LONDON DAYS

© Copyright Peter Crawford 2014

As soon as Peter arrived back from his holiday in Bavaria Jane went into hospital.
It had all been arranged previously, but Peter had not been told.

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', and needed an operation.
At at that point something odd happened.
Peter 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 Peter while Jane was in hospital.
Now it was true that John would not be at home for a few hours when Peter 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 Peter waited for John to return.



Marylebone
Instead, Peter was to be looked after by Auntie Gladys and Uncle Dick, in York Street, in Marylebone - and no arrangement was made for him to attend school in London.
Well Peter didn't mind.
He knew the tenants who lived in the flats 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 ?
Well Jane and John refused to have the television in Pears Road adapted for ATV because they 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 its 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' - 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 know as 'Commercial television'.
There 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 Reith was 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, at least Rieth had a good, classical Scottish education.
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 Peter'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.
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 Peter 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 Peter'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.
This meant, however, that he didn't go to bed until Richard and Gladys retired - and the result was that Peter watched a lot of television.
But what to do during the day.

Seymour Place Baths - Under Construction




Well Antonio and Paolo, the Italien 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 Peter.







Selfridges



Oxford street was just a short walk away, so Gladys would take Peter round all the best shops, and in particular Selfridges, to 'window shop' - and sometimes even buy him something.




Then there was Regents Park, and Peter 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 was the British Museum, so that was another way for Peter to pass the time, and it was during this period that Peter 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 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 Peter could spend wandering round museums and parks.
And so, Uncle Dick arranged for 'Monsieur Paul' to take Peter 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.
Peter  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 Peter, and discuss the food deliveries and orders, and the menus for the day with his Deputy.

Kitchen
One the planning and paper-work was finished, Peter 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 Peter 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 Peter 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', Peter would leave the Mostyn, and walk back 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 Peter 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, Peter would also accompany him, - and in the garage Peter loved to sit in the two large black Rolls Royces that Dick kept to hire out for weddings.
And what fascinated Peter 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 Peter 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.






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