LONDON DAYS

© Copyright Peter Crawford 2014

So.....it was now 1957.....
As soon as Pete arrived back from his holiday in Bavaria Jane went into hospital.
It had all been arranged previously, but Pete had not been told what was to happen, and was given no explanations.

York Street - Marylebone
© Copyright Peter Crawford 2014
York Street - London
Apparently Jane had, what was referred to at the time, euphemistically, as 'woman's trouble', although that phrase was never mentioned to Pete, and he was told that she just needed to go into hospital for a while.
Although Pete had no knowledge of what had transpired when Jane was in London during the war - the gynecological problem that Jane was suffering from was almost certainly related to those events - but that was just one of the many 'skeletons' that all families have in the 'cupboard' - that no one refers to - at least not in front of the children.
And at at that point something odd happened.
Pete had his case packed, and was taken from Hounslow to Baker Street Station by Underground.
It seems that John Crawford either couldn't, or wouldn't look after Pete while Jane was in hospital.
Now it was true that John would not be at home for a few hours when Pete returned from school - but one would have thought that one of the neighbours, the Downings, the Chandlers or even Mr Wilkinson, could have looked after him, and given him tea and sandwiches while Pete waited for John to return.



Marylebone
Instead, Pete was to be looked after by Auntie Gladys (John's sister-in-law) and Uncle Dick (John's brother), in York Street, in Marylebone - and no arrangement was made for him to attend school in London.
Well, Pete didn't mind.
He knew the tenants who lived in the apartments in York street, and he liked Auntie Gladys and Uncle Dick, and he could watch the ATV channel on their television - so he was quite happy.

And what's this business about ATV ?
(Most television, at that time [Jane and Johns' had been bought in 1953, for the coronation], could receive only one channel - and that was BBC. In order receive ATV (ITV), which had been launched in 1955, it was necessary to have a 'box' fitted which, when switched on, would give ITV reception - although it was also necessary to have an additional ariel).
Well Jane refused to have the television in Pears Road adapted for ATV because she thought ATV was 'common'.
Now today, the idea of 'common' is uncommon.

Commercial Television Logo
© Copyright Peter Crawford 2014
The concept of being 'common' is something very pertinent to the period before the 1960s.
It had a wealth of meanings, including un-educated, tasteless, lower class, and vulgar - but it's a word that is rarely heard in the twenty-first century.
Being 'common' also had a lot to do with language.

British Broadcasting Corporation
© Copyright Peter Crawford 2014
Common people used 'serviettes' rather than 'napkins', use a 'toilet' rather that a 'lavatory', sat on a 'settee' rather than a 'sofa', used a mirror rather than a 'looking-glass' - and so it went on.
Common women would leave the house without gloves, (matching their shoes and handbag), which was something a 'lady' would never do.
In reality, of course, it was Jane who didn't like the idea of what was then known as 'Commercial television' - John wasn't really bothered - having spent a number of years in the Middle East.
And, of course, was a strange 'snobbishness', at the time, with regard to ATV.
The BBC was formed in 1922, and initially licensed by the British General Post Office.
On 14 December 1922, John Reithwas hired to become the Managing Director of the company.
On 31 December 1926 the company was dissolved, and its assets were transferred to the non-commercial and Crown Chartered British Broadcasting Corporation - the real BBC.
Reith had no broadcasting experience (!) when he replied to an advertisement in 'The Morning Post' for a General Manager for an as-yet unformed British Broadcasting Company in 1922.
Reith's autocratic approach became the stuff of BBC legend.

John Reith
His preferred approach was one of benevolent dictator, but with built-in checks to his power.
Reith summarized the BBC's purpose in three words: educate, inform, entertain; and Jane definitely approved wholeheartedly with the first two purposes.
Reith earned a reputation for prudishness in sexual matters - and Jane, after her wartime 'fling', had become remarkably 'prudish'.
Rieth, of course, was Scottish, and although he was educated in Glasgow - something that Jane would not have entirely approved - for Jane had been educated in Edinburgh, but at least Rieth had a good, classical Scottish education.
The fact that Rieth was obsessed with a teenage boy - with whom he lived - and that this obsession continued for most of his life - strangely- seemed to bother no one at the time.
So - the reason for the snobbery regarding the BBC is to be found in the term 'Reithianism', which describes certain principles of broadcasting associated with Lord Reith.
These include an equal consideration of all viewpoints, probity, universality and a commitment to public service.
It can be distinguished from the free-market approach to broadcasting - 'commercial television', meaning ATV - where programming aims to attract the largest audiences or advertising revenues, ahead of – and, in practice, often contrary to – any artistic merit, impartiality, educative or entertainment values, that a programme may have.

