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LucyGransnet (GNHQ) Thu 07-May-15 16:54:17

Down memory lane

Author Lesley Pearse takes us on a trip down memory lane, starting with the coronation of Queen Elizabeth in 1953...

Lesley Pearse

Down memory lane

Posted on: Thu 07-May-15 16:54:17


Lead photo

Lesley Pearse

One of the oddest things I find about growing older is that, although I often can't remember what I did yesterday, I can recall events in my childhood with utter clarity.

I began my new book on Coronation Day in 1953 because it was a day I remembered particularly clearly. I was eight then and terribly excited because I was to be in a carnival parade as a Hulu Hula girl, wearing a grass skirt my father brought back from Honolulu. My sister was to be a Geisha girl and my brother King Arthur in chain mail made of painted silver sacking.

Sadly we never went to the parade because it poured down, and there I was stained brown with gravy browning, obliged to sit in a neighbour's front room along with half the street, watching the ceremony on a tiny TV screen. It seemed interminable to me, the adults bored us kids to death with their remarks about 'the young Queen' not wincing at the weight of the crown, and how difficult it would be for her to go to the toilet in that long ceremonial cloak. When we finally went home, our white washed house was stained red and blue from crepe paper streamers that my dad had patriotically hung up. It remained like that for several years.

We swam in dangerous ballast pits, caught eels in a length of sacking, built rafts to float on the river and rode bikes for miles.

That day might have been a bit of a disappointment, but I have many wonderful memories of going to stay in a primitive Coast Guards cottage on Romney Marsh. My uncle lived nearby in Rye and his boys Bert and Raymond were the same age as my brother and I. We had so much fun together. We swam in dangerous ballast pits, caught eels in a length of sacking, built rafts to float on the river and rode bikes for miles.

I find it sad that children no longer have that kind of freedom to roam around the way we did back then. I think that is part of the reason I recently moved to a seaside house in Devon - I wanted my grandchildren to have a chance to experience some of the things I did as a child and build equally good memories. No money needed, or special equipment, just hanging out together, playing in rock pools, paddling and building sandcastles. For them to look forward to coming down to me, and finding joy in the anticipation of knowing what to expect, yet at the same time be aware it is totally different to their life at home (and very special). I hope too that moving to a house with a fantastic sea view will inspire my writing further. Even as a child I was a story teller. I was famous for my tales of trunks of gold, of witches and smugglers.

Lesley's new book, Without A Trace, is published by Michael Joseph and available from Amazon.

By Lesley Pearse

Twitter: @LesleyPearse

clifford111 Thu 07-May-15 20:35:36

hi my name is dave
starting at the coronation i remember my mother bought a 14 inch television for the occasion.our front room was filled with all the neighbour as we had the only tv in the street .as an 8 year old my only concerns were to go out on my made up bike or on a home made bogie with pram wheels at the back ,we lived in quite a hilly place which was ideal though we had no brakes except our feet,we went swimming in the local canal and didnt catch any deseases,we went for what seemed long hikes with jam or sugar butties and a bottle of tap water we roamed the range ,parents never worried where you was no phones we made our own entertainment bikes and that ilk were all made from parts found but we were a lot happier than todays youth who without mobiles laptops seem bored or is it just me

clifford111 Thu 07-May-15 20:52:46

hi again its dave
as i got older my thoughts were of experimenting , a crafty cig to impress my mates going to the local palais de dance or going to the cinema when you and your mates clubbed together got one of you in who opened the emergercy doors and every one piled in the summers appeared long and hot and the winters cold and snowy

Evedmh Thu 07-May-15 21:23:45

My outfit at the local (North Finchley) fancy dress party for the Coronation celebrations was a hula hula outfit too, one brother as a coronation mug and another as a page boy. My eldest brother who was 15 at the time was dressed as a baby and Dad, dressed as a nurse pushed him in a pram. I also remember the street race where I stopped running because everyone was faster than me! (I was only four years old.)

We also had lots of freedom as children. I can remember going to the local park to play with my brothers when I was quite small, and also visiting friends down the road on my own. When I was five we came to New Zealand to live and we had even more freedom. At holiday time, as long as we were home for meals, it seemed our parents were confident we were safe. What fun we had!

Grandma2213 Thu 07-May-15 23:23:01

I was 6 years old in 1953 and I remember rehearsing for things at school with red white and blue tassels. However at the time we went on holiday so I missed all that. My dad worked for British Railways and could get an annual free rail travel pass for his family. My Mum came from Northern Ireland where her sisters still lived in her family home at the seaside. Otherwise we could never have afforded holidays. I remember listening to the coronation on the radio on the ferry across the Irish Sea. My other memories are of sitting on my Dad's shoulders watching a firework display on Belfast Lough. There was a ship totally lit up with fireworks and it stays in my memory to this day it was so beautiful. We also watched a huge fancy dress parade through Bangor. There was at least one child dressed as a TV though I did not even know what that was at the time as we did not have our first TV till I was 13 years old. There are some photos of the parade somewhere so I guess that is where my retrospective memory comes from! It was a lovely sunny day however, or is it true that our childhood days were always sunny?
I could write an essay on the freedom we had as children but at the risk of further boring you I will desist!
PS. I can also remember what I did yesterday!

