Thursday, 18 June 2009


The couple that sold us the house took everything they could remove without damage. We even had to go and buy light bulbs for all the rooms. The kitchen had a strip light that they‘d wanted to remove, but our solicitor had said no, it must remain. Nevertheless, all the curtains, nets and floor coverings had been stripped from the house, so we were glad of the two hundred and fifty pounds that we’d received from our ex-agents.
We were very proud of our new house. Lynne had her own bedroom. It only measured six feet by seven feet, but it was all hers. She could, theoretically at least, keep the boys out of her belongings. The room was so small that there was only room for a single bed and bedside cabinet, which had to stand at the foot of the bed! I said that Lynne’s clothes could go in my wardrobe, a decision that I never was happy about. As she slowly grew into a teenager, she always had more clothes than me.
Philip and John were allocated the middle bedroom, which was a good size for two small boys who loved sleeping in their new bunk beds. Once Arthur had got going with cupboards, shelving and toy chests, all the children were comfortable and delighted to have their own space. We painted a road plan on to a large square of hardboard and set this into the centre of the boy’s bedroom floor. It was complete with roundabouts, zebra crossing and petrol station. Philip and John had dozens of Corgi and Matchbox cars, and would sit for ages vroom-vrooming them up and down the painted roads. Those cars experienced more than their fair share of crashes and fatal accidents, involving soldiers and North American Indians, who just happened to be standing in the middle of the roads!
We hadn’t been living in Enfield very long when the firm that I worked for fell upon hard times. Belts were tightened and workers (including me) had to be laid off. As I had a whole house to play with now, Arthur and I decided that I should stay home for a while unless our finances dictated otherwise.
Then we received the letter from the hospital, saying that John could now have his second operation. This time, Mr Lloyd-Roberts wouldn’t be carrying out the operation; it was to be done by one of his colleagues. The operation itself was a success, but the scarring was quite bad and we weren’t very happy about it. We were, however, still very grateful for the skill and dedication of all concerned at the Great Ormond Street Hospital for Sick Children.

One amusing anecdote comes from this otherwise worrying period of time. After John’s initial operation he had proudly told friends, relatives, teachers and even strangers in the street, that he had plates in both his legs and, on learning that he was to have his plates removed, he asked if he could keep them afterwards. The surgeon who was to perform the operation told us that they were made of precious metal, which was very costly and always re-cycled. However, seeing the devastated look on John’s face, the surgeon took pity on him, saying that he’d ‘do his best’. John came back semi-conscious from the operating theatre and the surgeon came to his bedside to see how things were progressing. After chatting to us, he put his hand into his pocket, smiled, and pulled out a little brown envelope.
‘There you are John, I said I’d do my best,’ the doctor laughed. ‘You’ll probably get me fired, but you’ve been such a brave boy, you deserve these.’ He placed the package on the top of John’s bedside cabinet. ‘Here’s your plates, look after them.’
John smiled a sleepy contented smile and dozed off again. It wasn’t until later when he was fully awake that he asked once more if he could have his plates. We handed him the envelope. His face fell.
‘These aren’t plates, they’re just pieces of tin,’ he said.
The penny suddenly dropped. All this time, we had been glibly talking about John’s plates and had stupidly though he knew what we meant. In his childish mind, a plate was a dish that he ate from, and he had expected to be handed a couple of tea-plates! We felt so sorry for him. He’d longed for the time when he could look at his plates and, all the time, they weren’t what he thought they would be. Nevertheless, he saved the plates, screws and stitches and took them with him when he finally left home as a grown man.


Jay said...

Oh, how funny! Poor little guy, expecting to be able to eat his tea off his plates! LOL!

Not so funny moving into a house where all the fixtures and fittings had been stripped! It all adds so much to the cost, doesn't it? Since our family was the same configuration as yours, it was I who had the 'box' room and while my two brothers shared the larger one. I was always so envious of them, but of course, I had privacy, and they did not.

granny grimble said...

I wouldn't dream of stripping a house like that. So petty to take light bulbs, and do carpets ever fit when you are moving on?

I can still see Lynne sitting cross legged in the middle of her bed, studying for her A levels with Pink Floyd playing at full blast. When she first took over that room it was Barbie and Sindy and Enid Blyton!

Croom said...

Oh Leeta, how very funny, poor John. What did they actually look like? John has almost certainly shown me in the past but I can‘t remember.

When we moved from England to Spain we not only left everything we could but also purchased a bunch of flowers and left my lovely vase as well! We did not have the same courtesy when we arrived here. Do you remember not only had the owner taken all the bulbs but she had also taken all the fittings leaving wires taped up!

Thank you for a lovely episode again. Can’t wait for the next.

weechuff said...

Some people can be so mean, stripping the house like that. When I left our home to move to Yorkshire,apart from all the usual things, I left curtains that matched the quilt cover and pillow cases,(which I also left) a pint of milk, tea, coffee and a packet of biscuits, together with a card!

granny grimble said...

They were like a metal patch with holes drilled in them to facilitate screws. If you think about he job they had to do, it is then easy to imagine what they were like.
Yes I have always left welcome things for new owners. It's the way we were bought up I suppose.

As I said to Jay, carpets and curtains rarely fit your new home, and as for taking bulbs that are so cheap to buy and rarely survive being removed from their ftting. Well!

Babs-beetle said...

Tea plates - Bless him ha ha!
I wonder if that was the beginnings of Johns fascination for bones and his weird collections :)

We also left all curtains, carpets and fittings, when we moved. We even left our cooker and other bits for them! Some people are just very mean!

granny grimble said...

I don't know know he thought a plate of any size could fit inside his little legs! Obviously a five year old doesn't reason like an adult!

Swubird said...


You sure have had an interesting life with your kids. Of course, I realize kids always sweeten the pot when it comes to problems. I've raised more than my fair share, and they each came with their particular brand of ticklish situations.

As I read you story, I was thinking of all the other stories you've written and it occurred to me that you might publish the lot as one book. Self publish the thing and give it to your children. Is that your plan?

Having said that, I must mention something interesting I read not too long ago. It was in regards to parents writing their memoirs and giving them to their children. The article said that in all of their studies and investigation, their conclusion was that virtually none of the children ever read their parents memoirs. They simply didn't care. Isn't that unbelievable?

My Queen wanted me to write my life's story and give it to our kids. In fact, that's how I came to write my blog articles. So I agreed to write a series of short stories, publish them on the blog, and then lengthen them up and bit and publish them as a no holds barred book. You know, really let them know what it was like---good and bad. R-rated. Each story stands alone and you can read them in any order you wish. But if you read the book from beginning to end, it will form a loose autobiography.

That's all good. But as I began to write the blog I soon discovered that none of my kids read it. They won't take five minutes out of their day to read my blog. To them, I came from an era when we didn't phones, no plasma screen TV's, and no iPods. In other words, I'm a caveman, and everything I did is ancient history. Incredible. I get more feedback from my friends in cyberspace than my own offspring. But there you go, just like the article said.

Another great post on your part. I wonder if he still has the plates after all these years?

Happy trails.

granny grimble said...

Thank you for that long and interesting comment. As a matter of fact,I wrote my book, which was a family history starting wih my grandparents meeting, and going on until ten years ago, when I wrote the book. My blogs are now extracts from the said book that I thought might interest others.
I have three children, five sisters and two brothers. My daughter poof read it for me and apart from that, only one sister and one brother has read it as far as I know. So your aricle was quite right, who cares!

Swubird said...


Amazing. Just like the article predicted. But I read your stuff and I think it's interesting. So keep posting.

Happy trails.