"Sell those first and then let us know when your money's gone."
I can’t remember much about my early years until I was about nine years old. I spent a lot of time staying with my Dad’s brothers and sisters because my Mum was often ill. Dad was one of ten and Mum was an only child. Although my Mum carried five children to term, I was the only one who survived, consequently, she remained a semi-invalid for most of my childhood. It was only when I thought back that I realised that I went to an aunt’s house when a new baby was on the way. All this happened before the National Health Service was set up. Dad earned about £2 per week and had to pay for all of Mum’s treatment, stays in hospital and doctor’s fees. He was in debt for years afterwards.
My Dad always had a job and was never off work, until he got pleurisy and had to stay off work. There was no sickness benefit then, so when his money ran out, he had to apply to `The Guardians’, as it was known in those days, for help. A gentleman came to visit us and looked round the house. He saw a piano (I was having lessons), a cabinet gramophone, a sewing machine and other so called ‘luxury pieces’. He said, “Sell those first and then let us know when your money’s gone.” Dad did this and when he did apply again, he received a voucher for 5/- (25p) to buy food until he returned to work, about two weeks later.