Friday, 13 August 2021

Friday Photo #10

In early 1960, after nearly five years of marriage, my parents got a mortgage on a house in Walthamstow. The cost of the house? £1100. When we moved out of London in 1975, Dad sold the house for £11,000. A quick search online tell me that my childhood home is now worth (depending on its current state) in the region of £750,000, which is making my eyes water to be honest. Anyway, I digress, in 1960 £1100 was a massive stretch for my folks - Mum was expecting me any day and Dad worked in a shop selling electrical goods. It was a big house for one family and their plan was to rent out upstairs, which is where my Aunt and Uncle enter the picture. My cousin came along in 1963, which is how we grew up as Brother and Sister, each with an extra set of parents on hand. Dad's investment was a shrewd one. It was also the only time in his life that he took out a loan. He never owned a credit card and was an old fashioned believer in saving up for everything he wanted to buy.

Though we had a toilet downstairs, the only bathroom in the house was upstairs, in my Aunt and Uncle's part of the house, which we did use by arrangement, but other options were explored from time to time. For instance, for a period in the early 1970's we used a foldaway plastic shower in our kitchen, with hot water that had to be manually pumped up to pressure. It was an enormous faff to unpack, erect, empty and pack away again. Perhaps Dad was considering having another bathroom installed downstairs, though that of course would have entailed taking on a sizeable loan, which he would've been unwilling to do

As a very young boy I bathed in a metal bath on the floor of the kitchen, or, if it was particularly cold, in the living room in front of  the paraffin stove. But before that, way back in June 1961, I and my rubber duck still splashed about in a plastic tub on the living room table - which is where you find me in the photo above. What a little angel!


Here's Stephen Coates (aka The Clerkenwell Kid) in his guise as leader of The Real Tuesday Weld. The band employed an attractive retro/electronica hybrid that had me picking up a fistful of their albums throughout the noughties. 'Bathtime in Clerkenwell' from 2002, comes with an animated video by Alex Budovsky (the first of a number of collaborations), while the origins of the song itself go back to 'Sweeter Than Sugar', a 1934 number by The Mills Brothers.

The Real Tuesday Weld - Bathtime in Clerkenwell

The Mills Brothers - Sweeter Than Sugar


TheRobster said...

Another fantastic photo. My mum used to bath us in the kitchen sink if she thought running a bath just wasn't worth it. No shower in our house until the mid 80s, and even then, it wasn't used much.

C said...

Oh that pic made me smile.
I'm trying hard to imagine that foldaway plastic shower - sounds great in theory but a lot less so in practice - by the time you'd packed it all away again you'd probably feel like you need to take another one. But it's quite sobering to think about how our parents and/or previous generations coped with doing certain things which we take for granted now. I still remember my mum's washing mangle (mainly because I nearly got my arm stuck in it).

Rol said...

Great photo, great story.

Bathtime in Clerkenwell is a favourite of both me and the boy, but I'd never heard the Mills Brothers track.

Alyson said...

Great bit of social history with a great personal picture too. People lived so simply back then but once the bar is raised in terms of what we expect in our homes, we can't turn back. My dad's parents had a similar arrangement whereby they rented out the upper floor of his boyhood home and became really good friends with the boy upstairs who was a similar age. He was best man at his wedding. I'm pretty sure they only had one outside toilet between them!

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