I didn’t have a childhood. We’d go up Brixton market when the stalls shut and pick up the veg off the ground. My mum would get bacon bones and make a stew. We’d scrub the white mummy stones outside the houses and get sixpence. You could buy stale cakes for sixpence, my mum used to do it with custard. This was in the 1950s.
We had two kinds of soap, there was the green fairy soap that you’d wash with and the pink carbolic soap for laundry. We put a tin bath on top of the gas to warm the water up and then put it on the floor in the scullery. Then we’d all have a bath on a Sunday. My dad made toilet paper out of newspaper put on a meat hook. We’d make blocks out of the coal dust to burn on the fire.
My dad was an engineer, he fixed pipes in a factory and my mum was a nurse.— Shirley
Part of a collection of oral histories about regeneration and community change, as told by members of the Clapham Park Over 50s Club to Creative in Residence Stella Barnes.