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7th January 2015
Location: Brighton Toy and Model Museum
Interviewer – Sean Kelly
Videographer – Dan Cash

00.04 – Joe: a lot of people, at that time didn’t have that much material possessions, an awful lot. My family certainly didn’t. Skint. So even if they had wanted a teddy or something I wouldn’t have got one I’m pretty sure. But most of the toys, most of the things I amused myself with I had to create for myself really. That sounds a bit selfish on my parents’ part but it’s the truth.

But no points of affection if you like. No toys. We used to play with things in my imagination. For example, (If I go into too much detail, tell me and I’ll shut up) I used to sit on my bed, single bed, and put a chair on the bed. Not upright, but laying on its back. And sit in this chair and spread a sheet over the top of me. In my mind, I was flying an aeroplane. That was it. Which was quite good. Because in that way you can, if you imagine things you can go anywhere, do anything, be anyone. Which is quite nice. I did that quite a bit. Which was interesting. But that was stuff that was ordinary. Sheets from the bed, a chair to sit on. I don’t think I actually created many toys.

One thing I created, which I don’t know how I did it. Later on, when I was at school, grammar school at that time, so I must have been 11 onwards. 12, 13. I joined the army cadet corps which was quite interesting. And of course during that we used the range, which was firing .22 rifles which was quite nice. But I used to collect the empty .22 cases, small brass cases, and used to collect those and took them home, a pile of these of these, and I created in my mind like a weapon. But it wasn’t. What it was, was a metal coat hanger which I cut into a shape, basically like that, with a grip and a piece of metal and then at the end of that I put a spring, and compressed the two bits together, so if you hold it, you help an empty .22 cartridge on the end of it with your finger, and when you let it go it sprung off. And I found hours of amusement in that.

ENDS 3m 22s

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7th January 2015
Location: Brighton Toy and Model Museum
Interviewer – Sean Kelly
Videographer – Dan Cash

[unclear recording quality, some unclear words and phrases omitted]

00.05 – Sean: Where and when were you born?

Joe: London. 1936.

Sean: And where did you spend your childhood?

Joe: In London.

Sean: Now I’m going to speak to you about teddy bears. Did you have a teddy bear?

Joe: No [laughs]

Sean: Do you have any childhood memories of teddy bears? I mean family . . .

Joe: No.

Dan: Did you have stuffed toys at all? Like, kind of people had rag dolls, or cats, just not necessarily bears.

Joe: No. No. I never had a doll or a teddy bear or etcetera. Later on I had a, we had a cat who was the love of my life, when I was about 8 or 9. Basically speaking, I was born in London, I lived in London for several years until about 1940, early 40s. And then I got evacuated down to Kent where my auntie lived. And I lived with my auntie and uncle for a couple of years during the, back in the war and then I went back to London again where I lived from then on, you know, from there to school leaving.

Sean: Okay. You said you didn’t have any dolls. Did you have any . . .

1.41 – Joe: No. No special . . . I can understand, I can absolutely understand why people got with their animals, you know, possessive with their animals. But I didn’t though. I didn’t have anything like that. Most of the things I had I’d really create or buy myself. We, a lot of people, at that time didn’t have that much material possessions, an awful lot. My family certainly didn’t. Skint. So even if they had wanted a teddy or something I wouldn’t have got one I’m pretty sure. But most of the toys, most of the things I amused myself with I had to create for myself really. That sounds a bit selfish on my parents’ part but it’s the truth.

Sean: So if you ended up making your own toys and creating things, was that sort of in the area of construction toys or . . .

Joe: Yeah. I used to … Nothing much happened until I – later on in life, I can’t remember what age I was, probably around tenish I think, I started doing things like a paper round. And on Saturdays I delivered rolls and bread for a very small bakery up the road. An Italian guy. Used to make their own bread and rolls. I used to deliver papers from his shop in the week and on Saturdays I delivered bread for him locally which was quite good. And from that, it sort of kept me out of mischief and also it enabled me to have a wage. Some money every week. Which was ten shillings. And with that I managed to do things. So for example I bought, it was like Meccano but it wasn’t. It was in a rectangular cardboard box. It came in boxes, like a whole sets. And this would – about, this was about the size of them. And every pack, it was 10 shillings, 50p in other words. And then we did create something. There was usually, I don’t know, a dozen flat pieces and some brackets and nuts and bolts. But it was great fun to do those. I used to have those for some time until . . . Later on from that I did the same thing but using my money to buy a bike. A push bike. Which I bought myself. I bought it on the never never. My father had to sign the HP document of course and I paid him. And that was 17 pounds 10 shillings. The Raleigh Tourist Sport. Red.

