In Living Memory: Part Four

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The mind under a magnifying glass

Our H2G2 researchers were asked "What have you done or been part of or 'been there' for?".
The intention was to collect first person stories relevant to global events and those from people's cultures, nations and countries.

This article is a collection of those contributed snippets that didn't quite fit.

Things We Remember

Early/mid 1940s

  • Wailing sirens, (rare) bomber scare... under the stairs. Dog first then me...
    (that dog was well known for a surprising mileage all around... lots recognisably his I was told) (later!)
  • Adopting an extra surname, Rodney __ __ Warden, 'cos "Warden" was what it said on the gate.
  • Home was also a home-from-home for American aircrew – and (oddly?) mother's sisters from Liverpool.
  • Items of female under-attire from the washing, hung out of reach on the lampshade, by those huge Americans.
  • Bedtime, being taught to read (well before 5 years old) by one of those huge Americans ('Says Alice', 'Lines and Squares', Pooh Bear ...)
My primary school headmaster was one Ronald Hadlington (how come that's stayed with me?), who wrote a children's play and I was the first, the very first, the truly original "Hare With The Red Tail".

Late 1940s

A kitten run over by a car.
Getting smacked for trying to take a chocolate bar off a grocery store shelf.
One of my earliest memories is of Hallowe'en at the tender age of four. I didn't dress up or go out, but was frightened to death by those who came to our door.
Who were these people? Why would people dress like this? Why are they scaring people?
My parents of course were quite amused and mildly embarrassed by my childish over-reaction. I was totally unprepared for any of it. Their lack of support did nothing for my fear and lack of confidence.
It was a most traumatic experience and I still vividly recall the horror masks that leaned down into my tearful face and cried 'Boo!'.
I had nightmares for weeks, recurring occasionally for years.
Why, just last night...
Knock on door and run. Once, the door opened almost immediately. Me, running for safety, forgot a wire fence – full tilt into it, somersault – and thigh high stripes for weeks.
My pocket money was 2s/6d (half a crown – 12 1/2p now), when my peers were getting 5/- (or in one case, 10/-) and it stayed like that until my first job – when my aunt wouldn't accept any more for my keep than my parents were paying.
I and another lad stole a bar of chocolate from the tuck shop... desk search.
Maths teacher saying "I can't do anything this time" (eh? – What was it before?)
Home in disgrace. It made me very careful. I am the most honest man in Christendom ( – and the best driver? —ed).
Being sent out of class (nervous in the toilets) because I could not, just Could Not pronounce "Pharaoh" My mouth said "far-oh-ah" every time, despite what I was telling it.
Last day at school, on the way home, the school bully (I was his favourite butt) wanting to shake hands – still can't figure out why.
Now we have to pay for what we used to get for free
  • How many of you remember the days when travel bags with the company's logo on were handed out, no charge?
  • We still have (I think, somewhere) a carved hardwood salad set from East Africa embellished with "British East African Airways". Free gift, of course.
1953, September:
End of sweetie rationing: off the school bus into the Post Office... bag of black bullets.
Suez crisis, patrolling, at action stations, in an aircraft carrier for 29 uneventful days, then moved on elsewhere – we'd have all got the Suez Medal had we stayed another day...
On duty in the Arab Gulf for some time.
  • Days out fishing from a dhow, the catch being cooked below decks. Someone caught a small shark and I was bedazzled by its beauty.
  • Arrangements had been made, by some kind individual, for leave in Lebanon and I came out of the hat. One week in Beirut and one in the mountains. Super.
    I remember thinking what a great political system they had – the President, Prime Minister and Speaker had to be Christian, Sunni Muslim and Shi'a Muslim, in that order, to reflect the population.
    But later...
Do you think the 60s was the best time to have a childhood? I expect there were lots of bad things going on, but it did feel safe and optimistic back then. The War was over, and everything seemed to be possible.
Do you remember wearing blouses that were...nearly...but not really...see-through? Made the likes of me go bonkers.
Thanks be that I no longer fit a certain 'see through' dress I owned, but I have kept it... somewhere in a trunk. I was very skinny in those days – Twiggy was wonderful, wasn't she?
My first time to Northern Ireland: a family camping holiday. We camped on a beach.
A woman reversing her car ran over our kettle. It was a special camping kettle with no lid: you filled it through the spout.
She went home and brought us one of her kettles.
  • Travelling through the night to get to your holiday destination.
    There were no motorways then, and we didn't go abroad until I was 11.
  • British sea-side resorts, with sandcastles with little paper flags and sandwiches in a tin box for the journey.
TOTP (TopOfThePops) on TV. We weren't allowed to watch it.
I was so glad the weeks my father wasn't home on a Thursday night as my mother wasn't so strict about that and we could watch it – and join in the conversations at school the next day.
The Tube was on at Friday teatime, and was live, I think that was the start of the death knell for TOTP.
Then came the chart show on a Friday evening, for about two hours, with all the different charts: dance, indie, rock, and that was another nail in TOTP coffin as suddenly the BBC chart was not the only chart.
Oh, lots of things ... to make me feel nostalgic, especially the cowboys and Indians games.
They wouldn't be allowed now would they? Not pc.
And the cap guns? I had a pair of silver ones, with holsters and a lovely cowgirl outfit, with matching hat. I was 'Annie get Your Gun' that whole summer.
I remember everyone playing "Cowboys and Indians" at school break times, and I remember how we went green with envy when some new kid on the block turned up to play with us, armed with a monster-sized "Johnny Seven".
Our little Cowboy cap pistols didn't stand a chance against his rockets, bullets, caps, etc. What DIDN'T that damned toy gun do?

