Monday, 12 October 2009


Autumns started earlier in England than they do in Poland; to put it another way, summers would end sooner (and in any case were cooler and wetter). School would start at the beginning of September and all thoughts of summer would soon fade amid the wood-varnish and Magic Marker smells of the new school year.

By the time of my birthday in October, gloom would have descended; wet pavements, darkness just after tea-time and the early evening news in black and white, electric fires and, outside, the all-pervasive dampness.

I remember my tenth birthday; 1967. My present, well-remembered, was a Dinky Toys Rolls-Royce Phantom V. My father bought it at Confiserie Francaise, the best toyshop in Ealing Broadway (on the Mall). We walked down the Uxbridge Road to Ealing Common, where I took the car out of its box (but not off the stand; as well as all four doors opening, the boot opened as did the bonnet (on two sides). It cost 10/6d. That's 52.5p expressed in today's money, though the equivalent value today would be more like £7.00.

On Ealing Common we collected conkers (horse chestnuts) under the large, wet, reddish-brown leaves until the drizzle became more like rain and we retreated to the car, returning home to Croft Gardens so I could play with my new toy.

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