoying its arcane facilities.
After a few weeks I started back to school again and rode there on my bike with my arm in plaster, through the winter .I’m sure today I’d have qualified for a taxi, but health and safety had not yet been invented. Once , I fell off on a sheet of ice and slid out through the traffic on petticoat lane, holding my plastered arm out of harm’s way using my gymnastic skills !
At upper school, I spent the time I should have been revising for exams, practicing darts and played for the Rose and Crown when I was 15, getting a pint bought for me from every losing opponent.. (what’s not to like?). I thought I was good and even qualified for a fairly big competition but was disillusioned when beaten in the first round… by a young chap, just a year older, named ‘Diller’ ,from Ipswich.
I’m an advanced ASA swimming teacher, lifeguard, archery instructor, Karate black belt and member of MENSA… I spend most of my spare time worrying about animals.
I’ve worked as a lifeguard at the sports centre ( where I met a lovely dance student who is at present doing the dinner ), managed the university of London swimming pool in Malet street and the lovely old lido pool in Stowmarket , been a policeman, a photographic printer, a postman, a private enquiry agent (99% boredom , 1% abject terror) and now teach young people to drive which keeps me both young at heart and greyer in hair by the day.
After all this – I still haven’t a clue what I’m going to do when I grow up.