'Sunday Night at the London Palladium'
This, of course, typifies Jane's attitude towards Pete's upbringing and education.
This, then raises the question of why she allowed Peter to stay at York Street.
Jane approved of Gladys, because she was upper class, with a 'cut-glass' accent, and immaculate manners - ignoring the fact that she was an alcoholic.
Richard, however, was another matter.
The best Jane would allow would be to refer to Dick as a 'rough diamond' - but he was John's brother.

Dick,Gladys and Peter
© Copyright Peter Crawford 2014
Regardless, when Jane visited York Street she would watch ATV, and probably her favourite programme was 'Sunday Night at the London Palladium'.
When John left Pete with his brother Richard, things were initially a little bit awkward.
Auntie Gladys and uncle Dick never had any children, so they were at a bit of a loss as to what to do with Peter.
It seems that they didn't realise that boy's of Pete's age had to go to school - so they didn't bother.
John was probably told that arrangements had been made, but then uncle Dick would say anything just to get rid of a problem.
For his bed, Peter was given a comfortable divan, situated in the lounge (Gladys, of course, would refer to it as the 'drawing room' - and her tenants as 'guests'..
This meant, however, that Pete didn't go to bed until Richard and Gladys retired (usually after a late night out drinking with ex guard's officer, Tommy Kane, and Joe, Tommy's 'lady-friend') - and the result was that Pete watched a lot of television.
But what to do during the day.

Seymour Place Baths - Under Construction



Well Antonio and Paolo, the Italian waiters at Claridges,  often worked nights, and so they were free during the day.
They often went swimming at the Seymour Place Baths, so the took Pete - and, in case you are wondering, it was all very innocent - Antonio and Paolo were determinedly heterosexual, with disturbingly attractive girlfriends.






Selfridges



Oxford Street was just a short walk away from York Street (why not go there and check it out?), so Gladys would take Pete round all the best shops in Oxford Street and Bond Street, and in particular Selfridges, to 'window shop' - and sometimes even buy him something.




Then there was Regent's Park, and Pete spent many very happy hours walking in the park.

Regents Park
Regent's Park is one of the Royal Parks of London. It lies within inner North West London, partly in the City of Westminster and partly in the London Borough of Camden. It contains Regent's College and the London Zoo. The park has an outer ring road called the Outer Circle, and an inner ring road called the Inner Circle, which surrounds the most carefully tended section of the park, Queen Mary's Gardens. Apart from two link roads between these two, the park is reserved for pedestrians. The south, east and most of the west side of the park are lined with elegant white stucco terraces of houses designed by John Nash. Running through the northern end of the park is Regent's Canal which connects the Grand Union Canal to the former London docks.

Elgin Marbles - Duveen Gallery - British Museum
© Copyright Peter Crawford 2014
A short bus-ride away (or a long walk) was the British Museum, so that was another way for Pete to pass the time, and it was during this period that Pete became fascinated with ancient history, and the art of Egypt, Greece and Rome.

British Museum
© Copyright Peter Crawford 2014
The British Museum is dedicated to human history and culture. Its permanent collection, numbering some 8 million works, is among the largest and most comprehensive in existence and originates from all continents, illustrating and documenting the story of human culture from its beginnings to the present.

The British Museum was established in 1753, largely based on the collections of the physician and scientist Sir Hans Sloane. The museum first opened to the public on 15 January 1759 in Montagu House in Bloomsbury, on the site of the current museum building. 

Sevres Vases - Wallace Collection
Also, just a short walk away, off Baker Street, was the Wallace Collection - filled with arms and armour, paintings, and beautiful Sevres porcelain and Baroque and Rococo furniture.

Wallace Collection
The Wallace Collection is a museum in London, with a world-famous range of fine and decorative arts from the 15th to the 19th centuries with large holdings of French 18th-century paintings, furniture, arms & armour, porcelain and Old Master paintings arranged into 25 galleries. It was established in 1897 from the private collection mainly created by Richard Seymour-Conway, 4th Marquess of Hertford (1800–1870), who left it and the house to his illegitimate son Sir Richard Wallace (1818–1890), whose widow bequeathed the entire collection to the nation. The museum opened to the public in 1900 in Hertford House, Manchester Square, and remains there, housed in its entirety, to this day. 

