Tuesday, 2 April 2013

WordPress Daily Prompt: Prized Possession

Describe an item you were incredibly attached to as a child. What became of it?

Norah Street

This is the street where I grew up, belonging to the so-called “slums” of East London. The photo was in a national newspaper after the people had moved out for some reason or another. We had an outside toilet in the garden, no bathroom, no running hot water, but it was many years ago. I left home when I was twenty years old, mum and dad stayed in the house. My aunt and uncle lived opposite. My grandfather lived with us until he died about five years before I left.

Eventually the London government did decide it was time to reduce the street to rubble and it became part of the slum development scheme. My mum always thought it would not have been so bad if a stray bomb had hit it in the last world war. The family all slept in a hut in the garden during the war, so it would not have bothered them so much. At least they would have been rehoused in something better.

What happened when plans were made to destroy the houses? The families were given choices to move into so-called council houses, built by the government. Mum and dad were glad and they chose to move to the area where my dad worked. There were no moving problems. It was all organised by the local government and what you no longer needed you just left in the house. I was no longer around, having moved off to Switzerland, so no-one asked me if there was anything I would like to keep.

If they had, I would have said “my school books from my grammar school”. I had invested six years of learning in those books, written compositions, solved geometric and algebraic problems, learnt German and French. But no, mum and dad just left it all behind to be destroyed. I have absolutely no remeberences of my school work, it was all just thrown away.
To be fair, items that I was incredibly attached to did not exist. I was not the type to play with dolls, or anything in that line. If at all I was more for a toy gun. Mum and dad were not the born child psychiatrists, so they just got me what I wanted (if it did not costs too much).

I do have memories of a Five pound note I once saved for. I collected my weekly two shillings from my dad every week, and eventually I had collected so much to amount to five pounds. I think there was also some money given to me for my birthday from various uncles and aunts. Anyhow I was proud. A five pound note at the age of ten was rare, but I saved it all up myself and kept it in one of the childrens money boxes.

I did not actually forget it, but did not look at it every day. One day I decided to have a look and it was not there. Gone, disappeared.

“Mum where’s my five pound note?”

“What five pound note?”
“The one in my money box that I save up for.”

Mum raised her voice (probably because she was annoyed at the answer she had to give, I must say she was honest). “I had to pay the electric bill but you will get it back”.

I was just a little bit devestated (although I didn’t even know that word at the age of ten). I think I even raised my voice, but to no avail. I never did get the five pound note back, but I never asked for it again. Today my dad has compensated more than enough for that five pound note, but at the time I was disappointed. They are the only memories I have of being attached to anything really.


  1. Pat....this was such an enjoyable read for me as it gave me a window into your past...and about someone I truly admire today!

    I guess the proper thing to have been done by Mum was for her to ask if she could borrow the five pound note and you knowing the reason why, you most certainly would have said yes. The deed was imprinted enough for you to remember it decades later. Perhaps your Dad's generosity more than compensated the amount....but not enough to erase the hurt it created at the time.

  2. At first I was surprised by your 'item' being a five pound note, but when I read your reasons I understood completely. I can't really think of any 'item' I was really attached to as a child. My father abandoned my mother to raise me by herself when I was less than two years old. She held down several jobs and my grandparents helped out by looking after me while she worked. I didn't go without, but I also didn't have much in the way of toys. There were only two important things (apart from my family) in my childhood. One was books, but I could borrow those from the library, and the other was my friends. There was nothing better than being out all day playing with friends, making our own entertainment.

  3. my dad used to take my savings and even took my money from cards when I was first married. I can so get that. I'm so happy that you were able to fulfill your dreams :)