But no points of affection if you like. No toys. We used to play with things in my imagination. For example, (If I go into too much detail, tell me and I’ll shut up) I used to sit on my bed, single bed, and put a chair on the bed. Not upright, but laying on its back. And sit in this chair and spread a sheet over the top of me. In my mind, I was flying an aeroplane. That was it. Which was quite good. Because in that way you can, if you imagine things you can go anywhere, do anything, be anyone. Which is quite nice. I did that quite a bit. Which was interesting. But that was stuff that was ordinary. Sheets from the bed, a chair to sit on. I don’t think I actually created many toys.

One thing I created, which I don’t know how I did it. Later on, when I was at school, grammar school at that time, so I must have been 11 onwards. 12, 13. I joined the army cadet corps which was quite interesting. And of course during that we used the range, which was firing .22 rifles which was quite nice. But I used to collect the empty .22 cases, small brass cases, and used to collect those and took them home, a pile of these of these, and I created in my mind like a weapon. But it wasn’t. What it was, was a metal coat hanger which I cut into a shape, basically like that, with a grip and a piece of metal and then at the end of that I put a spring, and compressed the two bits together, so if you hold it, you help an empty .22 cartridge on the end of it with your finger, and when you let it go it sprung off. And I found hours of amusement in that. And I also played solitaire. You know solitaire? And you played that with marbles. Or you could play it with little wooden pegs. Have you seen it that way? These wooden pegs used to plug in. The idea was – with marbles, they’d slide all over the place, on a train that was impossible to play it – but with this, they’d fit onto that plates and I found if you took these out they were about that long, 2 centimetres long, so wide at the bottom and narrow at the top, and you could stand them up. And I used to create a scenario, I was quite impressed with the dioramas in the Imperial War Museum and also in the Science Museum, very good they were. And I create my own with bedclothes and things. So I stood these pegs up and used to shoot them down. It was quite good. I spent hours doing that. And thinking of doing it. Recreating it. I think it may have been a wooden, a steel coat hanger. I’m not sure. That seems to me the most likely way I would have got that bit of kit together. That’s the only thing I made I think. Beyond my flying chair. With my bed. But I didn’t play with any toys as such. But I thoroughly enjoyed my cat. She was lovely.

09.45 – Sean: Did you ever have anything more in the air of models, or modelling, or anything like that?

Joe: I have said this. I don’t know the name of it, this flat pack, this kind of, just like Meccano, but it wasn’t Meccano. I used to buy these things from the shop in Sloane Street, bottom of Sloane Street, called Replica. For some odd reason for years they called it Replica. Makeka, which was wrong. It wasn’t Makeka, it was Replica. But it was spelt the same. And these things were 10 shillings a packet. And as I got 10 shillings a week I used to go and spend it on that, which was quite good. But that shop was full of stuff like that. Not another make, but it was similar. Whether it was an arm of Meccano I don’t know. And once you’d acquire several sets, several boxes, you could then intermingle them. I didn’t, back to your question, I didn’t actually play with other things, you know.

Sean: How many sets of Meccano type things did you have?

Joe: I probably had a few of them. Fifteen or something, at a guess. I don’t know. It all blends into one. But it was great fun.

Sean: How long would you say you collected that for, from what age?

Joe: It would have been when I started doing the paper round, because I had no other income apart from that. So I guess you probably started then at about 11. There weren’t health and safety and stuff, so if you were big enough to carry a paper bag you were rented, so I guess I was probably about 11 I should think. And I done that probably for a year or so. And then as I joined the army cadet corps, with the .22 rifles, and whatitsname. I was quite proud of that actually. Designing a missile launcher. But that very few . . . I don’t know if it’s because I was an only child, and if I’d had siblings I might have been influenced perhaps by them, as to what I would have chose to play with, or not.

Sean: Do you have any particularly fond memories of any of those that you haven’t mentioned already? The Meccano type toy or?

12.50 – Joe: No. Well, obviously there was a great satisfaction that they gave. I remember that on the back of these packs they gave suggestions as to what they could be used for, what was the limits of this. For example, to make a windmill etcetera. But half the fun was, when you had acquired several packets of these, sets of these, you could intermingle them. I got one thing given me, which was quite nice, for my, 14th or so, 13th, 14th birthday. And that was a working steam engine. A little model, one of those rectangular things, with a brass boiler and paraffin doofer underneath, used to create a working one, had a piston. That was quite nice. That was given me by a cousin of mine. That was kind of an active thing. But after a while you can’t think too much about it, well what do you do with it then? What’s the objective? When you see the work going round, fine. And then there’s nothing. You got nothing from it.

