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8th December 2014
Location: Blind Veterans UK, Brighton
Interviewer: Andrea Dumbrell
Videographer: Dan Cash

00.04 – Arthur: Oh yes. I had Meccano.

Reg: And I had Meccano

Norman: Yes

Reg: And built me a little steam engine. You know you put a methylated spirit thing underneath it, and put a belt on it if you made a mechanical thing in Meccano that needed driving you could just connect it all up. And then of course I had farmyard, railway, miniature railway. Though I say it myself my farmyard was absolutely immaculate

Arthur: Do you call a railway engine set a construction toy?

Reg: Yes, I had a little miniature, clockwork set

Arthur: It’s not really is it?

Reg: No, no it wasn’t Hornby, but and of course they’re all in the boxes exactly as they come.

Arthur: I’m trying to think what else.

0.59 – Andrea: Now do you call a railway set a construction toy? I think it depends how you define construction toy. If you made the engines.

Reg: Oh no no no.. Well all bought you know, miniature trains with the rails and everything else. But the only construction was Meccano. [Arthur: yeah] You can make you know windmills, you can make all manner of things with Meccano sets.

Andrea: And did you have a lot of Meccano or-

Arthur: You could acquire extra pieces

Reg: Myself had quite a big set.

Arthur: You start off with a set and buy bits for it can’t you?

Reg: Oh yes, you could always add, you see Meccano you can always add to it.

01.45 – Andrea: What about you Norman? Did you have Meccano?

Norman: Yes. [laughs]

Andrea: What did you make with it?

Norman: Oh crikey, I’ve forgotten.

Arthur: Cranes and that sort of thing you know.

Norman: But I also had a steam boiler which operated with methylated spirits I think, to heat it up. It was a horizontal brass boiler, and that used to drive any static toys that you built up with your Meccano.

Andrea: So it was a steam boiler, that drove Meccano toys?

Norman: Yes.

Reg: You know they were usually you know like a stationary proper thing with the tank and everything else and it had the big wheel on that you know got up then when you got the steam up you pulled the lever over

RECORDING ENDS 2m 55s

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8th December 2014
Location: Blind Veterans UK, Brighton
Interviewer: Andrea Dumbrell
Videographer: Dan Cash

00.04 – Reg: Well I think myself personally that mobiles have taken over where we used to have things you know. Well I can’t see very well now, you’re just a bit blurred, but when I could see better, there’s two youngsters only about this that got mobiles, both of them, and they’re talking to each other side by side through their mobiles.

Arthur: That’s right.

Reg: You know [laughing] You know it seems fascinating to me and of course the computer games now, I mean my great grandsons come over and of course I always press the wrong buttons so that’s that mucked up, so I’m out.

Arthur: There was a couple of things that I remembered after you’d gone that I hadn’t told you. One was a chemistry set, I don’t know if anybody’s mentioned those have they?

Reg: Oh yeah.

Arthur: Chemistry.

Andrea: Yeah

Reg: Blow yourself up, yeah. Stink bombs. Oh god. You remember?

01.03 – Arthur: Oh you don’t have to tell them that. And something else. What was the other thing? Oh yeah, the bus conductor’s outfit, anybody mention that one?

Andrea: No.

Arthur: Well, we had a peaked hat,

Reg: oh that’s it a thing, a thing yeah, that’s to get tickets

Arthur: a strap with a dong thing on it and you, a rack with tickets in it, and you’re a bus conductor.

Andrea: Okay

Arthur: This is how the old bus conductor was. You take a ticket out there you put it in the thing and go gongg, and that makes a hole in it where you’re going, and away you go. This is just kids’ stuff, its good. It was good. Mind you I don’t know who I played with, there was nobody else there was there. I’m giving myself tickets all the time [laughing]

Reg: I know.

Arthur: Did you have one Norman?

Norman: Sorry?

Arthur: Did you have a bus conductors outfit?

Norman: Did I have a?

Arthur: Bus conductors outfit.

Norman: No.

02.04 – Andrea: Okay, so just for the record, I’m just going to go round all three of you and ask you to say what your name is, when you were born, and where you were born, so if we start with you Norman. You can just, where were you born?

Norman: Well I wasn’t born at my mothers’, it was next door at me aunts’.

Andrea: Okay. And where was that?

Reg: You won’t get a straight answer out of this bloke. He’s a devil. I do apologise for him.

Andrea: That’s alright.

Norman: That was in May Street in Cleethorpes.

Andrea: Okay. And what year was that?

Norman: Nobody told me when I was born what the year was.

[Laughter from the others]

Reg: Oh here you go.

Andrea: Do you know now what year it was?

Norman: Oh crikey. Nineteen nineteen, that’s right. (‘okay, okay’) November.

Arthur: Nineteen nineteen!

Reg: He’s just a young man. Go on.

Andrea: Yeah. So what about yourself?

Reg: Who me?

Andrea: Yeah.

Reg: Nineteen fifteen. Twenty seven twelve nineteen fifteen.

Andrea: Nineteen fifteen.

Reg: Yes.

Andrea: And, sorry, are you Arthur or Reg?

Reg: Eh?’

Andrea: And who are you?

Arthur: Who?

Reg: Me?

Andrea: Yeah

Reg: Reg Goodwin.

Andrea: You’re Reg aren’t you? And where were you born?

Reg: Newington, Kent.

Andrea: Newington. Brilliant. And Arthur, what about you?

Arthur: Arthur Walton, I was born in Hammersmith

Andrea: Yes

Arthur: In nineteen twenty one.

Andrea: Nineteen twenty one.

Norman: He’s the baby of the group.

Andrea: He is isn’t he? And as I said, the project’s looking at, mainly at teddy bears, dolls and construction toys. I think I know what the answer’s going to be, but did any of you have a teddy bear when you were little that you can remember?

04.16 – Reg: No.

Arthur: May have done, may have done I can’t say.

Reg: The only thing I can think of, I was a teddy bear. No dear.

Andrea: May have done, but not something that you remember.

Reg: I don’t know about Norman

Andrea: Yeah. What about you Norman?

