Rebuilding work had begun, fixing the bomb damaged housing in Sutton Street and Brainerd Street. This meant that there was plenty of wood scattered around the site, which in turn meant Johnny and I could earn some extra pennies selling firewood. If we managed to get enough we could go to the ice cream parlour on Marlborough Road and buy milkshakes. It’s easy to imagine how important it was to make enough money for this treat.
The older boys had reached school leaving age, but it wasn’t easy for them to find jobs. After all, they were only marginally better educated than I was.
Toshy found work as an order boy, delivering groceries. He pedalled around on an ancient bike. The only way I can describe him aged fifteen is that he was a really bad-tempered bugger. I was supposed to be in the house every day to make him a sandwich at lunchtime, and if I was late for any reason then I was in big trouble.
Toshy didn’t have much luck with his job. One day the grocer asked him to slice some bacon. Toshy did, but managed to take off the tips of two fingers as well. The grocer was blasé about it, giving him a plaster to staunch the blood. In shock, Toshy picked up his finger ends and went to the hospital where he was detained overnight. I thought it was a great piece of luck as he got to sleep in a clean bed. I’m not so sure about his view of it.
One of my mam’s employers at Marlborough College arranged for a solicitor to take up the case, and it turned out to be a bigger slice of luck than anyone imagined…