No, wasn’t stuck with any particular memories, good or otherwise, of those times. You tend to live more for. There was nothing whatsoever outside of now, living now. There was no television. Radio, yes, but that was listened to by grownups. There was no exterior things except for the immediacy of now. That’s what there was.

15.08 – Sean: Did you ever want a teddy bear, doll or construction toy that you couldn’t have?

Joe: Oh yeah. I mean, talking about construction toys I’d go into the shop and see my little 10 shilling ones, and they did huge big ones, you know, for four or five pounds. Huge. I mean, I never could afford. I probably could if I’d saved up my ten bobs every week. But it became easier after a while when you’d acquired several things. You could intermingle them.

15.54 – Sean: Are there any other memories that you’d like to talk about that you can think of?

Joe: Memories of what?

Sean: Of those, or anything else linked to those that you’ve missed, or?

Joe: Yeah, a whole life time. But I mean with regard to what?

Sean: Toys

Joe: Just toys. I think that people, I know that people were, there was a lack of opportunity, to be kind. You had to be more imaginative. For example, I sat in my chair on my bed with a sheet over me and I was flying an aeroplane. No question about that. I knew, I knew I was imagining it. But I thoroughly enjoyed it. ‘Cos that’s what you do, you could do it. But today you’d be going ‘Dad, take me’ and you’d be going on a helicopter ride somewhere. You could do it. It’s only a question of money. Anything’s possible. But it wasn’t possible anyway in those days.

It was a different, different, very much more simplistic life. But it had its values. My generation moan about these bloody values. Some were tangible, and some were – you think, thank god that’s gone. But now, things are better now. Especially in a way. But they’re not altogether better. That’s a philosophical idea now, rather than toys. But there is a value I can see on forming an attachment to a soft toy, a teddy or to a doll. But I can see the negative sides to it as well. And sometimes the negatives are more powerful than the positives. Because if people get dependent on anything, any third party object, sometimes in the rush of things they’re devoting their attention to that third party rather than their siblings or their parents, that affects them. Especially when their parents are thrusting things in front of them. Rather than to get on with their life, which is there for doing, you know. I’m not saying that the entire parent was devoted and spent all their life looking inward at the family. They didn’t. Obviously. But where appropriate they did. And they gave that amount of attention because there was no question about it. There were no distractions. What’s on the 58 channels and, you know. Sometimes when my uncle used to come home from work, when I was evacuated, he used to come home from work and turn the radio on for whatever. I mean that was quite captivating. Dick Barton, Special Agent. That was on. Only for half an hour or so. Fascinating. Absolutely fascinating. ‘Cos you could use your imagination. That’s the great thing about radio. With television, there’s a picture and therefore that can be said about that object, all three of us, we’re looking at the same thing. So you’re wearing a purple t-shirt. That’s obvious. But if you have to imagine and you’re doing these things individually, you have to use you own head, and you’re exercising your brain. I think it was more productive. Going back to flying my aeroplanes.

Sean: By the time you reached 11 and nearing being a teenager, and spending money, did you feel that the construction toys could satisfy that imaginative outlook? In the same way, or differently?

Joe: I should think so. I thoroughly enjoyed playing them. I’ve no idea where they went to in the end. But no, I think things had a value in my mind, but once that’s, once you’ve satisfied that particular requirement, need, whathaveyou then that’s fine, I was happy to put them away. And probably after that time I had a push bike, and I used to cycle from London back to my auntie and uncle in Kent again. So the first time I did that was an adventure. It was only 14 miles. It seemed like 400 to me. But it was quite nice.

22.25 – Dan: So if you were an only child, and your parents sound like they weren’t particularly lavish with you, did you used to play out with the kids in your street much? And did they have more generous, or parents that would . . . Were you ever jealous of the things that they got?