Norman: The toy?

Andrea: Yes. What about you Norman.(’the toy?’) Yes. Can you remember, did you have a teddy bear do you know?

Norman: No.

Andrea: No

Norman: I, my son’s still got it, have a Hornsby [sic] engine, railway which was Meccano built about nineteen twenty one.

Andrea: So how did that work? Was that –

Norman: It was clockwork.

Andrea: And did he have a whole set?

Norman: Yes. I haven’t got the rails now, well there might be an odd one or two left, but my son when he was a boy he played with it, not having any other boys, it’s probably in a tea chest somewhere.

Andrea: Okay, thank you. And again, I’m guessing I know your answer to this. Did any of you have any dolls?

05.49 – Norman: No.

Arthur: I didn’t.

Reg: I refuse to answer that. [laughter]

Arthur: Incriminating.

Andrea: Do you have any memories of anyone else that you knew who had dolls? Did you have sisters, or-

Norman: I was the only one.

Andrea: Okay

Arthur: No, I didn’t have any sisters.

Andrea: Okay so let’s get to the more interesting one then, construction toys.

06.18 – Arthur: Oh yes. I had Meccano.

Reg: And I had Meccano

Norman: Yes

Reg: And built me a little steam engine. You know you put a methylated spirit thing underneath it, and put a belt on it if you made a mechanical thing in Meccano that needed driving you could just connect it all up. And then of course I had farmyard, railway, miniature railway. Though I say it myself my farmyard was absolutely immaculate

Arthur: Do you call a railway engine set a construction toy?

Reg: Yes, I had a little miniature, clockwork set

Arthur: It’s not really is it?

Reg: No, no it wasn’t Hornby, but and of course they’re all in the boxes exactly as they come.

Arthur: I’m trying to think what else.

Andrea: Now do you call a railway set a construction toy? I think it depends how you define construction toy. If you made the engines.

Reg: Oh no no no.. Well all bought you know, miniature trains with the rails and everything else. But the only construction was Meccano. [Arthur: yeah] You can make you know windmills, you can make all manner of things with Meccano sets.

Andrea: And did you have a lot of Meccano or-

Arthur: You could acquire extra pieces

Reg: Myself had quite a big set.

Arthur: You start off with a set and buy bits for it can’t you?

Reg: Oh yes, you could always add, you see Meccano you can always add to it.

Andrea: What about you Norman? Did you have Meccano?

Norman: Yes. [laughs]

Andrea: What did you make with it?

Norman: Oh crikey, I’ve forgotten.

Arthur: Cranes and that sort of thing you know.

Norman: But I also had a steam boiler which operated with methylated spirits I think, to heat it up. It was a horizontal brass boiler, and that used to drive any static toys that you built up with your Meccano.

Andrea: So it was a steam boiler, that drove Meccano toys?

Norman: Yes.

Reg: You know they were usually you know like a stationary proper thing with the tank and everything else and it had the big wheel on that you know got up then when you got the steam up you pulled the lever over, and the belt drove.

Norman: Yes.

Andrea: Okay, got you. I’ve never seen one of those.

Reg: Well as I say you never see it now, I mean if you have one and if it’s in good condition it’s worth a fortune

Arthur: If it’s in the box. They always ask for the boxes don’t they?

Reg: Well yes as I say all my farmyard and everything else was always in the proper boxes I always remember, you know with a picture of the farm crates and waggons, and they they had, the lid always had a green band, always round it, fitted it, I always remember that. That’s a long time ago.

09.47 – Arthur: Used to have nurses outfits as well

Andrea: Okay.

Reg: You had a nurse’s outfit? I’m worried about you now [laughter]

Arthur: For the girls, you know they used to have an apron with a red cross on it didn’t they? And a hat sort of thing.

Reg: That’s right, oh they had a proper headdress it

Arthur: didn’t look too bad

Reg: I went to some friends once, and then pounced on me and I was all bandaged up.

Arthur: [laughs] I mean mother and father went through it

Reg: Course you had a pistol like a potato gun. [yeah] Can you remember that? You stuck the end in the . . .

Arthur: I do remember that yes.

Reg: Yeah, potato gun I had one of those.

Arthur: You pulled the lever back, you dug the gun in the potato to get a pellet going up the barrel, and then you fired the gun, and it didn’t half used to hurt if it hit you. God.

Reg: Yeah, good Lord, yes.

Arthur: Bows and arrows I suppose, we had that as well. Bows and arrows with the target you know, but they were only sort of suckers on the front, they weren’t pointed and know, and you licked the suckers and fired it, went straight at the target.

Andrea: So the bows and arrows, were they bought or did you make them?

Arthur: Oh no, they were bought because we had targets as well you know.

Andrea: Because I know a lot of people actually made their own bows and arrows.

Arthur: Of course you could do yes

Reg: Oh I used to get a cane.

Arthur: Or used to make catapults

Reg: You’d get an old inner tube, and cut that up to make the [Arthur: catapults, you make them out of -] I always remember doing that when I worked in the garage at a block of flats. The youngsters used to come round the back door. Reg, will you make us a bow and arrow. Margaret Lockwood’s daughter.

Arthur: When I was a bit older I did have a Webley air pistol. I don’t know if anybody else had one. I had one. I didn’t like it really, it was a bit dangerous because it used to fire lead pellets you know.

Andrea: Right.

Arthur: Like little lead pellets and you stuck them up in this gun, and pulled the trigger back and fired. And they were quite lethal really. I nearly shot a boy in the eye with one you know, and I was a bit worried about using one after that, so –

12.28 – Reg: You used to get a bag of marbles didn’t you? Or fag cards.

Arthur: Oh yeah, marbles that was another

Reg: Used to be able to get fag cards and that in the cigarettes. Put them up against a wall

Arthur: And fag cards.

Andrea: Yes.

Arthur: Cigarette cards, we called them fag cards, and you could build yourself a set. I think it was fifty wasn’t it?

Reg: Fifty two actually.

Arthur: What, in a – oh you’re talking about the-

Reg: Yes, the cigarette cards.

