Saturday, August 08, 2009

Ladybird, Ladybird, Fly Away Home

We found our dream house, a three bedroom semi. Large garden for me to run around in. This was 1966, a year of affordable housing for an ordinary single income working family. You would need three incomes nowadays to get anything similar.

I was back on familiar ground. Back to the three of us. So much more civilised.

I started school again. Even though it was a small school, I hated being with all those children. And the teachers were so old, older than my parents.

The alphabet was drilled into us. The times table was, too. We started to read about those lovely children, Peter and Jane. Peter and Jane loved each other like most brothers and sisters in fiction. I wonder where they are now? Do they still keep in touch?

The Peter and Jane books were published by Ladybird. A different Ladybird made children's clothes. And then, of course, there were the real ladybirds in the garden in summer. Of the three, I preferred the insects. Ladybird books and Ladybird clothes weren't particularly exciting. They weren't alive.

I "played" with the girl next door. Meaning we were put together so one of the mothers could be free for a bit. I was still in my own little world and wanted nothing but my own company.

Eventually I made some friends. Or rather they made friends with me. The twins were nine months younger than me and in the class below. They were cousins of my second cousins so I guess that's how we ended up together. I was a spoilt only-child and had toys and they liked to play with my toys. One of them was more boisterous than the other and broke a lot of my toys.

I started supporting West Ham as West Ham had won the World Cup for England. Bobby Moore was my favourite player as he was the world's best player. My choice of football team wasn't based on geography or tradition. My dad had been a Charlton supporter because they were the nearest team to Bexley. I was a glory hunter, just like those Cockney Reds. All I could see in front of my eyes was a future of trophies and winning heroes, crying with joy. A lifetime of success.


  1. Zis explains everything.

  2. Canada/U.S. had "Dick and Jane"...perhaps Peter and Jane were their British cousins.

    Interesting choice of names for the fellas, in any case...



    Just sayin'.

  3. I used to hate it if anybody 'knocked' for me. The only thing worse was having to go round to someone else's house to 'play'.

  4. A West Ham glory hunter?! Blimey.

    I totally sympathise about the organised 'friendships'. Don't parents realise it IS possible to re-enact an entire football season by yourself in an afternoon?

  5. Glory Hunter?
    You shock me. Blackburn Rovers were close and it was easy to get to Ewood park on the Rovers supporters club bus that stopped at the end of the street.
    Dad supported Bolton which was his hometown.
    Shut up.
    I sound like the Hovis advert.

  6. Rog - I'm a Freud so.

    MJ - Maybe they should have had an exchange. I can see your Jane playing with our Peter and our Jane playing with your Dick. As it were.

    Beth - Another mother's sausages were never the same as yours.

    Malc - And my toys would never have been broken. It is possible to play against yourself.

    Kaz - It was only two buses and a ferry to East Ham so I was lucky really. Just imagine if Jackie Charlton had been captain in 66! I'd have had to wear those silly socks with numbers on.

  7. Wasn't there a certain Ladybird Johnson about in 1966?

    Yes, it was really horrible having 'friends' chosen for you and being required to go and 'play' with them, although fighting usually put a stop to it. It was worse if they were brought round to your house and invariably broke your things. (I'm not certain much has changed several decades on.)

  8. I never had a proper fight though I got into some painful wrestling positions, none of them initiated by me. I was such a gentle flower.

  9. "I'd have had to wear those silly socks with numbers on."

    Nah, say what you like about Revie's Leeds - dirty, cynical, fouling, cheating basards they may have been....but those tags...and the smiley badge... And Allan "Sniffer" Clarke....Hugh Johns screaming "LORRIMER!!!" Those were the days...

    'Course, you try telling that to kids today...



  10. Mick Jones' dislocated shoulder...

    He couldn't play the guitar for months.

  11. I LOVED the illustrations of the Ladybird books and always wished we had nice red-carpeted stairs and a dog called Pat like Peter and Jane did. I liked their nice sweet and toy shops too and their good-looking parents who never embarrassed them and left them to their own devices most of the time. Then there were the wonderful adventures of their elder cousins in castles and on islands in 12b and 12c. However looking back Peter and Jane must have been quite impoverished really as they were always wearing the same clothes.

  12. They would have alienated poorer readers if they'd had larger wardrobes.

  13. good lord are you supposed to choose your children's friends?

    Maybe that's where I've gone wrong . . .

  14. If they don't make friends you make them have friends.

  15. It's not all bad. You've got Zola now.

    I pre-date Peter and Jane. And Janet and John. But my mum did stick a card up on the loo door that read:

    John and Mary thought they knew
    Much better than their mummys
    They ate their tea with hands not washed
    Now both have painful tummies

    Just thought I'd share that. In some weird way, I think it may have scarred me for life.

  16. We started with Janet and John, but they were cruelly taken away from us and we were introduced to Peter and Jane.
    Peter and Jane were a bit rough in comparison.

  17. Mark - I can see John and Mary sitting on the toilet seat together now.

    Scarlet - Your school must have been rebelling. The government inspectors soon put a stop to that.