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EastEnders An Oral History 1985-2015

Discussion in 'UK Soaps Forum' started by James from London, Mar 29, 2018.

  1. James from London

    James from London Soap Chat Enthusiast

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    This is a revised version of what I posted before on the old forum, now updated to include dialogue from the first thirty years of EASTENDERS, plus the various prequels and spin-offs, where characters reminisce about "the old days", in order to construct a roughly chronological, hopefully coherent, "in their own words" account of the series' backstory.

    Because it's now gotten so big and sprawling, I've divided it up into smaller segments which I'll post a bit at a time to make it easier to read. I've done it sort of year by year. This is for purposes of clarity rather than to adhere to some rigid timeline, as it's meant to be more about the characters' memories than issues of continuity.
     
  2. James from London

    James from London Soap Chat Enthusiast

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    Michelle Fowler: "If something doesn't suit you, then ignore it - or better still, rewrite it. What the hell, it's only history."

    Dan Sullivan: "You're making up a history that simply didn't happen."

    Charlie Cotton: "I ain't saying it happened. I'm saying it's what I remember."

    Peggy Mitchell: “You were young. You’re probably not remembering it right.”

    Little Mo Morgan: “You sure you never dreamt all this?”

    Denise Fox: “Did you make that up?”
    Patrick Trueman: “You’ll never know.”

    Pre-1880s

    Phil Mitchell: Where were our family from, originally?
    Grant Mitchell: Hoxton, back to the Stone Age.

    Billy Mitchell on the Mitchells: An East End family revered for centuries.
    Ian Beale: You mean reviled.

    Peggy Mitchell (née Martin), Phil and Grant's mother: Sometimes I think one of our ancestors must have been very strange.

    George "Lofty" Holloway: Walford is on the site of what used to be a Saxon village.

    Roxy Mitchell: Shirley [Carter] knows how to run a bar. She’s been doing it since the Middle Ages.

    Ian Beale: My [Scottish] ancestors led the fight for freedom.

    Ian: The monarchy is what made this country great, gave us an empire to be proud of.
    Christian Clarke: Wasn’t that the Navy?
    Ian: The Royal Navy. It was built in the King’s name.
    Christian: And paid for by the rest of us.

    Peggy on Walford: Rickets was very big around here once upon a time.

    Jim Branning, speaking in 2002: They burnt a witch in Albert Square three hundred years ago. They say that the ghost ...
    Sonia Jackson: Granddad, give it a rest.

    Arthur “Fatboy” Chubb on Queen Victoria: The Queen was a teen when she became queen.

    Dot Cotton (née Colwell) on Albert Square: It's a fine example of Victorian architecture.

    Dot: Some people say they built the Square round me.

    Derek Harkinson: There's an entire system of Victorian sewers beneath [Albert Square].

    Pauline Fowler (née Beale): The whole Square was jerry-built to begin with.

    Pat Evans (née Harris, ex-Beale, ex-Wicks, ex-Butcher): These old houses [on the Square], built by a bloke called Jerry if you ask me.

    Ethel Skinner (née Lewis) on Albert Square: It was never exactly a beauty spot.

    Lou Beale (née Medeemey): There's always been a Beale family living in Walford.

    Martin Fowler, Lou’s grandson, on Albert Square: My mum was born round here and her mum before that and her mum before that.

    Ian Beale, Lou’s grandson, on 45 Albert Square: That house, it’s been in our family as long as anyone can remember.

    Polly Becker: [The Beale] family have worked the [Bridge Street] market since the beginning of time, apparently.

    Tamwar Masood: The market’s been here forever.

    Ian on the fruit and veg stall: It’s been in our family since my granddad was a boy.

    Pete Beale, Lou's son: My dad, his dad - always had the veg stall. None of them had it easy, but they done it all by the book.

    Lee Carter: Granddad worked at Billingsgate. His old man worked there and all.
    Stan, Lee’s great-grandfather: Yeah, and his old man.

    Norman Simmonds: You had to have your wits about you back then or you’d starve.

    Lloyd Tavernier: What exactly is a costermonger, Pete?
    Pete: They originated from apple sellers.

    Norman: Dirt poor they were — costermongers, factory workers. Poor people living round here where the water was rotten, no inside law.
    Pat: Even the kids drank gin then!
    Norman: And the rich people, they stayed up the West End, posing about in their pearls. Anyway, this one road sweeper, he takes the Michael. He sews buttons — the poor man’s jewels — over his ragged clothes, even the hat, and in the pattern, he writes, “All for charity” and soon, every borough in London’s got a pearly king and queen. And what bees and honey they raised! It goes to the hospitals and such. And that is your East End inheritance, that is your tradition — poor people helping out their own.

    Pete: [The pearly kings] were the roughs, the kings of the manor, and when an old coster nicked your pitch, you went to them for protection. They wore four little buttons just here [points to his lapel], that's how you knew who they were.

    Carol Jackson (née Branning) to her son Billie: James William Branning - your great-great-grandfather. Born the 12th of December 1876. My dad, your grandfather, is named after him.

    1880s

    An extract from "Good Queen Vic", a play by Julie Haye: “As the century drew to a close, things began to improve. Between 1860 and 1914, wages doubled as the birth rate fell. The residents of Walford could now buy meat, potatoes and beer. By the 1880s, for the first time this century, some of Walford’s residents enjoyed leisure time.”

    Fatboy, standing outside the Queen Victoria Pub on Bridge Street: This is the very site of Jack the Ripper's first grisly murder.
    Poppy Meadows: I don't remember any Jack the Ripper murder victims being found round here.
    Fatboy: That's because it's one of his very, very first lesser known crimes before he got famous.

    1897-1909

    Carol Jackson, looking at photographs of her grandfather, James William Branning: Here he is on his wedding day, the second of January 1897. He’d have just turned twenty. He had to marry her because he got her pregnant. That’s what you did in those days. And here he is again with his regiment, the Royal West Surrey Regiment, March 1897, just two months after he got married. They were just about to go on their first tour of duty. And do you know where it was? Afghanistan.

    Carol, reading from an old newspaper article: “Private James Branning of the First Battalion, the West Surrey Regiment, died from wounds received at Garapa, aged twenty, for Queen and Country.” And this [showing an old photograph to her son Billie], this is the baby he never knew, your grandfather’s father, your great-granddad.

    Den Watts: Has no one told you about the Curse of the Vic? There ain't been a happy marriage in that pub since records began.

    Clare Tyler on the Queen Victoria public house: [It] used to be called the Balmoral Arms.
    Tiffany Raymond: It's Queen Victoria's visit that led to the name change.

    Peggy Mitchell, future landlady of the Queen Vic: Queen Victoria came here [in 1898].
    Pauline Fowler: My gran used to tell me about it when I was a little girl. She remembers when she was little, being stood up on the wall waving a Union Jack and this big carriage came past with this little old lady sat in it.
    Peggy: Just think, Queen Victoria coming right past my boozer.
    Tiffany: The landlord's daughter presented her with a bouquet of flowers.

    Keith Miller: Queen Victoria? She was big on family, that one - nine kids, forty grandkids and she was only five foot.

    Vicki Fowler to her half-sister Sharon Watts: A great-great-aunt of ours used to work for a lord. This aunt had a baby. There's no mention of a father which means that it's possible that the lord had his way with her, which means that we are in with royalty. Well, sort of.

    Jim Branning: 1899, the Docker’s Tanner. Does that mean anything to you?
    Bradley Branning, Jim’s grandson: No.
    Jim: Well, my grandfather, that’s your great-great- grandfather, he was about your age at the time [nineteen], he went on strike for three months - starving he was - and do you know what for? Sixpence an hour.

    Pete Beale: There were Beales running a stall here when the old Queen died.

    Derek Harkinson: Back in 1904 [the year the Bridge Street Market opened], there was no such thing as health and safety regulations as such on the market. You'd get pies and pastries being sold in the open next to bloody carcasses.

    Victoria "Nana" Moon (née Montgomery): Jessica was my grandmother’s name.

    Albert William Beale born 15 July 1909

    1910-1918

    William Edward Skinner born 21.3.1910

    Maureen "Mo" Butcher: I reckon I was born under stress.
    Dot Cotton: Well we all was, wasn't we? In them days.

    Hattie Tavernier: Mo Butcher lived in London all her life and when she was growing up, life was very difficult.

    Lou Beale on Walford: I've lived here me whole life.

    Reverend Duncan Boyd on Lou: She was born in 1910 so she was just a child during the First World War.

    Naomi Julien: Who was the first West Ham player to be Captain for England?
    Garry Hobbs: Leonard Gordon.
    Naomi: No. George Webb, 1911.

    Whitney Dean, speaking in 2014: It’s a hundred years since the first world war started.
    Liam Butcher: Yeah? And?
    Whitney: And blokes like you went off and got themselves killed for this country. In fact, blokes even younger than you pretended they were old enough to fight. Some of them never came back, never saw their families again.

    Stan Carter on his watch: It belonged to my grandfather, Reginald William Carter. That watch was presented to him by the army when he went off to fight on the Western Front.
    Lee Carter: He was in the trenches?

    Names listed on the 1914-1918 war memorial in Bridge Street:
    J. Eades
    B. Franey
    J. Frost
    G. Fuller
    S. Graham
    M. Greenham
    D. Hester
    C. Hider
    K. Johnson
    T. Johnstone
    G. Miller
    H. Martin
    A. Mortimer
    D. Nation
    L. Newman
    J. O’Sullivan

    Lee Carter, speaking in 2014: I stood and had a look at that memorial the other day. Bet they all though they were coming home and all.

    Demi Miller: All of those names [on the memorial], they were all really young - like some of them were just kids, weren’t they?
    Sonia Fowler: Yeah - kids, soldiers, husbands. A lot of women got left behind, eh?

    Lou's Mum on World War I: Of course, you [Lou] was only little. Wasn't as noisy as [World War II]. Didn't bother me and your dad much. I still missed him though, when he went away. I drove an ambulance.

    Les Coker, undertaker, speaking in 2014: Ninety-nine years my family have been in business.

    Dot on Vera Lynn: East Ham, she was born.

    Lou Beale: All me life I've lived in confinement, cramped in by masses of people - sharing the toilet, sharing the bath water, squashed in me bed with dozens of sisters.
    Ethel Skinner: Dozens?
    Lou: Five - and all of them fat.

    Lou: There was eight of us, five boys and three girls.







     
    Last edited: Mar 29, 2018
  3. James from London

    James from London Soap Chat Enthusiast

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    1919

    Ethel on Walford: I've lived here all my life. First of all, it was with Mum and Dad. Then it was with my William, and then just Willy.

    Nellie Ellis: What year were you born?
    Ethel: During the war.
    Arthur Fowler: You must be older than that, Ethel. I was born during the war.
    Ethel: During the First War!

    Ethel May Skinner Born 19.2.1919

    Ethel: If I could have chosen [my parents], I'd have chosen Noel Coward and Gertrude Lawrence.

    Jean Slater: My great nan was born by a bell.

    Harry Osborne on Walford: I was born round here, grew up in the Square. Number 29. Never was my cup of tea though, stopping in one place. Ran away to sea when I was fifteen.

    Lou: We trusted one another in the old days. We used to be in and out of each other's houses and in and out of each other's business.
    Ethel: That's right. You couldn't sneeze in the Square without everyone knowing about it.

    Ethel: We used to have some wonderful characters in the East End - Banjo Willy Strauss, Old Ma Parkins. We used to have fun.

    Dr Harold Legg: The East End's never been romantic. It's been a slog from Day One.

    Dot Cotton: From what I heard of it, it was all poverty and starvation, filth and squalor.
    Ethel: Never took no notice of that. Old Ma Parkins, she had a barrow and wore a black cap. She could fight like a man and she did. She sold ladies' undies. Her son Ron was topped at Pentonville for murdering a prostitute. Oh, lovely people. Ma Parkins was very good to me. Then there was Arnie, the bookie. Old Ma Parkins beat him up for welshing on a bet.

    Ethel: It's always been rough round here. The coppers would only go around in pairs up Nesbitt Street when we were girls, it was that violent.

    Lou: My gran had her throat sliced five times with the quinzies.

    Ethel: My Uncle Jess, he had jaundice once. His face, it looked like a plate of stale mustard. Of course, it was a gallstone that caused it, and after the
    operation, he come in and he showed it to us kids. It was as big as a walnut. He used to keep it in a little jar on the mantlepiece.

    Ethel: My mother dragged me back from the brink with Fenix fever cure and a rabbit's foot tied around my neck. Scarlet fever, it was.

    Lou to Ethel: Do you remember when we was kids, wheedling them [bugs] with a can and a bit of soap? Me mum used to do the bedsteads in the back garden with paraffin. Still didn't do no good. Diabolical, they was.

    Ethel: My mum once took me to the doctor's and he said I was highly strung, but I didn't know what it meant so I had to ask my brother. He said it meant I was going to be hung. So I made up my mind to have a good time before old Pierrepoint could top me, and I've been having a good time ever since.

    Ethel: All my life, people have looked at me like I'm ten paces behind them. I only wanted to enjoy life. I never wanted to be taken seriously. I'm not a serious person. I just wanted to have fun. I frolicked in the fields once. Give me the hay fever.

    1921

    Pauline Fowler on Nellie Ellis: Nell's mum Nora was me gran's sister.
    Michelle Fowler: Nell's mum and Lou's mum were sisters. So Nell and Lou were cousins.

    Ethel Skinner on Nellie: Her mother died having her. Very close to Lou, she was.

    Pauline on Nellie: My mum brought her up. I only ever called her Aunty.

    1929

    Nana Moon: I was born Montgomery.

    Alfie Moon, Nana Moon's grandson: Our nan was born confused.

    Alfie: My granddad was [Irish].

    Alfie: I come from a long line of plonkers. My dad was a plonker as was his father before him. We are related to the Royal Court of Plonkerdom in Plonkerland, Plonkingham.

    1931

    Reverend Duncan on Lou: During the twenties and thirties, she had to live through the hardship of the Depression and unemployment.

    Lou Beale: My old man used to live in the allotment during the last depression. Well, almost. The police used to drive them off the streets in those days. So the rich could pretend they wasn't there, I suppose. That's what Dad used to say anyhow.

    Nellie Ellis on having a garden: In my young day, you were glad of a scrap of backyard and a chimney pot to grow your tomatoes in.

    Arthur Fowler: Pond Cottages [later the site of the Walford allotments] was pulled down in 1931. [Wilfred William] Bainbridge lived there till then.

    Arthur, reading from a sheet music cover: “Where There's Muck There's Brass - Written and sung with great success by Mr Billy Bainbridge.” His one and only hit.

    Alice Dutton, Bainbridge's niece: No one ever really showed any interest in him. Poor Uncle Wilfred, he was a miserable so and so. Nobody liked him.
    Arthur: Wasn't he married?
    Alice: Poor Aunty Violet, yes. Died before she was thirty.
    Arthur: No children?
    Alice: One, Victor. Killed in the First World War.

    Edie Bassett born 12.03.31

    Blossom Jackson: I never knew my father, but I've always had my family round me. I don't know how my mother coped with the four of us.

    Hetty Samuels, Dr Legg's sister: I remember the old East End. I hated the injustice and the poverty and the inequality.

    Lou: My mother went to a pauper's grave and I carry the shame of that to this day.

    1932

    Ian Beale, looking at an old picture of Lou: Is that Gran? She was a stunner, weren't she?

    Dot Cotton on Lou: She was quite a looker in her day.

    Lou Beale: I was quite a girl in my day. I had a few johnnies in my time. I wouldn't have known otherwise what a treasure my Albert was if I hadn't looked at other boys.

    Pauline Fowler on Lou: What was she like when she was young?
    Dot: According to Ethel, she was full of life. She liked to have a bit of fun. She liked enjoying herself. Apparently, she was a bit naughty at times. I think Ethel was a bit jealous of her, the stories she's told me.
    Pauline: What sort of stories?
    Dot: Well, you know they worked in a factory together, her and Ethel, when they was young? Well, apparently, they had this boss, right old tyrant he
    was. Ethel said they had to have a bit of a laugh - you know, something to look forward to. Well, you wouldn't believe this, Pauline, but one day Lou
    lifted up her skirt, and she danced on the cutting room table. Apparently, the whole factory ground to a halt. Ethel said it was her what got the blame. Mind you, knowing her, it was she who probably egged Lou on. They were the good old days, days when they was young girls without a care in the world. Mind you, Lou was never as forthcoming as what Ethel was.

    Albert Beale: So what did you see in me then?
    Lou: I suppose I just got used to your ugly mug. Every time I came out the back, there you was on the stall, all weathers, shouting at the top of your voice. Right from the start I liked you. I thought you hadn't noticed me. Not in that way. Thought you just treated me like the kid from Number 45. I always got a smile from you though, right from when I was a nipper. You used to throw me apples. I couldn't believe it when you got serious. I was nearly sick the first time you asked me out. I got indigestion. You were always such a gent, Albert. You used to take me arm, walk on the outside, raise your cap. Bought me sweets and flowers, bought me mum flowers too.

    Albert on proposing to Lou: Never thought you'd have me. Never had the guts to tell you. Thought you'd turn me down flat. Had to have a large whisky before I got up the courage to ask you.
    Lou: I always knew you'd turn into a drunk!
    Albert: No chance. My old man was enough to last a lifetime.
    Lou: I said yes because I liked you, because you're a big, good looking bloke with a heart of gold. Because I used to get all hot and bothered every time I saw you. I was the one that was scared. I couldn't believe me luck. Thought he's going to change his mind any minute, I did.

    1933

    Dot Cotton on Lou's pregnancy: I never knew. They'd have hushed it all up in them days. They were dreadfully harsh on young girls.

    Pauline Fowler: They used to have these homes for unmarried mothers where they could go and have their babies.
    Maggie Flaherty, Lou's biological daughter: That's where I was born.

    Extracts from a letter dated 17th April 1933, addressed to Miss Ethel Lewis, 33 Mount PleasantRoad, Walford, London: “Dear Ethel, This is not an
    easy letter for me to write ... The baby was born yesterday. She is the most beautiful thing I have ever seen and I would dearly love to keep her. I know I can't look after her properly and give her all she deserves. I keep her with me for six weeks until all the documents are signed. I don't know how I'm goingto part with her. How can the world be as cruel as this? The staff here just call her The Baby. I am not supposed to give her a name, but when I am alone with her, I call her Mary. Her daddy will never see her and that breaks my heart. I am so ashamed of what I have done. One day, Ethel, I will find my daughter and make up for such a bad start. I will live the rest of my life in guilt until I can put right this wrong ... I am sorry to make you lie ... but I don't know what else I can do. Please try to understand. All my love, Lou.”


    Pauline, looking at Maggie's birth certificate: Albert Beale, he's down here as being your father.

    Pauline: The people that adopted you, were they Irish?
    Maggie: My dad was. You know, my adoptive father. He sent me [to Ireland] when I was nine. My mam died and he couldn't cope. So he sent me to live with his sister in a little town called Ballyhaunis not far from [Kilmoneen] and I've stayed ever since.

    Jim Branning: Me mum died just after I was born. I never told anyone before. It's not something you want broadcasting, is it?
    Dot: Well, your wife must have known.
    Jim: She knew I was in care, but I didn't tell her anything else.

    Jim: My mother always said you can't help a person who won't listen. "Jim," she said, "there's no helping a person who blocks their ears of their own
    free will, [who] won't even give a bloke a fair hearing, not even if he's talking sense."

    Dot on Jim's mother: She didn't half talk a lot for a woman what slung her hook before he was walking.

    Jim: My old girl, she used to run our house like an army barracks - you know, "Stand by your beds."

    Nellie Ellis: Do you know what used to happen to little boys and girls who were naughty when I was [a girl]? Well, their daddies used to take down the big thick leather belts they kept hanging up in the scullery, and then do you know what their daddies used to do? Their daddies used to thrash them till they were black and blue.

    Mo Butcher: I got the slipper a time or two. She [Mo's mother] was a bit temperamental at times.

    Ernie Johnson: You think I didn't have a tough childhood? My father used to make stand in the outside lavvy for hours. Thinking time, he called it. I got a lot of thinking in, but I worked things through and I'm glad I had that time.
     
  4. James from London

    James from London Soap Chat Enthusiast

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    1935

    Ethel Skinner: First time I [went to an Albert Square street party], it was King George and Queen Mary's Diamond Jubilee.

    Lou Beale to Hetty Samuels: [Albert] used to serve your mum [on the stall]. Regular customers, you was.

    Hetty: [Albert was] a big strong man.

    Ethel on Albert: His legs were a bit stumpy, weren't they? Sort of too short for his body.

    Lou: [Albert] was the kindest and gentlest man I've ever known.

    Margot Hilda Baker born 1935

    1936

    Dot Cotton: There's nothing I don't know about worrying. I was born with a furrow in me brow.

    Dot: Charlie [her husband] always used to say he was born in 1936, but I never believed him. Not when he started dying his hair.

    Maureen "Big Mo" Harris (née Porter): I’ve got Romany blood in me.

    Big Mo: I was a girl from a home where three families shared an outside khazi.

    Dot, speaking in 2006: People never used to have an inside lavvy, did they, and now we’ve got aromatherapy. Ain’t progress a wonderful thing?

    Dot: I’ve always envied people who could show their emotions, just say something on the spur of the moment without thinking too much.

    Dot: I never was very good at showing me feelings. I expect it was the way I was brought up. You had to hold your emotions in check. Didn't do to say anything.

    Jim Branning: When we were nippers, any upset, we were given a clip round the ear and told to get on with it. The only emotion I ever saw from my old man was at Upton Park on a Saturday.
    Patrick Trueman: He ever hug you?
    Jim: Eh? No. He never had truck with that touch feel stuff, did he?

    Jim: The only time my old man touched me was when he gave me a good hiding.

    Blossom Jackson: When I was little and we did something wrong, my grandmother used to take out her Bible, put a door key in it, and say a special prayer. Then she'd warn us that something would happen when she called the name of whoever it was that did whatever it was. Then she'd look at us like this [closes one eye and squints] and do you know, that key would move when she'd call the name of the person who was guilty. Every time. Mind you, I think myself there was a little bit of trickery in it. Grandma knew all along which of us had pinched her sweets, I think.

    Jim: I was always nicking sweets when I was a kid. I got a clip round the earhole more than once. Didn't stop me.

    Jim: When I was a nipper, a clip round the earhole by a bobby and the threat of telling your dad, that was enough.

    Jim: My old dad used to say, "It's only illegal if you get caught."

    Nana Moon: Do you know what my old mum used to say? “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try and try again."

    Jim: As my old mum used to say, “Life gives you lemons, make lemonade.”

    Dot to Jim’s daughter Carol: Your great-grandmother used to make [him] rhubarb and syrup.

    Dot: When I was a girl, summers were always longer and hotter.

    Nellie Ellis on the seaside: I used to love it when I was a girl, paddling in the sea. Warm sand between me toes, have an ice cream on the prom. Not that we went there often, but I was happy then, really happy.

    Nana Moon: I once had a lovely day at the seaside with my sister. We thought we was in Heaven. We was just building sandcastles. Silly, but I cried when I had to go home so our mum, bless her, she bought us a stick of rock each. Croma, that's where it was.

    Alfie Moon, looking at an old photograph: Look at you here, Nan. You got your whole life ahead of you.
    Nana Moon: And if I knew then how wonderful it would be, I’d be smiling even more.

    Peggy Mitchell: My mother went on the Norfolk Broads once as a young girl. That was before boats had motors. She got hit by the boom and ended up in the water.

    Jim: When I was a kid, we used to play a game called Stand Up Sit Down Bingo. When they call your number out, you sit down, and the last one standing is the winner.

    Big Mo: No one was called Chelsea when I was a kid. Chelsea was a place.

    Reverend Duncan on Lou: She married a local lad, Albert.

    Albert Beale: Place for everything, everything in its place - my old mum taught me that. My dad swore at us once and she went mad. Never liked that kind of talk ever since.

    Dot on swearing: Wash your mouth out with soap and water, my mother would. Try and force you and all, great big bar of soap and a nailbrush. Made your teeth bleed.

    Lou to her granddaughter Michelle: September 27th, the day me and your granddad got married.

    Kathy Beale, Lou's daughter-in-law, on a necklace given to her by Lou: She got it from her grandma when she got married.

    Pauline on a bracelet: It belonged to my mum. She got it from her mum.

    Lou to Albert: Couldn't even afford a new wedding dress. I know you said I could have a new one, but I didn't want it.
    Albert: Looked better on you than it did on your sister.

    Flo, Lou's elder sister: I had to get married. I learnt to [love him].

    Lou: When I got married, it hit me right at the end. I was feeling fine till it came to the bit where I had to say "I do". Then me mouth kept opening and
    closing and nothing came out. Everything was frozen. Everybody's looking. Albert's eyes was as big as saucers. Then out of the silence, inside I heard a little voice and it said, "Go on, it'll be all right." Instinct, I suppose. I suppose that's what you might call the real me.

    Lou to Albert: Did you see Flo's face when we left [the wedding reception]? Just onto her fourth stout she was. She looks up, sees us on our way out. She gives Mum this big look like, "What do they think they're up to?"

    Flo: I said to Mum, "They can't keep their hands off each other."

    Lou on a lump of rock: My Albert picked it up off the beach and gave it me, Southend, on our honeymoon.

    Lou's mother: How was the weather [on honeymoon]?
    Lou: Freezing. Albert kept me warm.

    Lou: I must be the only woman in the world to be carried over the threshold three times: once on our wedding day, going into our room at the bed and
    breakfast - they must have thought we were barmy -
    Albert: They was jealous.
    Lou: - and now today [the day they returned home].

    Lou: I can remember when me and Albert was first married. All I could cook was Welsh rarebit. That's all I knew. So I give it to him every day for his tea for two months and, do you know, he never said a word, bless him. He was that patient with me. He just ate it up night after night like a lamb. But in the end, one day, he said very quietly, "Lou darling," he said, "I think I'd like a little change from this here Welsh doodad." "Of course, Albert," I said. Then I gave him poached eggs for another two months.

    Lou: My Albert never touched a saucepan.

    Michelle Fowler: Gran said during her first year of marriage with Albert, she went through a really rough patch. But she said it was just being married; it's normal.

    Lou: I couldn't have done any better. I got best. Not second best. Me and my Albert, we never went short of love. We went short of other things, I don't mind admitting it, but love, never.

    Lou to Dr Legg: I knew you when you was in short trousers, a good Jewish boy.

    Dr Legg: My family were immigrant Jews from Russia.

    Arthur Fowler: My family marched against Mosley. My father was with the Jews in Cable Street.

    Daniel Greenberg on the Battle of Cable Street: I was there, October 4th. We weren't going to let the Blackshirts march through the East End.
    Tony Hills: Mosley thought the East End would be empty. That's why they picked that Sunday.
    Daniel: We were all supposed to be at a rally in Trafalgar Square so we had to act fast to get everyone to Aldgate. Me and me old mate, Solly Davidson, we gave the police what for, I can tell you. I was arrested. Policeman nearly broke my arm.

    Lou: You fought in Cable Street. You was there.
    Dr Legg: I was nine years old with my uncle, and a police horse trod on my foot. So I lost my shoe and I lost my uncle. Had to walk all the way home with one shoe, and at the end, I had a big hole in my sock. That was my Cable Street! My mother wasn't too pleased. "What's the use of one shoe?" she said, and she threw it in the dustbin. "Now you've lost a pair of shoes," she said. That seemed to suit her better.

    Dr Legg on his father: He claimed he wasn't rich enough to employ cheap labour or employ cowboys.

    Lou: When I was a girl living in the flats round Brady Street, we had a lot of Jewish neighbours, Orthodox ones who observed their Sabbath, and every
    Friday, because they couldn't work on their Sabbath, not even to the striking of a match, they'd ask us in to light the gas for them so they could eat. Then they'd give us a piece of lox and pudding. They was Poles, with only one or two words between them. Some of the Jews were my best friends, some were the worst.

    Ethel Skinner: Nancy Wright married one, a foreigner. A Pole, he was. Mind you, she would never have married him, but she thought she might be left on the shelf. She was a very plain girl. Very plain. She was jealous of me. A right boozer he was, drunk as a pig night after night. Funny thing was she never knew he drank until one day he came home sober.

    Ethel: I had a crush on a boy called Brian when I was at school. He was the delivery boy for the bakers and I admired the way he rode his bike. Course I never told him. I mean, you wouldn't in those days, but I thought about him all the while.

    Ethel: My art teacher at school used to say there was a touch of Degas about me.

    Ethel: I got an old set of mugs right back to Edward. Him that married Mrs Simpson.
    Dot: You can't have. He weren't crowned.
    Ethel: Well, we still got a mug.
    Dot: Well, I never got one.
    Ethel: No, because you weren't at the school.
    Dot: Yes I was. I was in the infants. I was in Miss Gibbons'.

    Nellie: When I was [young], you had to be dying of consumption before they gave you a day off school.

    Dot: Them stories we used read when we was girls, all them stories about schools and sharing dorms, all girls together - cosy.
    Ethel: When I was young, if you shared a room with someone it was only because you couldn't afford one of your own. And that wasn't cosy. Sometimes you had to share a bed as well. That wasn't cosy either. Mind you, it was warm - but it wasn't very hygienic.

    Lou: When I was kid, when it was bonfire night, we used to call it the first day of winter. We didn't have no fireworks. We just had a few sparklers. My
    Albert, God rest him, he would drop off at Billy Isaac's and bring me a sontarine. I used to love a sontarine. Then we'd call the neighbours in, come
    round and we'd sit round the fire and have a good old singsong.

    Dot: In my day, Christmas was about the birth of Christ.

    Lou: We had lovely Christmases, wonderful Christmases. We had singing. We used to decorate the parlour.
    Ethel: Any snow?
    Lou: Yes. All we had was a sugar mouse, a nut and a tangerine stuck inside one of my dad's socks. Times was hard then. We didn't have much.
    Ethel: It was the same with us. My dad was only a tram driver. There were six of us - four boys, two girls - so we couldn't afford any more.

    Nellie: Do you know what I got for Christmas when I was a little girl? A handkerchief, a bar of chocolate and an orange.
    Ethel: You'll be [saying] you had no coal to put on the fire soon.
    Nellie: We didn't. Me father used to chop up old tea chests from the docks.
    Ethel: My father worked at the docks as well. He could nick anything that wasn't nailed down.
    Nellie: Yes well of course, we were honest.
    Ethel: That's why you had no coal for the fire. My father and his brothers used to bring back all sorts of things. Once they brought back a whole barrel of brandy. Come from France, it did. The whole street was legless for a fortnight.

    Lou: We had fun though and when we let our hair down, we really let it down.
    Ethel: Like us. Me and my sister, we could sing in harmony and dance. We knew all the dances. There was the Charleston, the Bunyard, the Black Bottom.

    Mo Butcher: I was dead good at tap when I was a girl.

    Lou: I used to like Harry Lauder. Proper gentleman, Harry Lauder was.

    Dot: We was young.
    Ethel: Yes and that's how we wanted to stay, not getting old and past it like our parents.




     
  5. James from London

    James from London Soap Chat Enthusiast

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    1937

    Ethel Skinner: There was [an Albert Square street party] for the Coronation.
    Pauline Fowler: I remember that. We had all pretty lights in the trees.
    Ethel: Oh no, no, no, not that coronation, silly. Her mum and dad.

    Ethel: I saw Queen Mary once, quite close up from the back of the milliner's where she worked, my Aunt
    Vera.

    Ethel: The last boat I was on was the Titanic.
    Dot Cotton: Titania!
    Ethel: Me dad took me. It was Margate.

    Ethel: My dad always said I was very photographic. I always had a feeling I looked a bit like Greta Garbo, that famous picture of hers. You must have seen it in Picture Goer & Picture Show. Oh, we used to have it every week in the old days. There she was, standing there at the front of the ship, all her hair was blowing in the breeze and she had a sort of enema look on her face.
    Dot: Enigmatic!
    Ethel: She had that on her face. She looked lovely.

    Ethel: There was a time I used to turn heads. I won the Pretty Pins Contest once down at the Mecca. I've always had very strong legs. My William used to say they were my best feature.

    Ethel on William Skinner: Taurus — bull in a china shop, my old mum used to say. He was a good man.

    Ethel: I knew from the first minute I saw him, my William was the man for me. Mind you, he took a bit longer.

    Ethel on being a beauty queen: My triumph. The sceptre, the rose and the crown. And Edie Rawlings having to grit her teeth and kiss me because she was only made runner-up. She always had very fat thighs, Edie Rawlings, yes. She married a policeman over in Pinner.

    Nana Moon: I got a blue ribbon for hockey once.

    Lou Beale on Alice Shaw: She lived down Monotony Street.
    Ethel: Great show off, she was. My William told me my voice knocked hers into a cocked hat.

    Ethel: I had an admirer called Walter, butcher at Smithfield.