Joe: No. I don’t think so. I mean, I used in – In my part of London – We lived in Chelsea, in an extremely nice house, but we were evacuated there. I didn’t know this at the time. The owners moved out to live in wherever, and we were put in there. Three families in this house. Very nice. And that was it. My peers at school, they were very much similar to myself. I mean some of them had … . My best friend in Kent, Johnny Barnaby, he had an older brother and two older sisters. Having siblings, it’s interesting seeing his reaction when I went and spent time round there and saw how he reacted with his brother and sister. I mean, I didn’t know I was doing it, but I doing it, watching how. Because I didn’t do it. It’s interesting to see his reactions to certain things. And there was definitely, in every family that I’ve come across, there was definitely a pecking order. Well, generally. A seniority of rank. When I being addressed by my cousins, who I loved dearly, I was Joey. With an e on the end. And I didn’t like that. My name is Joe, J-O-E, But I was called J-O-E-Y. And I didn’t like being called Joey. But I could never have the bottle to say ‘don’t like that’. You know. But that was just a habit from their point. It wasn’t a demeaning thing. ‘Cos that’s what you called a younger child with my name. Sylvie. I had a cousin. Sylvie. Same age as me. Not Sylvia. Put the i e on the end, it shows you were younger. But you weren’t Else. You were Elsie. But it wasn’t necessarily a social thing. But it was in a way. From their points of view. But then again, in those days. Particulars my father. My father was a very gentle bloke. A musician by trade. But my uncle, with whom I stayed, he was a guy who was in the First World War. And then he was in the home guard in the Second World War. And before he joined the home guard he was a policeman, and he was fond of his bottle, and he got discharged from the police for being drunk on duty outside Buckingham Palace. He was the sergeant in charge. So anyway, he was a bit of the matriarch in the family. He’d come home and have a beer, and turn the radio on. Dick Barton. But he was ’uncle’, not ‘unc’

Sean: Well, unless there’s anything else that you’d like to add? Anything else to do with toys.

Joe: Nothing I can do with the toys. As I say, the things that I remember for sure are the device that fired the empty cartridge, you can’t fire an empty cartridge, to use the cartridge to project the projectile. And using the solitaire’s bits and pieces.

Sean: Okay. That’s all. Thanks for participating.

Joe: Good. I’m sorry there was nothing very sparkling . . .

27.20 – Dan: How did you feel about the cadets? Because it seems you were used to your own company. Going off for long bike rides out into Kent. And then joining cadets where you’ve got somebody who might be only a couple of years older than you giving you a hard time and pushing you around. Did you enjoy that, or was military life not really appealing to you?

Joe: I very much liked the army. In fact I joined the army.

Dan: Oh, you did?

Joe: Yeah. I was. When I left school, 1951 or so, yeah. There was still National Service. Until ‘54, ‘55. So I had a choice. I left school but I had to either join up with National Service for 2 years. Or I could volunteer for a longer period for better pay. So I decided I wasn’t – I’d spoke to people who been called up, and they been, all kind of crap jobs they’d been given – you know, you’re in it for two years and you’re sweeping the floor and that’s it you know. I didn’t really like that, my ego was too big. So I volunteered and I joined the Parachute Regiment. Which I enjoyed. Originally that was for – well, you signed up for 22 years, in 3 year options. So every 3 years you can come out by giving some money. Anyway I stayed in eventually for over five years in that, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. But going back to what you said about the military thing. I quite liked the, I quite like the system of discipline if you like, discipline. Or regularisation if you liked. I quite liked it. And I still quite like it actually. I can see lots of assets to it. And lots of bad bits as well now.

Dan: Yeah. I guess if you’re an only child then you might not appreciate being forced into a bunch of people and all having to do the same thing. But then, on the other hand you might really like that, and miss that, that kind of regimentation and organisation and having a bunch of mates that you’re all doing something with.

Joe: When you see it from the other side, from looking through it, I mean I had bunches of mates if you like, at schools, particularly grammar school. I went to grammar school. And we were very tight there. And within that there was houses, tables. And your own house was a very tight thing. We used to play cricket and football and whathaveyou. Things like that. And you’re only supposed to be – you’re in King’s you’re in red, that’s your colour. So what am I wearing? Red. [laughs]. It’s been the same, ever since. So that’s that. Some things stick with you all your life. I quite liked the idea of a team in a way. But I particularly liked it in my experience. In the Paras. In your division you’re taught a philosophy. In a regular army way, going forward as a unit, the enemy’s over there. You stop there. You go over the top of them, you drop in line. But when you’re there, you’re by yourself. There’s no truck behind you, or a railway. And therefore you had to make the best of it, sort it out. And you do. And if you find a whole bunch of people like that, in a battalion roughly a thousand people, there’s an awful lot of go there, and you understand how the mind works.

Dan: I guess you don’t have the option do you? It’s do or die? Rather than ‘ooh we can retreat.’ Where you going to retreat to?

