It’s all about Mothers and learning to read.
I was born in Lewisham Hospital SE13 – in another War, World War 2 As soon as possible, I was over the River Thames, to bedsits, shared flats, sofas and floors, ending up in Notting Hill Gate. In the late 1960s into the 70s it was known by locals as ‘The Grove.’ The areas between down the hills of Ladbroke Grove and Westbourne Grove. The first place that felt like home.
-as far as I know?
Reading and books – precious gifts.
‘I learned to read in the years between 1948 and 1950. I don’t remember the learning or the teacher. I have often wished that I could say ‘Thank you.’ That reading saved my life, my sanity, my bacon, my everything.
Then there was the accidental discovery in a Pub in Hastings in 1964 that I could sing. Well, singing is a big word, hollering more like. But hey, I managed to raise my two children with that singing and the reading together with the radio, were to be my university.
When I was young, really young, 13 or 14 or so, and into my 20’s, I began lie about who I was and where I came from. Once, sitting on the steps underneath Eros in Piccadilly Circus, it was said if you sat there long enough, someone you knew would stroll by- they never did.
Anyway, I digress, I sometimes pretended to be American. It was all the Rage in the 1950s into the 1960s to be American, Elvis, Hollywood, Doris Day And Rock Hudson, Blue Jeans and Rock ‘n Roll and R & B & big long flashy Cars. Pontiac, Cadillac, Mercury and Dodge and Studebaker and the prize, a Chevrolet Bel Air.
Then, of course, I was chatted up by a man who was American. Oh dear. And when working as a mothers help in a village outside Cambridge, I pretended to be French – until I was questioned by a Posh boy in a coffee bar, a student who had been on Holidays there, maybe to the Bordeaux, Bretagne, Burgundy and the Franche-Comte.
Looking back, why mess with the truth Who gives a shit?
I didn’t know it at the time, but I didn’t want to be me.
Extract from The Singers Tale
‘War Time London. Bombs, Songs and a Baby. ‘Oh What a beautiful Morning’ London SE13 in 1944 It was a Friday. Good Friday and it was not a beautiful morning, and it would not be a beautiful day, and there was an absence of bright golden meadows and sunshine goodness in the world. A World at War and people danced whenever they could.‘
Roots – Grandparents Cottage in Ash Kent 1917/18/19
My Mother Cecile & my Grandmother Cecile.
My Grandfather Percy, and his Billy Can, from World War 1 Below.
Sacha, my Niece and I, find my Grandmother, Sacha, Sam and Kasia’s Great Grandmother in Ash. Taking wildflowers for her Grave from my Garden in Folkestone.
Sacha and my half-sister Lindsay in New Zealand
Carol & Jennifer – Lewisham 1948
A Seaside holiday in Deal in Kent with Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. During a very cold winter
extract from The Singers Tale
‘1946 to 1948 Lewisham The excited babble of children’s voices around a silent radio. Maybe it was soon to be Children’s Hour? Or Listen with Mother? There were no mothers belonging to the children listening in the room. I think it was then that the small girl began to understand that if you stay in the present you could pretend the past need not exist. ‘
Above First Caravan in Life… Jennifer back right, Lindsay front- the 2nd of my sisters & a friend.
On Weymouth Beach 1950 – Jennifer sitting and me- Ships of War still around, ominous and oddly normal- the post War years
Below. The only pics of myself as a young woman….. 16/17ish
Below- My little family in The Grove
Born May 29th 1967 in Ladbroke Grove Marternity wing of Paddington Hospital London.
Born 1987 in Homerton Hospital, Hackney London
Black & White Photographs Sheila Burnette
Below- The women with whom I share a common bloodline
As I spent little time with my sisters, and they moved to New Zealand when I was in my early teens, I had not seen them for a few years, I have very few pics of them.
Terri-my Mother’s half sister, Kasia and Carol in Primrose Hill N1 London. It was wonderful in later life, when pregnant with Kasia, to get to know and to treasure in my life, Terri who was known as Gillian as a child.
1966 Pregnant with Sam, we moved north, from bedsits, shared flats, friends sofas and floors, around Earls Court, Fulham and Chelsea areas! To Notting Hill and found a room and a small kitchen, with a bathroom on the downstairs landing. Shared with 3 families
The horror that was the Gas Stove, it blew one day and singed my fringe and eyelashes, ouch.
St Stevens Gardens W2 1966/67/68/69/
Above- Left -Guy Cross Photographer. Right- Me & Sam
On the roof outside 113 St Stevens Gardens
The folks in The Grove..loved them.
Above – The Apollo Pub on All Saints Road W2 – a Photo shoot in my road, in my Local xx
left – Sam and Larry in 113 St Stevens Gardens.
Our Patch, a rough place, but in it lived some wonderful people.
In the window on St Stevens Gardens W2 with Mustapha our Cat
Sam- Photo By ‘Daddy’ Guy Cross
Then I moved –
With Sam, to 8a All Saints Road, just around the corner, over Westbourne Grove and near Portobello Road.
Portobello Road, and Sam’s early School days.
Below One of my Albums cover Photo –
Our Home In All Saints Road W2
All Saints Road Days
Sam and Louis, a benefit Gig for The Powis Square Playground
Next a move…. Part 2