    Ethel: Bert Harris in Johnny's Pie And Mash, he always had a red carnation. Oh, he was a lovely man.
    Lou: He always used to give you the eye.

    Ethel on Benny Bloom: I've known him since I was knee-high to a grasshopper. He used to live at Number 5. Benny used to be in the rag trade. Brick Lane, wasn't it? [He] used to stuff pillows as well. I bought two.

    Ethel: Do you remember when the coal man's horse bolted and crashed that cart into Mrs Jenkins' window? That caused a bit of a mess. After that, we had a collection. We all clubbed up a bit of money to help her out, like.

    Nellie Ellis: When I was a kid, [£50] was a king's ransom.

    Marge Green: I used to feel ever so daft because all the other kids, they had proper gloves - you know, machine knitted with fingers - but my mum, she always made me wear them little mittens on a string. Crochet, they was. I used to cry. She always promised that I could have a pair of them gloves, big girls' gloves, when I grew up, but she never did, of course. She had a pair herself though.

    Tom Clements: In my day, they used to have music halls. There were small halls everywhere. I used to go up to Premiereland and Orkin. It was a boxing arena really, but between fights, they used to have acts, and do you know what? They used to have wild animals from all around the world in cages - lions, tigers, panthers. I saw Jack Doyle up there once. The Horizontal Heavyweight, they used to call him. He used to recite poetry while he was tap dancing. And then he'd go up and fire twenty round. What a character! And then there was that bloke what used to lick the white hot pokers. Do you know how he did it? They made sure the poker was white hot because if it was only red hot, then the bloke would lose his tongue.

    Archie Mitchell to his nephew Billy: Your great granddad, he got it sussed when your great grandma took up with that fella from the music hall. There she was, Betty, your great grandma, all carried away, flunking around the stage in her scanties, really flaunting it. Your great granddad, he maintained his dignity no matter what. He didn’t waste time trying to work out where he’d gone wrong. He just dealt with it and moved on.

    Ethel on the Walford Empire: It used to be Palace of Clowns. Them towers on top, it was like an Arabian Palace up there.

    Benny Bloom, looking round Albert Square in 1988: Over there, where those flats are, wasn't that the Alhambra Music Hall? And down there was where the Totters kept their ponies, just past the Rabbi's house. Boy, was I scared of him.
    Ethel: A great big man with a ginger beard.

    Dr Legg on the violin: My Uncle Leon used to play beautifully and I used to stand in the hallway and listen to him. It gave me my love of music and that's been with me all my life.

    Hetty to Dr Legg: You were very close to [Uncle Leon].

    Dr Legg: I used to play [the violin] as a child. I gave it up and I've always regretted it.

    1938

    Lou Beale: My Albert used to go down to the docks and literally fight for day's work. He never was one to give in.

    Lou: I never laid in except when I was poorly. Albert never laid in even when he was poorly.

    Mo Butcher on married life: I was always the first one up. A man should be looked after properly.

    Pete Beale, Lou's son: You and Dad built [the fruit and veg stall] up from nothing.
    Lou: Yeah. Weren't easy.

    Dot Cotton: I've been buying me veg from that stall for nearly all of me life.

    Dot: I’ve always been an independent soul, ever since I was a little girl.

    Dot: I had chicken pox when I was little. I was always a sickly child. I think I heard the angels once.

    Jim Branning: When I was a nipper, the doctor, he stuck [a needle] in me arm and it snapped off.

    Dot: When I was a kid, you were grateful for what you got. "Cast your bread upon the waters and it will come back buttered," as my old gran used to say.

    Stacey Slater to Dot: I suspect when you was a little girl, everyone had horses and carts.

    Dot: In the old days, rag and bone man used to ring a bell. There was horses then. My father used to send me out with a bucket and spade. Mind you, brought his roses on a treat.

    Dot: Billy Diamond, our rag and bone man, he had a horse called Troy. Dropped dead in front of the
    maternity hospital.
    Terry Raymond: The horse?
    Dot: Billy Diamond. It was the shock, you see. Triplets.

    Nana Moon on William Moon: I didn't look at him twice - until I saw him kissing that Eileen Slatterly from the bakery. And then I thought, "He's not bad. He's much too good for her."

    Nana Moon on William: He was very handsome, you know.

    Wilfred Atkins, looking at an old photograph of William Moon: Very dashing.

    Nana Moon on herself and William: We bought a tandem. We used to cycle all the way to Wanstead Park. Free as birds we were. And we had a nice picnic and then do you know what? We settled down and had a bit of a cuddle.
    Alfie Moon: Nana, you dirty floozy, I am so shocked!
    Nana: Ooh, don't! There was no funny business in those days. We just got to know each other and it was ever so romantic.

    Nana Moon to Alfie: Your grandfather had such lovely twinkly eyes. It was the reason I fell in love with him in the first place.
    Alfie: Nothing to do with his firm, muscular body then, was it?
    Nana: Oh, we didn't go in for that sort of thing - just pure romance.

    Nana Moon: My William [had] a Morris Minor.

    Nana Moon: Brighton. It was a Tuesday. We woke up and the sun was streaming through the windows and your granddad said to me, "Brighton." So I packed some sandwiches and a flask of tea. Oh, we had such a lovely day. We had tea in this hotel on the front and your granddad said to me, "You're the prettiest girl in the world."

    Nana Moon: There was a lovely dance floor on the prom.
    Alfie: I bet you had a proper band and all.
    Nana Moon: No dear, it was an orchestra. My William loved to see me in all my glad rags, dressed up specially for him.
    Alfie: I bet you looked a right picture, didn't you?
    Nana Moon: I was the belle of the ball in my long satin ball gown, pleated at the back, and he [William] was rugged and handsome, always with a hanky in his pocket and a smile on his face.

    Nana Moon: My William always wore a tie and he looked very good in it.

    Nana Moon to her grandson Spencer: I always remember your grandfather wearing [his dinner suit]. He was so handsome, just like you, only he was a little bit shorter.

    Nana Moon: Your granddad used to sing ['When You And I Were Young, Maggie'] when we were first courting, just before the war.
    Spencer Moon: Was he a good singer - Granddad?
    Nana Moon: Oh yes, he was splendid.

    Nana Moon on William: He sang me a song outside my window - and he had an awful voice and people thought it was a cat so they threw water over him.
    Alfie: Yeah, but you still married him though.
    Nana Moon: Well, I had to stop him singing somehow, didn't I?

    1939

    Arthur “Fatboy” Chubb on Big Mo: She hasn’t seen a receipt since 1939, bruv.
    Big Mo: 1939?!

    Ethel Skinner: My mother used to make me a hot chocolate. She used to tuck me in and then she'd bring me this hot chocolate - until the war, of course. Then I had to make do.
    Dot Cotton: We all did.

    Manny Rosenthal: Adam Solenski came [to Walford] from Poland when Hitler's war broke out. Family were fur traders.

    Ethel: I was seventeen when war started, seventeen and pretty as a picture.

    Reverend Duncan on Lou: [She] watched [Albert] go away to war while she stayed behind to bring up a family and run a fruit and veg stall in the East End in the middle of the Blitz. Now that couldn't have been easy.

    Pauline Fowler on Lou: She worked all hours on that stall.

    Duncan on Lou: She saw her friends go away to war and not come back. Lou saw it all.

    Lou Beale: Husbands and wives got separated. Couples never saw each other again. We had no choice about what was going to happen to us.

    Lou's Mum on Flo: Couldn't wait, could she? Off with the first bloke with blue eyes, getting herself into trouble.

    Sonia Jackson on Jack Draper: His fiancee [Jeanie] came from Walford. She was a nurse. Jack loved her to pieces.

    Jack Draper on Jeanie: Prettiest thing you ever saw. The most beautiful smile.

    Sonia: Jeanie bought [a teddy bear] for Jack when he first went to war. He named it after her dog. He was called Tommy.

    Harry Osborne: Never was the settling kind. Tried it once, fell in love. Lovely girl, Doris. [Lou] was my Doris's sister. She used to keep chickens.

    Ethel on Harry and Doris: He wanted to marry her, only he had to go to the war then.

    Harry: She said she'd wait for me.

    Ethel: And she heard that he was missing.

    Harry: I was missing in action presumed dead.

    Ethel: So she upped and married Morris Miller.

    Harry: Can't blame her.

    Ethel: Oh, heartbroken Harry was.
     
  6. James from London

    James from London Soap Chat Enthusiast

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    The Blitz: 25 August 1940 to 16 May 1941

    Lou Beale on Arthur's Aunty Betty: She'd have nagged that husband of hers to death if the bombs hadn't got him first.
    Arthur Fowler: They were very happy.
    Lou: Had a funny way of showing it.

    Ethel Skinner on the Blitz: That's when I met [Lou]. She was doing that stall all by herself.

    Dot Cotton: [We] was worried sick all through the Blitz, sitting here waiting for your number to come up. Come out the shelters, whole streets would be gone.
    Mark Fowler: I thought you were evacuated?
    Dot: I was here long enough to see the devastation.

    Pat Evans on the Blitz: I’m too young to remember that!

    Jackie Owen: How often were the bombings?
    Dot: Every night. We'd hear the warnings - off we'd go, in the shelter.
    Sonia Jackson: What, in the back garden?
    Dot: Oh no, we didn't have an Anderson. We only had a yard. We had a Morrison. It was one of them concrete table things what you got under. Then the all clear would go, [we'd] come out, you know. Sometimes the ARP warden would come round.
    Jackie: ARP?
    Dot: Air Raid Precautions. Remember our one, Pauline? Reg Cox.
    Pauline: Oh he was a miserable old devil.
    Dot: If you as much as showed your light, it was more than your life was worth.

    Big Mo Harris: Reg Cox? I knew him. Right miserable bleeder he was and all.

    Dot on Reg: He was a war hero.

    Jackie: What was like down the tube stations?
    Jim Branning: There was a community spirit. We'd all have a good old sing-song.
    Dot: It was awful. Dreadful smell.

    Ethel: I liked it in the air raid shelters - altogether, sing-song, brew up. Mr Compton with his accordion. My mum and dad made me sleep between them because I was so desirable.
    Dot: Oh you wasn't all that, Ethel.
    Ethel: They kept an eye out all right, wouldn't let a man come near me.

    Pauline on Ethel: She had a fear of confined spaces. It all goes back to the air raid shelters during the war.

    Ethel: I used to go to the shelters up the West End. Didn't like it though.
    Lou Beale: Me neither. Once was enough.

    Jim: At least we were seeing off Adolf, weren't we?
    Dan Sullivan: What did you do? What was you - about six?
    Jim: I did my bit, mate. If it weren't for the likes of me, you wouldn't be standing here now.

    Big Mo to her pregnant granddaughter Kat in 2010: You think this is bad? You want to try giving birth during the Blitz.
    Kat: You was five, Nan.
    Big Mo: That ain’t the point.

    Fatboy, speaking in 2011: I’m not in the mood.
    Dot: Not in the mood? What would have happened if we’ve said that during the war?

    Big Mo on pluck: Overflowing with it, we were.

    Dot on the war: The spirit of community, everybody pulling together, men being heroes.
    Ian Beale: I thought you were evacuated?
    Dot: Yes I was, but I grew up hearing them talk about it, didn't I? You know, the courage, the bravery.

    Big Mo: Only it wasn’t like that. That’s what they want to tell you it was like - the Blitz, everyone standing up to Jerry, stiff upper lip and all that, but I remember in the shelter, sound of those bombs, me mum wrapping a towel round me head to make it quieter, and in the morning, the ash coming down like snow and all those bodies under them blankets. It was tough.

    Dr Legg: I remember one wartime Christmas. It was just after I'd moved into the Square with my wife [Judith]. We had a wonderful time.

    Dr Legg: I married a gentile. My parents said that they understood, but I'm sure that they never quite forgave me. It was their loss.

    Dr Legg: We were married a few months and at Vance [medical school].

    Dr Legg: I used to play tennis when I was a student at Vance.

    Dr Legg: When I was a student, I couldn't afford a decent [concert] seat.

    Dr Legg: [Judith and I were] both twenty-one. She was out in the garden one day and she was killed by a bomb. It was instantaneous. She never knew. I knew.

    Blossom Jackson on the site where Judith died: They've never built on it.

    Dr Legg: You want to hear a funny story? The fireman thinks she was baking biscuits when the bomb went off. Part of the kitchen wall was left standing and there was biscuit mix on the tiles as if it had been thrown up out of a bowl.
    Blossom: She'd never have known a thing, Harold.
    Dr Legg: There's a lot of things she's never known. Never known what it was like to have a first wedding anniversary. Never known children. Never known what it was like to grow old and see her children grow up to have kids of their own. Neither did I, for that matter. Her life was mine.

    Dr Legg: You know those seats out in the garden [of Albert Square]? Well, I sat on one of those in the freezing cold and I experienced more pain than I ... After I lost her, things were never the same.

    Benny Bloom: When you lost your Judith, you were a bit of a cabbage for a few months.
    Dr Legg: Yes I was.

    Uncle, the local pawnbroker, to Dr Legg: Judith, a beautiful girl. That was a sad time for you, Harold.

    Lou: We all used uncles [pawnbrokers] years ago, during the war mostly. Usually, from Mondays to Fridays, that was payday.

    Uncle to Pauline: Many's the nice evening I've spent in this very room with your father and mother. [At] one time, I was a great friend of your family.

    Uncle: Albert and me, we had a few old times together. I liked him.
    Lou: Not many that didn't.

    Benny Bloom on marriage: My old dad used to say, "You don't have to buy a cow to get a pint of milk".

    Benny: Golda and me, we wanted to get married in the old traditional ways. At that time, the war was on. Hitler wasn't going to stop us. I wasn't [religious]. Neither was Golda, but it was the feeling of tradition. They built this chuppah, that's a sort of arbour, in the middle of the synagogue covered in flowers, and I was standing over it, and then Golda comes and joins me. Oh, she looked lovely. Her white veil. No bouquet, just one white rose in her hand and the two of us stood under the flowers. Then after the Rabbi declared that we were man and wife, they put this glass on the carpet and the groom, that's me, he stamps on it and breaks it. It's supposed to bring to bring you good luck. It worked for me and Golda anyhow.

    Benny on early married life: We didn't even have a clock on the mantlepiece.

    Benny: Remember the Sewells, Lil and Ray?
    Ethel: Yes, they was the governors [of the Queen Vic] during the whole of the war.

    Ray Sewell: It wasn't just the rabbit stew that made your mouth water in the country. Those land army girls did something chronic to my blood pressure.
    Lil Sewell, Ray's wife: [Ray has been] a dirty old man since he was nineteen.

    Marge Green: I used to go to the Walford Palais with my friend Mavis - she was in the land army in the war and then she joined the Navy, funny girl - and then I had a very frightening experience there. This man, this chap, his name was Herbert Harding, and he come from round here, I'd seen him once or twice ...
    Dot: What did this Herbert person do?
    Marge: I couldn't tell you, Dot. I was bruised
    though. I couldn't sit down for a week. It was ever so embarrassing. Mavis laid him out. One punch and out he went. Of course, Mavis, being a land girl, she was ever so strong. She could pick up great bales of hay with a pitchfork. Mind you, she hated being in the land army. Said that she wanted to get in the proper war to fight the Germans.

    Ian Beale on the Queen Vic: My old man drank in there. His old man did.

    Lou on the Queen Vic: Albert used to like it in here. It's been our local all our lives. Seen all our good times and some of our bad - engagements, weddings, Christmas. Confessions, secrets.
    Dot: Funerals.

    Cora Cross on the Queen Vic: This pub would have been doing business during the Blitz, serving pints the night the Berlin Wall fell and flogging pork scratchings the day Diana died.

    Nellie Ellis: People in the East End used to think that weddings and that were reasons to forget being miserable for a day and have a good time.

    Mo Butcher on funerals: Some of them turnouts we had in the old days - plumes, horses.
    Dot: Silver handles on the coffins.

    Big Mo: We had horses at me Aunty Hilda's funeral. One of them was blind in one eye. Kept veering to the right.

    Nellie on funeral teas: We always used to have them at the co-op.

    Ethel: I once spent the whole night under one of these tables [in the Queen Vic] during the Blitz. Oh, it was freezing. I drank half a bottle of gin, just to keep me warm of course. It was terrible. I was crying all the while and of course, I wasn't the only one.

    Dr Legg: Those raids were awful.

    Ethel: A soldier and a sailor had a fight over me. In the Vic, it was. For my charms. Oh, a right set to it was. They was biffing each other all over the place.
    Dot: Who won, the soldier or the sailor?
    Ethel: I don't know. My dad come and took me home. Then he stood over me on the sink while I washed the make up off.

    Ethel: I had this argument with my dad. Now I was only twenty at the time. It was oh, something about wearing too much make up. Something like that. And I stormed out of the house and I said that I would never enter that house again while he was in it. I had a right old temper in those days, I can tell you.

    Ethel: There was a bomb went off over the tram garage and my dad went to work and then he came home again because they couldn't get the trams back. You see, I was working in the factory at the time, and he come back before I went to work. Great big smile on his face. Great big smile on his face, he had. "Got a day off, going to do the garden," he said. Over the moon he was. So he walked me to work. Well, truth is, I didn't always go to work because I hated that factory, but he wanted to make sure Iwent there. Well, as it happened, that day we had Workers' Playtime so I wanted to go. Oh, it was grand. That Izzy Bond was on the show and he gave me his autograph and he kissed me on the cheek. All the other girls was jealous. And then he asked me if I could sing because I was so pretty. And he told me I ought to be in show business. It was the happiest day of my life. Then I went back home and it wasn't there. The house. It was gone. Mum and Dad, all gone. They was both dead. Blown to kingdom come. A doodlebug had come and flattened the whole road out. All of a sudden, nothing. Just rubble and my mum's arm sticking out. All my clothes, my lipstick, my rouge, everything. Me ration book, that went up and all. I was saving up me clothing coupons. My brother come. He clumped me in the face. It hurt. He clumped me hard. Because I didn't think of them, you see. "You stupid cow," he said. "They're dead down there and all you can think of is your clothes and bits." But they wasn't ill, you see. They was fine, mum and dad. So it was all so unexpected. If they'd been ill - I thought they'd just come back, you see. I thought they'd just come back. My brother didn't mean to hurt me. After he said he was sorry, I lived with him.

    Ethel: Still got a bit of that shrapnel what did it. I found it in the house when I was a girl. Well, what was left of the house. It's part of the doodlebug.

    Alfie Moon: The Queen Mum nearly got killed by a doodlebug.
    Kat Moon: A doodlebug?
    Alfie: Yes, which she managed to avoid by hiding in the Queen Vic.
    Kat: The Queen Mum?
    Alfie: Yes - saved by the Vic, went on to inspire the entire nation. That’s a true story, that.
    Kat: Really?
    Alfie: No.

    Alfie: You see, she [the Queen Mother] was visiting some of the burnt out houses on Turpin Road when the alarm sounded.
    Claudia Maskry, reporter: And they found her shelter immediately?
    Alfie: No, she’s the Queen, ain’t she? She didn’t do a runner, she carried on. And that’s when she heard it - the buzz bomb, like no other sound you’ve ever heard before. It was like a “bzzzz” ... and it was like coming closer, and then the engine just cut off.
    Kat: With seconds to live, they all ran.
    Alfie: She made it just in time into the pub. That’s when the bomb hit Victoria Street.

    Dot: During the Blitz, every house in the Square suffered fire and damage except the Dagmar [public house]. Only it weren't the Dagmar then, it was a second-hand shop.

    Nellie: We got used to that in the Blitz, the smell of burning. Never knew what you were going to wake up to. Didn't know if you were going to wake up at all.

    Mo Butcher: A bomb went off in our garden during the war.

    Pauline Fowler: Mum used to say that during the war, people would dig whole families out with their bare hands.
    Sonia Jackson: No joke, was it, really? These women in the war - thought they was all right one minute, could be blown up the next.
    Pauline: It was like Mum said, they went through it all together. People used to help each other out, stick up for each other.

    Grant Mitchell: The places my grandmother drunk herself silly during the Blitz! Did I ever tell you about the time they were all too out of it to notice the street two down from them had been blown to pieces?

    Ethel on bombs exploding: It used to happen all the time in the Blitz. Not just one, but they were at it all night. Rows of houses had disappeared in the morning.

    Pauline: I remember Mum telling me you used to see families sifting through the rubble, see if there was anything they could save.
    Nellie: You had to save everything then.
    Arthur Fowler: It's hard to imagine life going on as normal in the middle of something like that.
    Ethel: We got used to it, didn't we? That was their big mistake. What was it that Mr Gerbils said to us -"We are going to bomb them out of subsistence." All he did was make us angry. I mean, you can't frighten people if they haven't got anything, can you? That's why you could always leave your front door open. Nobody had anything to nick.

    Dr Legg: Houses bombed, loved ones dead, and in the early morning, they'd be wandering about amongst the rubble, finding a piece of crockery here, a piece of furniture there, and all the time no expression on their faces. Just numb. Some wept, of course.
     
  7. James from London

    James from London Soap Chat Enthusiast

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    1940

    Dot on Johnny Allen: I've known him since he was no more than a twinkle in his father's eye. I remember the day that his mother brought him home from hospital like it was yesterday. Ugliest baby I ever saw.

    Patrick Trueman on his date of birth: June the twenty-sixth, 1940.

    Patrick on his full name: Patrick Neville Loftus Alfonso Trueman. Well, my mother was never too sure who my father was so she covered all her bases - which is a lie, I must point out for my poor mother’s sake. God rest her wicked soul!

    Cedric Lucas born 1940

    Arthur Fowler: My father was in the BEF in 1940, and my mother said how one afternoon the door opened and he walked in just wearing this grey coat, looking like a wardrobe on legs. They hadn't seen each other or spoken to each other for weeks, and he just sat down and asked her for a cup of tea. That's all he said. He'd just got back from Dunkirk.

    Dot: Does wonders for a man, a uniform. It used to be lovely when all the men had them during the war.

    Max Branning, Jim’s son, on his grandfather’s war medal: He won it in Dunkirk saving all his mates. Six years old [Jim] was, and that was the only thing he had to remember him by.

    Dot: When I was evacuated to Wales, because my parents had a house on the Square then, Lou waved me off. I was only little and she was in her early thirties, but you could see what she was going to turn out like. Strong as anything. I don't know how she stuck it out in the Blitz, you know - all on her own, no Albert.

    Dot: All I had could fit into one tiny little suitcase.

    Dot: I was three when I was evacuated.
    Ethel Skinner: Your mother went with you, didn't she?
    Dot: Yes.
    Ethel: She run away, didn't she? Got married.
    Dot: She got married, yes.

    Dot: All my life I've been lonely except when I was evacuated - December 6th, 1940.

    Dot: When I was on a train being evacuated, all the children was crying because they didn’t want to leave their mothers. I didn’t cry. I’d never had much love, you see, as a little girl. I was never held or told I was special. I was just there, talked about but not to. I never felt I was wanted.

    Dot: There I was, little thing of three, sent off to the Welsh mountains. When I got there, can you imagine, I was on a farm. Little place, Pontyheath. The whole world was at war and I was the happiest I’d ever been.

    Dot: Aunty Gwen was like them mothers that you see in picture books. I didn’t think they was real. It’s hard to explain, but I’d never seen anyone happy like that, her and Uncle Will.

    "Uncle" Will to Dot: Thought you'd be a boy.

    "Aunty" Gwen to Dot: I was hoping for a little girl.

    Dot: Me Uncle Will give me a lead soldier.

    Aunty Gwen to Dot: I made [you] this [a rag doll].

    Aunty Gwen on Dot's bedroom at the farmhouse: We did it up, Will and I, a few years [before the war].

    Dot: No child could have imagined a lovelier room than this was. It was like walking into a dream. They said it could be mine forever.

    Dot: When I was evacuated in the war to Wales, that first night after they'd turned out all the oil lamps, I lay in me bed and I was surrounded by darkness. I mean, I got used to it, but I never quite beat it.

    Dot on Gwen and Will: They wanted to adopt me, they did.

    Dot: They couldn’t have children of their own so that made me special. I was their little girl. Meant everything to me. I didn’t understand that I was only there for a little while, not really. I thought that I’d got a new mother, the old one didn’t want me no more, and I was in a family, a real family. I’d never had that before. I remember sitting between them on the sofa listening to the wireless, right in the middle, snug as a bug in a rug, and I wasn’t in the way and they gave me toys and crayons to do me drawings. And they talked to me.

    Dot: The only mother I had was me Aunty Gwen.

    Dot: I used to brush my Aunty Gwen’s hair when I was little, every Sunday morning without fail. That’s why I always wanted a girl.

    1941

    Blossom Jackson: I lost two of my brothers to the war. Same date, one year apart from each other, January 7th. If that's not God playing a joke then you tell me what is.

    Patrick Trueman: I’ve been walking since I was nine months old.

    Nana Moon on her recipe book: I had that as a wedding present on my wedding.
    Alfie Moon: 1941.

    Alfie: My nana didn't have a honeymoon.

    Nana Moon to Alfie: I used to wear [my blue brooch] under my overall when I was working at the factory. I thought I was the bee's knees. It was the only proper present your granddad bought for me. It cost fourteen and sixpence, and fourteen and sixpence was a lot of money in those days. I'd have had to have sold two dozen shirts and a bagful of gussets just for fourteen and six.
    Alfie: It was lost.
    Nana Moon: I should have been more careful. I looked for years and I couldn't find it.

    Nana Moon: William and I never went to bed on an argument.

    Nana Moon on herself and her husband William: The last time we were together, we saw [Gone With The Wind]. We was going dancing down at the Palais afterwards, but it got too late and William had to go. I often wonder what it would have been like if I'd had one last dance.

    Alfie on his grandfather: The day he returned to duty was the last day my nan saw him.

    Nana Moon: I only had seven months with your grandfather, just seven months, before he went away forever.

    Alfie: Six months later, he was killed in action.

    Wilfred Atkins, reading the inscription on one of William's war medals: "For God and Empire, meritorious service." He must have been very brave.

    Nana Moon: Those seven months I had with my William, they were the happiest days of my life, and since he died, well, I've never been tempted by anyone else. I didn't have that spark. You need that spark, don't you?

    Nana Moon to Alfie: When your granddad died, I sold [our] tandem because you can't ride it on your own, can you?

    Kat on Nana Moon: Never really got over losing [Alfie’s] granddad so young.

    Nana Moon on William: There never was anyone else for me. I was meant to be in love with him forever. He was so young and beautiful.

    Kat on Nana Moon: She used to have a whisky a day when she was up the spout.

    Lou Beale: You, Kenny, you was my firstborn, the best of my womanhood and a fulfilment of your father's love for me.

    Pauline on The Rescue Fight, a Biggles book Lou would eventually bequeath to her grandson Ian: Mum had that given her when Kenny was in his pram.

    Lydia Simmonds on herself: A leggy eighteen-year-old with an eye for mischief.

    Rose Elizabeth Beauchamp [née Taylor] date of birth: 01 Dec / 1941


    1942

    Tom Clements: I saw service in the last war. The tales I could tell you.

    Benny Bloom: I rode a [motor]bike in the army.

    Phil Mitchell on the Mitchell family tree: Above my dad [Eric], we’ve got Grandma Sandra and Grandpa Robert.

    Mitchell family tree: Edward and Betty were Robert Mitchell’s parents.

    Barry Evans: Peggy Ann Mitchell was born in Bethnal Green.

    Peggy’s parents: Lilly and Jack.

    Peggy Mitchell’s date and place of birth: 21 Mar 42, East London

    Peggy: I was a war baby.
    Pat Wicks (née Harris, ex-Beale): Me and all, same year. Our poor old mums having babies on their own while their husbands were away God knows where.

    Dot on Cora Cross: That woman was born in the sewer.

    Lydia Simmonds to her granddaughter Janine: Your mother was born at this time of day [4.30am]. I’d been in labour forever and halfway through, the sirens went off and the midwife thought I might haemorrhage if we moved to the shelter so I was stuck under that kitchen table for another three hours with the bombs falling all round. No epidurals in those days, no nothing, and I thought, “If this is childbirth, you can keep it!” And then suddenly there she was, bawling and screaming. “You’ve got a beautiful baby girl, Mrs Simmonds.” And then the midwife pulled back the blackout curtain and it was dawn and outside, miraculously, birdsong. And the room was flooded with a pale yellow light and
    suddenly the whole thing was alive and just for one moment, despite the pain, despite the bombs, despite the wretched war, it was as if everything in the entire universe made complete and perfect sense, as if I’d been touched by God.

    Ricky Butcher, Lydia’s grandson: When me mum was born, me gran kept her in a drawer for two months.

    Lydia to her daughter June: You didn’t give me much trouble. A few sleepless nights of course, but you have to expect that.

    Ethel Skinner: Blimey, in the war we was hopping from pillar to post, dodging from here to here. Never knew where we was going to sleep.

    Dot: There were some people who said you was a bit too free with the men.
    Ethel: Well, of course I was. You're only young once.
    Dot: Look at the way you carried on. You certainly believed in doing your bit! Yanks was your favourite, wasn't they?
    Ethel: Well, they were such gentlemen.
    Dot: Not what I heard.
    Ethel: The Yanks used to whistle me and I used to call back, "Got any gum, chum?" I had a kiss and a cuddle with a few.
    Dot: You was always a bit flighty.
    Ethel: Flighty? No I don't think so. I just wanted a good time.

    Dot on Ethel: If she got up to half the things she said she did during the war, it’s a wonder them soldiers had the strength left to go back and fight. I asked her why she did that, much later on of course and she said that she loved the idea of sending them back off leave with a smile on their face, and was that such a bad thing to do when some of them might never come back?

    Ethel: I used to have a dog. Got the RSPCA to put him asleep because he ate too much. That was my bit for the war effort.

    Marge Green on her mother's war service: She was a clippy [on the buses].
    Dot: She served her king and country in a uniformed capacity.
    Ethel: Mrs Himmler, we used to call her. I can hear it now, "If you don't move down the car, I'll have you thrown off at the next stop!" She was worse than them Nazi boys when she got her uniform on.
    Marge: Ethel's right. Them courting couples, she used to make them come down off of the top deck to where she could keep an eye on them because she wouldn't have no immorality, not on her Number 26.
    Ethel: Miserable old spoilsport.

    Marge to Ethel: My mother used to tell us girls that if we kept ourselves pure, all the fellas would respect us. And that's all they ever did. She used to say, "You see them flighty ones, like Ethel? They'll come to a bad end." So you see, you got all the fellas and I got all the respect.

    Ethel: I had my pick of men. It was like standing in a strawberry patch of Gregory Pecks.

    Ethel: When I was younger, I hated missing anything. Whatever names people called me, I always grasped my opportunities. Sometimes when I remember the things I've done, I go hot. Mind you, it was my life and I knew I was only going to have the one go at it.

    Ethel: I had some times in the back row of the pictures, I can tell you. I loved the war. Except for me mum and dad, of course. It was all 'Knees Up Mother Brown' and kissing under the arches. Ooh I loved it.

    Lou's sister Betty: Charlie O'Brien - he finished with [Nellie] to go out with me. She's never forgiven
    me.
    Nellie Ellis: Rubbish. Everyone knows why he went off with you.
    Betty: Yes, because I gave him something he wanted.
    Nellie: Yes and you gave it to everyone else as well.
    Betty: What if I did? There was a war on. It was the only thing that wasn't rationed.

    Jim Branning: My dad used to tell me that during the war, everybody was at it.
    Maureen Carter: My first child was conceived in an air raid shelter.
    Jim: There you are, you see. Bombs dropping all over the place, any of them could have had your name on it and you didn't think twice, did you?
    Maureen: Only difference with me was the war had been over three years when it happened.

    Ethel: I met some lovely men. That was the nice thing about it. Then they was all taken, one way or another. I don't want to look back. I want to look forward. That's what we did in the war. We looked to the future.

    Peggy Mitchell: I can remember my mother saying that they never talked about people dying, just made plans all the time.

    Ethel: In the war, you could walk the streets, day and night.
    Carmel Roberts: Apart from the bombs and the doodlebugs.
    Ethel: Yes, but men took No for an answer then. Even the Yanks.

    Ethel: I was putting detonators on bombs in Woolwich. Cordite. I used to get a right rash on my hands. I used to have to wear special gloves, and no jewellery.

    Dot: I've seen mountains in Wales when I was a girl. It always seemed to rain in Wales. It's the land of rain and graveyards and they sing sad songs. Lovely, it was.
     
  8. James from London

    James from London Soap Chat Enthusiast

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    1943

    Jim Branning: Mrs Miniver, Canning Town Roxy, 1943. Took me first girlfriend to see it, Walter Pidgeon.
    Patrick Trueman: Your first girlfriend was Walter Pidgeon?
    Jim: No, no. He co-starred with Germaine Greer in Mrs Miniver.

    Ethel Skinner: I went blonde once, in 1943.