Joe: Exactly. You don’t. It doesn’t enter the equation. But that makes a difference, a true difference, to all your life. Forget the army. Your entire life, from that moment onwards is changed. And when it’s changed, it’s dramatic. It’s interesting though, particularly when you look back on it yourself. And you know why you thought. You look back and you think why did I take this action? Was I pushed or? There’s always these decisions, in all of life. Of course, sometimes you’re horribly wrong. But you know, you find out why you’ve done things. And that’s how you learn.

Very good. Thank you for your interview time. I can’t think of any other questions at the moment.

You’d better have your doofer back hadn’t you?

RECORDING ENDS 33.16

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7th January 2015
Location: Brighton Toy and Model Museum
Interviewer – Sean Kelly
Videographer – Dan Cash

[unclear recording quality, some unclear words and phrases omitted]

Sean: Where and when were you born?

Joe: London. 1936.

Sean: And where did you spend your childhood?

Joe: In London.

00.15 – Sean: Now I’m going to speak to you about teddy bears. Did you have a teddy bear?

Joe: No [laughs]

Sean: Do you have any childhood memories of teddy bears? I mean family . . .

Joe: No.

Dan: Did you have stuffed toys at all? Like, kind of people had rag dolls, or cats, just not necessarily bears.

00.39 – Joe: No. No. I never had a doll or a teddy bear or etcetera. Later on I had a, we had a cat who was the love of my life, when I was about 8 or 9. Basically speaking, I was born in London, I lived in London for several years until about 1940, early 40s. And then I got evacuated down to Kent where my auntie lived. And I lived with my auntie and uncle for a couple of years during the, back in the war and then I went back to London again where I lived from then on, you know, from there to school leaving.

Sean: Okay. You said you didn’t have any dolls. Did you have any . . .

01.39 – Joe: No. No special . . . I can understand, I can absolutely understand why people got with their animals, you know, possessive with their animals. But I didn’t though. I didn’t have anything like that. Most of the things I had I’d really create or buy myself. We, a lot of people, at that time didn’t have that much material possessions, an awful lot. My family certainly didn’t. Skint. So even if they had wanted a teddy or something I wouldn’t have got one I’m pretty sure. But most of the toys, most of the things I amused myself with I had to create for myself really. That sounds a bit selfish on my parents’ part but it’s the truth.

Sean: So if you ended up making your own toys and creating things, was that sort of in the area of construction toys or . . .

Joe: Yeah. I used to … Nothing much happened until I – later on in life, I can’t remember what age I was, probably around tenish I think, I started doing things like a paper round. And on Saturdays I delivered rolls and bread for a very small bakery up the road. An Italian guy. Used to make their own bread and rolls. I used to deliver papers from his shop in the week and on Saturdays I delivered bread for him locally which was quite good. And from that, it sort of kept me out of mischief and also it enabled me to have a wage. Some money every week. Which was ten shillings. And with that I managed to do things. So for example I bought, it was like Meccano but it wasn’t. It was in a rectangular cardboard box. It came in boxes, like a whole sets. And this would – about, this was about the size of them. And every pack, it was 10 shillings, 50p in other words. And then we did create something. There was usually, I don’t know, a dozen flat pieces and some brackets and nuts and bolts. But it was great fun to do those. I used to have those for some time until . . . Later on from that I did the same thing but using my money to buy a bike. A push bike. Which I bought myself. I bought it on the never never. My father had to sign the HP document of course and I paid him. And that was 17 pounds 10 shillings. The Raleigh Tourist Sport. Red.

But no points of affection if you like. No toys. We used to play with things in my imagination. For example, (If I go into too much detail, tell me and I’ll shut up) I used to sit on my bed, single bed, and put a chair on the bed. Not upright, but laying on its back. And sit in this chair and spread a sheet over the top of me. In my mind, I was flying an aeroplane. That was it. Which was quite good. Because in that way you can, if you imagine things you can go anywhere, do anything, be anyone. Which is quite nice. I did that quite a bit. Which was interesting. But that was stuff that was ordinary. Sheets from the bed, a chair to sit on. I don’t think I actually created many toys.

