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12) I wonder...

by Genevieve

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Archive List > Childhood and Evacuation

Contributed by 
People in story: 
Raymond John Lawrence
Location of story: 
Neasden, North London
Background to story: 
Article ID: 
Contributed on: 
20 October 2005

I wonder what they did with themselves when they left school, and what they’re doing now? The Baz, the Bushells, the Brownies, the Rolfies and the others on the periphery. Dennis Bushell, even without his teeth was a pretty sharp cookie, as was Baz which was reflected in his Air Force service. Alan Brown lived higher up the hill from us, in the ‘posher’ houses. We were never invited in. We had no inkling of his domestic life other than he was never short of the odd coin and was, looking back, pretty well dressed in spite of the austerity of the times.

Thinking back, there was one event that springs to mind. For what was his birthday celebration, his married sister elected to treat Brownie and his mates to a visit to the pantomime. ‘Humpty Dumpty’ it was, with tea out somewhere 'up town'. How can I convey to you this unique experience? Gerry and I had certainly seen nothing like it before. Friday night pictures with Mum and Dad was our highlight. The colour and magic of all that is ‘Panto’ was stunning. It was a very generous act by Brownie's sister and I still remember her well. A thirtyish, full blown very attractive Jewish lady. Flamboyant turnout, much jewellery, dark, confident and in charge! The whole episode, though brief, was a small window of startling colour in an otherwise grey world and analysing it all now, it wouldn't surprise me to learn that she was ‘in the theatre', or in some way connected with ‘Show Biz’.

So, there you have it, through the eyes of an ordinary kid, who, without realising it at the time, lived through some extraordinary times.

In conclusion I would like to echo the remarks that my brother Gerry made at the close of his memoirs of the same period: namely that no matter how hard the times or how deprived the lifestyle, a secure, happy loving family will always see you through.

This story was submitted to the People’s War site by Becky Barugh of the BBC Radio Shropshire CSV Action Desk on behalf of Raymond John Lawrence M.B.E and has been added to the site with his kind permission. Mr Lawrence fully understands the site's terms and conditions.

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