Born: Yes I was, despite Hitler bombing my family out of house and home in London. I think it was a personal thing between him and me, I had two balls and he didn’t. If I’m right it was some sulk.
The evacuation resulted in my being born a ´Devonshire Dumpling´. I went back to Bideford once, to the actual nursing home where I was launched, no blue plaque yet. I’m pretty sure that must be down to Council cuts.
Schooling: Rotherhithe New Road. That was the Rotherhithe before they got rid of the rats in the riverside warehouses and installed the other sort.
I was actually there, aged nine, when our neighbours Sunday joint floated away on the flood of 1953. Surely everyone alive at the time remembers that, the leg of lamb I mean, my family and I chased it for miles along with the rest of the starving thousands of Rotherhithe. As I recall it outpaced us all, we were all rather thin and weak at the time, I think it must have ended up gracing the tables of the ultra rich downstream.
Undeterred we searched for days until the increasing size of the mob was spotted by the Government who thought we looked hungry and , as a measure of their concern, called out the riot squad. They fired rubber bullets at us made from metal; they couldn’t afford the rubber at the time thanks to Malayan speculators.
But I digress, my teacher at Rotherhithe thought that, because I liked drawing ships, I might like to go to sea. Perfectly logical, when you consider that one of my class mates, who enjoyed drawing plants, later became one.
So I went to the London Nautical School, there I learnt navigation, seamanship and how to muffle screams whilst receiving six of the best from the headmaster. Again undeterred I left as soon as I could, but they kept dragging me back until, at fifteen, I was able to leave legally and without the blood hounds and the skirmish lines that so blocked the Waterloo traffic.
I ran away to sea for two pound fourteen and six a week gross and enlisted at Blackheath Recruiting Office, not there now, I burnt that to the ground during my first leave.
There followed a year of hell, the beatings were fine, but the sport…every afternoon.
Someone, I can’t remember who, spotted I wasn’t keen and decide I might prefer hard labour; they were all so sensitive in those days. It was then I acquired a liking for hard work. Hard work equals no pain being the rough formula. God how I loved HMS Ganges. They even put Bromide in your tea; I’m still waiting for that to take effect.
In those days you signed on in the Navy for nine years from the age of eighteen, there was a chance to buy yourself out when you were twenty four. I think it was that consoling thought that turned most of us to booze.
Then in 1971 they stopped the tot, That was the last thing I remember until I woke up in a Horticultural College studying that subject and married to my wife( I married her on April the first so as not to forget what a fool I was, I told Brenda it made it easier to remember the date.)
I then spent thirty odd years adjusting to life without brutality until finally I retired to Spain where I have used their cheap red wine as a kind of dummy ever since.
Tony Molloy, 28.2.2013