Arthur: Not fifty two was it? I thought it was fifty. Oh it doesn’t matter.

Reg: Yes, oh sorry, yes yes.

Arthur: You used to swap about, if somebody had something you hadn’t got, you’d perhaps either give them one of yours or he might want two, it depended on how, what shall I say, how easy it was to get that particular one, you know what I mean some of them got very scarce and if they got scarce –

Reg: Yeah you always had one particularly where they were footballers, you always had one a bit short didn’t you? Oh I’ve got two. Right, you’re in. It was more like a, well like a barter wasn’t it, as kids at school? You got so and so, you got so and so.

Arthur: I was thinking of something else.

14.04 – Andrea: What about, I’m thinking about construction toys, what about bricks? Or do you remember having –

Reg: Well yes, you got a set of bricks you know, to build up of various shapes. You could make like houses in a sense if you’ve got a set of bricks. You know you’d have one with sort of bit out in the various colours. I had those, yes, to make buildings as you might say.

Arthur: I can say I used to have, well little boats you know, little boats. and some of the boats were a bit more complicated because they had these, once again they had the methylated spirits in them [‘yeah’] to make the propeller drive, you know. But they were the later sort of thing you know, when I was a bit more older, you got those.

Andrea: Norman, did you want to say something about bricks?

Norman: Er, no.

Andrea: Or something else.

Norman: Jigsaw puzzles.

Reg: He’s right there.

15.23 – Norman: [laughs] and the traction. No, I, up to well the age of, well nineteen twenty six during the miners’ strike, my father went over to Holland and he brought me back a yacht, which I raced with the other boys on the park pond.

Andrea: And how was that powered?

Norman: By the wind. Sailing yacht.

Andrea: I was just checking because I know you could get clockwork ones and things as well sometimes couldn’t you?

Norman: Oh no nothing powered like that.

Arthur: Speedboat stuff.

Norman: And my hobby during the summer was fishing, offshore

Andrea: Okay

16.29 – Norman: Both with set lines, and I suppose you call it a sling line, which was a line with a weight on it, about five to six hooks, and you swung it round your head, and threw it as far as you could. We used to get flounders, plaice, eels, occasionally hook a crab out, which much to my mother’s disgust, I insisted on it being cooked. She said they were too small most of them, but I wasn’t throwing them back.

Andrea: And I hope you then ate them.

Norman: Mm?

Andrea: I hope you then ate them once you’d cooked them.

Norman: Oh yes. Well as a boy I’d eat anything as long as it hadn’t got just two legs. No I spent most of my boyhood on the beach. My mother used to buy me a pair of sandals at the school holiday beginning but I’d usually lost them before I’d had them a week, because when you went down to the beach you took your shoes off and started paddling, so your shoes were either round your neck, or you left them somewhere so you could go and pick ‘em up, which somebody probably did before you got back.

Andrea: Right

Norman: So I spent a lot of time barefooted.

Andrea: And we’re talking sand aren’t we there?

Norman: Hm?

Andrea: We’re talking sand, on the beach?

Norman: Oh yes. Not like this place. You wouldn’t paddle about, well I’ve paddled in this lot here but no it was a sandy beach. You see on the Lincolnshire coast, when the tide goes out you’ve got about a mile of sand to get across if you wanted to go and paddle in the water at low tide.

Andrea: And did you used to build things in the sand?

Norman: Oh yes castles and forts and all sorts of things. I once, digging a trench, found a clip of .303 bullets

Reg: Cartridges

Norman: Yep. In the usual clip that they were on, in fives weren’t they? And my father said you take that to the police station, well I was only about eight then, but I took it, and they wanted to know where it had come from, and they sent the army search party down on that area of the beach because it was probably left by some soldier who was on there during the First World War. Now I could go on for hours with adventures on the beach.

Andrea: I think when you live near the sea then a lot of the time is spent playing on the beach isn’t it?

Norman: Well I was closer in my boyhood than we are now to the beach.

Andrea: So you lived right on it then?

Norman: Yes, we had to climb over the railway line that run along the beach from Grimsby to Cleethorpes, and most of the year the gates were closed for ordinary people, there was no traffic ‘cos when you went over that and you were on the beach, so it was as close as that.

Andrea: That is close isn’t it? When I came up this morning I came up in a taxi, and the taxi driver grew up near here and he was talking about spending most of his childhood on the beach.

Norman: Yes.

Andrea: He just used to run down the road and spend all his time on the beach. I’m assuming neither of you did spend that much time on the beach did you?

Arthur: Well no. As I say I was born in Hammersmith so it was a bit of a way to the beach.

Andrea: But I was thinking, because one of the things about being on the beach a lot, as you were saying about building things in the sand weren’t you Norman? So did either you two Arthur and Reg build things elsewhere?

Reg: Well I was mainly in the country you know until I was about four or five, so the only thing I can remember is going hop picking.

22.32 – Arthur: My favourite toy, if you would call it a toy, I don’t know, was a coal cellar.

Reg: A what?

Arthur: Coal cellar. We used to have a basement flat, and the coal used to be tipped into a hole in the pavement, which had a cover over it of course, and it used to fall into the cellar below, and in the cellar below had a door to it to open in, and that’s where they kept the coal. But my favourite was to get in there and play with the coal. That particular finger there has got a split in it at the top if you can see it. Can you see it?

Andrea: Yes.

Arthur: Yes, that’s where a big lump of coal fell on it and cracked it open. That’s when I was pretty young you know. So but that’s where I used to, quite honestly I was, I was always covered in coal dust, and one thing and another. That was my favourite spot, because I was by myself, you know, I had to play by myself.

Andrea: And what did you play in the coal?

Arthur: I don’t know, no idea, perhaps stacking them up on bits on top you know, didn’t seem to be anything in particular I was playing, no idea really.

Andrea: Now you see, that’s a construction toy, isn’t it

Arthur: Yes I suppose

Andrea: You know playing and piling things up, and you know construction toys isn’t just about things that you might go and buy like Meccano, it’s about that sort of thing too. You know, playing with coal, building sandcastles.