    Arthur George Fowler born 19.8.1943

    Nana Moon: It was the twenty-second of August 1943, when I met my lovely William, and it was like my life had just begun.

    William Moon to Nana: I saw you coming in out of the rain and I thought, “There’s my girl”, like I’d been waiting for you.

    Arthur: I'm Walford born and bred, and during my lifetime, I've seen parts of this borough turn into places fit only for rats.

    Arthur: I've lived in Albert Square most of my life.

    Johnny Allen on Walford: I was brought up round here.

    Pauline: ['You'll Never Know'] was one of Lou's favourite [songs].

    Alice Dutton on Wilfred Bainbridge: [His musical career was] short-lived, I'm afraid. He went deaf in his forties. They found him some menial work, cleaning, I think. Hackney Empire, as I recall. He was a regular performer for them for a while. My parents had to take him in, of course. Oh he was troublesome. I left home shortly afterwards.

    Arthur on Wilfred: He did die during the war. Just think, I was still in me pram when old Wilf was strutting around with his gas mask.
    Phil Mitchell: Ilford's where he copped it.
    Arthur: Cause of death - multiple injuries and shock. I wonder if he was under the stairs when the house collapsed on him? That's where our mum used to take us. She wouldn't go down the shelter, didn't believe in them. She was right and all. We used to let the family next door have our shelter, and then one night, wallop - the whole backyard was flattened.
    Phil: Yeah, like most of the East End.

    Alice on Wilfred: Unfortunately, my parents were out somewhere one evening and the warning sounded and the house got a direct hit. Poor Uncle Wilfred. I don't suppose he knew anything about it. Tragic, really.

    Big Mo on earplugs: Me gran used to use them in the war.

    Jim Branning: There was hundreds of bombs dropping then. They were trying to kill us.
    Sonia, Jim's granddaughter: You must have been terrified.
    Jim: I was only a nipper then so I quite enjoyed it. All the buildings were flattened, see, so it was like a big adventure playground. Me and my mate Kenny had the time of our lives. We were blood brothers, we were. We'd seen them Apaches do it in one of them cowboy films.
    Sonia: Blood brothers - what, you mean cutting your arms and all that?
    Jim: Behave! No, we pricked our thumbs with darts, didn't we?

    Jim: Kenny copped it in '43. His mum used to make him go up to Sunday school, see, and a bomb fell on the church hall and killed seventeen of them. Good job your great grandmother weren't too religious, eh?
    Sonia: I bet you was upset though.
    Jim: Of course I was - I'd lent him half my cigarette card collection, hadn't I? Never saw it again, you know! Of course you didn't get counselling then, and you sort of cried your tears and found someone else to knock about with.

    Dot: I helped to build this wall [on the farm in Wales]. Nobody had ever been proud of me in me life before.

    Dot: I loved me Uncle Will. Oh he was a lovely man. No wonder she [Gwen] fell in love with him. He used to take me for rides on his tractor, me and the dog. He used to call me his little pearl - at first anyway.

    Dot: I remember me mother - well, it was me Aunty Gwen, I mean, she was like a mother to me - I must have been about seven or eight - I remember her teaching me how to make a cake. And do you know, it was more of a magic trick to me to watch that sludgy mixture turn into a beautiful sponge.
    Pauline Fowler: I bet you still use the same recipe.
    Dot: Oh, I do.
    Pauline: And your Aunty Gwen probably would have got that from her mum and it's come on down through the generations.

    Dot: My Aunty Gwen said it ain’t proper tea if it ain’t in a cup and saucer.

    Dot: Special Welsh cheese — it’s what my Aunty Gwen used to give me when I was a little girl in Wales.

    Hetty Samuels: Mum and me used to come down [to Lou's stall] every Thursday.

    Lou Beale to Pauline: You could only sell what you could get [during the war]. We used to grow parsley on the window ledge and mushrooms under the stairs. We used to keep bantams in the yard. Your dad, he wanted to keep a goat, but I wasn't having any. Nasty smelly things, they are. They had one in Bassett Street, off Turpin Road. A goat. Lasted right up to the Coronation. I think it ended up in a curry.

    Lou on the wine bar (currently the E20 nightclub) in Turpin Road: Used to be a stable, old Taylor's.

    Lou on raising a family in wartime: We pull our apron strings in and we eat cheaper, nice bit of scrag end and onion and carrots. Stew one day, soup and spuds the next. In the war, you were lucky if you could find any [scrag end] anywhere, but we managed
    somehow.
    Pauline: Black market?
    Lou: Oh yes, much to your dad's disapproval. All right for him to have his principles, but he was fed by the army. I had to bring you lot up. We kept quiet. We just tucked in, didn't we? After all, we'd eaten the evidence, hadn't we?

    Dot: Nobody went hungry in the war. If your neighbour hadn’t got a crust then you shared yours with them.

    Ethel Skinner on buying potatoes: It was different then, you see. They didn't wash them. I mean, you could go into a shop and ask for four pounds of potatoes and what did you get? Three pounds of spuds and a pound of mud.

    Ethel: [I remember] Mum sitting in the room, clear as day, and she said, "Don't forget to put the ration books back on the mantlepiece."

    A receipt belonging to Nana Moon: “To Victoria Moon from Kasabian Films - three shillings for services in Wartime Rations Number 8.”

    Alfie Moon: You were in a rationing film!
    Nana: Yes I was. It was about spuds. They showed it in the cinema.

    Alfie to Nana: That scene [in Wartime Rations Number 8] with all them girls on the tractor - one of them was you. I recognised you straightaway with your smiling face and your sparkly eyes.

    Patrick Trueman: I came from nothing, a little shack in the back of nowhere. We had less than nothing. Sometimes in the morning, me father, he wouldn't know where the dinner was coming from that night.

    Blossom Jackson: My mother had two alsatians in Jamaica, Rufus and Maxie. When we couldn't afford meat, we used to give them [cornmeal]. They loved it. Big, strong healthy dogs.

    Dot: My Aunty Gwen taught me to sew. It was the war, you see. Make do and mend.

    Dot on budgeting: My Aunty Gwen during the war, it was, “Put aside a few shillings for the oil for the lamp, put aside a few shillings for the logs for the fire, fifteen shillings for groceries.” (That was 75p.) You see we didn’t have credit cards in those days nor internet banking and things. We had to get by on what we got.

    Dot: “Waste not, want not” as my Aunty Gwen used to say.

    Arthur: They had to make do in those days. Everything was rationed.

    Dot: My generation was brought up on rationing.

    Dr Legg: There was a fat chap who kept sausages in his raincoat.

    Stan Carter: We used to get a lot of rice during the war. Pudding rice, mainly. Always wondered where it came from.

    Phil Mitchell: He was in the RAF, our granddad.
    Ronnie Mitchell, Phil’s cousin: Are we talking about our dads' dad, Grandpa Phil?
    Ben Mitchell, Phil’s son: What was he like a rear gunner or something?
    Ronnie: Worked in the stores.
    Phil: It’s an important job, the stores. Do you think we’d have won the Battle of Britain if it weren’t for blokes like Grandpa Phil working in the stores, eh?
    Ronnie: He ended up doing six months in the glasshouse, didn’t he? It was for flogging parachute silk, wasn’t it?
    Phil: Yeah, to the underwear factory.
    Ronnie: Then he sold the underwear back to the RAF.
    Phil: The man was a genius!
    Ronnie: The glasshouse, it’s like military prison.
    Phil: The man was framed!

    Pauline Fowler: Ethel used to half inch the silk from the parachutes, then Mum used to run the underwear up on her sewing machine, and Ethel would sell it on.
    Mark Fowler, Pauline's son: Gran reckoned it did more for the war effort than Vera Lynn.
    Ian Beale, Pauline's nephew: Gran and Ethel making knickers for England - I'm surprised Hitler didn't surrender there and then.

    Dot on Vera Lynn: Hitler found his match in an East End girl.

    Sonia: Women in the war always used to have really slim legs, didn't they?
    Pauline: Oh yeah. I suppose that was the rationing - or it could have been that they used to dye their legs with gravy browning, get an eye pencil and do a line down the back. Mum said that's what they used to do.

    Ethel: Gordon Postlethwaite used to sell [black market] halibut down George Street all through the war, fresh as you could get - and he used to give you a nice bit of sole if he liked the scent you as wearing. Big red nose.
    Dr Legg: Always singing "The Fishermen of England". Strange man, he was. I never knew him well.
    Ethel: I did!

    Dot on Lou: During the war, you couldn't get nothing, but she come up trumps. She could perform miracles with the skin of a chicken and a packet of Paxo.

    Lou: Wartime Christmases - Reg Cox and his black market chicken.

    Frank Butcher, Mo's son: Do you know what I remember most about being a kid [at Christmas]? It was during the war when all the streets were dark and the whole family, except Dad of course, would go from party to party and you'd come out of a blacked-out street into a room where the light would hurt your eyes and the ceilings were smothered in those paper chains with those big coloured bells.

    Dot: The Christmases I remember were in the country, when I was evacuated. Oh beautiful times we had, magical, on the farm.
    Ethel: Any snow?
    Dot: Oh yes, deep - and roast goose and a great big tree from out the woods and real thick cream on your pudding.

    Aunty Gwen to Dot: Until you came, Christmas Day was just another day.

    1944

    Dot Cotton: I was rather shy [aged seven].

    Dot: When I was with me Aunty Gwen in Wales, I went to a little church school. We had the most wonderful teacher. Miss Birney her name was. She made the world so interesting. All the different countries and the music and the poetry - so exciting. I wanted to be like her. I wanted to make a difference to children. I wanted to teach them how to want to make the most out of their lives.

    Dot: I always loved Chaucer. Of course in my young day it weren’t thought necessary for girls to have much of an education.

    Jim Branning: I was famous for my love notes at school.

    Dot: 'All our hopes on thee are founded.' It's my favourite [hymn]. Aunty Gwen, she loved that one.

    Dot on 'The Lord’s My Shepherd': That’s been my favourite [hymn] ever since I was a little girl.

    Dot: “There was a little girl who had a little curl, right in the centre of her forehead. And when she was good she was very very good, but when she was bad she was horrid.” Just a little poem what my Aunty Gwen used to say to me.

    Dot: “Which of you by taking thought can add one cubit to his stature?” I remember hearing that as a little girl in Wales. I was coming home with Aunty Gwen from chapel and I asked her what it meant and she said it was Jesus’s way of telling us not to worry, that what will be will be.

    Garry Hobbs, speaking in 2005: There was a time, years ago, when our dads - or even our granddads for that matter - when they was our age, if you were a bloke, all you had to do was be a bloke. I reckon I would have liked it back then. Me and you would have been more than adequate back then. And it was easier for the birds and all. Pot bellies, big bazookas - none of your surgically-sucking-out sixty years ago. Say what you like, but everyone knew where they was.
    Rick “Minty” Peterson: Yeah, down the tubes waiting for the bombs to stop dropping.
    Garry: Oh yeah, but if you don't expect too much, no-one gets disappointed.

    Dot: It’s funny, isn’t it, how much easier it is if you don’t expect nothing out of life. Back then, it was a kiss from Aunty Gwen, whether it was sunny enough to go out in the fields …

    Tiffany Butcher: Were you scared?
    Dot: Well, sometimes yes, but my Aunty Gwen, oh she was lovely, she used used to fill a bath for me every Sunday, a big tin bath in front of the fire, and she used to wash me hair for me. Oh, she was ever so gentle and then I’d curl up on the sofa beside her with Blue the dog and then I felt safe, didn’t I? I didn’t have to worry no more.

    Dot: My Aunty Gwen made me [a party dress] when I was a little girl.

    Tony Cattani: Every time it snowed, you had to go to school wearing plimsolls.
    Big Mo: Those were the days, hiding behind the door when the rent man knocked.

    Big Mo: Tony was a mate. Me and Stan [her brother] grew up with him.

    Dr Legg: When I was a young doctor, I nearly packed the whole thing in. I thought I couldn't cope.

    Ethel Skinner: You remember our night out on the town when I was going through my funny patch?
    Lou Beale: You had a bad shock. It would have taken me the same way.

    Ethel: We went up west to pick up a couple of blokes.
    Lou: Don't make it sound like that.
    Ethel: Well, that's what it was.
    Lou: May have been for you.

    Ray Sewell: Remember, Lou, you and Ethel and them two blokes? That was a night.
    Lou: Albert would have loved it.

    Ethel on Ernie Mears: He used to fancy me a bit during the war.

    Ernie Mears on Ethel: She was a corker.

    Ethel on Ernie: He was so weedy. He was very shy and my William used to laugh at him.

    Extract from a letter written by Jack Draper: "I keep hearing six little words, 'Never give up without a fight.' Truth is, I reckon I agree. Keep smiling, Jeannie darling, because one day this war's going to be over - I got it off a bloke in the NAAFI who got it off a bloke who knows."

    Sonia on Jeanie, Jack's fiance: She got killed in an air raid one night.
    Jim: They did say that if one of them had your name on it ...

    Sonia: Jack's last letter to his fiancee arrived the day after her funeral. The letter was sent back to North Africa where Jack kept it.

    A letter from Nana Moon: “Dear William, Your son, Alfred Moon, born on the eighteenth of April 1944, and he is the most beautiful boy ever born in the world. Ever. Can’t take me eyes off him. He’s perfect. He’s so like you. I can’t wait for you to see him. When are you getting your leave? I want you to meet your boy and hold him and see how wonderful he is. Sending you kisses and all our love, baby Alfred and your Victoria.”

    A letter from William Moon (first part censored by the war office) addressed to Mrs Victoria Moon, 43 Byers Road Barking: “All leave’s been suspended. No-one’s getting anything, not even on special grounds. Something’s going on. Things are different. We’re getting trained for something, something special, something big. Maybe this is where I’ll make me mark, eh? Maybe this is where I get to be in the thick of it. I’m not going to get to meet Alfred yet but I will so you give him a big kiss from me, tell him his Daddy loves him. I’m so proud of you, Vic. I always knew you’d make the most blinding mum. Thank-you for making me so happy, darling. All my love, William.”

    Sonia on Jack Draper: He was in Normandy in the war during the D-Day landings. He helped out with all the land mines and before that he was in bomb disposal.

    Alfie Moon: The D-Day Landings were in June.

    Sid, war veteran: When I come here [Normandy], I’m a few weeks short of my seventeenth. I lied to join up, see. I couldn’t wait. I reckoned I was going to be a right hero. Me and Adolf, going at it toe to toe. I was full of myself, all fired up. I was a mouthy little git, if you can believe that. I was terrified, paralysed by fear, crying for me mum. I just about wet meself.

    Alfie: Granddad, he lost his life here [Normandy beach]. He was only twenty-one years of age. Didn’t even get to see his baby son, my dad.

    Telegram from the war office: “WE DEEPLY REGRET TO INFORM YOU THAT YOUR HUSBAND 14005000 WILLIAM MOON WAS KILLED IN ACTION STOP LETTER FOLLOWS.”

    William’s gravestone: “14005000 Private W.A. Moon, The Essex Regiment, 12th June 1944. Sleep Peacefully.”

    Alfie on William’s grave: You’ve never been there?
    Nana Moon: No, I’ve never felt the need.

    An extract from a letter written by Nana Moon to be read at her funeral in 2005: “Less than one year [after meeting William] he was taken from me and I thought my life was over, but it wasn’t over, and it’s turned into the best sort of life a soul could wish for, thanks to the family [God] gave me, the family that came from me loving William. And I came to see that William wasn’t taken from me. He was given to me and all the good things in my life came from him, from him loving me and me loving him. Like all good things in everyone’s life, they come from
    them that love you.”

    Newspaper cutting: "The King has been graciously pleased to approve the award of the George Cross to Sergeant Jack Draper, Royal Air Force Bomb Disposal. For over two years, Sergeant Draper has been employed on bomb disposal duties and has repeatedly displayed the most conspicuous courage and unselfish devotion to duty in circumstances of great personal danger."

    Ian Beale on a war medal: It was my granddad’s, Albert Beale's. He fought in the war, helped make this country what it is.

    Pete Beale on Albert: Prisoner of war he was, you know - the Japs. One of the worst.
     
  9. James from London

    James from London Soap Chat Enthusiast

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    1945

    Pauline Fowler: 1945 - that's the year I was born.

    Michelle Fowler: Did you ever have any doubts?
    Lou Beale: What, about marrying your granddad? No. Only little ones. Then we had all our little ones and it didn't matter then. We was too busy bringing up Pete and your mum and all the others.

    Lou: When I had my kids, course I had them at home. All the neighbours used to come in. Made the place all clean as a new pin, they did.

    Lou: I didn't have one iron tablet [during pregnancy.] Albert used to bring me home a bottle of Guinness. He said that was all the iron I needed.

    Lou: Thirty-six hours I was [in labour] with my Norma and twenty-eight with Pauline.

    Dot Cotton to Pauline: Ethel said that Lou was thrilled when she was expecting you and Pete.

    Pete Beale on Lou: She always used to say she took a hundred pound of spuds up them stairs the night before she had us.

    Pauline on Lou: For me and Pete, she did the jitterbug [to induce labour].

    Peter and Pauline Beale born 11 March 1945

    Kathy Beale (née Hills) on Pete: He was born in Number 45 [Albert Square] and he's been there ever
    since.

    Ian Beale, Pete’s son, to Pauline: You and me dad, you were born in this house.

    Pauline, speaking about Walford in 1987: I was born there, went to school there, work there and I'll probably die there.

    Pauline: I was just born to wash the smalls of Walford, was I?

    Dot: “Never do your washing on a Good Friday.” Do you remember that, Pauline? “Not on the day that Jesus died because if you do, you’ll wash your life away.” Of course, nobody thinks about that now, but it stayed with me since I was a little girl.

    Dot: In the old days, we didn’t have all this technology [washing machines]. We just had a sink and a mangle, but the washing still got done, and there was time left over.

    Lou: I loved Pete and Pauline. No mother could love her children more.

    Lou: A nice white viola nightie and a pair of booties, that's how I dressed my babies.

    Lou: I [breast] fed all mine, even the twins.

    Lou: With you [Pete and Pauline] being twins, I had to feed both of you at the same time. More like a juggler than a mother, I was. I was so sore.

    Lou: I boiled mine [nappies] regular, every day. Not one of you had a pimple, let alone a rash.

    Lou to Pauline: I was running stalls when you was on the pot.

    Pauline: I used to share a pram with Pete.

    Uncle: I held you, Pauline, when you were just so big, and your brother. Of course, I'm more of a ladies' man, you see, so I preferred to hold you!

    Ethel Skinner: What about that time in the blackout when [Albert] caught his head in the door?
    Pauline: That weren't Dad, it was Granddad.
    Lou: Yeah, when he was a warder. Dropped his teeth rushing when the siren went, didn't he? And when he bent down to pick them up, he tripped over the twins' pram, shot forward and put his helmet straight through the front door! He's inside, his head's out, his teeth have disappeared again, the front door's in tatters and someone's hollering, "Put that bloody light out!" "You've done it now," I said, "you silly
    old man, putting your head through a door and showing Jerry a light." "Never mind the door," he said, "or Jerry. Just make sure you ain't standing on me teeth!" The old fool.

    Dot on 'Moonlight Serenade' by Glenn Miller: We used to dance to this to the wireless in Wales. We'd put the blackouts up, a pile of logs on the fire, make a plate of hot toast with dripping. They were happy days.



    Dr Legg on grieving for his wife: "Chin up," they said. "Best foot forward. There's a war on." Yeah - then their war ended and mine didn't.

    Names listed on the 1939-1945 section of the war memorial in Bridge Street:
    S. Bache
    A. Booroff
    M. Bowden
    E. Bridgeman
    S. Buckle
    C. Chang
    J. Coleman
    M. Conner
    B. Cottle
    T. Fortune
    C. Fowler
    S. Griffin
    T. Holland
    L. Iles

    Alfie Moon: Phlegm.
    Kat Moon: That’s how we won the war.
    Alfie: That’s right, Kat - stiff upper lip, strong backbone and bucketloads of ...
    Claudia Maskry: Phlegm.

    Phil Mitchell: Second World War, we won it.
    Ben Mitchell: That’s not strictly true. It was the Russians who won the war mainly, along with the Americans. Mr Davidson [Ben’s history
    teacher] reckons Britain was actually the biggest loser because we had an empire before and we didn’t after, and we ended up owing the Yanks, like, billions.
    Phil: We won the war, all right? End of.

    Liz Turner: I wasn’t born till the war was over.

    Barry Evans on Peggy: She was three years old when the war ended.

    Jack Edwards, looking at a photo of Peggy as a little girl: You were beautiful.

    Ethel: I helped out on DJ Day. I gave away hundreds of flags with a picture of the Queen on them.

    Ethel: You should have been here [the Square] VJ night. Oh, it was marvellous. We lined all the stalls up end to end right down here [Bridge Street]. We danced, Vic kept open all night, then we built a big bonfire right in the middle of the Square. Oh, you could see it for miles.

    Dot: I remember one day, one perfect day, I woke up early and I could hear Uncle Will’s tractor in the bottom field and I looked out the window and I saw the sun coming up over the hill and it was the brightest red I’ve ever seen, brighter than me mother’s lipstick, with little wisps of cloud round it. Looked like a painting. And the birds were singing, with no stops in-between. And there was the smell of new bread coming up the stairs. And I remember thinking, “This is my home. I live here.” And I knew when I went down, Aunty Gwen would be smiling, and there wouldn’t be no man at the table, looking at me mother, touching her as she walked past, grinning at me - “Cat got your tongue?” “Oh take no notice. Only Dot, she don’t say much.” That moment, I was the happiest I’d ever been and I went downstairs and Aunty Gwen was setting the table and there was warm bread and a boiled egg for me and a big brown pot of tea, and Uncle Will come in and we
    sat eating our breakfast - Uncle Will laughing at me bed socks sticking out under me nightie. We was laughing at breakfast, just like in the books. The sun was so strong that day, I could hardly breathe and I ran in the fields and I lay down and I looked up at the sky. I was so happy I felt that I could burst. I must have been there nearly an hour or more. The sky was the bluest I’d ever seen, so perfect. On me way home, I drank from a stream. The water was so cold, it hurt me head. It was the best day. So perfect it was over in a flash. And I was in the kitchen and Aunty Gwen was washing me in the tin bath and then I was on me way up to bed. And I lay there wondering if life was really like that, if everybody lived like this and I was just catching up, because everything I’d ever known was ugly - smoky pubs, men spitting in the streets, swearing - and here I was, laying in bed after the best day ever, crispy sheets and the smell of me new washed nightie. And Uncle Will come up to tuck me in. First time, I was frightened. I thought he’d come to tell me off because I’d never been tucked in before so I hid under the covers and he pulled them back and he smiled at me and said I looked like a frightened rabbit, which I was, I suppose. And after that, I
    waited for him every night. “Would you like a song, little pearl?” Because that’s what he called me, his little pearl. And I could feel the grin squeezing me cheeks and he kicked off his old slippers and he lay on the top of the bed beside me and sang to me, so softly I could hardly hear it. I laid me head on his chest and I could feel it going up and down and I held onto him while he sang to me. He sang 'Pretty
    Baby'. [Sings:] “Everybody loves a baby, that’s why I’m in love with you. Pretty baby, pretty baby ...” I know it’s silly, remembering such a little thing, but when I look back, everything I've known from that moment on, everything I’ve ever cared about, I’ve lost. Uncle Will was killed in a car accident less than a month later.

    Dot on an old 78 record: Jack Hilton and His Orchestra, 'On the Sunny Side of the Street'. Me Aunty Gwen give it to me when I was leaving the farm where I was during the war. She used to play it all the time. After tea we’d push back the furniture and clear a space and then she’d dance with me Uncle Will. I’d sit and watch and they’d dance. Sometimes all three of us would dance together. Other times me Uncle Will, he’d stand me on his feet and whisk me round the room like a lady, like I was flying. A little bit of sunshine to take back to Walford to
    keep me going.



    Nick Cotton, Dot’s son, on her Uncle Will: Was that the one who had a heart attack? You shouldn’t have worn him out with all that jitterbugging, should you?

    Dot on her Uncle Will's dog: I never meant for Blue to die. I just took him for a walk and I took him off the lead because he wanted to run. And then there was that horrible trap and he howled and he howled and then me Uncle Will shot him and he blamed me.

    Will on Dot: I told her, "Keep him on the leash." I told her and told her and told her!
    Gwen: She didn't set the trap.
    Will: She might as well have. Why did you [Dot] come here? We were so much happier without you.

    Dot to Will: I never meant to hurt no one, but you just made it so hard. Aunty Gwen told me that you loved me and I tried to believe it, but you just made it so hard.

    Dot: That night that Blue died, there was a terrible storm blowing up, but I didn't care. I took me lead soldier and I buried it because Uncle Will had said it was all my fault, Blue's blood was on my hands, and I didn't know where to turn and I was out in me nighty in the fields. And I buried me lead soldier and I pretended it was me Uncle Will. And then I said me prayers. "Dear Jesus," I said, "it's me Uncle Will, he shouts, and me Aunty Gwen cries and now he hates me and he'll make me Aunty Gwen hate me and I'll have to go home to me mum." So I prayed in me heart that me Uncle Will would die. I was feeling so upset and I knew what I was doing was bad, but I didn't care. I asked Jesus to kill him because Jesus is fair and that would be fair, wouldn't it? I prayed so hard, I think he put me at the head of the queue. As soon as I saw that man walk up, I knew Jesus had answered me prayer. It was me what made his truck crash, Aunty Gwen, with me prayers. It was me. It was
    me what killed him. I killed me Uncle Will.
    Gwen: You silly girl. God's not going to answer that sort of prayer. It was an accident.
    Dot: I asked and He answered.

    Gwen: Don't you remember the last time you saw the little doll? It was torn in half. Will wasn't great with words, but he knew how to say some things. Your little doll, the one I kept, he mended it for you before he left that night. It was probably the last
    thing he ever did. He loved you, Dot.
    Dot: Yeah, but I ran out on you when you needed me the most. I wanted to take everything - me doll, me books, the smell of the sheets, you and me Uncle Will - but I knew I'd lost you both forever because when I prayed for me Uncle Will to die, I forgot you loved him. I knew you'd never ever forgive me. The policeman took me to the station, asked me name. Said I must have a mum somewhere, someone to look after
    me, love me, to miss me, but I said no. I kept on saying no. I couldn't face what I'd done to you, what I'd made you lose. All I wanted to do was run home to you, have you tell me everything would be all right, but I couldn't. I didn't deserve it. I told him I didn't know where she was. I knew I was saying good-bye to it all - roast goose at Christmas, the thick cream on the pudding, the ride on the tractor, no more Little Pearl.
    Gwen: You broke my heart. What did I do that was so wrong?
    Dot: I thought I was helping. I thought it was the right thing to do. I should have stayed. Fate brought me here, said, "This is the home for you," and what did I do? I turned me back on it. I can't tell you how many times I wondered what it would have been like to live here - you, me and Uncle Will and the countryside out there, the streams and the fields.
    Gwen: When Will died, I thought the world had ended. I was so angry with you for going away, but I never stopped thinking about you, wondering where you were, what you were doing. As angry as I was, you were always there. Always.




















     
  10. James from London

    James from London Soap Chat Enthusiast

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    1945 (c0ntinued)

    Ethel: On VE day, we had a bit of a do [at The Queen Vic]. I was dancing on a table and they were all dropping down like flies. My William took me outside, having hoisted me onto his shoulders, and we scratched our initials on the wall. A little heart with two names inside, ES and WS.

    Ethel: A party I went to on VE time, it was a competition and I went as a Betty Grable lookalike - well, we didn't call them lookalikes then, we called them renditions. They all went down with food poisoning and there was a terrible scare about it because Emma Parsons, who was giving a rendition of Margaret Lockwood, well she hated children. Anyway, do you know what caused it? Bananas and custard. You see, these kids, they'd never even seen a banana before, leave alone had to eat one.

    Arthur Fowler on VE Day: I was a toddler at the time. I had an uncle that won the military medal at Monte Cassino. He was in the artillery on those big guns.

    Dot on her right to smoke: They’re me rights. They was won for us by Churchill when he told us all to stand up to Hitler. Well, we wasn’t going to be pushed around, was we, by a little man with greasy hair and a moustache like a toothbrush?

    Audrey Trueman: Born 4th September 1945

    Patrick Trueman: Ruth was an angel, you know. She always seemed to have time for everyone. And her voice - her voice was so soft you had to lean in close to catch every word she was saying. I never heard her say a bad word about anyone, never. And her smile, her smile - it could crack open a million hearts.
    Libby Fox: How did you meet her?
    Patrick: It was way back in Trinidad, first day in primary school - she with her hair in pleats standing in the line of all the good little girls under the mango tree and me in the line of scruffy little boys, me knees all scabby and me hands dirty from pitching marbles.

    Dot: I have kissed a woman other than me mother. I kissed a WVS lady what took us back after we was evacuated.

    Ethel: They couldn't find [your mother] when they brought you back from evacuation, could they? She dumped you. I remember they was going to put you in a home.
    Dot: She never dumped me. It was the war. House they were in nearly got bombed, that's all. She never dumped me. I mean, houses did get bombed, you know. People did get misplaced. I suspect she was worried sick looking for me. In fact, I know she was worried sick looking for me. Things were all topsy-turvy in them days. She was pleased to see me. It's all right for some people. They didn't get uprooted, sent to God knows where. They just went on with their lives.

    Dot: They wanted to adopt me. They begged, pleaded to adopt me - my Aunty Gwen and my Uncle Will, the people I was with in Wales - because they loved me. I'd become like one of their own. That was the trouble. After the war, they couldn't find me mother to ask her and so I had to come back. Come back! One day, I was on a farm playing in the fields and the next, I was meeting me new father in a two-up and two-down in the East End of London. I cried. I stood in the kitchen by an old sink and I cried. My mother said, "Why are you crying?" I said, "I miss my Aunty Gwen." Then she cried. She said, "You wait for your children and then they don't want you." I said I did, but it's just that I wanted to see them again - you know, me Aunty Gwen and me Uncle Will. It was the contrast, you see. I see the Vic, I heard them all singing, and I hated the Vic. My mother said, "What - the good old Vic? You know you're home when you see the Vic." But it was horrible to me. I hated the people. I wanted to go back to the farm, but I didn't want to hurt me mother, you see. I mean, men spat. It was big revolting lumps of spit on the pavement ... and I laid in the ground and I drank from a spring and when I was ill, me Aunty Gwen slept with me, and all night I woke up and there she was, smiling at me, saying, "There, there." The man my mother married, he never spoke more than two dozen words to me the whole time I knew him. And I heard him with me mother and I thought he was hurting her. And I went in and I said, "Don't hurt my mother." And he stank. He was in the bed and he stank and he said bad words, and all I could think of was that spring coming up out of the
    ground and Aunty Gwen saying, "There, there." It was only when I was ill that time that I knew how much she loved me. Because they was quiet, you see.

    Dot: Aunty Gwen had to take care of the farm and I was sent back to London, to her and her new man and a new little brother and sister, Rose. And I was in the way. I wasn’t Uncle Will’s little pearl or his pretty baby. I wasn’t wanted. I was back amongst the filth, people snarling at each other, drunkards fighting in the street - and I’d drunk from a stream and I’d run through the fields and felt arms about me and love - and here I was, back in this house on me own. And I know, from the day that Uncle Will sang to me, life has taken away from me everything I ever cared about. What did I ever do? What did that little girl ever do to live a life of losing everything she ever loved? She didn’t do nothing. She just wanted someone to love her, to care for her, to pin her drawings on the wall.

    Dot: I don’t really remember my father because when I come back from being evacuated, he’d gone and my mother was married to another man and I had a little half-brother and half-sister and I hated him because they used to argue and he used to shout and it frightened me, but they never split up. They managed to find a way through.

    Dot: My mother didn't want me. She got a new husband, two babies. She didn't want this little girl clinging to her, wanting her. I never could bear to let people go.

    Rose Cotton, Dot’s sister: When we were children, did I ever do to you?
    Dot: All I wanted was a little bit of attention and it was as if I was just some girl who'd been put there to help bring you two up.

    Dot on Ethel: I can remember the first time I saw her. I was just a little girl and I was in me front room and I was peering over the window sill and there she was across the road with her skirts hitched up, stocking-top showing, wolf-whistling at a lance corporal with bright red hair and a limp. “Show us your war wound!” she cried out. He blushed, went as red as his hair. Looked like a Swan Vesta. He fled and she fell about laughing. I thought she was dreadful. I saw her later. I was sitting on the step outside the Vic waiting for me mother. I caught a glimpse of her through the door. There she was, sitting on top of the piano, her legs spread, showing next week’s washing and bawling out, “Roll out the barrel!” just like a navvy. I stared at her. She didn’t seem to have a care in the world. I had enough for both of us.

    Ethel on Dot: She was two-penneth of God help us - a child of seven, sitting on the window of the old Vic while her mother was in there getting drunk - starving half the while, shoes on her feet tied with string and freezing cold. She just sat there.

