I accidently erased this blog and have had to re-install it. Unfortunately, I have also erased the comments that were kindly left for me. I apologise for this and if possible would appreciate the comments being re-instated. Thank you.
The Highlight of 1951 was the Festival of Britain, built one hundred years after ‘The Great Victorian Exhibition of 1851’. There were many facets to the festival. The Pleasure Gardens, a huge fun fair, a tree walk, The Dome of Discovery and, of course, the world famous ‘Skylon’, a futuristic structure which appeared to have no visible means of support. This magnificent and prize winning structure was sold for scrap in 1952 (the following year).
All this was an enormous feat of design and technology, and intended to show the world how well we had picked up the pieces and recovered from World War ll. The Royal Family, heads of state, and millions of tourists visited the Battersea Pleasure Gardens.
Hoping to get the public into a festive mood, the organisers announced that there was to be a huge fancy dress night at the Pleasure Gardens. The entrance fee would be waived for any person arriving at the turnstile in fancy dress costume; the Leach’s and Chapman’s needed no second bidding, and immediately organised a large group.
Aunty Minnie, Ruby and her son, Mummy and Daddy, Arthur’s brother and Arthur and I, and several friends made up a large party, and let ourselves loose on the London Underground, bound for Battersea. Dad this time became ‘Old Mother Riley’, and stole the show.
Much to Arthur’s embarrassment, and everyone else’s joy, his brother dressed as a Romany gypsy, strapped his piano accordion on and serenaded us all during the underground tube journey and at the Festival.
When we arrived, we discovered that hardly another soul had made the effort to dress up. We didn’t care, it was still a lot of fun, and the Press was pleased that we’d entered into the spirit of the occasion. They interviewed us and took our names, and a group photograph duly appeared in the next day’s newspaper.
The only part of the Festival of Britain still surviving is, of course, The Festival hall on the South Bank.
Although we threw lots of parties and enjoyed dressing up, I must admit that we did change our party tastes after a couple of years of married life. This was solely down to the couple that had the flat above ours at Oakfield road. He was about fifteen years younger than his partner and they lived together many years, later marrying.
They had a circle of about a dozen or so close friends who they often brought home after an evening out, or sometimes instead of going out. Rather than have the inconvenience of guests tip-toeing past our bedroom door on the way to the loo, they would ask if we would like to join the party. We really came to love their get-togethers, and our taste in parties changed from then on. Our hosts would have little dishes of nuts and crisps and sausage rolls lying around, the drinks were plentiful and generous, the lights were turned low and the music was classy. It was all very intimate and we all got quietly, slowly and sedately drunk as, arms entwined around each other’s necks, we danced into the small hours. Pure magic!