Arthur: I can remember we used to do plasticine stuff.

Reg: Most of my teenage years I spent at Roehampton,

Arthur: Did we have plasticine?

Reg: Which before the Titanic was disaster, was the richest spot in England. There’s fourteen millionaires lived in Roehampton. My father was the local copper, and because I was only about five we was off Putney Heath, so that’s where we spend the majority of our time. It’s where I learned to play cricket. Someone say I got a bat, we’d put some coats up and there’d be about eight blokes, first you hit one down, down come another one, if it hit you on the head, you were out, LBW. [pause] So you didn’t really, in the school holidays, you never really, we used to think nothing in the evening probably take coats off and run to the windmill and back. That was five mile there and back. None of this business about to wreck things, because there were some valuable motor cars around there, but you never thought of going along the side of it with a coin, and scratching it. So I don’t know, must have missed out somewhere. But we’re none the worse for it I suppose. And of course as a one of seventeen, I used to play a lot of badminton.

25.46 – Arthur: But I think you’ll find that in our day, I mean things were entirely different to what they are today. You know, what we started off was at Christmas, was that ours were a pillow case, or socks which we used to hang up, and father and mother used to come in during the night you know, and put oranges and apples and coins made of chocolate and stuff like that

Reg: Oh chocolate coins, yes

Arthur: And little things that they put in these bags, and they called that Father Christmas has been in the morning you know. And that was our, the way they did it in those days because there was nothing really mechanical that they could put in a thing like that you know. But I’ll tell you what we did have, we had some, I remember when I was about five or six I had a pedal motor car made of metal

Andrea: Okay

Arthur: And you used to sit in, had little pedals inside and you know?

Reg: I know. Either you had them with the levers like that

Arthur: That’s right

Reg: Or else you had roller skates. If you’d get somebody who was daft enough, you’d put a rope round them and they were like a horse, so you were like a chariot. You were alright ‘til you got to the corner, hit a stone and you’re overboard. Oh no.

Arthur: One toy that I did have was a sledge. It was an American sledge actually, quite a nice one you know, real metal frame one and you could guide it, and I think my son’s still got it, its indoors, it’s very old.

27.46 – Andrea: Well, I’m going to say that unless you’ve got anything else you’d particularly like to say, I can see by my watch its nearly half past ten which I believe is tea break time.

Reg: Oh. Have we missed our coffee?

Andrea: Exactly, I don’t want you to miss your tea.

Reg: No it’ll be coffee.

Andrea: Is it coffee? Its morning isn’t it? Of course it’s coffee.

Reg: Coffee and biscuits.

Andrea: Yes.

Reg: It’s a wonder they haven’t been in and see. Probably don’t know we’re in here.

Andrea: So I’ll pull you to a halt now and say thank you ever so.

RECORDING ENDS 28m 18s

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8th December 2014
Location: Blind Veterans UK, Brighton
Interviewer: Andrea Dumbrell
Videographer: Dan Cash

Comments: Norman joins the interview with a woman [Jean] who leaves shortly afterwards.

Arthur: This sounds a bit

Reg: I know I may look effeminate, but Oh Lord. Teddy bears and dolls!

Andrea: But even just saying that, you know is a useful thing for the project, saying no, didn’t have them.

Reg: Oh you’re trying to lead us astray.[overlapping remark from Arthur ‘tell me something. Did you have a football?’]

Andrea: Did I have a football?

Arthur: Yes

Andrea: No.

Arthur: There you are. So you know as much about football as we know about teddy bears.

Andrea: Yes. And interestingly enough

Reg: What’s she on about?

Andrea: It wasn’t until I had daughters that one of my daughters told me I kicked a football wrong because I used to kick it with my toes.

Arthur: Oh yes

Andrea: And it was actually my daughter who turned round and went you don’t kick a football with your toes, you kick it with the side of your foot.

Reg: Or with your instep

Andrea: Yes. Yes, exactly. I used to kick it as if I was dancing, which is why I’m no good at football, because I’ve been kicking it wrong all these years. [laughter] I’m sure I had one.

Reg: Well I think you’re quite safe with us, because I can’t even stand up, never mind kick a football now.

Andrea: But what we’ve also got, is we’ve got some forms that we’ll get, oh I’ve forgotten the lady’s name, who just came in with you [Reg & Arthur: Jean] Jean. Yeah, yeah we’ll get Jean to sort your forms out after we’ve chatted to you.

Reg: Are we getting paid for this?

Andrea: No.

Arthur: No?

Andrea: No. We’re not.

Reg: Well that’s handy isn’t it?

Andrea: [laughs] But you will have our undying thanks.

Reg: I can’t get paid for my mosaic.

Andrea: Ohh. Can’t you sell it?

Reg: They’ve sold it for sixty quid.

Andrea: Right.

Reg: I asked for commission.

Andrea: And?

Reg: But Louise said you can have extra tiles.

Arthur: He makes the hard mosaics, I make the easy ones.

Andrea: Right. I do like your mosaics, I have to admit, they’re lovely.

Reg: Well you should have seen the one I’ve just finished.

Andrea: Yeah.

Reg: Like a forty two inch television screen. They sold it for sixty quid.[Pause] We’re waiting for Norman?

Dan: Yep

Reg: Oh oh, you’ve got a right one there with Norman.

Andrea: Yeah

Reg: He’s a damn good winder up.

Andrea: is he?

Reg: as long as you haven’t got, what’s his name? Eddie Murphy. Is it Eddie Murphy?

Arthur: No. Eddie –

Reg: Now what’s his name?

Arthur: Eddie Eddie Eddie.

Reg: In his younger days he …

Arthur: Eddie O’Brian

Reg: Eddie O’Brian that’s it

Andrea: Yes

Reg: Oh Boy. He’ll wind you up, he’s terrible.

Arthur: Are you taking photographs?

Dan: Filming.

Arthur: Eh?

Dan: Filming

Arthur: Filming. What, now?

Dan: Yep. Just started rolling, so

Reg: I hope so because I’ve cleaned me teeth.