    Dot to Ethel: When I was a girl, you wouldn't even talk to me. You thought I was a fool.

    Dot: I went for a holiday once in Clacton just after the war. My sister Rose, me half-sister, she ran off. I got the blame for it.

    Dot to Rose: You always was a spoilt selfish little brat.

    Rose: You’ve always been jealous.
    Dot: You always told me a pack of lies.
    Rose: You’ve always looked down on me, that’s what you’ve always done.

    Dot: I always wanted to go to Rochdale. There was a girl I knew [Vi] when I was evacuated in Wales - she went there after the war. We'd send each other Christmas cards, you know, off and on.

    Dot on an old photograph of herself: That’s me in me Sunday best.

    Dot: I was in a Nativity once at Sunday school. I was the Angel Gabriel. It was only because I was the tallest. I was taller than all the boys even, so they thought it was better if I stood on me own. I opened me mouth to say to the shepherds, "Be not afraid, I bring you glad tidings," and nothing happened. It was terrible. There was me mouth opening and shutting like a goldfish and no words coming out. And one of the shepherds, he said me lines for me. And the audience was all giggling, but I said it in here [her heart] and I know He heard me - God that is, not the shepherd.

    Dot: We learned the word of Jesus at school from scripture and prayers and Sunday school.

    Jim Branning: I never took much notice of Sunday school, me. I was always the berk chiming in with an “Amen” when I should have been giving a “Thanks be to God”.

    Dot on God: His faith in you goes on regardless. I remember being very warmed by that when I was little. When I realised that Jesus wanted me for a sunbeam no matter how little and dull I was, and I was a dull little thing in them days, then everything seemed much brighter.

    Dot: I always believed that I was loved - no matter what I done, no matter what I did - that I was loved.

    Dot: All me life I've leaned on the Church because, well, you know, the people around me weren't much cop.

    Dot: When I got back after the war, I mean, you know, there were things that was bad, things that hurt, but at least I could stand at the window no matter what time of night and I'd look out and I'd see light. And then I didn't feel so ... well, I didn't feel alone - I don't know - afraid of the dark, afraid of Charlie, afraid of Nick, afraid of doing the wrong thing, afraid of what people might think.
     
    Last edited: Apr 8, 2018
  11. James from London

    James from London Soap Chat Enthusiast

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    1946

    Ethel Skinner: Hitler blitzed London and we rebuilt it.

    Frank Butcher: After the war, the whole East End was one big squat. Half the East End flattened by the Blitz, thousands of ex-servicemen and evacuees coming home with nowhere to live, they had to live in squats. Derelicts, old buses - you name it, they lived in it. Blimey, if you had one of them pre-fabs in them days, you were like the yuppies today.

    Frank to his mother Mo: What about those friends of yours, the Vi's? They were living in an old railway carriage till the mid-fifties.

    Arthur: I can remember people saying that Jerry did us a favour blasting all the back to backs, saying they'd have to build us somewhere decent to live now.

    Dot: When I was a girl, you wouldn't dream of leaving the house without a hat on.

    Dot: The trouble with me was that I was brought up with manners.

    Dot: In my day, you had to ask [before getting up from the table].

    Dot: In my day, we didn’t sit down every five minutes.

    Dot: I happened to have been brought up to speak the Queen’s English.

    Dot: If I’d dared play truant when I was a youngster, my mother would have skinned me alive.

    Nellie: All I had was a pushbike when I was [a young woman]. Still, you could breathe fresh air and you didn't take your life in your hands every time you crossed the road.

    Ethel: I remember when we had a road sweeper every day of the week, weekends as well.

    Dot: I wanted to be a teacher.

    Frank: As a kid, I fancied meself as a barrow boy, not that me old mum ever cottoned onto the idea.

    Mo Butcher on Frank's interest in cars: I blame meself sometimes for giving him that toy garage when he was four years old. He had it full of cars inside a week. Then I had to go all down the street giving them back to the kids he'd nicked them off.

    Mo to Frank: When you was a kid, you let all the other kids take your toys away from you. Not that you had many.

    Mo to Frank: Do you remember when I took you to the hospital? You must have been about four years old. You were timpy-toed. Had to take you to see a specialist.

    Frank: I was lively when I was a nipper.

    Mo to Frank: You ran off when you was a kid, and you were back before we put the cat out.

    Mo to Frank: Every kid runs off some time or another. I've lost count of the amount of times that you did. I hardly ever bothered to follow you. The only time I felt really bad was when I had a call from the fire brigade. He [Frank] had got his head stuck in the railings on Canal Bridge and they had to come and get him out. He had vaseline in his earholes for weeks.

    Norman Simmonds on his mother Lydia: The way she treated me all those years - do you know, I spent my entire life trying to win her approval and all I got was the sharp side of her tongue or a backhander. She never wanted a son. I think it was as simple as that. She doted on June. June was everything and I was just treated as somebody she tolerated, an inconvenience.

    Joan Garwood (née Butcher), Frank's elder sister: Our mother did not want a girl. You were what she wanted and you have fed out of the palm of her hand all your life. You got all the love and attention.
    Frank: Only because I gave her love and attention in return.

    Joan: God, Frank - I never liked you.

    Mo to Frank: I remember your dad coming home from work when our Joan was ill. She had a cold. She got worse. I sent Pearl next door round to fetch the doctor. Sat at home waiting for over an hour. Then your dad come in, hung up his jacket like he always did, emptied out the pockets so it hung right, then he went round to that surgery. Pearl was still sitting there, waiting. There was a bout of flu on, you see. Dr Edwards, it was, he told Pearl not to panic and he'd be round in his own good time. Your dad went into that surgery, the doctor was lancing
    some bloke's boil. He picked up the little black bag, grabbed the doctor by the scruff of the neck and frogmarched him all the way down Victoria Road, and Pearl running along behind. Joan was in hospital inside an hour, colic.

    Dot: In my day, if a baby were being bottle fed and it got the colic, we didn’t buy fresh ones. We took a hot needle and made the hole bigger. We didn’t throw the others away.

    Mo to Frank: I always kept [her husband's life insurance policy] up. Ten bob a week wasn't easy to find, but you never had to tell the insurance man that your mum had just gone out.

    Frank: My old dad used to call [debt collectors] juice men [because they] squeezed the life and juice out of people. And my old nan used to call them "six for five" men - that's "five pounds this week, six pounds next."

    Mo: "Never a borrower nor a lender be." That's what my old man used to say.

    Norman: Like Mother always said, “Never go calling empty-handed.”

    Dot: Every Saturday afternoon, my mother used to make a sponge cake for Sunday tea, and [pouring the mixture into the cake tin] was the bit that Rose and me liked best because she used to let us wipe the bowl round.

    Rose Cotton: Mum’s bread and butter pudding, how we loved it.

    Police Constable Cady: How long have you known [Dot]?
    Pauline: Just about all my life.

    Charlie Cotton Jr to Dot: You’ve been looking after people your entire life.

    Dot: All my life, I’ve been taken for a fool.

    Marge Green: I thought about [flat] sharing when I was young. I used to dream about it a lot once, but I never ever thought it would happen. I was going to have a place of me own after the war, but then my dad, he made me promise that when he died, I'd look after Mum. So I did.

    Marge: Mother was never very keen on any of the young men I liked, so after a while, they stopped coming.

    Nana Moon: Did I ever tell you about my friend Esther? Well, Esther had a young man, Philip. Lapels an inch too wide and his own car, and half the girls in Poplar had been in it. She didn't know what he was really like. In the end, I told her. She never spoke to me again.

    Nellie: I nearly married an Italian once. Lovely teeth, no sense of humour. Then I found out - he was already married, of course. And I would never have an affair with a married man.

    Ernie Mears to Ethel: I never had much luck with you. You married Bill Skinner, didn't you?

    Ethel: When I married William Skinner, we knew it was for life. That was why it was such a very special event. I married him for love. The only worldly goods he'd got was his demob suit and a clock his old Aunty Grace had left him.

    Ethel on her wedding dress: Lace, hand-stitched by the finest craftsmen down the East India Dock Road.

    Nellie on George Ellis: I remember the first time I ever saw him, at the timber yard. I knew he was the one for me straight away. He was so gentle, you know, not like other men. He knew how to treat you properly. He had this smile, came on like a light. First time he ever smiled at me, I knew I was done for. He was a good man, George.

    Nellie: I remember when I got engaged. Couldn't afford a party, of course, not in them days. The war had just finished, you see, and we didn't have very much. Still, in them days, it really meant something, getting engaged.

    Ernie to Ethel: You always was a rascal. Bill used to go red as a berry sometimes, the things you used to come out with when you two was in company.
    Ethel: I expect that's why I said half of them.

    Benny Bloom to Ethel: I had dinner with you and your William a couple of times back in the old days.

    Ethel on Ernie: We used to have him to supper once or twice and then we all lost touch.

    Ernie to Ethel: If I'd kept on seeing you two, either I'd have gone bonkers or you and me would have ended up doing something that would have hurt Bill.

    Nellie: I knew a bloke gave himself a hernia carrying heavy suitcases. Stanley Bridge his name was, porter over at King's Cross. Good old Stan. He was best man at our wedding. He was a card. We used to go down the railway club Saturday night, him and George and me. He was a laugh a minute! Till he had the trouble with his insides. He was quite sweet on me on the quiet, old Stan.

    Stanley Bridge: I was George's best friend. I remember his stag night. I remember saying to him, "It's not too late, George. Why don't you get out now while you've still got time?" Pulls this long face and he says, "No chance, Stan. I can't get out now. I'm well and truly stuck with her."

    Nellie on George's wedding ring: I remember buying this for George. Nine and eleven in Woolies, it cost me. Took me ages to save up for it.
    Pauline: I didn't realise that men wore wedding rings in them days.
    Nellie: No, they didn't much. I just wanted to give him something really special. He was very proud of it.

    Nellie on a keepsake: It was given to me on my wedding day. It's a full tea service, good as new. Never even had a cup of tea out of it. Kept it for show in a glass cabinet.

    Nellie: When I made my marriage vows before God and the vicar, I meant them.

    Nellie: I was so proud when we got married. I thought, "I'm going to give him the best - the best house, the best meals, the best everything."

    Stanley on Nellie and George: She led him a dog's life, I don't mind telling you.

    Nellie on George: He always said he didn't know what he would have done without me.

    Ethel: I did care [about William]. Of course, I did, but I couldn't cope. I tried, I just couldn't.
    Dot: You made your William a very happy man.
    Ethel: Yes I did. He didn't care about his dinner being late and if I said silly things. He didn't think they were silly. He'd just laugh.

    Ethel: When it was just William and me, he was ever so considerate. And if there was music on the wireless, we'd both listen to it, hold hands.

    Ethel on her independent nature: My William always said it would be the death of me.

    Ethel on marriage to William: It was the swings and the roundabouts. I mean, it went on for a long while. That must count for something.

    Ethel: My old man and I used to go at it hammer and tongs. Sign of passion, that is.

    Lou Beale: I [hid] behind the wardrobe while I undressed all those years when my Albert was alive.

    Ethel: My William's tango would have put Rudolph Valentino in the shade.

    Lou: My husband wasn't a Valentino.

    Ethel: My William used to swear by my steak and kidney pies. He used to swear by my pastry.

    Nellie on George: The times I cooked that man plaice and chips! Toad in the hole, that was his favourite. He couldn't abide it soggy, and the gravy had to be just right. He was a one for his puddings.

    Lou on Ethel: Couldn't have kids, you know. Tragic, really. Always wanted a baby, her and William. Couldn't keep her hands off [Pauline] when [she] was born. I get two at one go, Ethel gets nothing.

    Ethel: Doctor said there wouldn't have been room for a kiddy in my wasp waist, but I wouldn't have minded being fat if it had meant I could have a baby. I'd have liked a son - strong, handsome. Must have been my fault. Couldn't have been William's. I was ever so
    sad about it for years and years.

    Ethel: When Lou and I were girls, we only wanted one thing - a nice man, a house and children. She got the lot and she was happy.

    Pauline on Ethel and William: They had a good marriage, didn't they? I wonder how different things would have been if they'd had children.

    Nellie: I'd have loved to have had children. We talked about it, but the truth is George didn't want any.

    Dennis "Den" Watts: born 11th July 1946

    Blossom Jackson: I was cleaning the house the day after I had my first [baby].

    Jim to Dot: The happiest days of your life, you said, were spent in Kent.

    Dot, visiting a farm in Kent: I used to work in the hop fields in the summer down the lane here. It was all mud and cows and barking dogs back then. Margot Baker, she used to live there. He father was a farmer. Her and me, we was ever such good friends.

    Dot, visiting a church in Kent: Margot and I used to go to Sunday school in this very church when I was a girl. Reverend Johns was vicar when I first come here.
    Reverend Mary Lavender: Something of a legend round here. All hellfire and damnation, yes?
    Dot: He was a man of the Bible. He give me me First Confirmation lessons and he got us to learn long passages by heart, something for which I’ve been very grateful to him over the years.

    Sonia Jackson on Dot: She's had her Bible, the little white one since she was confirmed.

    Dot on her Bible: It was me confirmation present. I've always had it with me through everything. I've lived my whole life by [it]. Any time I've got a question, it will always give me the answer. It's given me more strength than you'll ever know.

    Fatboy on Dot: The Bible has taught her her whole life to help others and to help those in need.

    Dot on her half-sister Rose: I give her [a Bible]. She weren’t interested.

    Dot: I always wanted to live a good Christian life. “If he do it to the least of one of these, my brethren, he do it unto me.” That’s what Jesus said to His disciples.

    Dot: The day I was confirmed, I was ever so excited. Me vicar was there. Oh, he was a lovely man. So handsome. And when the bishop laid his hands on me head, I felt new again.

    Pete Beale: Us Beales have always been C of E. There's me granddad, me dad, me. It's like family tradition.

    Jim: I've been a miserable sinner for most of me life.

    Dot: When we was young, being gay meant being happy.

    Dot: When I was young, words like homosexual, abortion, women's rights weren't mentioned. Divorce was a dirty word. I was brought up to think that certain things was wrong, bad, evil.

    Arthur: When I was a kid, a mate of mine's mum did a bit on the side, a bit of casual [prostitution]. She had to. It was just a bad patch. She did it to get through. I thought she was a very brave woman.
     
  12. James from London

    James from London Soap Chat Enthusiast

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    1947

    Reverend Cherry on Ethel: Factory worker, shop assistant, canteen lady, loyal wife.

    Nellie Ellis: In my day, a job was a job. You took what was there and stuck at it.

    Jim Branning: In my day, they sent you out to work at fourteen.

    Mo Butcher: You couldn't lay in bed with a bad back in my day. It was up at 5 o'clock, out office cleaning with my back in agony.

    Dot on Jim: The nearest he got to an office job was looking through the window while he was cleaning it.

    Jim: Never had a day's sick in me life.

    Blossom Jackson: I still remember my first pay packet, ten shillings and ninepence. I thought I was rich.
    Robbie Jackson: I bet your mum didn't grab half of it.
    Blossom: She didn't have to. I was proud to be bringing money into the house.

    Jim: I was no angel. When I was young, I couldn't wait to cut loose, strike out on me own, but I always kept in touch, sent a few quid home every week. I mean, that's what it was like for our generation.

    Sally "Aunt Sal" Martin on her sister Peggy: She never was the easiest child. There was that time when she was five — or was it six? No, five ...

    Peggy to Aunt Sal: You could never keep it shut, could you? You’re talking rubbish. You always have done.

    Stan Carter: Do you know, I was ten before I saw a banana. I didn’t know what to do with it, whether to peel it or eat it whole.

    Willy Roper: Was a time we didn't even notice the cold.
    Arthur Fowler: Running around in a vest, didn't catch so much as a sniffle. Oh, those were the days.

    Dennis "Den" Watts' date of birth: 29th of November 1947.

    Debbie Wilkins on Den: He's lived [in Walford] his whole life.

    Den: I know every brick in these houses, every crack in them pavements, every inch of these streets, every face in this Square. I grew up with them.

    Harry Osborne on Den's mother: [She] was a looker.

    Harry Osborne on Den: Could have done anything, that lad if he'd been as clever as he thought he was.

    Pat: I was never very keen on the word [retarded].

    Pat: I knew somebody with Down’s [Syndrome] once. It was a long time ago, just after the war. She was somebody’s big sister, only they didn’t call it Down’s then. Mong. The parents didn’t know what to do with her so they stuck her in a home. “It was best,” they said.

    Pat: I used to do this when I was little for my sister Joan [curl her hair]. We were close when we were little. I didn’t use rollers in her hair. Oh no, it was too fine. I used torn up bits of rag instead. I’d put them in at night before she went to bed and take them out the next morning. Then she’d have all these lovely ringlets, pretty as a picture. I always wanted a little girl of me own so I could the same for her.

    Pat: My big sister, Joan - we used to share a bedroom, but I didn’t hear them come and take her away. Just woke up one morning and she weren’t there. I must have been four, five. My mum said she’d gone to a really nice place, somewhere they could love her. I didn’t understand that bit because I thought we loved her. She was only six and my mother packed her off [to an asylum] and told everybody she was happy. Apart from one photo, I never saw her again.

    Pat on Joan: She had Down’s. My mum packed her off to this nuthouse, this loony bin because she had Down’s. I used to make her birthday cards. I was stupid enough to think my mother would send them on to her. I did that for years. Then we started talking about her less and less until we stopped talking about her at all. And then one day, she never existed.

    Len Harker to Pat: Your parents weren’t evil. Things were different then. And you had nothing to do with putting her in [an asylum].
    Pat: No, but I had everything to do with staying away. I never come looking for her. I pretended she didn’t exist.

    Dot, speaking in 2010: It doesn’t seem that long ago that I won a Christmas competition.
    Heather Trott: When was that?
    Dot: 1947. It was for turning on the lights at a department store and Ethel Skinner, she made me a dress, a white dress from one of her old petticoats. When I walked in the door and took me coat off, they all clapped. When you’re young, you think you’re the centre of all God’s creation, don’t you?

    1948

    Arthur Fowler: All my life I've supported Walford — all my life.

    Arthur: When I was a lad, Walford had this manager that wouldn't let the players train with the ball during the week. He had this theory that if the players didn't see the ball during the week, they'd be hungry for it on Saturday.
    Aidan Brosnan: Did it work?
    Arthur: No. It was like watching human pinball.

    Dot Cotton: My granddad, he used to go [to football matches] every Saturday afternoon, standing on the terraces.

    Dot: I remember when my granny died. We had sandwiches and a pork pie in the back room at the Feathers. I found a hat in her wardrobe. Blue, sort of halo. She'd had it all through the war, kept it in that bombed-out house. Dignity, eh?

    Dot: My granddad died at seventy and never a grey hair. Now, my mother, she'd got [curly] hair, all that bushy, wiry stuff springing out all over the shop. The times I heard her cry because she couldn't do a thing with it.

    Ruby Allen: It's not fair.
    Johnny Allen: "Nor's my hair" - as my old mum used to say.

    Johnny: My old mum always used to say that I should count my blessings.

    Patrick Trueman: Me mother used to say, “Son, let sleeping dogs lie. That way, nobody gets bitten.”

    Pauline Fowler: Mum always told us you can never trust a liar, you must always tell the truth. No matter how hard, you must always tell the truth.

    Dot: “Tell the truth and shame the Devil.” That has always been my motto.

    Stan Carter: “Don’t be good or sensible.” That’s been my motto through life. Ain’t done me bad.

    Cora Cross, speaking to Fatboy in 2011: Didn’t your mother tell you not to stand with your mouth open? You’ll catch flies.
    Dot: I remember my mother saying that.

    Cora: “Penneth of scraps and ask the butcher for a couple of bones for the dog.” When we were skint, my mum used to make out we had a dog. She made beautiful beef soup.

    Rose Cotton: Remember that time in ’48 when Mum took us to the funfair?
    Dot: Yes, she bought you a new hair ribbon.
    Rose: I was on at her all day to take me on the Big Wheel.
    Dot: She give in to you as usual.
    Rose: Yeah, after we got her out of the pub and away from them sailors. And then when we got there, she said that you were too old for the funfair and you had to stand there holding my coat while I was going round and round and round laughing me head off. I never really thought how you must have felt.

    Dot on her mother: She had no right to call herself [Mum].
    Rose: She did love you, you know, in her little way.
    Dot: Love is not having favourites. Love is sharing it all out equally.

    Dot: I always wanted to have my own hairdressing salon. I was apprenticed into hairdressing when I was a girl.

    Eddie Moon date and place of birth: 21 Jul 48 London

    1949

    Pauline Fowler: Me and Pete, we'd have been about four, so Kenny, he must have been about eight, and we was going round this castle with Lou. I don't remember [which one]. Kenny must have seen this picture on a circus poster or something of someone being fired out of a cannon, and they had all these great big fat cannons there so he only talks Pete into getting into one of the cannons. He got stuck!

    Frank Butcher: The [pleased] expression on my Aunt Edie's face the day she heard my Uncle Herbert got run over by a bus in the Old Kent Road!
    Simon Wicks: Didn't she like him then?
    Frank: Couldn't stand him. His bit of fluff lived in the Old Kent Road. Made her day!

    Norman Simmonds: My uncle [Bob, a pearly king] dying was one of the only truly good things to ever happen to me. Not the actual dying bit, obviously. I wouldn’t wish that, no. The passing of the crown.
    Jean Slater: Did he leave you an actual crown?
    Norman: Not an actual crown, but a lot of very interesting stuff.

    Mo Butcher: My brother Sidney had a lovely garden.

    Mo: I was a Brown Owl. “Lend a helping hand,” that's what we used to teach them, the Brownies. Remember my days with the 15th Hackney? Best little troupe in East London.

    Ethel Skinner: Terry Furby, the scout leader, he was a great friend of my husband's.
    Blossom Jackson: It wasn't him I knew so much as his wife.
    Ethel: He never had a bean. He give all his life to the community.

    Dot Cotton: I've still got me old Girl Guide whistle.

    Dot: The only certificate I ever got was off the Brownies — darning. Mind you, I got a special merit.

    Dot: A short, sharp clip round the earhole, that's what we got when I was young. It never done us no harm.

    Dot: I often got a smack when I was naughty. Never did me any lasting damage.

    Patrick Trueman: Me father ruled us with a rod of iron. Any sign of weakness, he'd come down on you like a ton of brick.

    Patrick: All I got then was a little piece of sugar cane and a kick up the backside.

    Archie Mitchell: My father, he never ever ever smiled at me, not once ever. He taught me a thing or two. He taught me how to be tough. I had this [snow globe] when I was a kid, just a little kid. I used to want to get in there and disappear into the snow, a winter wonderland. Do you know what my dad did with it? He shook it up, he put it down and he said, “Right Archie, when the snow settles, I’m going to hit you so you see how far you can run. Go on, let’s see” - but he’d shut all the doors and so I ran backwards and forwards, door to door, until finally the snow settled and he showed me who was the boss. That was my childhood.

    Archie: My old man hated me, the meanest man I knew by a full day’s sail with the following wind. He managed to turn my heart to stone by the time I was ten. Not being able to love’s not the end of the world, you know. It’s like any other disability; you learn to live with it. The heart doesn’t work, you learn to fake it.

    Peggy Mitchell: “A bit of home cooking rights a lot of wrongs.” I can hear my old nan saying that, God bless her. Roast chicken was always my favourite.

    Jim Branning: A plate of jellied eels was a luxury in my day.

    Dot: Tablespoon of cold liver oil on a Friday night, that's what my mother used to give me.

    Peggy: Mix a teaspoon full of honey to a teaspoon full of cool boiled water. It’s my old nan’s recipe. It’s very soothing.

    Peggy: Hot milk and half a teaspoon full of sugar. Me old gran, she used to swear by it.

    Jim: "Starve a fever, feed a cold." That's what my old mum used to say.

    Dot: Sugar sandwiches, we had, and water from the tap. Council pop, we called it. Never did us no harm.

    Alfie Moon, looking at an old photograph: Nana at twenty - absolutely stunning.

    Jim on The League of Health and Beauty: Never underestimate the impact on a young lad of hundreds of beefy women doing synchronised star jumps.

    Jim: When I was a lad, me and my mates, all we cared about was pulling the birds. Do anything, we would - dance lessons, the lot.

    Dot on Jim: Two lessons, fifty years ago, hardly makes him Fred Astaire.

    Jim: Determined, we was. Scraped the money together. Marianne, the dance teacher's name was. Black, wavy hair. I nearly had a heart attack the first time she pressed her body against mine and I’ve had a thing about brunettes ever since.

    Dot: All that dancing I did at school when it was raining, I was tall so I had to take the man's [part].

    Blossom: When I was [a teenager], we'd go to [social clubs] - there weren't any nightclubs as such - and we'd dance. Bill was a terrific mover. He'd dance all night if you'd let him.

    Dot on Brick Lane Public Baths: My mother used to take us every week.
    Jim: Blimey, you must have had a few bob. We only went once a fortnight.
    Dot: Here, do you remember Sunlight Soap?
    Jim: How could I forget it? It took half your skin off.
    Dot: We were itching for days.
    Jim: You're sitting in the bath in them cubicles. [Adopts camp voice] "More hot water, Number Five please!"

    Jim: I used to do a fair bit of camping when I was a nipper. Nothing like it. A nice summer’s night out under the stars.

    Jim: I used to go [to funfairs] all the time when I was a nipper.
    Dot: My mother used to warn me off them. Full of very dodgy characters, she said. I used to wonder how she knew.

    Dot on school trips: When we was young, all we got was a walk to the park and that was only if we behaved.

    Dot: I always remember a letter my sister wrote to my aunt when we were little when my uncle died. He'd left us both twenty pound in his will, which was quite a windfall in them days. Anyway, she wrote to her about memories. She wrote, "The river of time flows whether ye will or no, carrying you on to the land of memories, and thank-you again for the twenty quid." I still don't know whether she made it up or she got it from somewhere.

    Dot on an old vase: Me mother had it from me aunty. I hardly knew her. What I did know I didn’t like.

    Dot: An aunt of mine went off her head and they carted her off to the laughing house. We had her home for Christmas and she just sat there smiling all the time. She did, you know - just smiling.

    Dot: My aunt went in for tests once. She was dead within the week.

    Mo Butcher: My grandma, she lost her mind. She didn't know who she was, or where she was, or who any of us was. Just used to sit in a corner mumbling all day. My poor old mum, she used to have to clean up after her like a baby. She used to smell too, because of the incontinence. We hated it if we had to kiss her.

    Dot: The doctors might have some fancy name for it now, but it's exactly the same thing as what my Great Uncle Alf had. He had no one round him. He lived on his own, you see.
    Frank: Did he cope all right?
    Dot: After a fashion.
    Frank: What exactly happened to him?
    Dot: He died.

    Mo on her grandmother: I watched her getting worse for ten years. It was awful, for her and for all of us.

    Jim to his grandson Robbie: Your great Uncle Colin, he was about your [weight], but when he got to his late twenties - boof! - went up like a balloon, he did. Hereditary, it is.

    Sylvie Carter to her sister: Little Babe — Mum couldn’t even be bothered thinking up a name for you. Baby baby Babe, with no one to love her.

    Babe Smith: Make do and mend. That’s what Sylvie and I were taught.
     
  13. James from London

    James from London Soap Chat Enthusiast

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    1950

    Dot Cotton: There'll never be the fifties again — Frank Sinatra, bobby sox. Oh, it was a lovely time. There was no hatred, no violence, it was a lovely
    time. [Sings:] "It had to be you ..." You didn't fear for your family and your friends, least not in Walford. Of course there was the atom bomb, that used to keep me awake at night.

    Angela "Angie" Watts born 30th January 1950

    Kathy Beale: I was born just down the road from Albert Square. [I've lived in Walford] all my life.

    Phil Mitchell on Kathy: Her mum and dad was ...
    Ben Mitchell: Brenda and Dennis.

    Angie on herself and Den: We've known each other since we were in our prams.

    Dot to Ethel: Do you remember, we used to listen to Ella Fitzgerald, Dean Martin, Frank Sinatra. Hours on end. You used to love Frank Sinatra.

    Dot on Nat King Cole: He was such a gentleman, handsome. Had a lovely voice, didn't he?
    Pat: Very.

    Dot: Ethel took me to see Oklahoma! when I was young, three times. [Sings:] "People will say ..."

    Dot: Do you remember that film with Bette Davis, Now, Voyager, and she was standing by the window with Jerry and he lit two fags, and he had one for him and one for her? She says, "Let's not wish for the moon. We have the stars."

    Jim Branning: Going on a date to the pictures, eh? [With] one of them usherettes walking round with a nice ice cream.
    Dot: Yeah, and you could smoke in them days. And you had a double feature. Really got your money's worth.
    Jim: And them double seats up the back.
    Dot: Oh, I never sat in one of them. I wouldn't have wanted to give the wrong impression.

    Dot: I said the only man I’d ever marry would be Spencer Tracy.

    Dot: Do you remember when Clark Gable used to take his leading lady in his arms and they swooned? People don't swoon no more, do they?

    Big Mo: In the old days, men were men, women were women, and there was an air of mystery and we knew how to use it. And your average fella, well, he’d be falling over himself trying to get hold of a heart-shaped box of deluxe Oriental chocolates, half-price, because in the old days, giving a bird a box of posh chocs, that was a man showing his emotion.

    Jim: I was never one to be afraid of showing me feelings, like. Never did hide me soft side, like. I reckon I was before me time in a lot of ways. I reckon they based the New Man on blokes like me.

    Stan Carter: In my day, if you liked a girl enough, you did whatever it takes to keep hold of her.
    Babe Smith: You get arrested for that now. It’s called stalking.
    Stan: Or fighting for the woman you love.


    Jim: Summer, 1950. Bank holiday it was. Tallulah -- what was her name? Oh yeah, she was a sensitive bird, she was. Lovely she was. Great big smile. Spent most of the afternoon on the Southend Pier, yeah. What was her second name? Tallulah ...

    Big Mo: Roger. Can't remember his surname. Don't think he told me. Southend. He was with a crowd of mates.
    Kat Slater: What, and your eyes met over a whelk stall?
    Big Mo: Candy floss, actually. We spent the day together. Wasn't handsome. Had lovely eyes, funny with it. Never laughed so much in all me life. We just clicked. I can still see his face.
    Zoe Slater: What happened?
    Big Mo: Nothing. I was too shy to tell him how much I liked him. Then his mates dragged him off for the coach home.
    Little Mo: And that was it?
    Big Mo: Yeah. Wasn't meant to be. Still think about him from time to time.

    Ethel Skinner: This Harry [Osborne] was a great mate of my William's. They both worked down the docks. They had the choice of any girl down there you could imagine. Two nice looking fellas, no stopping them when they got paid on a Friday. A right old Jack the Lad, that Harry was. It seemed as if he could always put his hands on something, you know. Anyway, this girl lived in the Square. Pretty little thing she was - pigtails and she had a sort of patterned dress on. Anyway, Harry got this meat, you see. I don't know where he got it from and I don't know how much it cost, but I know it was cheap. Well, Dr Legg was turned out in the middle of the night. There was something wrong with it. She died. She was only nine. I remember her mother. Just two days off her birthday it was and she still bought her the cake, lit the candles. She died soon afterwards, broken heart.
    Rod Norman: And Harry disappeared to the Caribbean.
    Ethel: I thought he passed away years ago.

    Dot to Eddie: You always was a little ray of sunshine.

    Eddie Skinner, Ethel's nephew by marriage: Aunt Ethel liked a joke, didn't she? Always cheered you up.

    Julia Trueman, Patrick's aunt: Patrick [was] called by Satan. I knew it when I first laid eyes on him at ten years old. That was the first and last time I saw him.

    Mo Butcher on Frank: When he was ten, he couldn't do his five times table.

    Pauline Fowler, looking at an old photograph of herself: I remember that dress. My mum made it for Christine Burns's party.
    Dot: You never could wear pink.

    Pauline: When I first knew Dot, she used to have three hankies - one up her sleeve, one in her bag and one she used to keep held in her hand all day,
    probably all night for that matter. She used to do all her jobs throughout the day with that hankie in her hand. Never known her lose one. Used to be
    screwed up in a tight little ball in her hand.
    Sonia: Like a sort of comfort thing?
    Pauline: Like a fist, Sonia.

    Nana Moon: I knew a Christine once, Christine Hardacre. She lived on the south coast. She had a birthmark on her neck. It made her very self-conscious. She used to try and hide it with a scarf.

    Nana Moon: My friend Lizzie, she gave me a toilet roll holder once. It wasn't till after I had it I realised how important it was to have one.

    Arthur Fowler: I never had a banana till I was seven.

    Arthur on Christmas: I got an apple, an orange, one selection box and if I was lucky, I got a present, usually a gun.

    Pat on Christmas: When I was little, we were lucky to get an apple and an orange.
    Tiffany Butcher: Why?
    Bianca Butcher: No-one liked her much.


