Although crowded in the small house, life seemed settled for a couple of years. Larry worked as an HGV driver and this would take him away for days at a time.
I went along to a local nursery, skipping along to it every day with the boy from next door, sometimes wheeling my beloved little pink, moulded plastic pram, or racing along on my tiny scooter. The nursery was in a grand, big old stone house with an enormous garden and I loved going there.
All the children had their own peg to hang their coat and bags, and their own little towels. Above each peg would be a symbol, mine was a squirrel, and there would be the same corresponding symbol on your towel, your desk, your PE bag, even on the deck-chair type fold out beds and blankets, which we were made to snuggle into every afternoon for one hour.
Just before I reached the age of five another house move was made. With the benefit of hindsight, I have realised that the move was one of necessity. Given the age of Sylvie’s youngest daughter and the time of moving into this house, Sylvie was obviously pregnant again. Already cramped in the tiny house, it wasn’t going to be able to accommodate another child.
Still too young to really understand, I vaguely recall standing in a big room in a house, it seemed dark, with a very high ceiling and there was some rubbish on the floor, old screwed up newspapers and some rags. I also have a recollection of standing in the garden, looking back at the house, surrounded by weeds and grass as tall as I was then. I realise now that this must have been when we were taken to view the house. Soon a ‘mortgage’ of sorts was arranged with a local business man who owned the house. The move was made and this was to become our permanent home.
The house was 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.
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. 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 an arduous task.
No matter how hard I tried, I would always end up with some of the 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.