Miscellaneous Memories & Random Reminiscences

Unrelated memories from my childhood and teens, London life and various holidays.

Mid 1960’s : visiting Harper’s electrical shop just off Portobello Market with my mother to purchase a new light bulb when out of habit she requested both the wattage and voltage. The shop assistant, in her thirties, was a little snooty and dismissed the request with “There’s no need to mention the voltage as they’re all 240V now.” The owner of the shop, however, merely smiled at my mother, for being the same age as her he knew full well that it was only relatively recently that the standardisation had occurred, and it wasn’t unusual for a house to have three different voltages, with different kinds of plugs (small round pin, large round pin, and large rectangular pin).

Late August 1968 : on holiday in Chichester, sitting in the TV lounge of the Dolphin & Anchor hotel prior to dinner (a stunning old building next to the beautiful cathedral), watching grainy B&W news footage of Soviet tanks invading Czechoslovakia; had I also watched the (Hergé’s Adventures Of) Tin-Tin cartoon beforehand, or was that another memory from the same hotel but conflated in time?

30 January 1965 : with my parents visiting a friend of my father’s, a retired school-mistress living in East London, sitting in the dimly-lit lounge whose door was kept free from draughts by a thick rug hanging from an overhead rail, watching Churchill’s funeral barge coming down the Thames.

Late 1960s : awakening in a room so cold that my breath was visible, and there was ice on the inside of the windows, rising about 15cm from the bottom of the frame and being up to 4mm thick.

SRN4 HovercraftSRN4 HovercraftAugust 1981 : On holiday in Ramsgate, walking along the coastal path to Pegwell Bay, hearing the familiar drone and turning to photograph an SRN4 hovercraft (GH-2008 "Sir Christopher") on its approach run to the concrete apron of the Hoverlloyd Terminal, before its companion (GH-2004 "Swift") starts a return run.

Mid & Late 1960s : Although living in a maisonette on the 5'th & 6'th floors of what was then a new block of flats, heating was provided in the lounge by a traditional coal fire (primitive electric convectors and dazzling radiants with curved chrome reflectors were the only choice for the other rooms), so coal was delivered through a small chute next to the front door where it fell through to a cupboard in the main hallway, horizontal slats being slotted into place when necessary to keep coal in, or removed to allow easier access. Then, when they could be obtained from the many local building sites, old planks of wood and split-down doors were propped on the edge of a chair and slowly fed into the glowing fire, though we had to make sure that smoke went up the chimney rather than flowed back into the room.