    Pete Beale: All I ever got for Christmas was a couple of swappers and a Dinky toy.

    Peggy Mitchell: My dad, he used to bring [a wreath] home every Christmas Eve. Couldn’t really afford much else, but ...
    Phil Mitchell: Bob, his name was - Bob Cratchitt.
    Peggy: That’s not funny. There was a time Christmas was about more than presents and plastic trees. We used to have real mistletoe and holly and a lovely big roaring fire to listen to the Queen’s speech to.
    Aunt Sal: The only time of year we had nuts, Christmas. Remember [playing] Tinker, Tailor, Peg? She [Peggy] used to line up the nuts in advance so she always got Soldier.

    Peggy: I used to love Christmas when I was a kid. Shame you've got to grow up, eh?

    Peggy: My gran, she used to sit fourteen of us down to Boxing Day tea - first cousins, second cousins. Couldn't remember their names but knew all the faces. Altogether at the same place, year after year.
    Phil: So [where were you] all on Christmas Day then?
    Peggy: Oh well, we'd be at our other gran’s or one of our cousins' other grans'. They shared us more. Maybe it didn't matter so much.

    1951

    Aunt Sal on Peggy: Birthdays — she always did like a nice sponge cake, never fruit.

    Jim: I used to box. Hardest right hook you've ever seen, mate, I tell you. Jim "The Basher" Branning, they called me. I was a force to be reckoned with in my day.

    Jim to his grandson Bradley: When I was your age [nineteen], I was working down the docks. Half past five, down Regent Lane I was.

    Jim: The ’51 Dock Strike.
    Dot: Fighting for the right to work.
    Jim: Great days.
    Joe Macer: Never had you down as a militant, Jim.
    Jim: All the things the working man takes completely for granted nowadays, mate - the National Health, sick pay, forty hour week, all that - all built on the blood, sweat and tears of blokes like me, mate. I’m very proud of what I did back then. I didn’t know from one week to the next if I was going to get any wages on a Friday. I had to stand in line and beg.
    Dot: Was there women in that union of yours in 1951?
    Jim: Leave off!

    Dot: In my day, ladies didn’t sweat.
    Stacey Branning: What did you do?
    Dot: Glowed.

    Jim: I pulled this bird in a club in Goodge Street. She lived in Elephant & Castle. And I walked all the way back to [Walford] via Bermondsey Market! Walked miles. I didn't half have some energy in them days, I tell you. I used to stay out all night, yeah.

    Big Mo: I can remember when I used to boogie till dawn.
    Dot: I've never done that.
    Big Mo: What?
    Dot: Boogied till dawn.

    Jim on Edie Bassett: Right little dynamo, she was.

    Jim: There we were in Trafalgar Square, all drunk as lords, and Edie decides to take her shoes off. Wants to go for a paddle in the fountains, don't she? Of course, there was no tights then, it was all stockings and suspenders, weren't it? There's Nelson up the top of his column - I suspect he put his telescope to his good eye that day.

    Nana Moon, looking at a pair of tiny red knickers: I had a pair just like that. I chose them specially for the Festival of Britain. Only mine, they was a little bit longer and they was made of cotton.

    Jim: Edie just loved life. Only the one time I ever saw her cry. The bloke that broke her heart [was] a no mark, a lowlife.

    Edwin Caldecott: Still can't forgive me, can you, Jim, for the way I took her [Edie] off you?
    Jim: What I can't forgive is the way you dumped her and then run off.

    Jim on Edwin: He broke [Edie's] heart. He was cruel to her, to get at me.

    Jim on Edwin: He was a boxer the same time I was. Decided to settle our differences in the ring.

    Edwin on Jim: "Basher" was the only East End boxer I never got a chance to defeat.

    Patrick Trueman: You get in the ring and give this fella a what for?
    Jim: Didn't get the chance, did I? The day before the fight I found out he'd emigrated to Australia.
    Edwin: James, James, James - I did not go to Oz to run away from you. It so happens I met my lovely wife, God rest her soul, [and] followed her out there. Thought about you quite a lot though. Oh yes, every time I saw something yellow, or one of those kangaroos.

    Patrick on a chess move: It's what we call the Burmese attack. I learned it from my daddy when I was still in short pants.

    Yolande Trueman, Patrick’s wife: Ma Trueman didn’t raise a quitter.

    Alfie Moon: You never played up as kids?
    Patrick: Yeah, but there was always somebody to tell me how far I could go.

    Patrick: When I was getting under me mother’s feet she’d say, “Boy, just go out and play with your friends but make sure you get back in before dark.”

    Patrick: My mother used to sing [when she was worried]. Top of her voice, great strong voice too. "Sing it away!" she'd say. "Sing it away!"

    Patrick, looking at an old photograph: That was my Aunt Ruth. She was completely tone deaf.

    Eddie Moon: My granny helped bring me up. Best things in the world are grannies.

    Pete Beale: My old grandfather, he would come home from the Vic for his Sunday lunch and if he never liked the way his dinner was cooked, do you know what he'd do? Chuck it on the fire and make my old gran, God bless her, cook him another one. And she did too, without a murmur.

    Pete: Remember when we was nippers, the old Sunday tea? Cockles, whelks - Dad with his brown shrimps.

    Lou: I can recall when there was twenty-five of us round this table for Sunday winkles, and separate tables out in the yard for the kiddies.
    Pauline: Oh and if you were ever caught chewing your food with your mouth open, you got a smack on the back of the hand because table manners were really important.

    Pauline: My mum, she couldn’t stand the way my dad held his knife and fork. Got so bad, she couldn’t even bear to watch him eating.

    Archie Mitchell on eating meals: You had to be quick when I was lad or you’d have gone hungry.

    Peggy: When I was growing up, I was so proud of my uncles. They were proper — gods.

    Pete: One thing I can remember about Aunty Flo ever since I was knee high to a grasshopper, she was a right moaning old cow.

    Pauline on her Aunty Betty: [Pete] always was her favourite.

    Nellie Ellis on Aunty Betty: Fur coat and no drawers, Lou used to call her.

    Pat Wicks on Nellie: She was a right battle-axe by all accounts. Pete used to talk about her.

    Pauline to Nellie: Uncle George, I remember him. You and him used to come round a lot, especially at Christmas. He never used to say much. Just used to sit quietly in the corner, puffing his pipe.
    Nellie: Don't remind me. Smelly old thing.
    Pauline: He hardly said two words to anybody, not even Mum. I suppose it was because he was shy.
    Nellie: Shy? Don't you believe it. He was carrying on with that Doreen. It went on for years, right through the fifties. Not that I ever knew. Made out she was my best friend, scheming little witch. Doreen Bertle, her name was. She worked in the canteen. She wasn't his sort at all. Very loud, very blowsy. He never stood a chance with Doreen. She crooked her little finger and down he went like a nine pin.

    Doreen Bertle: George and me met, and it was like ... it was like fireworks going off in your head. It was irresistible. At least, I thought it was. I look back now and I know I could have stopped at any time, only I didn't. I convinced myself he'd be better off with me. He was all right with Nellie. He was happy enough and if he'd never met me, he'd never have known any different. I never thought George was the sort to fall for another woman. That's one of the reasons I liked him so much.

    Nellie on Doreen: She's the woman who wrecked my life, wrecked my marriage. She was the biggest tart in the East End. A very common woman.

    Ethel Skinner: Caught with your trousers down. That's what my William used to say - never get caught with your trousers down. He knew a thing or two, my William.

    Lou: My Albert had a fling once, you know. Picked up with a spinster ten years his senior. The butcher next door told me. She used to work behind the
    counter in Cohen's grocery shop. Got knocked down when they built them high rise flats, before your time.
    Angie Watts: How did it happen?
    Lou: The way these things do. Starts with a nod and a wink, you know. Albert used to do my shopping there. That was in the days of ration books and austerity. It started off with an extra egg here, a buckshee slice of bacon there. Albert was expected to show his gratitude.
    Angie: Nothing serious then. Just a bit of cuddling on the side.
    Lou: Serious enough for her to get in the family way. Thank God she was a sickly creature. She couldn't carry it more than four months. Nobody knew.
    Angie: What happened?
    Lou: We started shopping at the co-op.

    Big Mo: I've had my moments.
    Pat: Oh yeah, like the time that bloke took you out in a rowing boat and you sank before you'd gone six foot. Didn't do so well that day, did you? Mind you, you've always been a bit on the beefy side.

    Big Mo looking at her great-granddaughter Zoe: I remember when I had a figure like that.
    Mickey Miller: When was that, in a previous lifetime?

    Big Mo on her granddaughter Kat: I was the spit of her when I was younger.

    Big Mo: I always was complimented about my legs.

    Big Mo on sex: I was always a morning girl.

    Big Mo: I always had a way with the pretty boys.

    Pat on Big Mo: A lot of blokes [took] advantage of her. Blokes she [was] serious about just used her and dumped her. She had her heart broken once too often.

    Big Mo on the father of her daughter Viv: Some bloke, probably still working the waltzer cars.

    Big Mo on being pregnant: In my day, you just got fat, your skin went like crepe paper and you got on with it.

    Big Mo: I always remember when I was pregnant with my Viv. Never stopped me from having a good time.

    Big Mo on giving birth: My lot just popped out. No grunting and groaning for me.

    Big Mo: I can remember when I had my Viv, I was in terrible pain. It was like something out of a horror film.

    Big Mo to her pregnant granddaughter Kat in 2010: You’ve got hospitals and epidurals. When I had my Viv, they strapped me on a bed and only give me a sponge to suck on.

    Viv Slater (née Porter) born 1951

    Big Mo: When I held Viv in my arms I made her a promise. I told her I’d always be there for her, and that’s why I was there for her at the beginning and was with her till the end.

    Big Mo: You should have seen some of the clothes that I got hold of for Viv when she was [first born] - real lace, wool, whatever. She was a proper picture till she flopped over and chucked up. My Viv looked like Phil Mitchell in a pink bonnet with less hair.
     
  14. James from London

    James from London Soap Chat Enthusiast

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    1952

    Eddie Royle: In what year was the last tramcar taken off the streets of central London?
    Ethel Skinner: April 1952. I know because I was on it.

    Jean Slater: They still had rationing back then, didn’t they, in 1952?

    Ernie Johnson: I worked hard in my life. I fought for my country over the other side of the world.

    Ernie on army life: It weren't just discipline we learned, see - it was giving, doing things for others. Service, that was the key.

    Ernie: I used to be a first aider, you know. Takes a lot to shock a man like me.

    Billy Mitchell looking at an old photograph: That you, is it? In the army? In China?
    Ernie: Korea.
    Dot Cotton: Korea was the forgotten war.
    Billy, looking at the photograph: What are you there — eighteen?
    Ernie: Nineteen. Just got there.
    Billy: Scary, was it - being away from home on your own, not knowing what's going to happen to you one day to the next?
    Ernie: We just got on with it.
    Billy: Well you do, don't you, because you have to.

    Dot: You must have seen some terrible things in Korea.
    Ernie: Well, I drove a catering truck for most of it, I'm afraid. You know, tinned beef for the troops.
    Billy: Bet you come out of it a right hero.
    Ernie: I was a lorry driver. I delivered food, sometimes medicine.
    Billy: But you tried to keep your head down, yeah?
    Ernie: Yeah, I suppose I did.

    Ernie, mid-anecdote: ... So then the siren goes off, right? So the sergeant stands up, he says, "Gentlemen, could I ask you to finish your meal with a degree of haste which is nevertheless commensurate with dignity?"

    Ernie, mid-anecdote: We'd drunk a bit from every bottle of scotch in the mess tent.
    Dot: What did you do then?
    Ernie: Well, our bladders were full, and there were plenty of us, so we topped those bottles back up again!

    Ernie: Then there was this time these local lads nicked all our clothes while we were skinny-dipping in the river. Now we were expected to turn up for sentry duty ...

    Billy: How many war stories have you got?
    Ernie: Well I was in Korea fifteen months so I must have racked up quite a few.
    Billy: Any of them actually true?

    Jim Branning on Korea: When I was there during my national service, they wanted to second me into the Marines.

    Jim: A little trick I picked up in Korea — self-hypnosis. You have to find yourself on a higher plane of consciousness, you see ...

    Jim on bullseyes: Used to suck these in the trenches, you know. Good for stress.

    Patrick Trueman: You a Navy man, Jim?
    Jim: Navy? Not me, no. More your sort of Special Forces, but I don't talk about it.

    Jim: I had these fevers when I was serving out in the Tropics.
    Doris Moisey: I never knew you were in the army.
    Jim: Oh yeah. Very hush hush, though. Special Services it was. They shot you full of everything before you went out there because the bugs out there — something else, I can tell you. The only thing that ever seemed to cure it was a drop of whiskey.

    Jim: "Jimmy the Indian" they used to call me when I was in the army —
    Dot: He was never east of Colchester.
    Jim: — on account of my iron constitution. There was an Indian restaurant in Aldershot called the Lancer of Bengal. Used to do a tindaloo for me. That's one above a vindaloo, you know.

    Jim: I was over in Germany doing me national service, and me and my mate Terry Corrigan, we went to this dance hall and there she was — Doris Holland, the most beautiful girl I've ever seen in me life.
    Sonia Jackson: Really? What did you say to her?
    Jim: Nothing much. She was with this American. Great big brute of a fella he was. You could hear him shouting from one end of the bar to the other. The thing about these Yanks is they talk a good scrap, but one good right hook and he was down like a sack of spuds.
    Sonia: What, you hit him?
    Jim: No, no, no. Tel did. He was the regimental heavyweight champion at the time. But from then on,me and Doris, we was inseparable. She was nursing over there, see, and she had to come home because her mum was ill.
    Sonia: Did you keep in touch?
    Jim: Oh yeah. I wrote and told her how much I loved her. Didn't get any replies.

    Jim: When I came out the army after doing me national service, I made a pact with meself. "No more institutions," I said. "Never again."

    Jim: So then I got demobbed and I met your grandma.
    Sonia: You didn't waste much time, did you?
    Jim: Oh well, you didn't hang about in them days, you see.

    Jim, speaking to Jamie Mitchell in 2002: I was about as old as you [nineteen] when I first met Reenie.

    Big Mo Harris: I went out with an American once. He was a vegetarian, of all things.

    Big Mo: I could have only been about sixteen when I snogged a sailor, straight off the boats from Aden. He was wearing [cheap aftershave], brought me out in a rash.

    Charlie Cotton: I was abroad during me time in the army. Aden - horrible place — sun beating down on the back of your neck till you got dizzy, people lobbing grenades at you from street corners.

    Dot on Charlie: When we first met, the world was his oyster. He could have gone right to the top. Working on the buses he was, a clippy.

    Pauline Fowler on Charlie: Dot was his insurance. The day he met her, he reckoned he was covered for life.

    Dot: I used to think my Charlie was perfect when I first met him.

    Dot on Charlie: I never really liked him.

    Dot on her first date with Charlie: It was unforgettable. I remember what he give me.
    Ethel Skinner: Don't tell me - a box of Black Magic.
    Dot: No, no, it was a cigarette. Well, it was a puff, actually, of his Park Drive. Made me go all wobbly at the knees. It's funny, isn't it, how a little thing like that - change your life. I never smoked before then.

    Dot: I remember the first cigarette I ever had. I was coming out of the Gaumont into Walford High Street. I’d been to see The Girl What Had Everything with Elizabeth Taylor. The way she would incline her head sideways when she was accepting a light!
    Jim: Oh yeah well, women knew how to smoke a fag then, didn’t they? I mean, you was considered a class act if you could inhale like Bette Davis.

    Dot: I took up smoking to keep meself from knitting.

    Pauline, speaking to Dot in 2006: [Smoking] hasn’t done you any harm the last fifty years, has it?

    Dot: Once upon a time, you could smoke where you liked - cinemas, cafes, tops of buses, the underground, salon. Lady used to have a set every week, proper demi-waves, while she was enjoying her cigarette.

    Ethel: Do you remember [Dot] when she was courting?
    Lou Beale: Oh yes. She was high and mighty, wasn't she? Thought her Charlie was a cut above all our hubbies put together. Too busy straightening the doilies on her dressing table to be friends with us.
    Ethel: Well, you must admit he was handsome, wasn't he? He was a proper charmer.

    Dot: When I met Charlie, you couldn’t stand it. You was jealous and you had to have him too.
    Rose Cotton: Oh it wasn’t like that.
    Dot: Fluttering your eyelashes, thrusting out your bosoms.

    Dot: When I was a young girl, we had to be in by ten, eight in the winter. We didn't do them things [sex]. We was respectable.

    Dot: When I was a girl, it was fashionable to be late. Mind you, my Charlie weren't keen on fashion.

    Aunt Sal: From when we were kids, you were always the one we ran to when any of us had problems.
    Peggy Mitchell: Well, we're sisters. Who else were you supposed to run to — the milkman?
    Aunt Sal: Yeah, but you were always the one in control of everything.

    Peggy: I always prided myself on being a good judge of character. I was famous for it. “Peggy Mitchell? No one takes her for a fool.”

    Aunt Sal: You always were a killjoy, Peg.

    Peggy to Aunt Sal: You always was a nosy old mare.

    Phil Mitchell: Eavesdrop a lot, do you?
    Peggy: All my life. Why do you think I’m so smart?

    Johnny Allen: "Beaky got hung and Cheeky got choked, and that was the end of the nosy folk."
    Stacey Slater: Learn that at primary school, did you?
    Johnny: I also learned there's no peace for the wicked.

    1953

    Dot Cotton: Charlie took me [ice skating] once.
    Pete Beale: Bet that was a sight for sore eyes.

    Dot: Dancing with Charlie's like dancing with a stick insect in hobnailed boots. I did it once, Coronation Day. Ruined it for me, it did. I landed up in hospital.

    Johnny Allen: The Coronation, 1953. It was a great day. We had a party right out there in the Square.

    Dot: Do you remember the Coronation? All the women making sandwiches and cakes, piling them as high as anything. Mountains of luncheon meat and piccalilli. And the fellas in their shirtsleeves, rolling the beer kegs across the Square.
    Jim Branning: And kids waving them flags till you thought their arms were going to drop off.
    Dot: Yes, and everybody dancing in the street. I mean I couldn't join in because I broke me toe against the side of the bar so I had to content myself with watching them. I was standing in the porch because it was raining, but everybody was out in the streets.

    Rose Cotton on the Coronation: Mum took Dorothy and me to watch the procession. I had a new hat.

    Cora Cross: We went to Jo Langston’s house. Her dad bought a telly specially. I’d never seen a telly.

    Big Mo: I was a gymslip mum with a baby. The Coronation meant a day off from the chicken factory, a pub full of soldiers and a quick knee-trembler round the back.

    Patrick Trueman: We had the day off school so pitched marbles and played cricket all day.

    Cora: Coronation chicken [was] created for the Coronation.
    Zainab Masood: It’s a wonder she didn’t abdicate straightaway.

    Pauline Fowler on the Coronation: Everyone out in the pouring rain with a warm beer and a cheese sandwich.

    Peggy Mitchell: Do you know what I remember on Coronation Day? I remember us all sitting together at a long table and by the end of the day, I had a crick in me neck from all the leaning over I'd done, talking to one end of the table and then the other. And then I remember us all standing together watching the fireworks - Mum, Dad, us kids - getting stiff necks, from looking up this time.

    Pauline on the Coronation: We had all pretty lights in the trees.

    Dot, looking at a photograph taken on Coronation Day: That's Johnny [Allen] there, the one with ice cream all over his face.
    Tina Stewart: Tell you what, he was an ugly little tyke.
    Johnny: Who's that standing behind me? Looks familiar.
    Dot: Ethel.

    Johnny on Ethel: She clipped me round the ear once. She caught me nicking an apple off the Beales' stall. She marched me straight home, handed me over to me dad. He went very quiet, he took me aside and he said, "Rule Number 1, son. You never nick off your own." Then he give me a proper walloping. I couldn't sit down for a week.
    Dot: Ethel liked your father.
    Johnny: He liked her.
    Dot: Yes. She said she knew he was dodgy, but there was good-dodgy and there was bad-dodgy. She reckoned your father was good-dodgy, and she said you were a chip off the old block. And she was certain you'd be prettier when you grew into your face.

    Johnny: Ethel Skinner, she was a shrewd old bird, but she was wrong. Good-dodgy, bad-dodgy? No, there's only dodgy-dodgy.

    Patrick Trueman, speaking about Jordan Johnson in 2010: Hormones - makes a boy forgetful. I was like that at his age [thirteen].

    Jim: I've never really got past [being] twenty in my mind. I must have stuck there because I liked it.

    Jim: I got me photo took after winning that Yankee at Epsom in 1953. Well, almost winning it, anyway.

    Jim: Me and my late missus used to do a bit of courting down in Brighton. The girls, they love it, don't they?

    Dot: In my day, you courted a man, one at a time, and if he treated you right you got engaged and then you got married and then you stuck it out. Even if they didn’t treat you right, you stuck it out.

    Jim on his wife Reenie's engagement ring: 1953 I bought that ring. Cost me an arm and a leg.

    Jim: Me and Reenie [got married on the cheap].

    Jim: If you want to know about guilt, you're talking to the man who wrote the book. Marrying a woman I didn't love, never saying them three little words.

    Jim on Reenie: I must have loved her once otherwise I wouldn't have married her. A bloke don't enter into a commitment like that all that lightly, I can tell you.

    Jim: I never did [love Reenie].
    Jamie Mitchell: Then why did you marry her?
    Jim: Different time, weren't it, back then.

    Jim: Love, honour and obey, that's how it was in my day.

    Dot on marriage: In my day, people made a proper commitment.

    Pat: When I was young, families stuck together.

    Alice Lord: When I was young, families looked out for each other.

    Peggy: Rallying round is how we got by years ago.

    Jim: The thing was, couple of months [after marrying Reenie], I was up in town, bumped into Doris [his sweetheart from Germany]. She hadn't got one of me letters. Thought it was me who didn't want to know. Of course it was all too late then, weren't it?

    Jim to Reenie: You used to like my little jokes — sometimes.

    Jim: She was good company was Reenie. And she knew her place. One in a million she was, and she never had me quaking in my boots neither.

    Jim to Sonia: If you're going to do something, you might as well do it properly, mightn't you? That's what your old gran always used to say.
    Sonia: Yeah and you ignored her for most of your life.

    Dot: [Reenie] was the love of your life.
    Jim: No one knows what goes on behind closed doors, Dorothy.

    Jim on Reenie: I made her life a misery. I did, you know, I was rotten to her. We fought like cat and dog. She said I was hateful. I said I married her when I was drunk and she gave me a thirty year hangover. I never really loved her, you know. Never came close. I suppose I've never known what true love really was. To be quite honest, I hated the old cow.

    Jim: My first missus, Reenie, we ended up hating each other's guts, but then there must have been a bit of love there somewhere.
    Dennis Rickman: What happened?
    Jim: I don't know. We stopped listening, I reckon. All them little grievances built up and then there was no going back.

    Dot: My mother said there's a Prince Charming out there for every one of us, but we have to kiss an awful lot of frogs before we find him.

    Dot on her Aunty Gwen: We had our good times. We weren't meant to have no more. I knew that when I come back in '53.

    Ewan, Gwen's son, speaking in 2003: Must be a fair few years since you made [the journey to Wales], isn't it? By steam train then probably, wasn't it?
    Dot: Well, it weren't by horse and cart.

    Dot: It was 1953 and in Llandudno. I was staying with me Aunty Gwen on account of she'd had pneumonia and she'd just come out of hospital. I remember she'd still got the bunting up from the Coronation, strung between two upper windows. I went to this dance in a church hall. Well, I say went - Aunty Gwen had to practically push me out the door because I didn't
    want to go, you see. I only had the one dress and I hated it. It was yellow daisies, made me look like a bedraggled sunflower. Anyway, I went and when I got there, there was this band playing. I didn't know anybody, but the people were so friendly and the music was so cheery I quite forgot meself. Anyway, I met this boy, Joseph. I vaguely knew him, you know, because when we was little he was one of the village boys and he was one of the ones what used to tease us about our accents. Do you know what? He even paid me a compliment about me dress, said how pretty it looked. I was courting my Charlie at the time and I went out with him for a whole day, November the ninth. I remember the day because it was the day what Dylan Thomas died and it was all over the news. There was a terrible downpour and we had to run for cover into a church hall, only it were locked up, but Joseph, he got in through the side door and we were stuck there for three hours, just listening to the rain beating down on the tin roof and, well, I don't know really how it happened, but we was wet and we was cold and we kind of cuddled up to each other and well, one thing led to another and I kissed him. It's haunted me ever since because of my Charlie waiting back home.
    Sharon Watts: So what happened to this Joseph?
    Dot: We arranged to meet the next day on the seafront just before I went home, and I remember waiting for him and I heard a radio nearby and they was playing
    the poems of Dylan Thomas over and over.
    Under the mile high moon we trembled listening
    To the sea sound flowing like blood from the loud wound
    And when the salt sheet broke like a storm of singing The voices of all the drowned swam on the wind.
    He never turned up.
    Sharon: So you never saw him again?
    Dot: I cried all the way home on the train. Silly really, because I hardly knew him. I often think about him - only I married my Charlie the next year and I mean, life goes on, don't it?

    Mo Butcher to Frank: Do you remember that dog we used to have when you was kids? Rex. Big black dog, used to take him for walks.

    Frank on Rex: How old was I when he went blind — eleven, twelve? Then he had his arthritis, didn't he? Then he got so he couldn't control himself. Oh, he hated that. You could tell that by looking in his eyes. It was Mum that said we should take him to the vet. I didn't want to go, but she said it would make me feel better in the long run if I did. So I went. That man was so gentle. He bent down, he picked Rex off the floor and he laid him carefully on the table, and he stroked him and he spoke to him, told him what a lucky dog he'd been and what a good life he'd had, and how he was going to give him a little jab and all the pain would go away — even Rex wagged his tail — and he asked me if I wanted to stroke him. I put me hand on his head and tickled him behind the ear, and the vet took out a needle and gave him a jab, just the one, and Rex closed his eyes. I said, "Is he asleep?" and he said, "No, son, not sleep. He's
    gone." It was so quick, so peaceful. Do you know the funny thing? Laying there on that table, Rex didn't look like an old dog anymore. He looked like a puppy.

    Frank: One of the worst times of my life, that was.
    Mo: [Frank] blubbed his eyes out.

    Peggy on her mother: She was a tough old bird, but you had to be in those days and sometimes when I was a little one, we couldn’t pay the rent and she’d run in and say, “Kids, we’ve got to get out of here so come on, pack now!” So we’d stuff all our things into a bag and run out the door as fast as we could — Mum, Sal and me, walking down that road fast, fast — walking out of an old life into a new one. And then Mum would suddenly say, “Oi, stop. Stop and look back, girls. Go on, look back and remember what you see.” So we’d turn round and we’d take it all in and we’d store it away up here [taps her forehead]. Then we’d turn round and walk on, just keep going, never giving up. Yeah, that’s how I was brought up. That’s how I was brought up.

    Peggy: When I was a kid, we used to run from house to house, just in the stuff we stood up in.

    Ted Hills, Kathy's elder brother: [Kathy] was always the brains of the family.

    Kathy: The first thing I ever remember was Ted. Must have been about three, I suppose. Some kid in our block pinched my doll and threw it down the rubbish chute. Ted went down the basement. He can't have been that old himself, although he seemed enormous to me. Anyhow, I don't know how he did it, but he went to the bins, got her out and he cleaned her up for me so she was good as new.
    Phil Mitchell: What did he do then - beat the living daylights out of the other kid?
    Kathy: No. Funny thing though, he didn't. Just had a quiet word. Never happened again. I used to think there was nothing Ted couldn't sort out.

    Ted: When I was a kid, I had my pushbike stolen from some guy up the road. When I got hold of him, I gave him a right thrashing, but I was the one who ended up in court. I got let off with a fine, but I learnt something that day — don't get angry, get even.

    Jim to Patrick Trueman and Cedric Lucas: You’ve known each other since you were nippers.

    Cedric to Patrick: You’ve been a good friend to me.

    Patrick: Cedric’s father used to work in a refinery. That’s where we had our first taste of [Blue Devil]. Thirteen years old we were, you know. There’s no wonder I never passed matriculation!

    Pat on her worst subject at school: It was English grammar with me. I could never see the point.

    Pauline on poetry: Just reminds me of schoolwork.

    Bianca, Pat’s granddaughter, on sewing: I was never any good at this kind of thing when I was at school.
    Pat: Nor me, darling.

    Pauline Fowler: I did a bit of drama at school. I wasn't much good.

    Derek Harkinson: I got the bug for [acting] at school when I played the Charcoal Burner's Son.
    Pauline: We did that at Walford Primary. Mind you, I was just in the chorus.
    Derek: I remember.

    Pauline: Derek, [you were] the one that everyone fancied. I tell you who had the hots for you - Sally, red haired Sally, remember?
    Derek: Now that is scary!

    Derek to Pauline's son Mark: When we were at school, [Pauline] was the lunchtime water monitor. There was this other kid, Keith Shaw — goofy teeth, glasses. You couldn't help but feel sorry for him. Anyway, this one lunchtime, he drops his glass and he goes up to your mother and asks for another. Well, she turns to him and she says, "If you can't look after your
    first, then you don't get a second." Poor little kid cried all lunchtime. She was only eight-years-old and she was already Pauline Fowler in the making.
    Mark Fowler: Did you ever ask her why?
    Derek: Not at the time, no. She'd have shouted at me! I did ask her just recently though [2003], and she said he didn't drop it, he fell over. You see, he was running towards this other podgy little kid and he was going to chuck the water all over him.
    Mark: So she has got a heart inside her.
    Derek: Especially when you realise who the othern podgy little kid was [Derek himself].

    Derek, mid-conversation: ... I did not empty the waste-bin through his window, much as I might have wanted to.
    Pauline: You got caned for it.
    Derek: Yes, an injustice from which I am still scarred! I was only the look-out. And what about you and the infamous episode of the snail in the lemonade?
    Pauline: I'm saying nothing!

    Pauline: We did [the Battle of Bannockburn] at school.

    Lou Beale: I remember when Pete was the in the Nativity Play.
    Pete Beale: Yeah, I did the solo, "Once In Royal David".
     
  15. James from London

    James from London Soap Chat Enthusiast

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    1954

    Sharon Rickman to lawyer Marcus Christie: You were born crooked.

    Jim Branning: My granddad bought me [a gold watch] on my twenty-first.

    Lou Beale: "I'm twenty-one and a bit," I used to say, "but it's the bit that's getting me down".

    Lou on the menopause: I never had all that trouble. I just got on with it. We fetched ourselves by the bootstraps and carried on no matter what.

    Dot: Ethel, she used have them hot flushes. Well, she pretended it was the temperature. I mean, that’s all very well in summer, but it was a bit awkward in the winter.

    Nellie Ellis: We didn't have time to be tense. We just got on with what had to be done.

    Elizabeth Beale, Kenny's daughter, to Lou: Dad says you always wore slippers, indoors and out.

    Pauline Fowler on Lou: The only person she'd listen to is Dad.

    Pete Beale on Lou: When I was a kid, she used to make me take her bets. "Two bob each way and don't tell the old man."

    Les Coker on cards: We used to play for matches when I was a kid, when we had no money.

    Pete: You and Dad used to raid the jumbles. Always good bargain hunters.
    Lou: If times were bad, we'd go without so you never went hungry.

    Nellie: Your mum and me were raised to know the value of money.
    Pauline: I had it drummed into me too.

    Lou: Albert always [soldered his own shoes]. Saved himself a fortune.

    Pete: My old man used to say, "You can't tell a bargain, you can't see your way home".

    Pauline on Pete: He always did go to Dad.

    Pauline: When I was little, I was a real Daddy's girl. He was all right, my dad. Always smiling, no matter what.

    Pauline, standing in 45 Albert Square: I can never come in this kitchen of a night when I don't see Dad stood at that sink having his wash after a hard day on the stall.
    Pete: Yes, standing there in his string vest, eh?
    Pauline: Yeah and Mum trying to get our tea ready.
    Pete: And him singing away.
    Pauline: And her telling him to get out of her way.

    Pauline on children stealing fruit from the stall: Me dad used to just give them a clip round the ear.

    Pauline to Lou: When I was a little girl, if I cut meself, I used to come running to you and you used to put some iodine or something on it, and you used to say, "It's gonna hurt, but it'll hurt because it'll make you get better quicker."

    Pete: When we was kids growing up in Walford, people cared. I can remember the time when you could leave the back door open and all the neighbours would do is pop in and feed the cat for you.

    Pete: She always had a cat when she was a nipper, did our Pauline. She loved them.
    Arthur Fowler: I had a cat.
    Frank Butcher: I had a mongrel. Had to have it put down.
    Pete: [Pauline's cat] had kittens. Knocked them out down the market, won a tanner a lump.
    Frank: I used to do that. I used to knock out pups. I'd go round to see the people whose bitches had pups and ask if I could have them, take them home, brush them up and take them down the Waterloo Road, you know, The Cut.
    Pete: Me and my old dad used to go up there.