One thing I created, which I don’t know how I did it. Later on, when I was at school, grammar school at that time, so I must have been 11 onwards. 12, 13. I joined the army cadet corps which was quite interesting. And of course during that we used the range, which was firing .22 rifles which was quite nice. But I used to collect the empty .22 cases, small brass cases, and used to collect those and took them home, a pile of these of these, and I created in my mind like a weapon. But it wasn’t. What it was, was a metal coat hanger which I cut into a shape, basically like that, with a grip and a piece of metal and then at the end of that I put a spring, and compressed the two bits together, so if you hold it, you help an empty .22 cartridge on the end of it with your finger, and when you let it go it sprung off. And I found hours of amusement in that. And I also played solitaire. You know solitaire? And you played that with marbles. Or you could play it with little wooden pegs. Have you seen it that way? These wooden pegs used to plug in. The idea was – with marbles, they’d slide all over the place, on a train that was impossible to play it – but with this, they’d fit onto that plates and I found if you took these out they were about that long, 2 centimetres long, so wide at the bottom and narrow at the top, and you could stand them up. And I used to create a scenario, I was quite impressed with the dioramas in the Imperial War Museum and also in the Science Museum, very good they were. And I create my own with bedclothes and things. So I stood these pegs up and used to shoot them down. It was quite good. I spent hours doing that. And thinking of doing it. Recreating it. I think it may have been a wooden, a steel coat hanger. I’m not sure. That seems to me the most likely way I would have got that bit of kit together. That’s the only thing I made I think. Beyond my flying chair. With my bed. But I didn’t play with any toys as such. But I thoroughly enjoyed my cat. She was lovely.

09.40 – Sean: Did you ever have anything more in the air of models, or modelling, or anything like that?

Joe: I have said this. I don’t know the name of it, this flat pack, this kind of, just like Meccano, but it wasn’t Meccano. I used to buy these things from the shop in Sloane Street, bottom of Sloane Street, called Replica. For some odd reason for years they called it Replica. Makeka, which was wrong. It wasn’t Makeka, it was Replica. But it was spelt the same. And these things were 10 shillings a packet. And as I got 10 shillings a week I used to go and spend it on that, which was quite good. But that shop was full of stuff like that. Not another make, but it was similar. Whether it was an arm of Meccano I don’t know. And once you’d acquire several sets, several boxes, you could then intermingle them. I didn’t, back to your question, I didn’t actually play with other things, you know.

Sean: How many sets of Meccano type things did you have?

Joe: I probably had a few of them. Fifteen or something, at a guess. I don’t know. It all blends into one. But it was great fun.

Sean: How long would you say you collected that for, from what age?

Joe: It would have been when I started doing the paper round, because I had no other income apart from that. So I guess you probably started then at about 11. There weren’t health and safety and stuff, so if you were big enough to carry a paper bag you were rented, so I guess I was probably about 11 I should think. And I done that probably for a year or so. And then as I joined the army cadet corps, with the .22 rifles, and whatitsname. I was quite proud of that actually. Designing a missile launcher. But that very few . . . I don’t know if it’s because I was an only child, and if I’d had siblings I might have been influenced perhaps by them, as to what I would have chose to play with, or not.

Sean: Do you have any particularly fond memories of any of those that you haven’t mentioned already? The Meccano type toy or?

12.45 – Joe: No. Well, obviously there was a great satisfaction that they gave. I remember that on the back of these packs they gave suggestions as to what they could be used for, what was the limits of this. For example, to make a windmill etcetera. But half the fun was, when you had acquired several packets of these, sets of these, you could intermingle them. I got one thing given me, which was quite nice, for my, 14th or so, 13th, 14th birthday. And that was a working steam engine. A little model, one of those rectangular things, with a brass boiler and paraffin doofer underneath, used to create a working one, had a piston. That was quite nice. That was given me by a cousin of mine. That was kind of an active thing. But after a while you can’t think too much about it, well what do you do with it then? What’s the objective? When you see the work going round, fine. And then there’s nothing. You got nothing from it.

No, wasn’t stuck with any particular memories, good or otherwise, of those times. You tend to live more for. There was nothing whatsoever outside of now, living now. There was no television. Radio, yes, but that was listened to by grownups. There was no exterior things except for the immediacy of now. That’s what there was.

Sean: Did you ever want a teddy bear, doll or construction toy that you couldn’t have?

Joe: Oh yeah. I mean, talking about construction toys I’d go into the shop and see my little 10 shilling ones, and they did huge big ones, you know, for four or five pounds. Huge. I mean, I never could afford. I probably could if I’d saved up my ten bobs every week. But it became easier after a while when you’d acquired several things. You could intermingle them.

15.50 – Sean: Are there any other memories that you’d like to talk about that you can think of?

Joe: Memories of what?

Sean: Of those, or anything else linked to those that you’ve missed, or?