Andrea: And we will take some photos as well, but we’ll just, either me or Dan will just do it while you’re sitting there in a minute.

Arthur: I think I must have had hundreds of photographs taken.

Andrea: Yes

Arthur: And I’ve never seen any of it.

Andrea: Really?

Reg: Well the trouble is they’ve taken his photograph and the camera never works afterwards [laughter] he broke more cameras than they have at Elstree.

Arthur: I went to Buckingham Palace a few months ago, and was presented to the Queen, and I gave my camera to a person behind, said would you take some photographs while I’m, you know being presented. So she took all these photographs, when I got it back she hadn’t switched the camera on.

Andrea: Oh no! [laughter] Oh. Well we’ll make sure that anything that we take we’ll send some copies to Lou, and make sure you get some.

Reg: Some while ago they took one for Argus.

04:02 – [Indistinct overlapping chatter and quiet period with background noise of people passing by, and new people arriving.]

05:30 – Arthur: So when’s it this all going to be shown on television then? Dan: Unfortunately not on television, we’re going to be making some websites, and we’re going to put them on the websites and

Arthur: I don’t know much about that thing.

Dan: No?

Arthur: I’ve got a computer, but I haven’t got internet yet.

Dan: Oh

Reg: Oh

Dan: Oh well. We’ll have to find a way for you to come along and see it at the museum perhaps.

Andrea: Yeah

Dan: Yes, we can do that for sure. Andrea’s got to edit the footage together, and it will sometime next year that we can let people see the videos.

Andrea: Yes.

Arthur: Crikey. Does it take all that time to do one film?

Andrea: Well what we do is we have to cut out all the irrelevant bits, like at the moment Dan’s filming, so we’re not going.

Arthur: So I could finish up on the floor.

Dan: Ooh no.

Andrea: No, no.

Dan: You’re going to be a treasure.

Andrea: We’ll make sure you’re not on the floor.

Reg: They cut out the bits of photographs of you.

Arthur: Shut up you.

Reg: What you done with Norman, Jean?

Arthur: He’s supposed to be my mate.

06.38 – Jean: Norman, do you want to come over here? This time, will you take my hand? He’s very independent Norman.

Arthur: Morning Norman.

Reg: Where are you going to put him? There?

Andrea: Yeah, on the sofa.

Reg: Come on Norman. Now no jiggery pokery.

Norman: I’ve been kidnapped.

Jean: There’s a seat in front of you Norman, okay. Okay, if you turn around and sit down.

Norman: That’s alright. Let me hit it.

Jean: Okay, okay, you hit it.

Norman: You know I got out of me pram years ago. [Jean laughs]

Andrea: Okay, so you’re going to hang out with us I assume?

Jean: Well no, if you’re alright, if they’re okay, then –

Arthur: Oh come on. Be matey, come and sit down.

Andrea: Totally up to you. You can stay and listen in, or you can go away and we’ll.

Jean: If you want help with them going back I’ll come back.

Andrea: Okay, okay, and the forms would be good. [Rattling noise] What am I missing about how to shut this door?

Reg: There’s a peg at the bottom I think

Arthur: You want a hammer.

Andrea: It goes up not down, that was it. It’s alright, I was pushing the button down and you actually pull it up don’t you?

Reg: Oh well, see what I mean.

Andrea: That’s it, you’re done for now.

Arthur: Typical woman.

Reg: Oh no, you keep me out of this, [laughter] I’m not in on this.

Andrea: Right. Well, I know I came in last week, and we talked about the project didn’t we?

Reg: Yeah

Andrea: And so you’re aware of what we’re doing. We’re interviewing people about their memories of toys, and then we’re going to use bits of those interviews to put in a book and put on a website and things, so after we’ve had a chat, I’m going to ask Jean to give you a hand with your forms just to give us permission to do that. Have you got any questions about the project as whole? Or did we explain it all okay last week?

Arthur: Well. I get a rough idea but.

Reg: Yes, what’s the object of this?

Andrea: The object of it is just to share people’s memories of toys, and I think one of the really interesting things is going to, because we are interviewing people of all different age groups, is to see what’s the same, what’s changed, and so that people can just read and listen to each other’s memories, and go oh that’s interesting, you know they’re fifty years older than me but they still played like this, or oh actually that’s really different.

Reg: Well I think myself personally that mobiles have taken over where we used to have things you know. Well I can’t see very well now, you’re just a bit blurred, but when I could see better, there’s two youngsters only about this that got mobiles, both of them, and they’re talking to each other side by side through their mobiles.

Arthur: That’s right.

Reg: You know [laughing] You know it seems fascinating to me and of course the computer games now, I mean my great grandsons come over and of course I always press the wrong buttons so that’s that mucked up, so I’m out.

Arthur: There was a couple of things that I remembered after you’d gone that I hadn’t told you. One was a chemistry set, I don’t know if anybody’s mentioned those have they?

Reg: Oh yeah.

Arthur: Chemistry.

Andrea: Yeah

Reg: Blow yourself up, yeah. Stink bombs. Oh god. You remember?

10.21 – Arthur: Oh you don’t have to tell them that. And something else. What was the other thing? Oh yeah, the bus conductor’s outfit, anybody mention that one?

Andrea: No.

Arthur: Well, we had a peaked hat,

Reg: oh that’s it a thing, a thing yeah, that’s to get tickets

Arthur: a strap with a dong thing on it and you, a rack with tickets in it, and you’re a bus conductor.

Andrea: Okay

Arthur: This is how the old bus conductor was. You take a ticket out there you put it in the thing and go gongg, and that makes a hole in it where you’re going, and away you go. This is just kids’ stuff, its good. It was good. Mind you I don’t know who I played with, there was nobody else there was there. I’m giving myself tickets all the time [laughing]

Reg: I know.

Arthur: Did you have one Norman?

Norman: Sorry?

Arthur: Did you have a bus conductors outfit?

Norman: Did I have a?

Arthur: Bus conductors outfit.

Norman: No.

