The Hard Work Started.


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The new house was obviously immense, the size of the rooms and height of the ceilings meant that heating them was almost impossible. Waking up in the winter and finding frost on the inside of the windows was normal, as was seeing the warmth of your breath create a cloud as it hit the cold morning air.

In the little toilet at the end of the long landing that led to the back of the house upstairs, there was an electric heater on the wall. This could be switched on and the tiny room would soon be heavenly warm. As it was the only warm place in the house we would take it in turns in the mornings to race out of bed, grab our clothes and race along the landing to this little room to get dressed.

There was no central heating and only gas fires in a few of the main rooms. A small gas bottled heater would be wheeled about the rooms and used to keep that area vaguely warm and we had several little paraffin heaters that would be lit and huddled around.

These paraffin heaters were to become one of the banes of my life. Needing to have their little tanks replenished with paraffin every day, I was the one usually given the job of taking two plastic one gallon cans along to the petrol station where paraffin was sold and carting it back home.

There was a small station only about 100 yards away but often they would not have a supply and it would mean a trek of about half a mile to the next larger petrol station. Half a mile doesn’t seem far, but for someone of about seven years old, carrying two 1 gallon cans, one weighing down each arm, it was always and arduous task. No matter how hard I tried, I would always end up with some of the dreaded liquid spilt on me, only a tiny amount, a few drops, or the can would rub on my clothes, but it was enough to result in me carrying around the foul paraffin smell about me all day.

At some point early on, money was injected into the house. A rich red carpet was laid on the stairs and landings, everywhere was decorated and the house became a lot lighter. The large front room with its enormous bay window overlooking the park was to become my favourite room in the house. Sylvie had painted it in pale colours and laid a deep royal blue carpet. It had its original large, grey and white marble fireplace, deep skirting boards and a decorative ceiling rose. Sylvie had obviously invested money somehow on dressing the window beautifully in long blueish grey patterned drapes with fitted pelmets and tie backs. They framed the window beautifully and were to remain for as long as I can remember. This was to become a living room but not one used every day, more at weekends and times such as Christmas or special occasions.

The size of the house, and the large family within it, resulted in the need to maintain a constant flow of money. Larry still worked away at this time, but less so. Although still HGV driving, his work also now involved furniture removals and Sylvie’s son had left school and joined him in this. The work would take them away for odd the odd night or two most weeks but generally they were home most nights. The money coming in was not enough to maintain the house and the family so various ideas of bringing income in had to be formulated and put into action.

It also meant that this is where the hard work started.


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