Monday, 27 February 2017

Growing up in Eltham in the 1950s ....stories by Eddy Newport 8 a bike, a paper round and King Alfred's cakes

Another in the series by Eddy Newport taken from his book, History of a War Baby.

My paper round was going strong and I wanted a new bike, the fashion then was light weight frames narrow wheels and drop handlebars. Dad took me to a cycle shop in Woolwich and I chose a BSA Armstrong sports model colour red and black with Stymie Archer gears.

If cost about £25 and dad put a £1 down and signed the hire purchase forms and said I had to pay the monthly payments. I had by then changed my paper round employee to a man who ran a business from his garage in Ross Way,

I was on a wage of 9 shillings and sixpence a week (£0.755 pence). My new bike was to cost me six shillings (£0.30 pence) a week so I was still in profit.

The bike took me two years to be pay off with interest. Every week I would go into the shop and pay it. That bike was to take me all over the place and play an important part of my life.

Experiences at Ealdham Square:-
Also, my artistic appreciation started to be stimulated as we were subjected to various musical enlightenments from our music teacher Miss Skelton.

She was very fond of choirs and classical music, and would have the class sit down on the floor in the assembly hall and play to us 78 RPM records.

She also had a habit of keeping a handkerchief in her knickers and her hand would creep under her dress and pull out the hanky to blow her nose.

This habit to us children was fascinating and a snigger went round the class when she did this. She was very fond of the Welsh male voice choir singing “The Lamb of God” We had to learn it to sing at the Christmas parents evening. One year our class had to put on a performance to entertainer the parents.

Our form teacher Mr Evens decided to get our class to act out “King Alfred the Great” and the burnt cakes saga.

The bulk of the class were to be the chorus and various pupils were selected to play the main roles. It was based on a famous poem which told the story of Alfred losing his kingdom to the evil Danes and in retreat, he forgo his kingly robes and put on peasant's clothes and went off on his own whereby he met a peasant family.

The woman of the household instructed Alfred to look after the fire where some cakes were cooking. Unfortunately, he fell asleep and the cakes were burnt.

He incurred the wrath of the woman and she chased him out of here home. I did not understand the significances of all this and what it had to do with Alfred suddenly decided to make up with the evil Danes, but that’s how the play came to an end and we all took our bows. I was a member of the chorus until I was thrust to stardom when Richard Atkins (the lead player) went sick and could not perform it for the parents evening.

Mr Evens asked if any of the class knew the lead part I put up my hand and was to take over the role with only one rehearsal to do the main performance. So I was King Alfred and did (I thought) a flawless performance.

Stage fright and overcoming the nerves were all there. But when the applause died down and we took our bows the feeling of excitement and exhilaration was wonderful.

I was stage-struck. It was to be forty years before I was to perform on a stage again. Richard came back to perform the play in front of the school children and to my delight, he forgot his lines and had to rely on Mr Evens prompting him.

© Eddy Newport 2017

Picture; from the collection of Eddy Newport

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