11.23 – Andrea: Okay, so just for the record, I’m just going to go round all three of you and ask you to say what your name is, when you were born, and where you were born, so if we start with you Norman. You can just, where were you born?

Norman: Well I wasn’t born at my mothers’, it was next door at me aunts’.

Andrea: Okay. And where was that?

Reg: You won’t get a straight answer out of this bloke. He’s a devil. I do apologise for him.

Andrea: That’s alright.

Norman: That was in May Street in Cleethorpes.

Andrea: Okay. And what year was that?

Norman: Nobody told me when I was born what the year was.

[Laughter from the others]

Reg: Oh here you go.

Andrea: Do you know now what year it was?

Norman: Oh crikey. Nineteen nineteen, that’s right. (‘okay, okay’) November.

Arthur: Nineteen nineteen!

Reg: He’s just a young man. Go on.

Andrea: Yeah. So what about yourself?

Reg: Who me?

Andrea: Yeah.

Reg: Nineteen fifteen. Twenty seven twelve nineteen fifteen.

Andrea: Nineteen fifteen.

Reg: Yes.

Andrea: And, sorry, are you Arthur or Reg?

Reg: Eh?’

Andrea: And who are you?

Arthur: Who?

Reg: Me?

Andrea: Yeah

Reg: Reg Goodwin.

Andrea: You’re Reg aren’t you? And where were you born?

Reg: Newington, Kent.

Andrea: Newington. Brilliant. And Arthur, what about you?

Arthur: Arthur Walton, I was born in Hammersmith

Andrea: Yes

Arthur: In nineteen twenty one.

Andrea: Nineteen twenty one.

Norman: He’s the baby of the group.

Andrea: He is isn’t he? And as I said, the project’s looking at, mainly at teddy bears, dolls and construction toys. I think I know what the answer’s going to be, but did any of you have a teddy bear when you were little that you can remember?

13:34 – Reg: No.

Arthur: May have done, may have done I can’t say.

Reg: The only thing I can think of, I was a teddy bear. No dear.

Andrea: May have done, but not something that you remember.

Reg: I don’t know about Norman

Andrea: Yeah. What about you Norman?

Norman: The toy?

Andrea: Yes. What about you Norman.(’the toy?’) Yes. Can you remember, did you have a teddy bear do you know?

Norman: No.

Andrea: No

Norman: I, my son’s still got it, have a Hornsby [sic] engine, railway which was Meccano built about nineteen twenty one.

Andrea: So how did that work? Was that –

Norman: It was clockwork.

Andrea: And did he have a whole set?

Norman: Yes. I haven’t got the rails now, well there might be an odd one or two left, but my son when he was a boy he played with it, not having any other boys, it’s probably in a tea chest somewhere.

Andrea: Okay, thank you. And again, I’m guessing I know your answer to this. Did any of you have any dolls?

15:05 Norman: No.

Arthur: I didn’t.

Reg: I refuse to answer that. [laughter]

Arthur: Incriminating.

Andrea: Do you have any memories of anyone else that you knew who had dolls? Did you have sisters, or-

Norman: I was the only one.

Andrea: Okay

Arthur: No, I didn’t have any sisters.

Andrea: Okay so let’s get to the more interesting one then, construction toys.

15:35 Arthur: Oh yes. I had Meccano.

Reg: And I had Meccano

Norman: Yes

Reg: And built me a little steam engine. You know you put a methylated spirit thing underneath it, and put a belt on it if you made a mechanical thing in Meccano that needed driving you could just connect it all up. And then of course I had farmyard, railway, miniature railway. Though I say it myself my farmyard was absolutely immaculate

Arthur: Do you call a railway engine set a construction toy?

Reg: Yes, I had a little miniature, clockwork set

Arthur: It’s not really is it?

Reg: No, no it wasn’t Hornby, but and of course they’re all in the boxes exactly as they come.

Arthur: I’m trying to think what else.

Andrea: Now do you call a railway set a construction toy? I think it depends how you define construction toy. If you made the engines.

Reg: Oh no no no.. Well all bought you know, miniature trains with the rails and everything else. But the only construction was Meccano. [Arthur: yeah] You can make you know windmills, you can make all manner of things with Meccano sets.

Andrea: And did you have a lot of Meccano or-

Arthur: You could acquire extra pieces

Reg: Myself had quite a big set.

Arthur: You start off with a set and buy bits for it can’t you?

Reg: Oh yes, you could always add, you see Meccano you can always add to it.

Andrea: What about you Norman? Did you have Meccano?

Norman: Yes. [laughs]

Andrea: What did you make with it?

Norman: Oh crikey, I’ve forgotten.

Arthur: Cranes and that sort of thing you know.

Norman: But I also had a steam boiler which operated with methylated spirits I think, to heat it up. It was a horizontal brass boiler, and that used to drive any static toys that you built up with your Meccano.

Andrea: So it was a steam boiler, that drove Meccano toys?

Norman: Yes.

Reg: You know they were usually you know like a stationary proper thing with the tank and everything else and it had the big wheel on that you know got up then when you got the steam up you pulled the lever over, and the belt drove.

Norman: Yes.

Andrea: Okay, got you. I’ve never seen one of those.

Reg: Well as I say you never see it now, I mean if you have one and if it’s in good condition it’s worth a fortune

Arthur: If it’s in the box. They always ask for the boxes don’t they?

Reg: Well yes as I say all my farmyard and everything else was always in the proper boxes I always remember, you know with a picture of the farm crates and waggons, and they they had, the lid always had a green band, always round it, fitted it, I always remember that. That’s a long time ago.

19.05 – Arthur: Used to have nurses outfits as well

Andrea: Okay.

Reg: You had a nurse’s outfit? I’m worried about you now [laughter]

Arthur: For the girls, you know they used to have an apron with a red cross on it didn’t they? And a hat sort of thing.

Reg: That’s right, oh they had a proper headdress it Arthur: didn’t look too bad

Reg: I went to some friends once, and then pounced on me and I was all bandaged up.