I believed that the "Stingray" theme music was the coolest thing I had ever heard, and that when I grew up I would be a man from U.N.C.L.E and marry Mrs Peel from the Avengers.
I hated it when mum and Dad got a baby sitter in one night to go out and see some film called "Goldfinger". I remember getting a Deluxe Reading (name of the company) "Battlewagon" battery powered ship that shot missiles, torpedoes, aircraft and shells from its deck, and I also remember (from the same company) getting a "Rocket Base" that also shot missiles and big plastic rockets straight up. The spring was so strong that the first rocket shot left a dent in the ceiling which is still there in the house today.


Before the 1978 World Cup, I got a Scotland t-shirt with Kenny Dalglish and Gordon McQueen on the front; it was white with gold sleeves. I was outside playing football and fell into an oily puddle.
I cried and cried when my mum told me she couldn't get the stain out.
I remember being bitten by a dog. That it was our own dog is the worse/better? I think better in hindsight. Another's dog may have taken half my face away.
The dog was lying on the other side of the steps to the front door, and I had been left outside on my own. I remember toddling towards the front steps across the green, assessing the comfiness of the steps as opposed to the dog's side, and making the wrong choice. I sat on the dog, who was flat out in the sun. I received a bite (mainly due to surprise, in retrospect) on my face. Dad rushed me to the local A&E, me screaming and crying all the way there. Mam had to stay behind, as she had only just come home from giving birth to my brother.
I remember being in the hospital, being laid down, and different people surrounding me, one had a bleeping huge syringe coming towards my face then I blacked out – nothing.
My parents always wondered what had happened with the particular dog in question, as he had been especially protective of me when younger, and still was as I grew older.
It wasn't until I was around 5yrs old that I was able to tell my parents what had happened, but I always felt guilty that the dog had had a major hiding for what was essentially my fault. Being a toddler at the time, that didn't register, but it did when I was older.
I'm glad I owned up to the fact that the scar on my face was essentially my own fault, although I knew no better at the time. The dog was not to blame, and I still have very fond memories of him – he was a star in his own right.


While in Germany one summer bank holiday weekend I went to Cologne for a weekend "on the pop".
I bought a return ticket, and in Germany, if you have a valid ticket, there is a heated waiting room you can use at night.
Being a roughy toughy squaddie, along with some change of clothes and some toiletries, I took my sleeping bag.
Dumping my bag in the luggage lockers I went on the town, early hours of the morning came back to the station, got out the bag and in the waiting room got my head down, and that was the blueprint for the weekend.
All the money I saved on a hotel room I spent on drink.


  • Things I remember – April 1993, essay pile up so lots of time at the computer, surrounded by books, with the radio on in the background. Srebrenica on the brink of falling.
  • It was sickening, I felt utterly helpless and enraged at the international community and UN impotence.
  • That hideous phrase "ethnic cleansing" bites to the core of me.
    I know as an individual there was nothing I could do other than plead with those in power to do more, but I do feel ashamed at our collective failure then, and subsequently.
  • Any mention of sea cucumbers or evolution of circulatory systems takes me back to those nights.

...and Finally...

An exchange between two of our number:

P: Ah, you should have seen him ~20 years ago in the pub when the landlord set his drink on fire.

T: 22 years ago.

P: So your nose hairs have grown back?

T: Blister on inside of bottom lip! ... glass was hot!

P: ...and when you were a new customer he would stay quiet – until you came in with a freshly conquered girlfriend or some colleagues... then he would sit on your lap and call you Darlings.

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