    Pauline: I always remember when we were kids, Pete was always bringing home injured little animals. You know, he wanted to make them better. Most of them didn't last the night, but a few of them got through. I thought he was going to be a vet or something.

    Jean Slater: I took a stray cat in once. A scrawny, scraggy thing it was and I gave it some food and tried to keep it warm. Do you know what it did? It
    tried to attack me. All I ever did was try and show it some love and that’s the thanks I got. Try as you like, some things just can’t be loved, can they?

    Lou, looking at an old photograph: Kenny in his first long trousers - blow me if he hadn't ripped the pockets by the evening. I could have killed him.
    Elizabeth: Dad said you used to hit him with a stick.
    Lou: We didn't believe in being soft with kids in them days. Spare the rod and spoil the child, that's what we thought.

    Pauline: When we was young, we wouldn't dream of doing anything because we knew we'd get the strap.

    Lou to Pauline: When [Pete] was a kid and he got a thick ear, and he had plenty of them, you cried. If he was up to some sort of skulduggery, you looked guilty.

    Pete to Pauline: I can still remember that time when we was little kids when you went into hospital to have your tonsils out. I just didn't know what to do with myself. It was like they'd cut my arm off, like something important was missing. I just wandered around, waiting for you to come home.

    Pauline: When me and Pete was kids, I wished I had a tennis racquet just like his and sure enough, two weeks later he give it to me.
    Pete: Give it to you? I sold it to you. That was economic necessity. I was that far into debt, I didn't have a school dinner all term.

    Johnny Allen on private education: My parents couldn't have afforded the bus fares let alone the school fees.

    Pauline: Me and Pete used to fight over [a flit can] as kids - you know, who was going to kill the flies.

    Ethel on Pete and Pauline: Couple of terrors they were, especially [Pete].

    Lou on Pete's quick temper: He's always been that way, Pete, ever since he was a nipper. Sunshine and showers, that's him. Now Pauline, she was different — steady as a rock.

    Pauline: When I was a child, it was the street [to play in] or nothing.

    Lou: I bought my Pete's first bike in Dawes Street [Market]. Best place for bikes was Dawes Street.

    Lou: Never had his bacon grilled when he was at home, not my Pete. Always fried. I looked after him. He always liked a bit of bread dipped in the pan. "Mum," he used to day, "Mum, nobody can cook bacon and eggs like you do and that's a fact."

    Pete on Lou: She made sure I was all tucked up nice and tight and secure. That's what Mum used to do when she sent me off to school, when I was in trouble for something I did — or never did, which was always a bigger sin, weren't it? She'd make sure I was all nice and snug, make sure I was warm and she'd give me a big hug, a kiss on the forehead and she'd send me on my way. And I'd get down the end of Bridge Street and I'd look round and she'd be at the back gate and I'd give her a wave and she'd wave back. And somehow I always survived it.

    Pauline on Pete: He never could stand to face the music, even when we was kids.

    Pauline: You two [Kenny and Pete] was always quarrelling because [Kenny] was Mum's favourite.

    Pete: Me and my brother, we were always at each other's throats ever since we was nippers. Argumentative toe-rag.

    Pauline: Pete said he was going to run away to sea. Kenny had to go and get him. He found him on the Woolwich ferry going backwards and forwards.

    Kenny Beale: It's always been my doing. When Pete got into trouble, my doing. When Pauline got lost, my doing.
    Lou: You was the elder brother. Times was hard. We all had to do our bit.
    Kenny: The elder brother? I was the whipping boy. Do you know how much I just wanted you to - to -
    Lou: Love you?
    Kenny: Yes.
    Lou: Only once [Albert] said to me, "I love you". Only once. He wasn't what you call a romantic man. I understood, and the word love was never mentioned again. But we knew. We knew. He used to walk along the street with his hands in his pockets, his eyes firmly on the ground, and there you'd be behind him, his shadow. You, hands in your pockets, eyes to the ground, like two peas in a pod. No, we never talked of love. It was just a secret between us. And somewhere along the line, I mistook you for him.

    Kenny on Albert: Wrote me off right from the start. Either I had to be like him or I was useless. I didn't want to be like him. I didn't want to be a stupid, boring old sod like him. Albert Beale & Sons — that was no legacy, it was a sentence. I wasn't wanted on the stall. There were no "sons" after Pete and Pauline came along. Just "son". The twins this, the twins that. I never counted. I knew where I stood. Brother, did I know where I stood — alone. I'd have done anything not to be like him.
    Lou: Your own father?
    Kenny: Well he wasn't, was he? With me, he opted out. It was you who called the shots. I wanted to be like you. And the more I was, the faster you chased me round the Square with that ruddy stick.
    Lou: That's not true.
    Kenny: You wiped the floor with Dad.
    Lou: No! I spoke up, yes, I did that.
    Kenny: Ran the house, ran us. Propped him up too. Mind you, you never let on. He must have gone to the grave thinking he was The Great I Am.

    Pauline on how a woman should best deal with a man: If you've hurt his pride, no amount of talking is going to get you anywhere.
    Sonia Fowler: So what's she supposed to do, Pauline?
    Pauline: Flattery, Sonia, flattery — even if he is in the wrong. That's what you did in the old days — you gritted your teeth and gave them a great dollop of flattery. As my old mum used to say, "A way to a man's heart is not through his stomach. It's through his ego." They had no choice back then. They had to live by their wits. They didn't have equality in the days when my mum was a girl. That's why you had to learn and it was your mother who taught you — washing, cooking and feminine wiles.
    Jane Collins: Feminine wiles?!
    Pauline: Yes, and it was something to be perfected not disrespected. I mean, all right, crack him over the head with a frying pan as a last resort, but
    getting him to do something and make him believe it was his idea in the first place, it's an art. It's the art of gentle persuasion.

    Jim on how a man should best deal with a woman: You let her say whatever she likes, and then you hear what you want to hear.
    Bradley Branning: Will it work?
    Jim: It’s worked for generations of Branning men down the years, I tell you.

    Kenny Beale on Albert: All he had to do was look after the stall and talk to us. The first, he managed. The second — well, obviously he got on better with the veg. He spent enough time with it.
    Lou: He had to work. We all had to work. But you, you thought you could do it some ways else.
    Kenny: You're a powerful woman, Mum, powerful. And you mould people how you think they should be. You moulded Pete, Pauline.
    Lou: That's not true.

    Pauline: My mum was always the centre of things. I never did anything without asking her advice first and I listened. She had her faults, I admit that, but I loved her and I respected her. I'd have done anything for her.

    Lou: Why have you always fought against me?
    Kenny: I wasn't fighting against you, Mum. I just didn't agree with you, that's all. Your word was never the be all and end all to me.
    Lou: You treated [the house] like a hotel.
    Kenny: I wanted to go, leave all this. Goddamn place.

    Pete: I used to [set up the stall] for my old pops when I was knee high to a grasshopper.

    Lou: I'll never forget the pride of Pete that day, the first day I let him work the stall.

    Pete on Nine Elms [fruit and veg wholesalers]: I've been going since I was nine years old.

    Nigel Bates: Pat, how old was you when you had your first boyfriend?
    Pat: I suppose I was about [twelve]. Danny Marks was his name. Thought he was the bee's knees. Me dad didn't approve, of course, and like all kids, I knew best. Last I heard of him he was in the Scrubs for armed robbery.

    Big Mo on being eighteen: I was always disappearing off, doing what I liked.

    Patrick Trueman speaking about Jordan Johnson in 2010: I had my eyes on the girls at his age [fourteen].

    Patrick to Dexter Hartman: I've had more women in my life than you'll ever know, son.

    Patrick: When I was a young man growing up in Tobago, I got intimate with a sister of the local priest - Clarissa. What a beautiful woman she was. She used to do this thing with a feather, you know. Boy, we had some good times together, some very good times indeed, but it wasn't long before they catch me getting intimate in the pulpit. Well, his reverence wasn't a happy man, I can tell you. Got his three younger brothers to make sure I learned my lesson. Ended up in hospital for two weeks, you know.
    Paul Trueman: So what's the moral of this story, Dad?
    Patrick: Simple, son, simple. A beautiful woman is worth getting your legs broken for.

    Patrick: Me grandfather used to say, "If you want solvency, marry a plain woman. The younger and prettier they are, the deeper your pockets have to
    be."

    Patrick: I never resorted to oysters [to seduce a woman].
    Lynne Slater: No. Just relied on your charm, didn't you, eh?
    Patrick: Maybe. That and plenty of ginger. There's nothing like ginger to fire up a woman, you know.

    Patrick: I had peppers on everything back home, peppers on me cornflakes given half a chance.

    Patrick: I brewed my own moonshine back in Trinidad.

    Patrick: Back home in Tobago, we used to brew up a fantastic hooch, a panacea for all ills.

    Patrick on 'Stormy Weather; by Ethel Waters: It was [raining] the first time I heard it, one of those sunsets in Trinidad that burns into your soul.



    Patrick: When I was a young man, I bought this shirt for the Tobago Carnival. It's been with me ever since. Yeah man, I put it on every carnival day, year after year after year. Me old friend, me and me shirt, just the two of us.

    Dot to Pauline: I can still see you as a little girl, little Pauline Beale, with Lou fussing round you, telling you off, and your father building you that
    doll’s house one Christmas. Do you remember? He adored you. You was his golden-haired little angel.

     
  16. James from London

    James from London Soap Chat Enthusiast

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    1955

    Archie Mitchell on wasps: In my day, we used to smoke them out.

    Arthur Fowler: When I was a boy, in the winter, we'd try and trap sparrows and starlings. We wedged this siv up on a stick, holding the string, and hide. And when the birds came down and went under the siv toncollect the crumbs we'd scattered, we'd pull the stick away and bang, down would come the siv.

    Arthur: I wasn't exactly Little Lord Fauntleroy when I was a kid.
    Frank Butcher: Nor me. My old dad used to catch me thieving, used to give me a hiding with a slipper.
    Arthur: Yeah, mine too. They used to have names for them, didn't they?
    Frank: Yeah. My dad's was called Horrible Horace. He never used to wear it. It used to hang on the wall.
    Arthur: And they used to make you fetch it, didn't they?
    Frank: That walk back to my dad's chair with his slipper in my hand was the longest walk of my entire life. I can still feel my dad's slipper on my backside as if it were yesterday.

    Terry Raymond: I could never put a foot right with my old man.

    Terry: I never got any cuddles as a kid. My father taught me about discipline. If I stepped off the path then I knew all about it. Had enormous hands, my father, fingers like bananas. You didn't want to be in the road if he lost his temper. Vicious, but fair with it. Of course, I didn't like it at the time, but if I've kept on the straight and narrow in my life then it's all down to him.

    Frank: When I was a little boy, I used to think that my dad was the best dad in the world. He couldn't put a foot wrong. I thought he was wonderful. But one day, I saw him lose his temper. I won't spell it out, but he did some terrible things to my mum and I saw it all. And I remember thinking to myself, "But my dad's the best dad in the world, why is he doing these terrible things? It can't be his fault and it can't be me mum's fault. So it must be my fault."

    Archie on his father Phil: He was a character. Everybody loved old Phil. He was a real laugh till some jockey let him down at Cheltenham or wherever,
    and then watch out. He used to hit us all the time and then when we got too big for that, he put us down. Any chance he got, he’d make you feel about
    that big.

    Arthur: Have you ever been hit for something you didn't do? I have. I remember it like it was yesterday. These five kids beat up another kid from
    another school, beat him up quite bad. It was reported to the headmaster and this kid was brought to our school to pick out those that had done it. He
    picked me. I'd never seen him before in my life. I was taken to the headmaster and he caned me. Six of the best. Couldn't sit down all day. It wasn't me, I didn't do it. I'd never seen him before in my life. Typical. Typical of me, my life, my luck. Typical.

    Liz Turner: The cane never did us any harm.
    Patrick Trueman: Yeah man, six of the best and you couldn’t sit down for a whole week, you know.

    Patrick: I was a cricketer, you know, as a teenager. I played for Trinidad and Tobago. At fifteen [I was told], “Just a whisker away from the test side.”
    Kirsty Branning: And were you?
    Patrick: Left Trinidad before I had a chance to find out. But it was during Crop Over Festival in Barbados in 1955, maybe ’56. I did OK, you know. Made a whole heap of runs, some of them against a young Guyanese called Clive Lloyd. Turned out to be one of the greats, but man, I belted him round the park that day. Sent him home with a flea in his ear — twelve years old, come on! Then the West Indies came over here in 1969 and I had a net with them. Bowled a few overs to Clive. The man damn near took me head off. Hit me back down the ground over and over again -
    dampadampadampadam! Long memory, that boy!

    Kirsty on Patrick: He could have played cricket for the West Indies.
    Denise Fox: Cricket for the West Indies?!
    Patrick: Oh yeah — middle order batsman, off break bowler.
    Denise: Did you make that up?
    Patrick: You’ll never know.

    Stan Carter: I used to want to be a fighter pilot, but I missed out on all the really important wars.

    Stan: War ain’t pretty. Men get killed. Name of the game. We had to go whether we liked it or not. At least we knew who we was fighting — Hitler, communists.
    Mick Carter: What are you on about? You didn’t even fight in a war.
    Stan: I never said I did.
    Mick: Eighteen months national service you did, tops.
    Stan: I got my campaign medal. Malaya. Jungle fighting. Hand to hand. We lost people.

    Arthur: Twenty years in the Royal Marines Band and still on the triangle.
    Lou Beale: You weren't in the Marines.
    Arthur: No I wasn't, was I? I was deferred. I even failed at that.

    Pauline Fowler on Arthur: The only certificate he ever got was twenty-five yards doggy paddle.

    Arthur: I was in the King's Scouts and I got a badge for photography.

    Arthur: [I was in the] Boys Brigade. I only joined to play the bugle. Never could master it.

    Ted Hills: You could always hold your own, couldn't you, Kath?
    Kathy: It was you who taught me how to stick up for meself. You spent hours working on my right hook. You always looked after me. I used to idolise you when we were kids. You didn't walk away from fights, but you were always fair. You were never a thug.

    Jim Branning: The Thriller in Manilla, the Rumble in the Jungle? They're nothing compared to my [boxing] exhibition bouts — Carnage in Clapton, 1955. Benny "The Bagel" McJinsky, I put him down in the third. He had to eat his food through a straw for the next six weeks.

    Lou on cheese: My Albert used to swear by it. Used to cut it straight off the slab. Come from a farm, you know. Used to be farms in the old days. Only a few miles out.

    Lou: There's two things my Albert used to do every week, his pools and his corns. Devoted an evening to each of them, he did. Pools first, then his feet.
    Albert liked his football, no harm in that. When he went out with the boys, I'd work the stall, but I was always back in time to have his tea ready. Then he went out for his Classified and then we'd all sit round this table, the whole family. That's because they respected him and they weren't the only ones. People round here looked up to us.

    Pat Wicks to Lou: When I was a kid, I was in awe of you lot — the great Beales. You were like part of the establishment, somewhere between the Lord Mayor and the Queen.

    Reverend Duncan on Lou: She saw other families split up and move away, but it made her a strong person. She brought up a family and her standards were high — some people would say hard to live up to sometimes.

    Lou: We ran the best stall in the market. If the takings were bad, we'd work all the harder. I always liked my family round me. I've spent my life holding this family together.

    Arthur to Lou: You voted Labour all your working life.

    Mark Fowler, Lou’s grandson: She used to tell me things about how she used to go hop picking with Granddad, about the camp fires that they had at
    night, the songs around the fireside.

    Jim Branning on team-building courses: Didn’t need any of that in my day. That’s what them hop-picking holidays were all about.
    Bradley Branning: What did you actually do then?
    Jim: Pick hops, you pillock.
    Bradley: Where’s the fun in that?
    Jim: We used to make our own entertainment, didn’t we? We didn’t have television and wireless in them days, mate. A few of us would start a fire in the evening, a bit of sausage and mash, tell a few stories, sing a few songs - bit of how’s your father in one of the huts if you was lucky.

    Tommy Clifford: Me and my mum, hop-picking down in Kent. We used to do it every year. Long summer afternoons, warm like technicolour.

    Marge Green: I used to go hop-picking in Kent.

    Arthur Fowler: September — when I was a nipper, that's when we went [to the countryside]. September was the month, sometimes. We'd stay over for apple picking, Sundays. Hop-picking. The whole family used to go. Blooming great bonfire and everybody laughing and singing. We used to go fishing.

    Arthur: Somewhere where I've always wanted to go, somewhere that my father went on and on about, and I always promised meself that one day I'd take a trip there ...
    Pauline Fowler: Where's that then?
    Arthur: Walton-on-the-Naze.

    Arthur: We'd go live in the country, my dad said. Didn't though. He was all talk, just talk. Emigrate to Australia. Didn't though. You shouldn't build
    people's hopes up and then not do anything.

    Dot Cotton on Charlie: He had a motorbike. Many a happy hour I spent in that sidecar. They were all the rage in them days. Southend we used to go, Bank Holidays. Charlie used to look down at me, wink. He couldn't say anything. Well, I mean you couldn't hear him, could you? Not on a motorbike.

    Ethel Skinner: My William used to have a bicycle. He used to ride backwards and forwards to the dock every day for twenty years. I never got the hang of it meself. My feet never touched the pedals.

    Jim: I could start my first car with a fork.

    Nellie: I did a lot of navigation for George in the old days. We used to hire a car, holiday times, and drive down to Brighton. We used to take the car out every Sunday in the summer and drive out into the country. We were so happy together, George and me.

    Michelle Fowler on Nellie: Her old man did a runner as soon as he could saw through his leg irons.

    Nellie on George: He hated me. He couldn't wait to get away from me.

    Nellie on George's affair: I was devastated when I found out. I'll never forget it, the two of them in my living room. They were right in front of the gas
    fire. When they went away, I saw her legs. All red they were, right up the back. I remember them going out the front door. I kept thinking, "He'll turn back in a minute." Only he didn't. He looked round once when they got to the gate, and then off they went. I remember thinking, "Her legs are all burnt up the back. He'll be rubbing ointment in them for her tonight." I never took him back.

    Nellie: All I've ever wanted is to feel needed, to have a family of me own. I just can't seem to get along with other people. Perhaps I try too hard,
    suffocate them. I think that's what George felt.

    Nellie: Divorce was simply out of the question.

    Nellie: I always wondered why George never asked for a divorce.
    Doreen Bertle: You'd never have agreed, would you?
    Nellie: No, not at first. I might have done later on though. Then afterwards when the law was changed, it was out of my hands. He could have got one anytime.

    Dot: I did once know a girl called George, or was it Georgie?
     
  17. James from London

    James from London Soap Chat Enthusiast

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    1956

    Charles Andrew Mitchell [Jamie's father] born 5th January 1956

    Charlie Slater to his brother Harry: You hated school.

    Charlie: Harry and me used to bunk off school sometimes, go down the canal for a day's fishing.

    Charlie on Harry: I trusted him, even looked up to him.

    Harry Slater: [I did] twenty years of wicket keeping.

    Blossom Jackson: I've spent many happy hours on cricket grounds.

    Jim Branning: Time was they used to play first class cricket at Leyton [Marshes].
    Patrick Trueman: Keith Boyce came over from the West Indies.
    Jim: He played there, yeah.

    Jim: I haven't seen a scrap like that since Tommy Hooey caught his missus with the coal man. That would be 1956.

    Rick "Minty" Peterson, speaking in 2006: This year would have been my mum and dad’s golden wedding anniversary.

    Minty on his father: “I’ve married the best girl in the world.” He used to say that a lot. He said to me once, “When she said yeah,” he said, “son, I knew where I belonged from that moment.”

    Pauline Fowler: You know, Dot, the only bad thing you ever did in your life was to marry Charlie Cotton and that wasn't exactly a sin, was it?

    Dot Cotton: '56, that's the year Charlie and me got married.

    Dot: My Charlie, his mum and dad had a pub in the fifties. I used to serve behind the bar to get in with him.
    Nina Harris: Did it work?
    Dot: I married him, didn't I?

    Ethel Skinner to Dot: Do you remember when Dr Legg hit your Charlie? He come into the pub, and that was funny because he never come into the pub in them days, and he hit him smack in the kisser. Then he turned round and he went out again. That was the last time I've ever seen Dr Legg angry.

    Dot on her Aunty Gwen and Uncle Will: They'll be in Heaven and I won't see them because of what I done, what I made Dr Legg do. Oh, a terrible sin. I made it happen. It wasn't his fault — Charlie's. I mean, some people are like that. I thought he'd be happy. I told him I was having the baby, but he didn't want it.

    Dot: No man touched me till my Charlie come along. I went to him pure in soul and pure in body and he respected me because of it.

    Dot: My Charlie was me first and me last.

    Dot on Charlie: He was not a very nice man and when things got particularly difficult, it was Dr Legg what I used to turn to. When I was twenty-one, we wasn’t even married, Charlie made me do a bad thing. He got me in the family way.

    Dot: I’d just turned twenty-one and I was pregnant with a little girl. [Charlie] come round one night to my mother's. I was on me own so I told him, but Charlie said he weren't ready to wed. Said he couldn't afford it. I can see it now. He was sitting by the fire taking his shoes off. It was raining outside, he was soaked to the skin, and he held up one of his shoes and he says, "How can a man with holes in his shoes afford to bring up a kid?" I tried to persuade him, but he wouldn't listen. He said it were for him to decide. Well, of course the truth was he didn't want me no more, but I was too stupid to realise it. I cried myself to sleep. I thought perhaps, you know, he might change his mind so I went round his place next morning, made him breakfast. I went out early, I got the bacon and eggs all fresh and I laid it out and I said to him, "Charlie, I know how hard you work on them lorries and I know how tired you get, but you won't have to do nothing because I'll do it all and I'll even keep my job on, help make ends meet." And he sat there and he ate his breakfast and he never said a word. Then he stood up. "It's either me or it," he said and walked out.

    Dot on Charlie: He said, "Get rid of it. Get rid of it." He said he'd leave me if I didn't. “I’ll disown both you and it.” I couldn't have a baby on me own,
    not in them days. I was too frightened. So I did it. I got rid of it. That's why Dr Legg hit him.

    Dot on Charlie: He said it weren’t the right time, we didn’t have enough money. I said, “But it’s a baby. It’s a human being growing inside me, Charlie. Please let’s keep it.” But he wouldn’t have it. He didn’t want to be lumbered. And then he started talking about some horrible woman what he’d heard of in Bethnal Green so that’s why I went to Dr Legg. I was young and it was difficult in them days.

    Dot: Dr Legg, he didn't want to do it, but I begged him. He knew what it would be like for me if he didn’t.

    Dr Legg: We went over all this at the time, Dot. Charlie was putting you under such pressure. You said yourself you thought he was going to push you down the stairs if you didn’t ...
    Dot: Get rid of it. You could have gone to prison in them days, Dr Legg, if anybody had found out.
    Dr Legg: Nobody did find out, Dot. That’s the point.
    Dot: That’s why you’re so special to me, because you helped me out in my hour of need. Sometimes I think that everything can be traced back to that, that hole left in me heart where me baby would have been.

    Dot: Even when it was happening, I knew it was wrong, but I was too scared to say no. It was the worst thing I ever done. Charlie told me I was wrong and he was right, but that weren't so. I weren't. I should have kept my baby.

    Dot: Oh I did a terrible thing to Dr Legg, a terrible thing. He cried and I cried and it was a girl. I would have called it Gwen.

    Dot: How could I kill a tiny thing like that?
    Sonia Jackson: You thought you were doing the right thing.
    Dot: No, I was just frightened.

    Dot: That was one of the many terrible things I done. I’ve done bad things all my life.

    Dot on abortion: It's a choice you sometimes have to make because you ain't got a choice. Dreadful it was, in them days. You could get sent to prison if you were caught.

    Lou Beale on back street abortions: Went down to Granny Gregory's down Menossi Street. A knock at the door, there she was, crochet book in hand. Course, that was the days of boiling hot baths and a pint of gin. Messy and dangerous. A lot of them died.

    Pauline: Dot, it could have killed you.
    Dot: I think it did a little bit. Some of the light went out of me.

    Dot: Afterwards, I went home, lay on me bed. It was getting dark and the phone started ringing. It rang and it rang and I thought it was her [the baby],
    calling me from the other side, calling to say how wrong I was, calling to say what an evil woman I was. And it sounds stupid, but I couldn't go down and answer that phone. Years later, when I had a phone, I'd think of her.

    Dot: I made [a christening shawl] for her.

    Dot: After I lost the baby, I was cold, empty inside. Mothers are supposed to protect their children, aren't they? I didn't want people knowing what kind of a woman I was.

    Dot: I know what going through something like that does to a girl. Takes a long time for you to trust again. For a girl to throw away the life what’s inside her, that leaves a scar no eye can see.

    Extracts from a poem written by Dot after the abortion:

    "I took my oath I would enquire, without affection, hate or wrath,
    Into the death of Ada Wright. So help me God, I took that oath."

    "When I went out to see the corpse, that four month babe that died so young,
    I'd judged it was seven pounds in weight and little more than one foot long.
    The eye that shut had a yellow lid. Was shut so was the mouth that smiled.
    The left eye open, shining bright, seeing the knowing little child."

    "And I could see that child with one eye, which seemed to laugh and say with glee,
    'What caused my death you'll never know. Perhaps my mother murdered me.' "


    Dot: I've often wondered what that little child would have been like. It would have been a little angel for all I know, but God cursed me for what I done. He sent me Nick to punish me.

    Dot: I used to imagine her growing up. I’d think, “Gwen, she’d be out of nappies now. Gwen, she’d be going to school tomorrow.” I know it sounds stupid and it was driving me mad and that’s why I poured everything into Nick, to try and make up for it. A fat lot of good that did me.

    Dot on her engagement ring: I never wore it very much because, knowing Charlie, it probably dropped off the back of a lorry. I was always hoping I might be able to pass it on to Nick’s wife.

    Dot on her spoons: It's only cheap old rubbish my sister bought me for a wedding present. I never liked them. Every time I looked at them, they reminded me of her.

    Dot: My silver sugar bowl was given to me and Charlie on the day what we got married.

    Pete Beale: Charlie was a wrong 'un from the day they got married.

    Dot on Charlie: The biggest mistake of my life was the day I married him.

    Dot: There was this dress, you see, when me and Charlie was getting married. It was beautiful. I'd really set me heart on it. Then Charlie told me there
    was some trouble about the reception. He'd been let down, he said, and it was either the wedding or the dress. And we only had ham sandwiches.

    Dot on her wedding outfit: I wore a second-hand two-piece. I was hoping to do something with me mother’s wedding dress, but my sister Rose, she got wind of it. Took her scissors and made herself a frock for rock-and-rolling.

    Dot: My husband insisted I wore [a garter] at me wedding.

    Dot: My mother said something to me, but I didn't take no notice - "Start as you mean to go on."

    Dot on her wedding day: I had to wait an hour for my Charlie. When he did turn up, he was inebriated. He could hardly stand.

    Dot on Charlie: The wedding ring he slipped in me finger was brass. Mind you, he gave me a lovely bouquet. Well, I say lovely. I discovered afterwards
    he’d nicked it off a grave. There I was, standing in front of the vicar plighting me troth with a card stuck on me roses saying, “Now you’re resting with
    the angels, love Cyril and Maisie.” Well, I never knew a Cyril and Maisie.

    Dot on Charlie: I had to support him coming back down the aisle.
    Pauline: Yeah and for the rest of his life afterwards.

    Dot: I made me vows, Pauline. For better, for worse. In sickness —
    Pauline: And in debt.

    Nick Cotton, Dot and Charlie’s son: You and the old man never got on, did you? You’d have been better off without him.
    Dot: You wouldn’t be here. Anyway, I made me own bed — for better for worse, for richer for poorer, in sickness and in health.

    Dot: For better or for worse, that was the pledge I made, and I vowed to obey him.

    Dot to Nick: I never loved your father.

    Dot: When me and Charlie got wed, all them promises — he didn't set out to break them, did he?

    Dot: We was married in a register office. For me, it was the same as a church wedding. It was a lovely day. Charlie was ever so handsome. I felt something in that register office during the ceremony, a sort of presence. I told Charlie about it at the time, but he just laughed. But it was Him, I know it. So it was just the same as a church wedding - we was married in the eyes of God.

    Dot: When I got married to Charlie, we couldn't afford the icing [for a wedding cake]. We only had the marzipan. Had a Battenberg.

    Dot: Before I was married, I was a picture of health, you know, fit as a fiddle. Sporty too. I was captain of the rounders team ...

    Dot to Poppy Meadows: When I was your age [twenty], I was quite a gymnast.

    Dot: ... and then I said "I do" and I got the flu. And then me back started, then me migraines, not forgetting me rash. If it's going, I get it. And it all started from that wedding day. I must be allergic to weddings.

    Dot: We never had [a honeymoon].

    Dot: I never undressed in front of Charlie.

    Dot: Looking back, I never had much idea of men. Or marriage.

    Dot on sex: I was never that keen on it when I was young.

    Dot on sex: There was never much of that between Charlie and me. Well, not when I had any say in the matter. I was lucky in that respect because my
    Charlie didn't bother me much. Of course, he's a bad example because he went elsewhere.

    Kirsty “Dotty” Cotton, on Charlie: Grandma said he was a wrong ‘un.
    Nick: She turned him into one, more like, with all that yelling when she got into one of them moods.

    Dot: He was never an affectionate man, my Charlie.

    Ethel on Dot: She got married to a pig, a pig that knocked her from pillar to post.

    Lou on Dot: Her Charlie was a brute. There's no doubt he knocked her about a bit though she'd never admit it.

    Charlie Cotton to Lou: We had a lot of laughs in the old days, didn't we?
    Lou: Not that I remember.

    Dot: Marriage don’t transmute a person. My Charlie proved that to me.

    Pat: I didn’t have a proper education. I left school the minute I turned fifteen. Never even read a proper book. Feel I missed out on something there.

    Dot on her sister Rose: She was fifteen going on twenty.

    Dot: The time you was in prison, I had to go down to the police station.
    Rose: It was mistaken identity. I was only in overnight.

    Dot to Rose: Even as a girl, you never had no elastic in your drawers.

    Rose: I had a boyfriend from St Kitts.
    Dot: Wasn’t he from St Albans?

    Rose: I’ve always had secret admirers since I can’t remember when.
    Dot: Half a pound of liquorice from some dirty old man.

    Dot: I remember our first Christmas, Charlie and me. He went down the pub, I boiled the pudding on the gas ring. Oh I say, it was ever so embarrassing. It give me the most awful, you know, indigestion, and Charlie — he didn't even notice.

    Kathy Beale: When I was a kid, I used to hate Christmas. All the other kids used to start planning from about October onwards, getting all excited,
    sending letters to Santa. Not me though. I don't think I ever believed in him, not even when I was small.
    Michelle Fowler: You never wrote letters to Father Christmas?
    Kathy: Oh yeah, I wrote the letters all right, but the old man never used to answer them, did he? I remember one year, I must have been about five or six I think, I wrote to him asking for a doll's house. I must have put about ten pleases in that letter. Do you know what I got? An apple, an orange and a new grey cardigan for school. And it still had the price tag on it. I remember when I went back after Christmas, all the kids were talking all about their
    presents. Well I told them all that I'd got me doll's house, didn't I? And with it, Santa had given me some special invisible dust.

    Ethel: Portia was Lady Hamilton's dog. He only had one eye.
    Nellie Ellis: The Lady Hamilton?
    Ethel: Oh no - Annie Hamilton. She used to live down Canal Street. We called her Lady Hamilton because of her airs and graces, all curtains and carpets. It was her dog that bit the milkman.
    Nellie: The one with one eye?
    Ethel: No, the one with the moustache. Then he started a strike three weeks before Christmas.
    Nellie: Which is why you didn't get your turkey.
    Ethel: We had to get a frozen one. It's not the same.
     
  18. James from London

    James from London Soap Chat Enthusiast

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    1957

    Paula Rickman [mother of Dennis] born 02/01/1957

    Arthur Fowler: Once upon a time, there was a handsome young man called Arthur. Not King Arthur, you understand - just plain Arthur. Well, like all young men in Walford at that time, Arthur thought that the world was his oyster, didn't he? His dad and his elder brothers had just fought a war to end all wars. His future was secure. It was going to be peace and prosperity all the way, wasn't it? Now all young Arthur had to do was keep on the straight and narrow. And how did he know all this? Because those nice gentlemen in the Houses of Parliament told him so, didn't they? What was it one of them said? A kind old man with whiskers just like a rabbit. Yeah, I remember - "You've never had it so good." Those were his very words.

    Arthur: When I was a kid, you knew what was in store for you for the rest of your life. Patterns, directions, routines, expectations.