Arthur: [laughs] I mean mother and father went through it

Reg: Course you had a pistol like a potato gun. [yeah] Can you remember that? You stuck the end in the . . .

Arthur: I do remember that yes.

Reg: Yeah, potato gun I had one of those.

Arthur: You pulled the lever back, you dug the gun in the potato to get a pellet going up the barrel, and then you fired the gun, and it didn’t half used to hurt if it hit you. God.

Reg: Yeah, good Lord, yes.

Arthur: Bows and arrows I suppose, we had that as well. Bows and arrows with the target you know, but they were only sort of suckers on the front, they weren’t pointed and know, and you licked the suckers and fired it, went straight at the target.

Andrea: So the bows and arrows, were they bought or did you make them?

Arthur: Oh no, they were bought because we had targets as well you know.

Andrea: Because I know a lot of people actually made their own bows and arrows.

Arthur: Of course you could do yes

Reg: Oh I used to get a cane.

Arthur: Or used to make catapults

Reg: You’d get an old inner tube, and cut that up to make the [Arthur: catapults, you make them out of -] I always remember doing that when I worked in the garage at a block of flats. The youngsters used to come round the back door. Reg, will you make us a bow and arrow. Margaret Lockwood’s daughter.

Arthur: When I was a bit older I did have a Webley air pistol. I don’t know if anybody else had one. I had one. I didn’t like it really, it was a bit dangerous because it used to fire lead pellets you know.

Andrea: Right.

Arthur: Like little lead pellets and you stuck them up in this gun, and pulled the trigger back and fired. And they were quite lethal really. I nearly shot a boy in the eye with one you know, and I was a bit worried about using one after that, so –

21.45 – Reg: You used to get a bag of marbles didn’t you? Or fag cards.

Arthur: Oh yeah, marbles that was another

Reg: Used to be able to get fag cards and that in the cigarettes. Put them up against a wall

Arthur: And fag cards.

Andrea: Yes.

Arthur: Cigarette cards, we called them fag cards, and you could build yourself a set. I think it was fifty wasn’t it?

Reg: Fifty two actually.

Arthur: What, in a – oh you’re talking about the-

Reg: Yes, the cigarette cards.

Arthur: Not fifty two was it? I thought it was fifty. Oh it doesn’t matter.

Reg: Yes, oh sorry, yes yes.

Arthur: You used to swap about, if somebody had something you hadn’t got, you’d perhaps either give them one of yours or he might want two, it depended on how, what shall I say, how easy it was to get that particular one, you know what I mean some of them got very scarce and if they got scarce –

Reg: Yeah you always had one particularly where they were footballers, you always had one a bit short didn’t you? Oh I’ve got two. Right, you’re in. It was more like a, well like a barter wasn’t it, as kids at school? You got so and so, you got so and so.

Arthur: I was thinking of something else.

23.23 – Andrea: What about, I’m thinking about construction toys, what about bricks? Or do you remember having –

Reg: Well yes, you got a set of bricks you know, to build up of various shapes. You could make like houses in a sense if you’ve got a set of bricks. You know you’d have one with sort of bit out in the various colours. I had those, yes, to make buildings as you might say.

Arthur: I can say I used to have, well little boats you know, little boats. and some of the boats were a bit more complicated because they had these, once again they had the methylated spirits in them [‘yeah’] to make the propeller drive, you know. But they were the later sort of thing you know, when I was a bit more older, you got those.

Andrea: Norman, did you want to say something about bricks?

Norman: Er, no.

Andrea: Or something else.

Norman: Jigsaw puzzles.

Reg: He’s right there.

Norman: [laughs] and the traction. No, I, up to well the age of, well nineteen twenty six during the miners’ strike, my father went over to Holland and he brought me back a yacht, which I raced with the other boys on the park pond.

Andrea: And how was that powered?

Norman: By the wind. Sailing yacht.

Andrea: I was just checking because I know you could get clockwork ones and things as well sometimes couldn’t you?

Norman: Oh no nothing powered like that.

Arthur: Speedboat stuff.

Norman: And my hobby during the summer was fishing, offshore

Andrea: Okay

Norman: Both with set lines, and I suppose you call it a sling line, which was a line with a weight on it, about five to six hooks, and you swung it round your head, and threw it as far as you could. We used to get flounders, plaice, eels, occasionally hook a crab out, which much to my mother’s disgust, I insisted on it being cooked. She said they were too small most of them, but I wasn’t throwing them back.

Andrea: And I hope you then ate them.

Norman:Mm?

Andrea: I hope you then ate them once you’d cooked them.

Norman: Oh yes. Well as a boy I’d eat anything as long as it hadn’t got just two legs. No I spent most of my boyhood on the beach. My mother used to buy me a pair of sandals at the school holiday beginning but I’d usually lost them before I’d had them a week, because when you went down to the beach you took your shoes off and started paddling, so your shoes were either round your neck, or you left them somewhere so you could go and pick ‘em up, which somebody probably did before you got back.

Andrea: Right

Norman: So I spent a lot of time barefooted.

Andrea: And we’re talking sand aren’t we there?

Norman: Hm?

Andrea: We’re talking sand, on the beach?

Norman: Oh yes. Not like this place. You wouldn’t paddle about, well I’ve paddled in this lot here but no it was a sandy beach. You see on the Lincolnshire coast, when the tide goes out you’ve got about a mile of sand to get across if you wanted to go and paddle in the water at low tide.

Andrea: And did you used to build things in the sand?

Norman: Oh yes castles and forts and all sorts of things. I once, digging a trench, found a clip of .303 bullets

Reg: Cartridges

Norman: Yep. In the usual clip that they were on, in fives weren’t they? And my father said you take that to the police station, well I was only about eight then, but I took it, and they wanted to know where it had come from, and they sent the army search party down on that area of the beach because it was probably left by some soldier who was on there during the First World War. Now I could go on for hours with adventures on the beach.

Andrea: I think when you live near the sea then a lot of the time is spent playing on the beach isn’t it?

Norman: Well I was closer in my boyhood than we are now to the beach.

Andrea: So you lived right on it then?