PRINTMISS Fri 08-May-15 12:00:18

So much history has been written since the end of the second world war, and so many more people are writing their memories of time gone by, that future generations will I think have a rounded view of what life was like and how it was lived by different people. It is good to think that we are no longer tight-lipped about the dreadful things that happened, and are happening, and can openly discuss, in this country, our views and opinions on most subjects, but will we ever learn from past experiences do you think? Happy memories are a joy to share, and of course the coronation was a happy time for this country, we watched on a friends t.v. - we only had gas in our house, so no t.v. There were about twenty of us crowded round a very small t.v. screen in a very small room. A day off work for me.

September45 Fri 08-May-15 14:08:29

As a boy of seven and a half, the coronation was not important. What was 'though was that Blackpool had beaten Bolton 4-3 in "The Matthew's Final".
I suppose my sisters must have watched the coronation.

auntbett Fri 08-May-15 14:43:49

I don't have much of a recollection of the coronation. My parents were definitely not avid Royalists! We didn't have a television nor access to one, but I do remember local festivities in my village with trestle tables and games going on.

What I do remember very well is that my mother bought a raffle ticket at our local Co-op and was amazed to hear that she had won 1st prize - a Coronation cake. This was a splendid cake - a very large rectangular iced creation made to look like The Mall, with trees, street lamps, flags and a metal model of the Royal coach pulled along by pairs of horses. I kept the little coach and horses for ages, but then I don't know what happened to it.

The only other memory I have relating to the coronation is that I was taken by my sister to visit my brand new primary school which was to be opened in September of that year. All the children due to start school were given a coronation mug to keep. My sister also got one from her grammar school. Incredibly, we both still have them, though they have seen better days!

Fid Fri 08-May-15 16:50:43

My Dad won £75 on the Football pools and bought a Ferguson 14" TV for the Coronation. We shared the spectacle with a kitchen- full of people. Afterwards, I went to the local street party held in a field and we were given a mug and a little tin with Elizabeth on the lid (can't remember what was in it). We then went down to the school field to take part in Sports, but it was cold and rainy so we went back home.
That TV became a new dimension to our lives.

annodomini Fri 08-May-15 17:35:23

Shortly after George VI died, TV started in Scotland. We came home from Brownies early that evening so that we could see the opening programmes - Scottish dancing and music. The following year, there were only a few TV sets in the locality so we had a house full for the coronation, after which I got on my bike to the football field where we had a pageant with scenes from Scottish history. I was an ancient Briton (Pict?) and, later, a lady at the court of Mary Queen of Scots. Luckily it didn't rain on us, though the sun didn't shine either.

Liz46 Mon 11-May-15 16:00:06

I am delighted that you have another book out. I have read all your books with 'Trust Me' and 'Remember Me' being my favourites.

Like many other people, the Coronation was the first thing that I had ever watched on t.v. We went to a neighbour's and watched it on their tiny black and white one.

Yes, times have changed. My eight year old grand daughter has never been allowed out alone whereas at that age, I used to be out in the street skipping with the other children.

Right, I'm off to have a look on Amazon for your book!

rosequartz Mon 11-May-15 16:30:25

We were the only ones in our road to buy a television for the Coronation. All the neighbours crammed into our small front room, bringing their own chairs and all peering at the tiny screen!
I was given a miniature Coronation coach and horses and we received a Coronation mug and spoon from school.
As an 8 year old I was more interested in the fact that we could now see Muffin the Mule and Bill and Ben on the new tv - how many 8 year olds these days would be delighted by such programmes?

We had moved to London just before the Royal Wedding in 1981 and went with friends to Hyde Park for a picnic and to watch the fireworks. Coming home on the Tube was a terrifying new experience for us and the DC,(country bumpkins from Devon that we were) as we were packed like sardines in a can on the train.

grannytotwins Wed 20-May-15 21:55:34

I was three and a half at the Coronation. My dad sold his watch and bought a tv so we could watch it. There was a street party in a nearby road and it was fancy dress. I can remember my mother sewing red hearts on a dress for me. On the day, it rained and we ended up in the pub. I can remember standing on the bar and singing "how much is that doggy in the window". Shades of things to come!

I, too, loved Muffin the Mule and all the Watch with Mother programmes. I found them on video about 25 years ago when my daughter was three and she loved them just as much as I did.

Galen Wed 20-May-15 22:36:47

Muffin the mule, Oswald the ostrich and Willy the worm!
Ah! Those were the days!
Thought! Is that where the term Willy for a penis originated?

pompa Wed 20-May-15 22:42:32

Muffin the mule, willy the worm shock, don't be filthy.grin

I loved Muffin the Mule with Annette Mills

rosequartz Thu 21-May-15 10:27:05

I am going to retrieve Muffin the Mule from the attic and put him on display! smile
We love Muffin the Mule

Marmight Thu 21-May-15 10:42:34

My Muffin the Mule hangs on a hook in the 'childrens'' room on permanent display. Like me, he is looking a little old these days, but I love him wink

annodomini Thu 21-May-15 10:44:34

On one of the antique shows recently, I was astonished to see the expert identifying a puppet as a 'horse' when it was very obviously Muffin the Mule. shock

pompa Thu 21-May-15 11:41:32

HORSE shock do these experts no nothing. smile

rosequartz Thu 21-May-15 12:04:16

Some of them don't know their horse from their elbow grin

pompa Thu 21-May-15 12:24:24

Mrs. P has just informed me that she was in the Muffin The Mule Club. 52 years an I never knew that.

Iam64 Thu 21-May-15 13:05:19

We didn't buy a tv like rose quartz family, but my grannie did. It had wooden doors, which were closed if the tv wasn't on. All the neighbours, as well as our extended family piled into the front room to watch this marvel.

Muffin the Mule - my all time favourite tv programme, loved it even more than the Lone Ranger grin