    Peggy Mitchell: My old mum used to say, bless her, "The more you expect, the more disappointed you'll be."

    Jim Branning: My mum used to swear by a drop of vinegar [for removing wine stains].

    Arthur: Wine? It was for toffs when I was a nipper. When I was a nipper, times were hard. Didn't get any handouts then. You knew where you was in those days.

    Arthur: We never went in for the Halloween bit, did we? When I was a kid, it was more penny-for-the-guy lark. I remember me and my friend Lenny, we made this guy. Its head kept falling off. Terrible looking thing it was too.

    Arthur: Me mum [sent] me to school with a nice crease down me football pants.

    Arthur: In my day, the only [school] outing you got was when you was sent home.

    Arthur: I got a thick ear if I didn't [listen to my elders].

    Arthur: When I was a kid, the local bobby was always very well respected. Oh, he'd clip you round the ear if he caught you pinching apples or that sort of thing. Not that I did that. Well, maybe one or two. We all did, didn't we? But he was very well respected.

    Lou Beale: The old police used to keep the youngsters in check.

    Peggy: In our day, if someone did something wrong and deserved a good hiding, you gave them what for and not even the police got involved.

    Ethel Skinner: I had an uncle who was sent down for eight months for insulting a policeman. And it was the policeman's fault, dragging him down the stairs of the bus just because he hadn't paid his fare. He only had two more stops to go. I tell you this much, if they'd kept the bus going while they were arguing about it, he'd have been home by then and got off in any case.

    Arthur: I used to help my dad [round the house] when I was a kid. Now he was handy.

    Dot Cotton on Charlie: He bought me an aspidistra for our first wedding anniversary. Mind you, it was the only one he remembered. It stood in my front hall for years, just beside the door. Indestructible, it was. Wish I could say the same for my marriage.

    Dennis Rickman: You ever been abroad, Dot?
    Dot: Only the once. Charlie took me to France on a boat. The smells! And the way they spoke!
    Dennis: What - French?
    Dot: And as for them lavvies ...

    Dot: I’ve never been abroad.

    Pete Beale: I still remember my young cousin getting drowned. I was only twelve then.

    Lou to Pete: He used to believe in reincarnation, your granddad. Used to believe there was hands out there ready to strike you down, only you had to
    invite them first.

    Den Watts: I've been telling lies since I was knee-high to a grasshopper.

    Lou to Den: I remember you when you was a kid at school. I didn't trust you then.

    Dot: How long have I known you?
    Den: About a hundred years.
    Dot: I've watched you grow from a tearaway boy, always in trouble, to a young man with a wife and daughter.
    Den: I was a good looking boy back then.

    Dot: Johnny [Allen] was a bright boy.

    Chrissie Watts: You known [Den] long?
    Dot: Ever since he was in short trousers charming little girls out of their sweeties.

    Lou: I can remember young Den as a boy in short trousers. I can remember him going on those Sunday School outings. He was always up to some mischief or other. They used to come home absolutely wore out. The Church of St Bedes, wasn't it?

    Angie Watts: [Den] never was much for religion, except when he was a little 'un. He flogged the led off the church roof.

    Eric "Chalky" Whiting to Den: You were trouble when you were a nipper. You got me in bother then.

    Pat: [Den] was always a rude beggar, even as a lad. Pretty, but rude with it.

    Pauline on Den: Ever since we were kids, he's always wanted his own way about everything.

    Pat Wicks: We all grew up together.

    Den to Pat: I've known you since you were wearing felt skirts and winkle pickers.

    Pauline to Den’s daughter Sharon: Me and Pete, after school we always used to go and play in the Square gardens. Even your dad used to tag along with us, even though he knew we didn't want him with us.

    Pauline: I went to school with Dennis and Angie. We all grew up together. There was a whole group of us. When there's a group of you like that, you obey the rules. Some you take to, some you don't. We had a lot of laughs together, a lot of experiences. When there's a crowd of you like that, you grow to trust each other. All right, sometimes one would fall out with another, but if ever there was a disaster, you closed ranks.

    Den: When I was a kid at school, some big lout used to come down to the playground every day and try and nick my dinner money. So coming from a very big family, and this family being a good family and a nice family, they used to come down and sort him out for me.

    Den: Only child, me. There was some cousins around, but they weren't much to write home about.

    Den: My dad told me the only face you should trust is the one you see when you're shaving yourself in the morning.

    Trevor Smith, gangster, to Den: You used to run with a few of the hounds, didn't you, years ago, a few of
    the lads?
    Den: Yeah, I knew them. I used to go to school with two of them [the Vinnicombe brothers].

    Dot on Den: Right little tearaway he was. Peter [Beale], he was his best mate.

    Den: We've been through a few scrapes together, haven't we?
    Pete Beale: Yeah, right from school.

    Pete on his teacher, Miss Gibbons: Right old cow.

    Kenny Beale to Den: We had some times with the boys, didn't we?

    Kenny to Pete: Me, you and Den used to break in here [Walford Towers] regular when it was a warehouse, as kids.
    Pete: That nightwatchman nearly caught us. I always swore blind you could have warned me.

    Pete on his father: When I was [young], I was always into things, bit of a handful. And he'd just sit there, point, show me where I'd gone wrong. "Pete,"
    he'd say, “don't be stupid all your life. Go for the future." That man knew it all. One of the best.

    Laurie Bates, market trader, to Pete: My mum knew your dad. That was when all the costers were mates, didn't mind a bit of competition.

    Laurie: I had an old fashioned mum and dad, born and bred in the East End. Never even had a telly. [My father] did a runner. We ain't heard from him since. We were all big enough and ugly enough to look after ourselves - two sisters, one brother.

    Pauline: Things might have been more strict, but at least everybody knew where they were. Ladies used to wear a hat to church on Sundays, then we used to go to Sunday school in the afternoon, and you had to say please and thank you and respect your elders.
    Joe Macer: Very “Mary Poppins” when we were young.

    Pauline, looking at an old photograph: Who's this outside Number 53? Who lived there?
    Dot: That's old Mrs Perkins. She must have passed away a few months after this was taken.

    Pauline on 55 Victoria Road: It never seemed to be a place where people stayed very long.

    Julie Cooper: I was born [in Walford], but I grew up in Salford.

    Julie to Ethel: My gran used to have a house on Victoria Road - Eileen Robinson. I used to call you Aunty.

    Ethel to Dot: Julie's mother was quite famous, you know. You could see the men traipsing out of her house into the Vic like cats that had left the cream. And she worked down the West End as well. Oh, she was marvellous. She had more men than you've had hot dinners.

    Julie on her mother: She was a brass.

    George "Lofty" Holloway's Auntie Irene: George was a summer baby. Ugly brute he was. You know the kindest thing anyone said about him? Next door neighbour come round, she looked at him and there was this great long pause, and then she said, "Well, I suppose he'll be all right when his face settles down." George turned out all right. He always liked looking after things, even when he was a kid, probably because no-one looked after him really.

    Lofty Holloway on his parents: They never touched each other. They never touched me either. All the time I was growing up, I can't ever remember being kissed or cuddled. I can't even remember sitting on my mum's knee. I think my mum picked me up with a pair of sterilised tongs.

    Sue Osman: Me mum and dad, they wouldn't be bothered if I was hurt. I could have broken my leg - just don't bother them with tears. My mum never loved me, never.

    Reverend Duncan on Lou: She saw one wave of immigrants being replaced by another.

    Lou: In my day, whites and blacks kept to themselves. They didn't go mingling.

    Jim: Never used to see much of that in my day, a black bloke with a white bird.

    Patrick Trueman on his father: When I tell him I was leaving home to come to England, he gave me his most precious possession - a bottle top, a memento of the best job he ever had - delivering bottles of beer.

    Tony Carpenter: Back home in Trinidad, I used to live with my gran. Whenever I did anything wrong, my gran used to knock seven bells out of me. That woman may have looked frail, but she would have taken on Muhammed Ali. When they told me I was coming to this country, man I was so proud, so excited, and what did I find? Nothing but the damp, grey and drizzle. The kids at school called me names just because I was black.

    Michelle Fowler to Tony: You were good at school. Uncle Pete said that.

    Tony: I used to lie in bed at nights, crying for my old gran in Trinidad, and I always promised myself one day I would go back home. I could never forget those kids in the park shouting names at me when I thought they'd be as pleased to see me as I was to see them. I never thought anyone would accept me.

    Chelsea Fox: What was it like when you first got [to England], Patrick?
    Patrick: When the train pulled into Waterloo Station from Southampton, there on a wall painted in great big letters, “KBW”. Well I didn’t think about it at the time. It was only when I turned up at Ladbroke Grove, there it is again. Everywhere you turn there’s these three letters, “KBW” on walls, bridges, you name it. So I turned to my friend Moses and I said to him, “What is it with KBW?” He said, “Keep Britain White.” Welcome to England!

    Tommy Clifford: I remember all the prejudice, the signs - “Keep the water white”.

    Chelsea: So how did that make you feel?
    Patrick: Confused. I mean why all the white people so keen to get a suntan?!

    Pat: I remember when I was in Clacton when I was about [thirteen], I got terribly sunburnt. I was throwing up for days on end. It was horrible.

    Jim on sunburn: In my day, you used to wake up looking like a lobster and you just got on with it.

    Pete Beale: We had some good holidays in the old days. Family holidays in Clacton - Mum, Dad.

    Pauline: Pete used to be good fun on holiday. I remember Mum, Dad, the five of us, all packed into a caravan at Leigh on Sea.

    Lou to Pete: You remember when we all used to go to Southend? There'd be you and your gran and granddad, maybe Pop from down the road, and Nell, me and your dad and little Pauline.

    Pete: A poky little caravan in Southend, four of us crammed into one bed. Just plain uncomfortable.

    Pauline: We had some great times there when we were kids. We used to have winkle teas, look at the sea - well, the mud really, because the tide always seemed to be out when we was there.

    Lou: Winkles on the front, walk down to Southend, finished off with the rosses. We used to hire Lenny Grinberg's chara, there was that many of us. All
    crammed in and singing along.
    Pete: Yeah, and throwing up. It was horrible. Always got sick in coaches.

    Arthur to Pete: I can always remember your mum telling me about you and Pauline when you got into that orchard in Southend. You ate so many Bramleys that you were sick all night, and when the governor finally caught up with you, he reckoned you'd been punished enough.

    Frank: Crunchy egg sarnies. When I was a kid on the beach, the egg sarnies were always crunchy.
    Roy Evans: Sand.
    Frank: No, no. Me mum never used to peel the eggs properly. Egg sarnies, sliced tomatoes, crisps, soggy spring onions all done up in greaseproof paper and washed down with a warm bottle of dandelion and burdock.

    Lou to Pete: Your granddad always used to go for a swim after he'd eaten. I always told him, but he was a good swimmer. "Don't be daft, woman," he'd say and then he'd swim - boom - straight out like an arrow, right out into the water, right out to where the boats were floating beside the pier. Then he'd hang onto one of the boats and start waving. Then he'd swim on out till he was just a dot. Only this time, he kept on waving. We kept on waving back. Till finally they had to get the boats out to rescue him. Course, he'd been and gone and got the cramp. They had to pick him up and row back to the shore right in front of the pier. He walked up the stones in his bare feet in front of everybody - your gran sitting in her deck chair, red from the sun like a lobster. "Didn't you see me?" he said. And your gran said, "'Course we did. We were waving." "Waving?" he said. "I wasn't waving. I was telling you I was bloody drowning, and all you're doing is keep on waving at me."

    Patrick on 'Island in the Sun': That song ain’t true true calypso. I didn’t even know about it till I got to England.

    Patrick: The first house I lived in [in London] - what a dump. I had to share a bed with a fella who worked nightshift. One toilet between twelve people.
    Tommy: That must have been hard.
    Patrick: No man, I was young then.

    Patrick: What I miss when I first came over here? Real Trinidadian rum.
    Tommy: I’m a pint of bitter man myself.
    Patrick: First time I drank that I couldn’t believe it. I thought the barman was giving me dishwater to drink because of the colour of my skin! Well how was I supposed to know the thing tasted like that? I would have punched the poor man in the face if me girlfriend didn’t stop me.

    Patrick: I remember the summer, those hot summer nights, girls with their pretty pretty skirts showing their legs and the dances, the rum. Yeah man, those were good days.

    Patrick: There was girls, and of course there was girls, and let me think now, girls of course. And when I wasn’t doing that and I was at a loose end, I could always fall back on girls!

    Patrick: When I first came to London we weren’t really accepted in pubs so we made our own in people’s houses. The parties we had in them days!

    Denise Fox to Patrick: I bet you had a wicked time. I remember some of them blues clubs.
    Libby Fox: What are blues clubs?
    Patrick: Just another name for house party. Nearly every Friday and Saturday night there was one going on in a basement somewhere, you know - music and dancing and things ...
    Denise: Women.
    Patrick: Of course women! Yeah man, singing, music, dancing.

    Patrick: In my day, [waking up without a woman the morning after a party] would count against you.

    Patrick: We’d have these parties right there in our front room, just ten, twenty people, that’s all.
    Tommy: Is that because you couldn’t go out?
    Patrick: Because nowhere else was playing ska and this was years before 'My Boy Lollipop'. Yeah man, the ska, ackee and salt fish with fried bake, and rum punch of course. And that is a West Indian party right there, you know!

    Patrick on West Indian food: You’d get it [in London]. You’d just got to know where to go.

    Patrick to Jay Brown: When I was your age [seventeen], I could eat a horse.

    Patrick: We brought life to this country. We brought music, dancing, fashion, food, you name it. And the local girls and them, oh boy they loved us. Yeah man, they wanted something from us, you know.
    Tommy: So you gave them what they wanted, eh? I bet you were a Jack the Lad back in those days, eh? Strutting your stuff, bird on each arm, eh?
    Patrick: I talked the talk! I had an eye for the ladies and them, you know, but I was strictly a one woman man.

    Patrick on his fiancee Ruth: She was so beautiful, man. And we had plans.

    Patrick on Ruth: She was one hell of a woman. She was so generous, this one woman who made you feel you were the only person in the world. We laughed so much. She just glowed.

    Kathy Beale: When I was at school, I had a mate. We used to call her mother Atilla the Hen.

    Kathy: I remember being a kid and having a dad who was incapable of seeing anything through anyone's eyes except his own.

    Kathy to Ted: The more [Mum and Dad] laid the law down, the worse you got.

    Ted Hills: I remember my first time.
    Kathy: Yeah, Phyllis Drake. She was everyone else's first time and all.

    Kathy: Kevin Porter, the first boy I ever kissed.

    Kathy: We [slept] four in a bed when we were kids.

    Pat: We used to sleep seven to a room.

    Pat: When I was a kid, I used to think I'd be over the hill when I was thirty.

    Pat: When I was young, I never thought I'd get to fifty-seven. Fifty-seven was other people. Fifty- seven was me nan. Later, me mum. It was never going to be me.

    Pauline: I never thought I'd get old. Other people, yes, but not me.
    Dot: Nor me.

    Pat: You think you’ll be young forever.

    Peggy: When you’re young, you can’t imagine a world without you.

    Ted: When I was [young], I couldn't wait to get out to work.

    Pat: Do you remember them days when you didn’t have a care? Life was just a blank piece of paper.

    Pat: We was young, we had our dreams. Time was on our side. All we ever wanted to do was marry one of the Everly Brothers and live happily ever after.

    Pat: “Those were the days, my friend ...”
    Peggy: “We thought they’d never end.” Everything ahead - love, life ...
    Pat: Kids ...
    Peggy: Family ...
    Pat: I had a decent pair of legs.
    Peggy: I had a decent pair of boobs.
    Pat: And I was a dress size ten.
    Peggy: Really?!
    Pat: Yeah.
    Peggy: Well, I was a size zero.
    Pat: Don’t be silly. There wasn’t a size zero in them days.

    Pat: I can remember when going to the pictures once a week and sucking on a gobstopper was cutting edge.

    Pat: I had two aunties lived in Leeds who I went to go and visit when I was a kid. One was a butcher, the other in service. Neither of them married. Every Saturday night, they'd buy pie and chips and two seats for the gallery in The City Variety. They were always laughing, always having a good time. Oh, I had such fun when I was with them, the best. And I learnt? Hell, I always let my heart rule my head.

    Pat: We moved to this little place just outside Dagenham. My dad had a job there, see. My mum hated it. Said if she had to stay there any longer she'd
    have a nervous breakdown! Me poor dad had no choice. We had to move back to town. That made Mum happy.

    Pat: My old mum used to say, "If you want a job doing, do it yourself."

    Lou on Pat: I know for a fact her mother never bought fresh butter.

    Lou on Pat: She was rough, just like her mother.

    Pat: In them days, there was rough and there was really rough, and Mo Porter, as she was known then, she was so rough you could scrape the bottom of a Thames barge with her.

    Big Mo on Pat: I've seen her steam right through to the gents because there's been a big queue for the ladies.

    Big Mo on Pat: More snout than a ruddy elephant, that woman. Tell her it was a dungheap, Pat Harris would still be the first to stick her nose in. Her and her mum were just the same. It's no wonder Jimmy wanted
    out.

    Pat on her brother Jimmy: Jimmy was one of a kind.
    Stan Porter: He was a gent.
    Pat: He was a lovely bloke, maybe too nice for his own good because he didn't always see the bad in people - which meant that some people took advantage of him. Nobody saw the funny side of things like he did - not that he didn't take life seriously and all because he did, he really did. If Jimmy made you a promise, he meant it - unlike some people who throw their promises and vows to the four winds. Jimmy and me were closer that you can imagine. There wasn't nothing we wouldn't do for each other. There was a time we'd have laid down our lives for each other.

    Big Mo: I've been inside - when I was young. I got two years.

    Big Mo, about to jemmy a door in 2005: I knew that stretch in Holloway would come in handy one day.

    Big Mo: Breaking and entering was never one of my party pieces.

    Big Mo: I had a right old bash when I come out.

    Big Mo: I remember when I got out. You don't always want to face people, you know. It’s hard to get your head right.

    Pauline: You've always been a wrong 'un, Mo Harris.

    Stan Porter, Mo’s brother, to Pat: You and [Mo] used to be so close.

    Pat: I started off as wide-eyed as anybody else, till I had it knocked out of me.

    Pat: I was cocky, confident. Thought I had all the answers. Thought you could play according to my
    rules.

    Pat: Never one to tell tales out of school, was I?
    Johnny Allen: Only because you were too busy behind the bike sheds.

    Pat on Eddie Skinner: I haven't seen him since we shared a fag round the back of the bike sheds at school.

    Pat: I was more into boys than books at [the] age [of fifteen].

    Kenny Beale on Pat: When she was young, she thought she had friends, but they were just using her.

    Pat: All my life, men have only wanted me for one thing, the one thing I thought I had to offer.

    Pat on her reputation: "Good old Pat. She's good for a laugh. Get a few gins down her and you're away." Even at school, letting them. Thinking it would make them like me. Getting called slag, old bike. Pretending I didn't give a monkeys.

    Pat: You know what they say - "I only regret the boys I never kissed."
    Dot: Were there any?
    Pat: What?
    Dot: Boys you never kissed.
    Pat: Not many.

    Pat: I was pretty horrible [as a teenager].

    Ted on Pat: Hard as nails, always has been.

    Kathy: You'll have to excuse my brother.
    Pat: Always did.

    Pat: When I was little, I can remember wanting to be married, have a house of me own, kids. Then when I was growing up, I could see it happening to everyone around me. Not to me. The blokes I attracted didn't want what I wanted - settle down, be normal, whatever that is.

    Pat: All my life, every flaming man I've met has been rotten to the core. Bleeding waste of time and energy, the whole lot of them.

    Roy Evans: Pat was a bit of a heartbreaker when she was a girl. Weren't you, Pat?
    Pat: You could say that, yeah.

    Dot: Pat? Secretive. She always was, even as a girl. Well I mean, who knew anything about Frank? And she was on with him for years.

    Pat: All my life, I’ve been gossiped about in that Square.

    Mo Butcher to Frank: I remember the old Metropolitan, Edgware Road. I used to take you there. We couldn't afford to go every week, but you were always pestering me to take you.
    Frank Butcher: Well, I loved the musical hall, didn't I, darling?
    Mo: Then you went over to the wrestling.
    Frank: I thought wrestling was good as well.
    Mo: After that it was the strippers.

    Pat on Frank's sister Joan: She was dead bright at school.

    Mo on Joan: Seven O Levels she's got, this one, and an A Level. Too clever for her own good, I used to think. Took all [Frank's] share of the brains and
    all.

    Frank: I left school without so much as a swimming certificate, but I got off my backside and I did something.

    Frank: When I was [fifteen], I was working full time. I was too busy grafting [to get into trouble].

    Frank to his son Ricky: Let me tell you something that my old dad told me. "If you really want something, then there's only one way. You've got to earn it - because if somebody offers it you on a plate, you never, ever appreciate it."

    Frank: I remember going home and meeting a bird's parents once. Fifteen year old, I was. Mandy Miller, that was her name, Mandy Miller, and I was so nervous I drunk half a bottle of cider on the way round there to calm meself down. That was the idea, a few drinks to relax me. But I got so relaxed, I fell asleep in the khazi. I got away with it, [but then] I was Tom and Dick all over the bathroom floor.

    Patrick Trueman on his favourite age: Seventeen.
    Ian Beale: What was so good about being young?
    Patrick: The opportunities. Be anyone, do anything. Muhammed Ali, now there's a man to look up to.

    Tyler Moon to Patrick: Bet you were handy with your fists back in the day.

    Jim Branning on a boxing victory: The Pasting in Plaistow, 1957 — a vintage year. Dickie "Diamond Dog" Dredge, I sent him home with his tail between his legs, I tell you.
    Edwin Caldecott: "Diamond Dog" Dredge? A punch drunk broken man desperate for money. You never knocked him out, Basher. He just laid down for the rest!

    Jim: I've always had this voice up here [in his head] telling me that I was very good, that me boxing counted for something.

    Edwin to Jim: You always was a pub brawler - no style, no finesse.

    Engraving on a boxing medal: “Eric Mitchell South East Counties Junior Champion 1957”
    Archie Mitchell, Eric’s brother: The Lenny Royce fight.
    Phil Mitchell, Eric’s son: Lenny who won the British title in ’62?
    Archie: Exactly. Seventeen years of age he was, your dad, and he beat a future champion in under three rounds.

    Archie to Phil: Eric did what Eric always did - nose to nose, swinging big, all aggressive, pushing him away, body, body, body, right hook, and that’s it - Lenny Royce on the deck - eight, nine, ten, out. South East County’s Junior Champion and it's my brother. I was so proud I could have wept. That just sums up your dad, not just the fight but the man - always pushing forward, brave as a lion.

    Archie to Phil: With your dad everything was a competition - the boxing, the work, the money, the women. There was this girl down our street, Edie
    Jameson was her name. Cor, she was a sort. Great big shock of blonde hair, she had big brown eyes, legs going forever and she was all Jayne Mansfield’d up here [mimes breasts], I tell you! Me and Eric, we absolutely worshipped that girl. This is way before your mum. Anyway, me and Eric, we bought this bike together - 57 Triumph Thunderbird it was - and we was always fighting over who got to take it out, so finally we decided whoever got the first kiss of Edie, got the Triumph. Game on! So I work away on Edie for about three weeks, no joy. Eric, he’s bottled out. He’s sitting at home watching the telly. Finally she’s agreed to meet me down the Coronet. So there I am — I’m waiting, waiting, waiting, and she don’t show. I’m sick as a parrot so I go home and what do I find? Eric and Edie on my bed just about to make the leap from second to third base. And that’s your old man all over — boxing, women — he always left it late, kept it direct and nine times out of ten, he’s the last man standing.

    Pat: My sixteenth, I had on a skirt up to there, a top down to there. I was half-cut by breakfast. I’m telling you, I could have had any bloke I wanted.

    Dot: I’ve always fancied ice cream for me breakfast.

    Patrick: I never saw a pantomime until I came to this country. I remember one pantomime I went to see, "Jack And The Beanstalk". Now man, they had the smallest giant in the whole world. This tiny little fella - "Fee Fi Fo Fum!"
     
  19. James from London

    James from London Soap Chat Enthusiast

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    1958

    Dot: The last time I was wrong about anybody was 1958 - Ethel Skinner. I thought she was a proper little madam, full of herself, a right flibbertigibbet. I thought, “I’m not going to like this one.”

    Lynne Charlotte Mitchell [mother of Jamie] born 14th February 1958

    Lou Beale: My Albert used to have a friend up north and he used to say, "If in doubt, do nowt."

    Big Mo: My old man said, “Never trust Northerners. They eat tripe, you know. Dirty swines.”

    Big Mo, speaking about Stacey Slater in 2010: When I was her age [twenty-two], I was always running off, usually in receipt of stolen goods.

    Jim Branning on his marriage: After a while, after about five years, you realise you might have made a mistake.

    Jim to Reenie: I forgot our fifth wedding anniversary, didn't I? You never said a word. I thought we'd have a row at least because we'd had plenty in the past. Funnily enough, after that, we never had another argument, just got on with it. Never celebrated our wedding anniversary though and I never bought you flowers, did I? I don't think I ever knew what it was like to be close to someone.

    Jim: I've never been right at saying the right things, especially to the fairer sex. It's me background, you see. Being brought up in a home, see. Never having a mother's love. I always make them miserable - every woman I've ever been close to. I've never loved them right, I've never lived up to expectations. I used to drive my Reenie mad, tell the truth. Yeah, used to be hours of silence at my house — sleeping on the sofa, baked beans on toast. Spent a lifetime with her and never got it right.

    Max Branning, Jim and Reenie’s son, on his parents: The old sob story - how they married young, how he didn’t really love her, it was his fault, but it was just one of those tragic things that happened in those days.
    Dot: Well yes, but it was tragic. Of course people nowadays, they don’t realise what it was like, with their quickie divorces and their living in sin, but in them days, you know, there was such a thing as duty and sticking by one another.
    Max: Yeah, till death to us part.

    Jim: I was good with me fists. Weren't no good with the other stuff, the words and being there — you know, the stuff that counts — but I was good at
    thumping people.

    Patrick Trueman: Saturday night at the Hush Hush Club in Soho. Man, the place buzzing with a whole heap of friendly young people and in the wee hours of the morning, a whole group of you walking all the way home to Dalston and I tell you, me feet killing me.

    Cora Cross: Dalston, eh? I knocked about there when I was a kid. I remember this one time, it must have been the summer of 1958 ...

    Frank Butcher: When I was [sixteen], I was a bit of a tearaway, but basically I was a good kid. But I done these flash things to impress me girlfriend and get on with the fellas. It never works. You never get away with it.

    Mo Butcher on Frank: The women had to hide from him!

    Frank: I had a girlfriend once, threw a saucepan at me. It hit me straight in the eye - crunch! It come out to here. I had to tell all me mates I walked into a lamppost.

    Jimmy, Frank's pal: He's always had a touch with the ladies, Frank. Even as kids, he used to get the best of the bunch. I'd get stuck with his leavings.

    Frank to his son Ricky: I always knew I was going to marry your mum [June]. I met her when she was going to school and going out with a mate of mine.

    Lydia Simmonds: June, my lovely girl. I loved her.

    Mo on June: Trouble with her was [she was] boring, always playing the martyr.

    Pat: When I was a young girl, I met this bloke and fell in love, and that love lasted the whole of my life.

    Pat on Frank: Frank was the first boy I ever really loved. I've known him since he was sixteen. Suppose you could say it was love at first sight. Oh, he was a handsome devil.

    Frank on his relationship with Pat: It started when we were sixteen years old and the biggest mistake I ever made in my entire life was to think it would ever be over.

    Frank on Pat: I fell in love with her the day I met her.

    Pat: I lost me heart when I was sixteen.

    Pat on Frank: That man stole my heart and never gave it back. Messed me about forever.

    Pat: It all started for me here, you know.
    Carol Jackson: What, Clacton?

    Frank: Clacton-on-Sea, where I first met a beautiful, slim sixteen year old girl.

    Pat: Me and this girlfriend come to Clacton for a bit of a giggle. Boy crazy, we were.

    Pat: I was quite a looker in them days.

    Pat: I only have to close my eyes and I’m sixteen again, wiggling along the prom thinking I’m the bee’s knees and the boys all wolf-whistling at me two-piece.

    Frank: Do you remember where we first met?
    Pat: Butlin's, Clacton. The ballroom.
    Frank: There was a big band playing.
    Pat: Eric Winston. You were with [June] and I was with Beryl, Beryl Heath. You only met her the once. After that, we kept trying to ditch them.
    Frank: You were both standing at the bar. Oh, you looked gorgeous.
    Pat: Luscious, you called me. Luscious. That was the word in them days.
    Frank: I was dying to ask you to dance. Took me ten minutes to pluck up the courage. Me hands were sweating. I was running them down me drainpipes.
    Pat: Yeah, they were a bit hot and clammy. Where was she all this time?
    Frank: She was having a drink with some of her mates. There was a big crowd of us that went down.
    Pat: Remember the song they were playing?
    Frank: That was an old Jo Stafford number. "See the pyramids along the Nile, See the sunset on a tropic isle, Just remember darling all the while, You belong to me."
    Pat: Felt I did, that night. Mind you, I was only a kid.
    Frank: No way, darling. Not in a swimming costume you wasn't.
    Pat: I don't remember us going swimming. It rained practically every day.
    Frank: The beauty competition, Miss Butlin's, by the pool.

    Big Mo on herself and Pat: We both went in for this beauty contest, Miss Butlin’s.

    Jimmy, Frank's pal, to Pat: You were gorgeous. Me and Frank eyeing you up and down by the pool.

    Pat: I stand up on this platform parading myself, and I saw this boy looking at me. Talk about x-ray eyes! Thought he could read the label on me swimsuit.

    Frank: June went mad. I was shouting and screaming. Fortunately, so were all the other fellas. Nearly burst her eardrums. You looked a knockout. Your skin was as clear as a city on a Sunday morning, and those eyes. Do you remember when we got down to the last five and your name was called?
    Pat: Didn't think I stood a chance. When those two runners-up stepped forward, I thought, "That's it. I've had it." I never dreamt I'd end up wearing that crown.

    Big Mo: Pat, well, she won it hands down, didn’t she? Me, I wasn’t even in the top ten. I’m sure she gave one of the judges the eye.

    Pat: I was Miss Butlin’s, Clacton 1958. I bet you didn’t know that.
    Dot: I had heard a rumour.
    Pat: I had me photograph taken sitting on a donkey and wearing a sash.

    Big Mo: We went out on the razzle, didn’t we, celebrating, and I really wanted to win so I took it, her sash. Told her we’d lost it going from pub to pub.

    Pat: I think that was one of the happiest days of my life.
    Frank: Mine was two days later.
    Pat: Chalet 204. I was petrified. You were the first.

    Ricky Butcher, Frank and June's son: You and Dad got it together behind my mum's back?
    Pat: Well, not exactly, no. They weren't married or anything then.

    Pat: I remember one evening we were smashing about in our Dodgems and Frank was showing off and everything. We went bashing into this old bloke and his wife. Really give them a crack. Trouble was, he was wearing false teeth and they shot out of his head like they'd been fired from a gun! You should have seen the look on his face. I laughed so much, I nearly cracked a rib.

    Pat on Frank: He was the first bloke that ever made me smile - I mean really, really smile. I’d look at him sometimes and I’d just go into stitches.

    Tiffany Butcher, Pat’s great-granddaughter, on Frank: He sounds crazy!
    Pat: He was. Well, he’d have to be to buy me these [a pair of clip-on earrings]. Ninepence off a bucket- and-spade stall in Clacton.

    Mickey Miller: 'Only Make Believe' by Conway Twitty was at Number One for five weeks. It was the biggest selling single of [1958].

    Frank on 'Who's Sorry Now' by Connie Francis: Very big at Butlin's that year. They played it all the time.

    Frank on 'All I Have To Do Is Dream' by the Everly Brothers: Remember that? 1958, Clacton-On-Sea. Number One all summer.
    Pat: How could I forget it? Every time I turned a corner, there you were, singing it out of tune.

    David Wicks, Pat’s son: She told me about this time when she was on holiday in Clacton at Butlin’s and she met a boy called Frank and she fell in love with him. They had a little kiss under the stars, you know. Anyway, he had a girlfriend. She said on the way home, she sat on the sand and it was all dark, pitch black, and in the distance, she could see these lights, these twinkling lights, and she said whenever she saw these lights, it made her feel trembly and excited, just the memory, just the memory of looking out to sea, you know — the lights and her whole life ahead of her.

    Charlie Slater on himself: Summer 1958, Saville Row, tailor’s assistant.

    Theo Kelly on Patrick: He was living in Notting Hill in 1958.