Joe: Yeah, a whole life time. But I mean with regard to what?

Sean: Toys

Joe: Just toys. I think that people, I know that people were, there was a lack of opportunity, to be kind. You had to be more imaginative. For example, I sat in my chair on my bed with a sheet over me and I was flying an aeroplane. No question about that. I knew, I knew I was imagining it. But I thoroughly enjoyed it. ‘Cos that’s what you do, you could do it. But today you’d be going ‘Dad, take me’ and you’d be going on a helicopter ride somewhere. You could do it. It’s only a question of money. Anything’s possible. But it wasn’t possible anyway in those days.

It was a different, different, very much more simplistic life. But it had its values. My generation moan about these bloody values. Some were tangible, and some were – you think, thank god that’s gone. But now, things are better now. Especially in a way. But they’re not altogether better. That’s a philosophical idea now, rather than toys. But there is a value I can see on forming an attachment to a soft toy, a teddy or to a doll. But I can see the negative sides to it as well. And sometimes the negatives are more powerful than the positives. Because if people get dependent on anything, any third party object, sometimes in the rush of things they’re devoting their attention to that third party rather than their siblings or their parents, that affects them. Especially when their parents are thrusting things in front of them. Rather than to get on with their life, which is there for doing, you know. I’m not saying that the entire parent was devoted and spent all their life looking inward at the family. They didn’t. Obviously. But where appropriate they did. And they gave that amount of attention because there was no question about it. There were no distractions. What’s on the 58 channels and, you know. Sometimes when my uncle used to come home from work, when I was evacuated, he used to come home from work and turn the radio on for whatever. I mean that was quite captivating. Dick Barton, Special Agent. That was on. Only for half an hour or so. Fascinating. Absolutely fascinating. ‘Cos you could use your imagination. That’s the great thing about radio. With television, there’s a picture and therefore that can be said about that object, all three of us, we’re looking at the same thing. So you’re wearing a purple t-shirt. That’s obvious. But if you have to imagine and you’re doing these things individually, you have to use you own head, and you’re exercising your brain. I think it was more productive. Going back to flying my aeroplanes.

Sean: By the time you reached 11 and nearing being a teenager, and spending money, did you feel that the construction toys could satisfy that imaginative outlook? In the same way, or differently?

Joe: I should think so. I thoroughly enjoyed playing them. I’ve no idea where they went to in the end. But no, I think things had a value in my mind, but once that’s, once you’ve satisfied that particular requirement, need, whathaveyou then that’s fine, I was happy to put them away. And probably after that time I had a push bike, and I used to cycle from London back to my auntie and uncle in Kent again. So the first time I did that was an adventure. It was only 14 miles. It seemed like 400 to me. But it was quite nice.

22.18 – Dan: So if you were an only child, and your parents sound like they weren’t particularly lavish with you, did you used to play out with the kids in your street much? And did they have more generous, or parents that would . . . Were you ever jealous of the things that they got?

Joe: No. I don’t think so. I mean, I used in – In my part of London – We lived in Chelsea, in an extremely nice house, but we were evacuated there. I didn’t know this at the time. The owners moved out to live in wherever, and we were put in there. Three families in this house. Very nice. And that was it. My peers at school, they were very much similar to myself. I mean some of them had … . My best friend in Kent, Johnny Barnaby, he had an older brother and two older sisters. Having siblings, it’s interesting seeing his reaction when I went and spent time round there and saw how he reacted with his brother and sister. I mean, I didn’t know I was doing it, but I doing it, watching how. Because I didn’t do it. It’s interesting to see his reactions to certain things. And there was definitely, in every family that I’ve come across, there was definitely a pecking order. Well, generally. A seniority of rank. When I being addressed by my cousins, who I loved dearly, I was Joey. With an e on the end. And I didn’t like that. My name is Joe, J-O-E, But I was called J-O-E-Y. And I didn’t like being called Joey. But I could never have the bottle to say ‘don’t like that’. You know. But that was just a habit from their point. It wasn’t a demeaning thing. ‘Cos that’s what you called a younger child with my name. Sylvie. I had a cousin. Sylvie. Same age as me. Not Sylvia. Put the i e on the end, it shows you were younger. But you weren’t Else. You were Elsie. But it wasn’t necessarily a social thing. But it was in a way. From their points of view. But then again, in those days. Particulars my father. My father was a very gentle bloke. A musician by trade. But my uncle, with whom I stayed, he was a guy who was in the First World War. And then he was in the home guard in the Second World War. And before he joined the home guard he was a policeman, and he was fond of his bottle, and he got discharged from the police for being drunk on duty outside Buckingham Palace. He was the sergeant in charge. So anyway, he was a bit of the matriarch in the family. He’d come home and have a beer, and turn the radio on. Dick Barton. But he was ’uncle’, not ‘unc’

Sean: Well, unless there’s anything else that you’d like to add? Anything else to do with toys.

