Now, I have always regarded myself as a South London lad. In fact, I would often mock the expression that all City traders were barrow boys by stating that I came from “Sarf Lundun” and switch back to my normal voice (which may fix me as a South London boy in many people’s eyes).
Aside: Is everyone else shocked when they hear their voice recorded? It seems that the brain lets you hear what you want to hear and the world gets the truth!
Well, back to the story. Leaving the District Bank meant leaving the flat in Watford so we were desperately looking for somewhere to go. Valerie’s Mum mentioned that Valerie’s Dad’s aunt (Margaret) was soon to have a few rooms spare as her son, Basil, was leaving to get married. I was amused to hear that the flat was in Norbury which is about 2 miles from Streatham, where I was born. Back to my old stamping grounds as Roger and I used to do our Bob-A-Jobbing in that area. We went down to have a look and what we were offered was the upstairs of her house – sharing the bathroom. This gave us a living room, a bedroom and a kitchen. As there was just the two of us and the rent was right, we jumped at the chance. There was only one small problem – Valerie was working at the Wembley branch of the bank – a commute that was impossible. Once again, the District Bank proved that it looked after its staff by transferring her to their branch in Croydon – just as simple bus ride 3 miles down the A23. However, I was back to travelling into the City from south of the river. I had a choice, from Norbury station, of going into London Bridge Station and walking over the river or going into Blackfriars Station and getting back up Queen Victoria Street and across to Mincing Lane – where Julius Baer was sited. In the end, I used to get on the next train and not really care which station I went to.
Back to the flat. Auntie Margaret was a “funny” little lady but very quiet and undemanding as a landlord. The first thing that Valerie wanted was to redecorate the living room to match the large pair of orange curtains that she had got me to make at Watford. Her idea of matching meant that we had one wall and the whole ceiling painted orange and some trendy dark brown patterned paper on the rest. I wish I had a photo as the effect was “amazing” and you can read what you like into that word. Valerie was over the moon with the effect. All of our furniture fitted so we had the nice pine table, chair, bench and my brother’s bed settee in the room along with a large orange bean bag.
The kitchen was quite small but had room for a kitchen cabinet. It was very similar to this one:
Then we had the cooker, sink/draining board and our twin-tub washing machine. Remember twin-tubs? One side did the washing and the other side had a spin dryer. This one is similar to the one we had.
I was proving to be a bit of a handy man, even though I had never had any instruction from my Dad – who was definitely NOT a handy man. It was just as well because there was no power point in the kitchen (the cooker was gas powered). I found myself making up an extension lead to run enough power from a 13amp socket in the hall through to the kitchen so that the washing machine would work. Because of the power consumption, I had to make this using some high capacity mains cable. In fact, I did such a good job with it that it is still in use in 2019 powering the Bread Maker in our kitchen. It has been taken apart just once in its life to refresh the screw terminals.
We brought our two cats with us when we moved. Tweetsie was her usual serene self whilst Tinker, who was already a nervous wreck, took advantage of the peace and quiet downstairs to spend most of his time with Auntie Margaret. We left Tinker behind when we finally moved as he couldn’t cope with any change or disruption. Maybe, if I had named him after a short line railroad, he would have coped better!
Life was quite good in Norbury. We were two short bus rides from my Mum and Dad and easy access to the train to get to Valerie’s Mum and Dad although I have no memories of making that sort of trip. My Best Man, Roger lived a short distance away so he often came to stay over night. It was here that I really got into Hi-Fi in the proper sense of the word. The expression is over used nowadays for very mundane musical reproduction but in those days Hi-Fi was very different from what Mr. Average listened to. My first step on the ladder had me buying a Heathkit kit of parts to build an amplifier. This was a good quality valve based amp. that was well matched against my Garrard SP-25 record deck and Decca Deram ceramic cartridge. I also made up a pair of speakers from a plan in one of the Hi-Fi magazines. These turned out really well and we kept them for quite a while. I learned an awful lot about soldering and making electronic bits from the Heathkit kit and the end result was well worth the effort. However, fairly soon, I was able to consider upgrading to a transistorised amplifier. Oh, Wow. How exciting the world was then with all of these electronic marvels coming along. We had a great Hi-Fi shop up in Streatham High Road just by St. Leonard’s Church. I spent quite a lot of money in Frances of Streatham.
So, I am in a new job, Valerie is in a new branch and we are both in a new flat. Interesting times!