    Patrick: So there’s this pub just off the All Saints Road. Now the landlord is honest about it — you go in there, he says, “I don’t serve coloured.” I’m being discreet — I mean, the words he used sometimes was far worse than that, you know. But my friend Moses, he’d had enough. He decided to take a stand — the Rosa Parks of Notting Hill Gate. So he walked in there and he said, “A pint of stout please, landlord.” “I don’t serve coloured.” “I think you’ll find that a pint of stout is pretty much just black and white.” So this goes on for a while, but what the landlord didn’t know was that while he was leaning over the bar, Moses slipped a reefer inside the breast pocket of his jacket. Anyhow, Moses eventually got kicked out of this pub so he went round the corner to a phone box. Now he had a very good English accent, you know, Moses, so he dialled 999. “Hello sir, I’m led to believe that the landlord of the Red Lion Public House is dealing in drugs.” Well, you see, drugs is a big thing in them days, you know. So of course the place get raided. Landlord loses his licence, arrested and all that so he ended up serving nobody at all!
    Denise Fox: I’ve heard this story before only it weren’t Moses who slipped him the spliff it was someone a bit closer to home ...
    Libby Fox: Whatever, he had it coming.
    Patrick: The landlord probably wasn’t so bad a bloke, you know. He was like all racists, ignorant. And some politicians, they trade on it, you know, which is why you have to take a stand.

    Theo: You’ve heard of the Notting Hill 1958 race riots? Over the August Bank Holiday of 1958 a large group of teddy boys — you’ve heard of teddy boys?
    Chelsea Fox: Yeah, like, greasy hair, sideburns.

    Libby: There was a white woman and she was either married or going out with a black guy, which in them days was like, “Woah”. So I think she had a row with the teddy boys and then the next night, three hundred of them turned up looking for trouble.

    Theo: They came looking for trouble. Now the plan, if it can be dignified with such a word, was to drive [the immigrant population] all back to where we had come from. These days, they call it ethnic cleansing. They had iron bars, knives, knuckle dusters, you name it, and they set out quite deliberately to terrorise an entire community. It was almost an act of war. They were trying to drive us out.

    Tommy Clifford, former teddy boy: It was never just about black and white, not really. You see, we wanted to fight. Didn’t matter who. Being raised during the war, there was still blood in the air. We didn’t want to be soldiers, but we all wanted to fight and if there wasn’t a war to go to, we started our own.
    Patrick: And you saw us walking off the boats and onto your streets and you found your enemy, yeah?
    Tommy: We were just kids, stupid scared kids.

    Theo: What would you do if your entire community was under attack?
    Chelsea: Don’t know - fight back I suppose.
    Theo: Exactly.

    Tommy to Patrick: I was a ted, I was a kid in the streets. All I cared about was clothes, what I looked like, my mates. I didn’t think about anything else and then one day you attacked my best mate.

    Patrick on Ruth, his fiancee: She didn’t like the violence one bit, you know. She wanted me to turn the other cheek.
    Tommy: I bet she was upset when it all came out in the newspaper about you having a run in with a teddy boy.
    Patrick: She didn’t like it at all.

    Patrick on Ruth: If I hadn’t provoked Tommy Clifford, she’d still be alive today.

    Tommy to Patrick: I just got carried along on the wave and I found myself standing outside your house.

    Patrick on Ruth: She didn’t like it that me and Cardell and Elston was out there on the streets as guards, as lookouts, showing those white boys and
    them with their soda bottles full of meths that we weren’t going to be smoked out. She said she didn’t want to be protected.
    Tommy: So you listened to her, you stayed inside, but you fear that the fire was your fault?
    Patrick: The fire was my fault because I didn’t listen, because I went out, because of your sort [white men]. I was seen. They knew who I was and they wanted revenge and I let them ride back to the house and the lighted bottle went right through the front window. People coming out the back way, coughing so much that they were vomiting — some them, their clothes, burning up. I had to take off my coat and use me hands to stop it, but they were alive at least. I thought then it was all right but someone else was stuck up there, Ruth my fiancee. I am responsible. I am the one to blame.
    Tommy: No, the one to blame is the bloke that threw the firebomb. I just meant to scare you, that’s all. I didn’t mean for anyone to die.
    Patrick: You threw that firebomb? You killed Ruth.
    Tommy: I really didn’t know that Ruth was inside the house.

    Newspaper headline: “Girl dies in fire”

    Tommy: I’ve had to live with it all my life.
    Patrick: At least you had a life. Ruth never lived to see her twenty-first birthday.

    Denise on Patrick: He lost his fiancee and goodness knows how many friends because of blokes like Tommy Clifford.

    Patrick: At the funeral, the sister was watching out for me, standing at the door, waiting for me, waiting to tell me I wasn’t welcome. They buried Ruth. I didn’t even get a chance to say goodbye.

    Patrick speaking about Tommy in 2009: I spent fifty years hating that man.

    Dot on her abortion: When that all happened with the baby, it was as if it set a seal on the rest of me life. I didn't want no one near me.
    Pauline Fowler: Well you had Nick. You didn't find him under a gooseberry bush.

    Dot on her son Nick: Satan sent a serpent into me home, into me heart. What did I do to deserve it?
    Nick: You got yourself laid.

    Dot: I wanted a baby, didn't I? And while it was happening, you know, [it was] as if I wasn't there, it was as if I was in the other room waiting for it to be over. It didn't bother Charlie. Half the time I could smell other women on him anyway. He used to laugh at me, say I wasn't a proper woman. But when I got pregnant, that was it. Never again. Charlie could do what he liked, but he was never going to come near me again. Sometimes I think maybe that was why Nick is like he is, because he weren't conceived in love, was he? What a terrible thing to do to a little boy.

    Ricky: What happened after you went back to London, you and Dad?
    Pat: June fell pregnant. That would have been with Claire.

    Frank to Pat: Nothing's ever been easy for us, has it?

    Frank on himself and Pat: What happened to those two kids who were going to take the world by storm? All those dreams, all those promises. We used to take risks. We used to take life by the scruff of the neck and shake her about a bit.

    Frank on mementoes of his time with Pat in Clacton: I kept everything [in a] safety deposit. That's where you keep your valuables.
    Pat: I never had you down as the sentimental type.
    Frank: There are certain things that you just can't show people.

    Frank, looking at an old picture: Le Macabre Coffee Bar, Soho, 1958. It's a photograph of Pat's brother and me. That's her brother there and that's me.
    Peggy Mitchell: What, with the open coat?
    Frank: Choose your words carefully, madam. Drapes. I'll have you know that jacket cost me a month's wages, and another month's for the matching brothel creepers.

    Chelsea on the teddy boy look: The hair just looks wrong, but the jackets and the boots and that, they kind of go. I can see how that might have looked good back in the day.

    Frank to Ricky: Your mum found out about Pat just before the wedding and well, you can imagine. She called it off. I was absolutely gutted.

    Janine Butcher, Frank and June’s daughter, to Pat: You broke my mum’s heart by jumping into bed with my dad.

    Pat: I never meant to hurt June. I hardly knew her.
    Lydia Simmonds: But you did anyway.

    Frank: When the brown stuff hit the fan, I had to make a choice. I had to choose between June and Pat.

    Frank to Pat: I wanted you, babe. Oh I wanted you, but I couldn't have you. June was pregnant. End of story. I couldn't walk out on her. She was six months gone, for crying out loud.

    Pat on Frank: He only married that cow June because she fell pregnant. She trapped him. Oldest trick in the book. Says something for him though. Most blokes would have just vanished.

    Frank to Ricky: I had to promise your mum that I'd never see Pat again and thank God, she believed me.

    Frank to Pat: I have always loved you and you know damn well that if June hadn't have been pregnant, I would have married you. We would have had our own family and we would have spent the rest of our lives together.

    Pat on Frank and June: They got married.

    Lydia to Janine: Your mother’s wedding was a rather grand affair — large church, reception at a local hotel, fully catered — and she was a picture in her ivory satin, even if she was pregnant with the wrong man.

    Mo Butcher on Frank and June's wedding reception: That was in a hotel. All paper doilies and fiddling bits of things on the end of sticks. June's mother always did have big ideas. If she'd have had her way, she'd have had all the men dressed up as Fred Astaire in top hats and tails. Good job my old man put his foot down on that.

    Frank: I remember my mother-in-law, June's mum. Bad?
    The only difference between her and a Rottweiler was lipstick.

    Lydia on Frank: Shame he was such a slug.

    Lydia on Frank: The man was a fool.

    Janine, speaking about Lydia in 2011: Granny says you weren’t always as fat as you are now.
    Pat: Well, she was always as bitter and twisted.

    Pat to Peggy: Did [Frank] ever tell you what happened on his honeymoon, with his first wife? [She whispers in Peggy's ear.]
    Peggy, laughing: Stop!

    Extract from a newspaper article: “NEGRO CHARGED WITH ASSAULT: London took another step in the battle against race violence yesterday when a Notting Hill man was charged with the assault of Christopher Trotter, 19, of Highgate, in what police suggest was a racially-motivated attack. Patrick Trueman, 18, of Ladbroke Grove, was the ringleader of a gang of coloured youths who set upon Mr. Trotter earlier this year, the court heard. Mr. Trotter, a factory attendant, was lucky to escape with a broken jaw, a dislocated shoulder, and severe lacerations on the face and neck. Police alleged that Trueman was unprovoked and that the attack was yet another example of the racial violence that is plaguing ...”

    Tommy to Patrick: Prison food, that must have been a terrible shock to the system.

    Jeff Healy: Come on Pauline, you were thirteen once.
    Pauline: Yes and if I stepped out of line, I knew about it.

    Pauline on Lou: You didn't want to be in the road when she was on the warpath. She had a tongue on her, I can tell you.

    Rick "Minty" Peterson: [Minty]’s not my real name, is it? I mean, my mum had her odd barmy moment, but she didn't give birth to me, hold me up and go, "Ooh, I've got a good idea. I'm going to call him Minty."

    Dot: When I knew I was having my Nick, I had a vain hope it might bring me and my Charlie closer together, but the foundations wasn't there. The
    history was bad. There was nothing to build on.

    Dot: I never had much love as a woman.

    Joe Macer: Do you know what it’s like to spend every day trying to get someone to like you - not love you, like you? You give up on the whole “love” thing and you just settle for a “like”.
    Dot: Yes I do - Charlie, my first husband.
    Joe: You turn yourself inside out, trying to find a reason. You try to be different, you try and fix things and however hard you try and the further you
    bend ...
    Dot: The less respect you get.

    Dot: Charlie never told me that he loved me — well, maybe if he wanted something, you know, money out the rent jar to put on the horses, or make amends when he come staggering home from the pub. I think that’s why I was friends with Ethel all that time. People couldn’t understand it because we was chalk and cheese. Ethel was a free spirit, not like me, all bottled up. She’d just come out and say whatever she wanted.

    Dot: I knew I was having a boy when I was three months.
    Honey Edwards: They can’t tell from a scan at three months, can they?
    Dot: We never had no scans, not in them days. No, we had to rely on the old way and I’ve never known it be wrong. I learnt [it] off me old friend Ethel. I’ve never known it to fail.

    Kathy Beale: That test, you know — the weight on a bit of string and you hold it over your lump and if it goes anti-clockwise, it's going to be a boy. Or is it the other way round?
    Dot: I did that with my Nick. It went up and down in a straight line.

    Dot: We didn’t have nothing like [amniocentesis] in my day. No, you just got on with what you was given.

    Dot to her son Nick: I used to talk to you when you was in the womb.
     
    Last edited: Apr 17, 2018
  20. James from London

    James from London Soap Chat Enthusiast

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    1959

    Big Mo: I've seen a few births in my time. I've seen so many women kick up a fuss you wouldn't believe it.

    Dot Cotton: I've been blessed with narrow hips. Not that I didn't suffer for it in childbirth.

    Dot: I had a terrible time with my Nick. Forty-seven-and-a-half hours. Doctor said it was touch and go. Well, I've got this narrow pelvis, you see, and what with him having such a big head ...

    Dot on babies: They’re ever so small when they come out. Well, most of them are. My Nick, he was almost ten pounds.

    Dot to Nick: I wish you’d never been born.

    Dot to Nick: You was born bad.

    Dot: My Nick, he weren't born rotten, was he?

    Pauline Fowler: That Nick, he was a bad lot from the moment he drew breath.

    Jim Branning on Dot: That woman gave birth to a monster.

    Rose Cotton on Nick: He was never a child. He was born a monster and stayed one.

    Dot on Nick: I brought him into the world, surrounded by love.

    Dot: I remember when I first saw my Nick. Couldn't take my eyes off his little face.

    Dot: My Nick was a lovely baby. Good as gold he was.

    Dot to Nick: The day you was born was the happiest day of my life. When the nurse told me it was a boy, I was over the moon.

    Dot: When my Nick come along, he was my pride and joy.

    Dot to Nick: When you was born, you were just a tiny baby without no hair on your head and a sticky eye, but I remember thinking, "He's got his whole life ahead of him."

    Dot on Nick: Confidentially, if I hadn't been witness to his birth, I'd have swore he'd come out another woman's womb.

    Dot: When I had my Nick, he was in a pink dress for two weeks. Don't get me wrong, he was pretty as a picture. Oh, he was a lovely little boy. In fact he was so pretty, people took him for a girl. Everybody round here used to call him Angel Face. Butter wouldn't melt. He was such a beautiful baby and I made the mistake of thinking he was always going to be beautiful.

    Dot to Nick: You've been under bad influences since your birth.

    Dot: My Nick was bad from the off. How can you say a child is bad? It's what you let them get away with.

    Dot: My Nick, he were never a little angel, but you do the best you can for them, give them a good start in life.

    Dot on Nick: When he was younger, he was a good boy, deep down. Yes, he was a good boy. He was my little angel.

    Dot on Nick: He was a little angel. I doted on him. He was a loving little boy but somehow along the way I lost him. You see, the thing about the people that you love the most, you give them the key to your heart. They can rip it out anytime they want.

    Dot: My Nick came into this world with a clean page same as everyone else and it was me that done the writing on it, only me. Charlie didn't have much to do with it.

    Jim on Nick: Had a bit of a bad start. His old man was a bit of a waste of space.

    Nick Cotton to Dot: [Charlie] wanted to see me off before I was even born. He told me he wanted to get rid of me, but you wouldn't. You wouldn't have an abortion even though he said he'd be leaving you.
    Dot: That's not true.
    Nick: That's what he said.
    Dot: Well, it ain't the way it was.

    Dot to Charlie: You never liked my Nick, not from the day he was born. You was jealous when I brought him home from the hospital. You always wanted me to be doing things for you instead of for him.

    Dot: Nick was always hungry, always crying.

    Dot on a shawl: I crocheted it for you, Nick, when you was a baby. I unraveled one of my old cardigans.

    Dot: I remember my Nick's christening. When we had him done, I was terrified something would happen to him before he was properly introduced, as you might say.

    Dot, looking at an old photograph: That’s my Nick at his christening. Good as gold, he was.
    Jim: Don’t look too happy though, does he? Mind you, he has just been dunked headfirst in the font.

    Dot: I had a terrible migraine. He did cry, but only before the ceremony. So that meant he went to the font with a clear conscience. My old man wanted to call Nick Bale - you know, Cotton. He was funny like that. He had a wonderful sense of humour. He was a rogue, lovely with it though.

    Dot: When I had my Nick, I didn’t know where I was. I was all over the place.

    Dot: I ain't made for families, I've always known it. People like me are better off by themselves.

    Dot: When my Nick was about four months old, I took him to Dr Legg’s surgery and I dumped him on the counter and I said, “You take him,” I said, “I can’t cope.” And she looked at me — Mrs Butler she was, divorcee — horrified, and she started threatening me with social services. So I said to her, “Never you mind about social services,” I said, “You’ll take him or I’ll go out me mind.”
    Jack Branning: What happened?
    Dot: Well I had a good cry and I went home. You see, some women, after they’ve had a baby, their senses, they go all haywire. Postnatal depression they call it nowadays.

    Dot on raising children: In my day, the whole family helped. We looked out for each other then. Of course, we had to. There wasn't no child minders.

    Dot: In our day, we had the Mother's Union. That was a help, having other people to talk to. Not every woman takes to motherhood like a duck to water. I mean, some people, they love having babies. They love nursing them, changing them. I weren't one. I needed them [the Mother's Union] because Charlie was hopeless. He'd always got some big deal just around the corner. Well, the only thing he'd got round the corner was another woman.

    Dot: My Nick, when he was little, he had a soft toy, his little doggy, and I washed it once and he screamed all night. I don't know what it was, the smell or the feel. I suppose that's what they rely on at first, isn't it? The senses.

    Dot: Going outside to smoke - I never did that with my Nick.

    Dot: I never had no time for gallivanting, you know, because my Nick, he was a very demanding baby. He had terrible trouble with his ears.

    Dot: I never went out once when my Nick was little. I sat up three nights with him when he had the croup. If my Nick had so much as a sniffle, I'd have him up that surgery faster than you can say German measles. Happiest time of me life.

    Dot: Pan of boiling water was good enough [as a steriliser] for my Nick.

    Dot: One part evaporated [milk], two parts boiled water - I used to feed my Nick on that.

    Dot: Knock Down Ginger they used to play on my door when my Nick was little. Up and down like a yo-yo I was. Played havoc with his routine.

    Dot: When my Nick was a baby, whenever he cried, I picked him up so it got that he never stopped crying because he knew that whenever he did, his mummy would be there to pick him up. One minute I was picking up a crying baby and the next, I was helping him dodge the police.

    Rod Norman: I was born round here, up Dalston.

    Dot: Not so long ago, the sun didn’t give you cancer. Mothers used to put their babies out in the sunshine on the step all day long.

    Big Mo: I used to leave my [children] in a pram at the bottom of the garden. Never did them no harm.

    Dot: In my day, people were a lot more generous. They'd give their last penny to someone less fortunate.

    Phil Mitchell to his cousin Billy: You've been wrong since the day you were born.

    Billy Mitchell: I should have been slung in a sack and drowned at birth. My family never wanted me.

    Billy: I’m a Londoner, proper goods. I’ve lived and worked around this area all my life.

    Frank Butcher: I remember how terrified I was before Claire was born.

    Frank: I worked every hour that God sent saving up for a deposit for a decent home when I first got married.
    Pat: Frank Butcher, you spent every penny you earned down the betting shop when I first knew you! I don't know how June stood for it.

    Frank to Ricky: It's never easy starting out. You take me and your mum. Two years - two years - before we got a place of our own.

    Ricky Butcher: Did you see [Frank] when he was married to my mum?
    Pat: I couldn't help myself. I was in love.

    Pat: If Mo had told you to stop seeing me, would you have listened?
    Frank: No. And she did.

    Pat to Frank: My old mum wasn't backward at coming forward when we was kids. "Don't go back to him," she'd say. "That guppy will drag you down."

    Pat: Maybe I'd have had a happier life if I'd walked away at sixteen like my mum said I should.
    Tina Stewart: Why didn't you?
    Pat: It was Frank Butcher. I couldn't.

    Pat: My mum said I should be a married woman with a decent home. [She] was always on about me and Mr Right - only of course with me it was Mr Wrong. Still, her heart was in the right place.

    Pat to Frank: All I've ever had off of you all of my life has been lies. Even when I was sixteen - lying to me, lying to June, and her up the duff with you as a husband.

    Pat: You carried on seeing me for five years when you weren't supposed to.
    Frank: Yes, and if I'd made the right decision in the first place, I would have married you.

    Pat to Ricky: Even back then, me and your dad knew we'd end up together.

    Frank: Remember those horror movies we used to go and see? Frankenstein and all that lot. He was really good, old Boris Karloff, wasn't he? Great big bolt through his head, surgical boots like crates of beer.
    Pat: I couldn't stand the things. Gave me the willies.

    Pat to Frank: You used to take me on your bike up the A1. Imagine us in leathers!

    Pat: Me and Frank, bombing around on his scooter. Kings of the road we were.

    Pat: I hated convertibles. They might look the part, but they’re not much fun for us girls. Choking on lorry fumes, getting your hairdo ruined? No thanks.
    Frank: I only bought that car because of you.
    Pat: What do you mean? I couldn't even drive then.
    Frank: Bench seats and a column mount so the gear stick didn't get in the way. I looked at it and I thought, "That's the motor car for me and that new girlfriend of mine."

    Ricky to Frank: So where does my mum figure in all this? She was just someone who happened to be there, who just happened to have your four kids, is that it? Someone you left at home while you and Pat got it together over the record player?

    Frank: I let June down.

    Ricky to Frank: I don't know why you just didn't marry [Pat] if you thought that much of her.

    Frank to Ricky: Son, I was torn between two women and I never had the strength to give up either one of them. Boy, I loved your mum with all my heart, but I loved Pat too and it wasn't fair on either one of them. I cheated on your mother and I cheated on Pat. I should have made a decision and stuck with it.

    Pat to Frank: I was waiting for you on street corners.

    Frank: Couldn't get enough of me, could you?
    Pat: Didn't know when I was going to see you next, did I?
    Frank: Sometimes I used to leave it for a couple of weeks on purpose.
    Pat: You knew I'd come running even faster.
    Frank: Well, it was true. All I had to do was ...
    Pat: Snap your fingers? I've always been that easy, have I? Is that why you wouldn't divorce her?

    Frank to Ricky: Pat - she always resented the fact that I wouldn't leave your mum.

    Jimmy Harris, Pat's brother: Frank Butcher just used you, Pat.

    Big Mo: She was always a flighty one, that Pat Harris.

    Dot: She always was flighty, Pat was. She used to have men round her like bees round a honey pot. I used to see her at the Walford Palace because I used to go there with Charlie, not that he could dance to save his life, and she used to come in with one chap, go out with another.

    Big Mo on herself and Pat: We had our good times — out on the razz. All that dressing up and getting ready, that was the best bit of it.

    Pat: I used to love going dancing - getting dolled up, smoking fags, flirting with the boys in the queue.

    Jimmy, Frank's pal, on Pat: She always was easy to get [on the dance floor].

    Norman Simmonds, June’s brother: I’ve loved Pat all me life, from afar, of course.

    Pat: Frank was always the one with the blue suede shoes, weren’t he?
    Norman: Frank, yeah.

    Norman on Frank: I never could measure up to the old smiler.
    Pat: Frank always considered you a good friend.

    Pat: I remember you dancing at the Hammersmith Palais. You was waving your arms about so much you nearly knocked me out. Summer of '59 that would have been. I can still see you now - shirt hanging out, covered in Brut, brothel creepers. And a quiff that nearly touched your hooter.
    Frank: You couldn't keep your hands off me.
    Pat: Only to fight you off. It was like going out with Ollie the Octopus on heat.
    Frank: Must have been them plastic boots.
    Pat: Fifty bob from the Roman Road.
    Frank: And worth every penny.
    Pat: Until you took me to Southend and we was paddling at three o'clock in the morning and some fool nicked them. I still get this vision of some old dosser walking through Southend in my white plastic boots.

    Pat to Carol: Don’t you tell me you’ve never kicked your shoes off [on the beach] and splashed about with some boy. I know I have.

    Pat: I remember when I had my first flat. We had a mattress, a cooker and an old sofa. We thought it was paradise.

    Pat Harris
    Flat 12
    51 Bells Way
    North Watford
    London
    E21

    Pat on Frank: I worked a bar with him a few times.

    Frank: We had some good times. We cared for each other.
    Pat: Yeah, and I went and fell for you, didn't I?
    Frank: I never knew where I stood. When I couldn't get round, you didn't exactly stay at home and twiddle your thumbs, did you?
    Pat: What did you expect me to do? I would have been stuck in that dump for months on end waiting for you to call. There's nothing wrong with going to the pictures or a dance with your mates.
    Frank: I came looking for you one night. June had to go back to her mother's unexpectedly.
    Pat: You were a bit unexpected yourself.
    Frank: I could have killed that geezer.
    Pat: He was a boyfriend of a mate of mine. We were just larking about.
    Frank: You had a bite on your neck.
    Pat: Like I said, it was just a bit of fun.
    Frank: What about all the other geezers you used to go dancing with? Were they just a bit of fun as well?
    Pat: All right, so I was a bit of tease. But nothing ever happened with any of them. You say you don't know where you stood. How do you think I felt? You were like a roller coaster, Frank. One minute, I was so happy I could burst and the next, I was so miserable I cried meself to sleep. That's why I used to go out. There was a slim chance I might just forget about you for a couple of hours. If I didn't, if I'd have stuck at home on my jacksy, I would have probably topped myself.

    Pat on Frank: I let him slip through me fingers. Thought there'd be another bloke along in a minute just like a 23 bus - and there were, scores of them. Each time I thought I was in control, each time I thought I had things worked out, but I kept getting hurt, kept making the same mistakes.

    Big Mo: Me and Pat were best mates back in them days. Couldn't wait for the weekend. We used to all get excited, get our glad rags on, just to go to these dos. And Pat, she used to love dancing. She was a right enthusiastic dancer. What I used to say about Pat is, "The louder the clobber, the better the night." With Pat, you sort of knew her mood by what she was wearing. If she wore bright red or pink, then you better watch out. All the men was wrapped round her, you know. There was this bloke called Lennie — Cyclops Lennie, on account that he had a glass eye. Anyway, he had the right hots for Pat, but he didn't know nothing about the dress thing. So anyway, we goes to this dance and she's wearing fire engine red. So I goes up to him and said, "Look, don't make a move on her tonight." He was a bit of a sensitive bloke. Anyway, Pat's got the devil in her. She's got a few gins down her neck and all of a sudden, she's grabbed hold of Lennie, whirled him on the dance floor, started twirling him round and his eye flew out. It went under the table. So Lennie's under there scrabbling about trying to find it, and we look round and there's Pat laughing her head off. I found [the eye] under the table covered in beer and fag ash. I rinsed it under the cold tap and gave it back to him. No harm done. By the time he got his eye plonked back in his head, she'd gone off with another geezer, someone selling dodgy perfume down the Roman Road. Poor Lennie. He become a recluse so I heard. Brokenhearted he was.

    Pat: Cyclops Lennie ain't a bleeding recluse. He made a fortune in carpet tiles. Lives with his missus in Wanstead.

    Harry Slater: Do you remember you and me, all suited and booted, out on the razz?
    Charlie Slater: Yeah.

    Peggy: We used to make ourselves look younger so we'd get half fare on the bus going up. Then when we got there, we'd nip into the toilets - put all this make up on to try and make ourselves look older!
    Charlie Slater: And I used to nick a bit of me dad's aftershave even though I only shaved once a week, but it didn't matter, did it?

    Peggy: Raynor Passmore - he used to have sideburns like two slices of pizza stuck on his face. He was at the Empire every Saturday night.
    Charlie: Every Saturday night without fail.
    Peggy: He introduced all the big bands.

    Peggy: I haven't seen a mirrorball in years.
    Charlie: Take you back to the Palais, does it?
    Peggy: Oh yeah. I don't remember seeing you.
    Charlie: I did look a bit different then.

    Charlie: Bus to the Palais, all night posing at the bar, and then moving in on the crumpet for the slow dance at the end.
    Harry: Me getting lucky and you getting blanked.
    Charlie: What do you mean? I did all right.
    Harry: Because I put in a good word for you. "Will you dance with my brother because he's a bit shy?"
    Charlie: Oh yeah? And how about all the love letters I had to write for you because you couldn't string two words together? I spent hours doing that.
    Harry: That's what big brothers are for.

    Charlie: We used to dance all night if we had half a chance.
    Peggy: Then it was down Brick Lane for some breakfast on the way home.

    Peggy: I won second prize once, in a dance contest, doing the Madison. We used to have such a laugh, every Friday night down the Plaza Ballroom. They used to have, overhead, one of those cut-glass globe things. Ever so swanky, we thought, me and Beverly Penfold. You know, we had the biggest beehive hairdos in the whole area - all held together with lacquer, of course.

    Ethel Skinner: We used to go to them tea dances, William and me. When he was alive, that was.
    Pete Beale: Where, the old 'smith Palais?
    Ethel: That's right, Saturday afternoons. Three course tea and you could dance for as long as you like, all for half a crown. You should have heard them bands. There was Victor Noss, Joe Sylvester, Ted Heath.
    Pete: I thought he was Prime Minister.
    Ethel: Yes, but he had a band as well. Those were the days.

    Dot: In me heyday, you couldn't drag me off the dance floor. Mind you, there was proper music then, proper dances - and we didn't need no narcotics to keep us going all night.
    Jim Branning: I bet they were queuing up to sign your dance card, weren't they, girl?
    Dot: Well, I had me share.

    Dot: I used to go to a dance hall that had [busy] wallpaper with my Charlie. Said it give him the creeps. Said he could see faces in it. I always [got a migraine] in thirty seconds flat.

    Pat, speaking in 1959: Someone broke into the undertakers up the road last week and took everything
    that wasn't tied down.
    Jimmy Harris: Apart from the bodies, I hope!
    Pat: Yeah, they left them, but they did take twenty-five bales of silk — very fine silk, cream or blue, for lining coffins or making shrouds, too thin for dresses for example.

    Big Mo, speaking in 1959: You done some low things in your time, but this takes the biscuit.
    Stan Porter, her brother: What you on about?
    Pat: Robbing the undertakers. Ain't you got no shame?
    Big Mo: Forget that. You conned us, selling us that bleeding silk [to make dresses out of], didn't you? And we ended up stark naked at the Locarno [when the dresses disintegrated], didn't we?
    Pat: I was down the Locarno wearing a shroud!

    Jimmy on himself and Big Mo: [Pat] brought us together.

    Pat to Big Mo: Never understood what my Jimmy saw in you.

    Pat: You were never good enough for my brother.
    Big Mo: This coming from an old brass?

    Big Mo: She used to love bath nights, Viv did — washed and scrubbed, right from little. She liked it nice. She never had it easy when she was little. I once got into a street fight with Susan Boyd’s mother over name-calling, vicious cow. If anyone started, I was straight in there, but you can’t go to school with them, you can’t hold their hand in the playground, you can’t go everywhere with them. Do you know she never even seen the sea till Jimmy come along? He took us down to Southend when he was on leave. Her face was a picture — great big grey sea, Peter Pan’s playground, winkles for tea. And she sat on my lap on the way home on the train, conked out. Jimmy goes, “I could get used to this. How about it, Mo? Ring on your finger, slap-up do after, a big cake with a bride and groom on it, the works.” Well, my heart was banging. A girl like me, it was one of the most important questions in my life. And then Vivienne opened her eyes and looked straight at Jimmy and she goes, “Jelly?” She goes, “If you want to be my dad, you’ve got to have jelly for afters. And if you want to marry my mum, she says yeah.”
    Charlie: She loved your Jimmy.
    Big Mo: Yeah.

    Roy Evans: Mo married Pat's brother, Jimmy Harris.

    Big Mo: On my wedding day, I was half cut before I got out the door. I had to puke in my bridesmaid’s hat. It wasn’t pleasant.

    Big Mo: There was only one rule for me as far as my husband was concerned - crush or be crushed.

    Pat: She made his life a misery.

    Big Mo: Sometimes you got to be cruel to be kind.

    Big Mo: Me and Jimmy, we never had a penny. Spent half our life on the breadline. No wonder he was a miserable old goat.

    Big Mo, speaking about her granddaughter Kat in 2011: She’s well out of order. If I’d have spoke to Jimmy like that, I’d have got a back hander.

    Charlie Slater, speaking in 2004: See that new block of flats? That used to be the old orphanage.
    Pat: That wasn't an orphanage, that was a workhouse.
    Charlie: I think it was both.

    Big Mo on the park by the orphanage: It was our [her and Jimmy's] secret place. You never knew you was in the city when you was in there.

    Ted Hills, standing in the Bridge Street cafe in 1995: Didn't this used to be Mr Tamanzki's?
    Kathy: No, that was over the road.
    Ted: I thought it was here. Used to hate that place.
    Kathy: Yeah well, you didn't have to go there very often, did you? It was me who had to hold Mum's hand every week when we went and pawned the old man's suit.
    Ted: Remember that time I came with you?
    Kathy: Yeah. That army reunion he sprang on her. God, we ran down like here like the wind.
    Ted: Saved her from a walloping, eh?
    Kathy: That time, yeah.

    Ted: Do you remember our nan every Wednesday gave us thruppence to go buy some sweets?
    Kathy: Yeah. Then Mum used to nick it off us to pay the insurance man.

    Charlie Slater: I’ve always wanted to make a jug.

    Charlie: When I was [seventeen], all I wanted was fast cars, fast girls and that would have made me happy.

    Arthur Fowler: When I was young, I always wanted [a Panther motorcycle]. Without the sidecar, of course.

    Arthur on Tates’ paint factory: I worked there once when I was in my teens, just labouring, but I didn't stay very long. The hours weren't too good for labourers.

    Dot: I never liked it when Charlie went down to the market with [a suitcase full of bric-a-brac], but when times was hard, he swallowed his pride and he went.

    Dot: I used to tell my Charlie that a woman needs a man out of her sight and out of her mind at least eight hours every day so she can bear him around her at night.
     
    Last edited: Apr 18, 2018

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