Joe: Nothing I can do with the toys. As I say, the things that I remember for sure are the device that fired the empty cartridge, you can’t fire an empty cartridge, to use the cartridge to project the projectile. And using the solitaire’s bits and pieces.

Sean: Okay. That’s all. Thanks for participating.

Joe: Good. I’m sorry there was nothing very sparkling . . .

27.15 – Dan: How did you feel about the cadets? Because it seems you were used to your own company. Going off for long bike rides out into Kent. And then joining cadets where you’ve got somebody who might be only a couple of years older than you giving you a hard time and pushing you around. Did you enjoy that, or was military life not really appealing to you?

Joe: I very much liked the army. In fact I joined the army.

Dan: Oh, you did?

Joe: Yeah. I was. When I left school, 1951 or so, yeah. There was still National Service. Until ‘54, ‘55. So I had a choice. I left school but I had to either join up with National Service for 2 years. Or I could volunteer for a longer period for better pay. So I decided I wasn’t – I’d spoke to people who been called up, and they been, all kind of crap jobs they’d been given – you know, you’re in it for two years and you’re sweeping the floor and that’s it you know. I didn’t really like that, my ego was too big. So I volunteered and I joined the Parachute Regiment. Which I enjoyed. Originally that was for – well, you signed up for 22 years, in 3 year options. So every 3 years you can come out by giving some money. Anyway I stayed in eventually for over five years in that, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. But going back to what you said about the military thing. I quite liked the, I quite like the system of discipline if you like, discipline. Or regularisation if you liked. I quite liked it. And I still quite like it actually. I can see lots of assets to it. And lots of bad bits as well now.

Dan: Yeah. I guess if you’re an only child then you might not appreciate being forced into a bunch of people and all having to do the same thing. But then, on the other hand you might really like that, and miss that, that kind of regimentation and organisation and having a bunch of mates that you’re all doing something with.

29.54 – Joe: When you see it from the other side, from looking through it, I mean I had bunches of mates if you like, at schools, particularly grammar school. I went to grammar school. And we were very tight there. And within that there was houses, tables. And your own house was a very tight thing. We used to play cricket and football and whathaveyou. Things like that. And you’re only supposed to be – you’re in King’s you’re in red, that’s your colour. So what am I wearing? Red. [laughs]. It’s been the same, ever since. So that’s that. Some things stick with you all your life. I quite liked the idea of a team in a way. But I particularly liked it in my experience. In the Paras. In your division you’re taught a philosophy. In a regular army way, going forward as a unit, the enemy’s over there. You stop there. You go over the top of them, you drop in line. But when you’re there, you’re by yourself. There’s no truck behind you, or a railway. And therefore you had to make the best of it, sort it out. And you do. And if you find a whole bunch of people like that, in a battalion roughly a thousand people, there’s an awful lot of go there, and you understand how the mind works.

Dan: I guess you don’t have the option do you? It’s do or die? Rather than ‘ooh we can retreat.’ Where you going to retreat to?

32.00 – Joe: Exactly. You don’t. It doesn’t enter the equation. But that makes a difference, a true difference, to all your life. Forget the army. Your entire life, from that moment onwards is changed. And when it’s changed, it’s dramatic. It’s interesting though, particularly when you look back on it yourself. And you know why you thought. You look back and you think why did I take this action? Was I pushed or? There’s always these decisions, in all of life. Of course, sometimes you’re horribly wrong. But you know, you find out why you’ve done things. And that’s how you learn.

Very good. Thank you for your interview time. I can’t think of any other questions at the moment.

You’d better have your doofer back hadn’t you?

RECORDING ENDS 33.13

Joe

Joe was born in London in 1936. In the early 1940s he was evacuated to Kent, where he lived with his aunt and uncle for a couple of years before returning to London. He didn’t have any toys and relied on his imagination when playing. He joined the army after leaving school and was in the Parachute Regiment for over five years. In the short version (3m 22s) of his interview he talks about creating his own toys. In the full version (33m 16s) he also mentions construction toys  and his experience of being in the army cadets.