Mini Autobiography

file0153 I was born at St George’s Hospital which was at Hyde Park Corner , London at the time. We lived at Dolphin Square by the River Thames. When I was a year old we moved to a Bungalow in Taplow, Buckinghamshire which was called Riverclose because it was close to the river (Thames again.)

The house had been built by a retired army man for him and his manservant.When we moved in there was still a bell system and a green baize door at the kitchen end of the property. There were lots of doors and a corridor  with a very large lounge at the other end. I can remember being a bit scared of going down to the kitchen if we were all in the lounge!

I have a sister who is 9 years older than me, she must have found it strange to have a baby sister and a change of location!

Our garden was at the front of the housefile0280 and when we moved in there were numerous horse chestnut trees all the way round it which had to be cut down eventually as we would have had no light!  In this photo you can just see the french windows in the lounge. If it got very hot in summer my Mum would take a lilo and sleep in the lounge with them open and this became known as “Sleeping with the burglars” because my Dad used to ask what she’d do if any burglars came.

We had a big green paddling pool which was set up by the front door steps. It was round and quite high- sided so it took quite a long time to fill and invariably the weather would change when it was full. A good way of making sure we had good weather was a visit from my Aunt from Chicago (now aged 95!) who always brought sunshine ( and presents!)

I went to a nursery/play group which was quite unusual at the time. It was called Mrs Piggott’s and was near Boulters Lock, Maidenhead. Mrs Piggott was a character, she loved Poodles and held seances to try to contact the dead ones. I think her husband was a  major, I remember being sent out of the room (for spitting on the cushions I believe) and fearing that he would come and ask me what I was doing there.

My first school was in easy walking distance. My parents decided not to send me to the local state school ,which was further away up a steep hill, and did not have a very good reputation. They chose a private school which I won’t name as it is still in existence albeit in a very different style. My father was quite forward thinking and he was pleased that I would be learning French and that the headmistress was French. So far so good.

The teaching of French was actually the teaching of French nouns. The more nouns you could recite the better. We were awarded little badges to wear in different colours which denoted how many nouns we could recite! We also said grace in French at lunchtime, we weren’t taught it, we just had to pick it up from listening to other pupils. Every day someone was chosen to say it and it sounded like this:_

Mon Dieu, benissay la nuriture ker nous allon pren, afin sir notches ney sir banges so I translate this as My God bless the food we are about to take….??

I was dying for it to be my turn and when it was I was so excited I stood up and recited the days of the week! The teacher said she was glad somone knew the days of the week.

Lunch was sometimes a bit of an ordeal. Firstly you had to avoid getting hit over the head by the bell which was carried around and rung furiously and secondly you had to eat everything that was on your plate. I remember a poor boy going green at the sight of the peas and having to go and be sick. I think we must have known what was going to be served because ,on one occasion, I took a bag with me so that I could conceal the date pudding and take it home to put in the bin. When the plates were collected we managed to squash some left -overs between them but only a small amount.

There was one teacher who sat in a room which you seemed to have to go through to get anywhere. There was a large round table with a damask cloth which hung down. The table seemed to fill the whole room and the teacher was scary. She used to call you “Child” in an imperious voice. I don’t remember her teaching me at all, I don’t know what she did.

Published in: on January 30, 2009 at 7:34 pm  Leave a Comment  

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