Looking back, I was a child with routines from even before I started going to Barham School in 1949. Once a week I would go with my Nanna to visit my great grandmother, who lived on Waxwell Lane in Pinner. On the way, we would visit Nanna's friend, Auntie Lilian, who lived in North Harrow and have tea.
We would walk up Swinderby Road to the bus stop opposite St John's Church, where I used to go to Sunday School, and catch the 18 to Harrow. In the late-forties these buses had wooden slatted seats and it would only be later that I found out this is because the buses were wartime 'utility' buses. We always sat downstairs because my Nanna had badly ulcerated legs, which had to be dressed every day. I only went upstairs if 'Pop', my grandfather came with us, as my 'Granny' in Pinner was his mum).
Section of a London Transport map from 1953, showing bus routes and Underground lines in and around Wembley.
After I started school, I only went during the school holidays if I was at home, but all this came to an end in 1951 when 'Granny' died and I never went to 29 Waxwell Lane again, but I still remember the cottage and its garden full of flowers in summer and the gate at the bottom of the garden which opened straight into a park.
At Harrow we would change onto a 183 bus and get off in North Harrow, as Aunty Lilian and Uncle Frank lived very close to the bus stop. They lived in three rooms on the ground floor with a long narrow kitchen and a long narrow table in one corner. Underneath the table was their bath. The toilet was outside the back door and Frank had built a lean-to so that you didn't get wet if it was raining, but it had no sides and I remember going out in the snow to have a pee and how the snow had blown under the toilet door and covered the floor. There was a box I used to stand on, so that I could use the toilet on my own.
Lilian and Frank had two children about ten years older than me. Christine and her brother, but I cannot remember his name or the surname of Lilian and Frank.
They moved to Swindon sometime in the fifties and, by coincidence, so did my mother and step-father, with my two half-sisters, nine and ten years younger than me. I lived with them for the best part of a year in Swindon when I was about twelve, but eventually made my own way back to Wembley, my Nanna and Pop.
My memories of the time are hazy. I never became a 'Gillies' despite my mother's efforts. Gillies was my step-father's surname. He was a good man, but came into my life too late and in circumstances that coloured how I felt about this new family I was not part of.