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Mark remembers.

I can remember the barrage balloons on Winn's Common by the old Accession hall. These large silver-grey objects up in the sky during the Blitz and used in conjunction with the anti-aircraft guns.

These were quite close to the Ravine cafe. I remember the ice cream sold there at the cafe, made by an Italian. I was an apprentice gents hair dresser at the Co op. Later, when qualified, and after national service, working in the Plumstead Common area, I was cutting his hair one day when he told me how he had cut his finger and how the plaster fell of his cut finger and dropped into the mix! Why he should elaborate with me about this I don't know as it wasn't in his interest. He came a few times to get his hair cut before I moved on to some where else.

I remember a neighbour, Mr Beacham, a real character. We had a mutual interest for a while, even though he was a lot older than me, as I was only a young teenager and was friends with some of his older children. I had a James Captain 199cc motorcycle. He had a 98cc Excelsior. We both had problems with these bikes misfiring. Years later I realised the fault with my machine. It needed a coil. I shudder to think but at that time I could never have afforded the 35 /- for a new one! However, during one afternoons work on his machine, he took it twice round the block. Sladedale, Goldsmid, Lakedale Roads and down again to No.103 Sladedale Rd. Quite pleased with himself he said, " I may even get it taxed and insured.......!" Mr B., as many would address him, had briefly worked as a postman.

Rumbold's corner shop was down the hill from us in Sladedale Road. Next to them were lock up garages, tucked away in the corner, owned by a Mr. Russell, a Russian who spoke only in broken English. He had been an engineer on rotary aero engines during the first world war. He was very kind to me and helped me with his mechanic knowledge when I was tickering with my old Rudge 250 cc motorbike that I kept at his lock-up. One day, when he found me tinkering with this old bike whilst I was reading the Rudge manual, he said to me, "That's no good, you need the bible!" I restored two types of Rudges, a Rudge Rapid 250cc and two Rudge Ulsters, the later with the help of the Rudge Enthusiast Club. Hugh 'Ugh' Porter was the Rudge club chairman, a wonderful character. He lived up in Vanburgh Road, near the old Globe cinema. Ugh worked nights as a proof reader for the 'Motorcycling Magazine' and rode his Rudge Special, with side car, to and fro from Plumstead to central London for many years. I used to spend many long hours at Ugh Porter's house chatting, about motor bikes with a friend, Tom Flyn, who lived in Goldsmid Street, who's dad was a member of the I.R.A. and used to be seen walking everywhere with cycle clips on.

A neighbour, Roy Penwarden, had an A.J.S. 350 cc motorbike and would regularly be seen polishing it out in the road in front of his house, at No. 81. He would use his mum's lavender wax polish. Another neighbour, Johnny Milson's uncle, said Roy spent more on polish than on petrol.

I often played with a girl named Florence (Florri) Picton. I'm ashamed to say that I once fired an orange pip at her from my catapult, hitting her on the cheek, injurying her, as she was walking to Sunday School. I fired it from a considerable distance away and it was an unfortunate fluke that it actually hit her. I could have caused her serious injury. Her dad was outraged and confronted our dad, who later smashed my catapult to pieces. I would like to apologise to her now, all these years later, I'm so very sorry Florri.

I had a great collection of birds eggs as this was a hobby that I really enjoyed. I had an older mate, Dave Waller. We would go over into the hospital grounds, or explore Bowman's Wood, Bostall Woods and Abbey Wood marshes for birds eggs. When a nest was spotted I'd climb up to it and carefully take an egg. I'd put the egg in my mouth as I climbed back down. I would then prick the ends of the egg with a thorn or a pin and then 'blow' the egg. This was done by blowing into the small hole in the top of the egg and as you blew in one end the yolk and contents were forced out the bottom end, leaving an empty egg shell that could not go bad. This specimen was then added to the other eggs in our collections. We both had quite large collections, which were carefully kept in boxes lined with cotton wool. My collection grew quite big over the years and I was very proud of it.
We played on the common for hours. There was a particular Park Keeper we kept alert to. We nicknamed him 'Gritty Whiskers' and we avoided him by running off when ever he was spotted. I was very young at the time and it was a big adventure out in that great outdoors.

I recall Mackingtosh's minerals, the best mineral waters in London, especially their Ginger beer and their Cream Soda! It was made at their local firm, situated at the back of and next to the Alma pub, off the lower end of King's Highway. I also remember Moak's ice cream, I recall it being sold mainly over in the Slade area. It was an icecream that had lumps in. This firm was later bought by the Co op. The owners, the Mackintoshes, would occassionally visit our next door nieghbour, Sally Ridge, and her son George.

George worked as a blacksmith at Cross Ness, opposite the Ford Motor Company on the River Thames. He cycled all his working life to Cross Ness from 69 Sladedale Road. George, when young, was a very good footballer. Charlton Athletic wanted him to sign up with them. He had silver medals also for Ping Pong, before it became known as table tennis. He was also a very keen cricket player and gave my younger brother Colin his old cricket caps. These caps had extra large peakes, of which Colin loved to wear.

George's mother, Sally, had the most magnificent Dresden ornaments, which she would proudly show me. A few larger and very beautiful porcelain examples, of the like of which I have never seen since, stood on her living room sideboard for many years. She had purchased them in the early 1900's from Petticoat Lane. They would be worth a huge amount of money today.

I remember how my mum would toil at the doing the washing in the back yard. Even on hot summer days she would be working away doing the family washing in a galvanised tin bath. her arms would be working away, scrubbing the heavy blankets, along with the pile of family clothing and towls etc.
She would then hand rinse everything before putting it all through the big old mangle.

Mum would ask me to turn the handle and would often chastise me for not turning the handle fast enough, she'd say things such as, "Why can't you even manage to do this for me!" I would say to her,' Why can't you use the bag wash mum?" and her stern reply was," What! and mix our washing with other peoples dirty washing!

The 'Bag Wash' was a service that called on homes on a regular round, calling at the neighbours. I recall the name of the firm was Palmers Bag Wash. Their van would slowly struggle up Sladedale Road . I remember their slogan that was written on their van. It said, " Why kill your wife, let us do it for you!"

The first house up from Welsh the greengrocers, on Parkdale Road, was the home of the Marshall family. Mrs. Marshall made toffee apples and sold them cheaply to us kids. She also worked at the Plaza cinema, along Plumstead High Street. If she spotted me entering the cinema she'd have a word with the box office and I'd get in free. She was a lovely lady, who, like her husband, were always friendly to all.

Their son Howard, who was older than me, often took me swimming in Plumstead baths and afterwards we'd go to a cafe, close to the Police Station on the High St. He introduced me to black coffee and lemon drink. Howard was the first person to tell me that I should put a parting in my hair! He had a younger sister Marrion, who in later years I met at the East Ham Town Hall dance with two of her friends, Eddie Tracy's sister, I forget her name, and Valerie Atkins from Roydene Road. ............ I really liked Marrion.

Mark Weightman.

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