Dear Diary – Page 6 (Early 1950’s – Stanground)

We were not at Keyes Close very long before it was decided to move the caravan to North Street, Stanground (the opposite side of Peterborough) where Valerie immediately started Junior School, and I went to Infants School.

The two schools were a long way apart from each other, and in different directions so, once again, time with Valerie was limited.

The reason for the move was not known however, the caravan was parked in a yard which also contained a warehouse of theatrical props and scenery. It may well have been a financial decision, or simply a practical one being so close to the warehouse. There are vague memories of conversations regarding some benefit to the family (free site rent?) by virtue of the additional security of having someone living on the warehouse site. There was however a proper flush toilet in a little brick building which was really exciting and an absolute luxury when compared with the chemical toilet in its tiny little room in the caravan.

Stanground Infants school was surrounded by a very high brick wall and had a little playground which contained a climbing frame. I wished that I had the confidence to swing from those bars by my legs! I was quite adept at climbing all over the structure, but how I envied those kids that could hang upside down!

I generally used to sit on the ground during playtime (break) and watch the activities going on around me. All the other kids seemed to have their own groups of friends to play with so nobody was interested in “the new kid”.

It was while living in Stanground that I have my first recollection of my Dad’s destructive temper. The living room in the caravan contained two chairs strategically placed on either side of the heater. While the seats and backs were upholstered, the arms were made of wood.

For reasons unknown, Dad started losing his temper and Mum did not help too much as she simply refused to get drawn into it. While his voice was getting louder and louder, her response was always a calm and very condescending “Yes Dave.” “Okay Dave.” “Whatever you say Dave.” “You’re right of course Dave.”

If he was looking for an argument he certainly did not get it but, unfortunately, his response was to get more and more agitated and aggressive. On this occasion he eventually picked up one of the two chairs and hurled it against the wall. An inspection of the caravan by me the next day showed that the wooden arm of the chair had pierced not only the inside paneling, but also the exterior aluminum sheeting! Where was I when all this was going on? Probably the back bedroom. This behavior was to be repeated often.

In May, 1951, Frances was born and the end bedroom had to be modified. Dad made bunk beds (me on top bunk and Valerie underneath) and Frances then had her own place against the opposite wall. I have no idea what happened to the railway around the room but it disappeared and, interestingly, I have no recollections of missing it.

3 thoughts on “Dear Diary – Page 6 (Early 1950’s – Stanground)

  1. I well remember the climbing frame in the infants’ school. I was waiting impatiently to swing along the top bar and had banged (not very hard) on the fingers of someone hanging before me to try and ‘gee them up’ to move along. Unbeknownst to me Mrs Hart had seen me, and when I was myself swinging from the bar she whacked my calves with a rule or cane. Ouch! I suppose I deserved it, but today she’d probably be jailed for assault.

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  2. Those temper flares must have been frightening for you. Your dad threw the chair with so much force it’s a wonder there was not more damage to the caravan. I ‘m hoping that the next post of your childhood won’t include you dad resorting to physical violence on his family.

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