Norman: Yes, we had to climb over the railway line that run along the beach from Grimsby to Cleethorpes, and most of the year the gates were closed for ordinary people, there was no traffic ‘cos when you went over that and you were on the beach, so it was as close as that.

Andrea: That is close isn’t it? When I came up this morning I came up in a taxi, and the taxi driver grew up near here and he was talking about spending most of his childhood on the beach.

Norman: Yes.

Andrea: He just used to run down the road and spend all his time on the beach. I’m assuming neither of you did spend that much time on the beach did you?

Arthur: Well no. As I say I was born in Hammersmith so it was a bit of a way to the beach.

Andrea: But I was thinking, because one of the things about being on the beach a lot, as you were saying about building things in the sand weren’t you Norman? So did either you two Arthur and Reg build things elsewhere?

Reg: Well I was mainly in the country you know until I was about four or five, so the only thing I can remember is going hop picking.

31.45 – Arthur: My favourite toy, if you would call it a toy, I don’t know, was a coal cellar.

Reg: A what?

Arthur: Coal cellar. We used to have a basement flat, and the coal used to be tipped into a hole in the pavement, which had a cover over it of course, and it used to fall into the cellar below, and in the cellar below had a door to it to open in, and that’s where they kept the coal. But my favourite was to get in there and play with the coal. That particular finger there has got a split in it at the top if you can see it. Can you see it?

Andrea: Yes.

Arthur: Yes, that’s where a big lump of coal fell on it and cracked it open. That’s when I was pretty young you know. So but that’s where I used to, quite honestly I was, I was always covered in coal dust, and one thing and another. That was my favourite spot, because I was by myself, you know, I had to play by myself.

Andrea: And what did you play in the coal?

Arthur: I don’t know, no idea, perhaps stacking them up on bits on top you know, didn’t seem to be anything in particular I was playing, no idea really.

Andrea: Now you see, that’s a construction toy, isn’t it

Arthur: Yes I suppose

Andrea: You know playing and piling things up, and you know construction toys isn’t just about things that you might go and buy like Meccano, it’s about that sort of thing too. You know, playing with coal, building sandcastles.

Arthur: I can remember we used to do plasticine stuff.

Reg: Most of my teenage years I spent at Roehampton,

Arthur: Did we have plasticine?

Reg: Which before the Titanic was disaster, was the richest spot in England. There’s fourteen millionaires lived in Roehampton. My father was the local copper, and because I was only about five we was off Putney Heath, so that’s where we spend the majority of our time. It’s where I learned to play cricket. Someone say I got a bat, we’d put some coats up and there’d be about eight blokes, first you hit one down, down come another one, if it hit you on the head, you were out, LBW. [pause] So you didn’t really, in the school holidays, you never really, we used to think nothing in the evening probably take coats off and run to the windmill and back. That was five mile there and back. None of this business about to wreck things, because there were some valuable motor cars around there, but you never thought of going along the side of it with a coin, and scratching it. So I don’t know, must have missed out somewhere. But we’re none the worse for it I suppose. And of course as a one of seventeen, I used to play a lot of badminton.

Arthur: But I think you’ll find that in our day, I mean things were entirely different to what they are today. You know, what we started off was at Christmas, was that ours were a pillow case, or socks which we used to hang up, and father and mother used to come in during the night you know, and put oranges and apples and coins made of chocolate and stuff like that

Reg: Oh chocolate coins, yes

Arthur: And little things that they put in these bags, and they called that Father Christmas has been in the morning you know. And that was our, the way they did it in those days because there was nothing really mechanical that they could put in a thing like that you know. But I’ll tell you what we did have, we had some, I remember when I was about five or six I had a pedal motor car made of metal

Andrea: Okay

Arthur: And you used to sit in, had little pedals inside and you know?

Reg: I know. Either you had them with the levers like that

Arthur: That’s right

Reg: Or else you had roller skates. If you’d get somebody who was daft enough, you’d put a rope round them and they were like a horse, so you were like a chariot. You were alright ‘til you got to the corner, hit a stone and you’re overboard. Oh no.

Arthur: One toy that I did have was a sledge. It was an American sledge actually, quite a nice one you know, real metal frame one and you could guide it, and I think my son’s still got it, its indoors, it’s very old.

Andrea: Well, I’m going to say that unless you’ve got anything else you’d particularly like to say, I can see by my watch its nearly half past ten which I believe is tea break time.

Reg: Oh. Have we missed our coffee?

Andrea: Exactly, I don’t want you to miss your tea.

Reg: No it’ll be coffee.

Andrea: Is it coffee? Its morning isn’t it? Of course it’s coffee.

Reg: Coffee and biscuits.

Andrea: Yes.

Reg: It’s a wonder they haven’t been in and see. Probably don’t know we’re in here.

Andrea: Shall I pull you to a halt now and say thank you ever so.

Arthur: Do you want us to come back?

Andrea: It’s up to you. I’ve got some other people.

Arthur: It’s up to you

Andrea: Well, I’ll see how it goes, I’ll see who else is coming along.

Reg: If you don’t want us, just tell us to push off [laughter] We won’t be hurt.

Arthur: I personally don’t think I’ve got much to do this morning. Dave’s missing.

Reg: No he’s in.

Arthur: Is he in? Yes, I know he’s in, but he’s not in the workshop.

Reg: Oh I don’t know, I give up now.

INTERVIEW ENDS 38m 06s

Norman, Reg and Arthur

Norman, Reg and Arthur were interviewed at Blind Veterans UK, Brighton.

Norman (not in photograph) was born in 1919 in Cleethorpes and spent a lot of his childhood playing on the beach.

Reg (in photograph) was born in Newington, Kent in 1915 and spent his teenage years in Roehampton, where his father was the local policeman.

Arthur (not in photograph) was born in Hammersmith in 1921, where he lived in a basement flat and enjoyed playing in the coal cellar. He died in April 2015.

In the short version (2m 55s) of their interview they discuss Meccano and train sets. In the full version (28m 18s) they also talk about outdoor play, including potato guns, bows and arrows and toy boats.