There was only so much time, however, that Pete could spend wandering around museums and parks.
And so, Uncle Dick arranged for 'Monsieur Paul' to take Pete to the Mostyn Hotel for the mornings on week-days.

Mostyn Hotel - London - 1950s
Now, as already explained, 'Monsieur Paul' was the Head Chef at the Mostyn Hotel, which was situated on the corner of Portman Street and  Bryanston Street, which is about ten minutes walk from York Street.
Pete  would accompany 'Monsieur Paul' at about seven in the morning.
On arrival Paul would go to his office, deep in the bowels of the hotel, with Pete, and discuss the food deliveries and orders, and the menus for the day with his Deputy.

Kitchen
Once the planning and paperwork was finished, Pete would be set to work preparing vegetables for the Vegetable Chef.
During his work, Peter discovered that in a big kitchen there was a chef (interestingly, of a different nationality), for each type of food, - meat, fish, pastry, vegetables etc.
In addition, Peter also helped with the washing-up.
It was while working in the kitchens that Pete discovered the probable reason for 'Monsieur Paul's' alcoholism.
When the chefs were cooking over the large stoves they were very hot, and usually had a Pyrex bowl of wine (or maybe something stronger) nearby, which they used regularly - and it was quite probable that they were partly inebriated for most of the day.
At midday Pete would lay a large table in the kitchen for the Chef's lunch.
He would then eat lunch with some of the Chefs, and 'Monsieur Paul', and then clear away at the end of the meal.
Once the clearing up and washing up was approved by 'Monsieur Paul', Pete would leave the Mostyn, and walk back, on his own, to York Street.

London Airport
Vauxhall Velox
And then, in the afternoons and weekends, there were trips to London Airport (Heathrow), with uncle Dick, to drop off and pick up the wonderful Ford Zodiacs and Vauxhall Veloxs, which were used by the wealthy American Tourists.
And on the weekends, Dick would stop off at Pears Road, and Pete would get to see John, and play in the garden (there was no garden at York Street).

The Garage - Marylebone
1950s Rolls Royce
And in the early evenings, when Dick was putting away the cars he had been using, in the Marylebone garage, Pete would also accompany him, - and in the garage Pete loved to sit in the two large black Rolls Royces that Dick kept to hire out for weddings.
And what fascinated Pete about the Rolls Royces was the walnut cocktail cabinet, complete with glasses in the rear compartment.

Eisenhower and Macmillan
And then there was one special day.
Gladys couldn't be bothered to go and see US President Eisenhower ride down Baker Street with Prime Minister Harold Macmillan - perhaps she had seen too many smooth-talking politicians, or perhaps she had had too much cider.
And Dick was out working.

Dwight "Ike" Eisenhower
Dwight David "Ike" Eisenhower (October 14, 1890 – March 28, 1969) was the 34th President of the United States from 1953 until 1961. He was a five-star general in the United States Army during World War II and served as Supreme Commander of the Allied Forces in Europe; he had responsibility for planning and supervising the invasion of North Africa in Operation Torch in 1942–43 and the successful invasion of France and Germany in 1944–45 from the Western Front. In 1951, he became the first supreme commander of NATO.


Maurice Harold Macmillan
Maurice Harold Macmillan, 1st Earl of Stockton, OM, (10 February 1894 – 29 December 1986) was Conservative Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 10 January 1957 to 18 October 1963. Nicknamed "Supermac" and known for his pragmatism, wit and unflappability, Macmillan achieved note before the Second World War as a Tory radical and critic of appeasement. 

So Antonio and Paolo, and their pretty young girlfriends took Pete to the bottom of York Street, where they could watch the two world leaders (well maybe one world leader and a prime-minister) driving down Baker Street.
The day was fine and sunny, and sizeable crowds had gathered on both sides of Baker Street to watch the motorcade pass by.

to be continued very soon



This post is under construction - please be patient

click below for the next chapter

© Copyright Peter Crawford 2014
NEW FOR OLD

Jane returns from hospital. Then everything changes. Jane and John and Peter move home, and begin a 'new life' - and Peter starts to grow up - very quickly.






1 comment:

  1. Interesting sharing !!!
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    Thank you..

    ReplyDelete