"I was born on Christmas Eve in 1903 in a terraced house in Highgate,
Birmingham. In these 16 houses parents, all married, brought up
three, four or five children in conditions which would have made
" Each house consisted of one small living room with a small, pantry
and two small bedrooms. For many years none of the houses had water,
gas or electricity. Cooking was done on a small grate and oven.
" We only had one joint of meat a week and that was cooked hanging
in front of the fire. We had a clockwork spit but the motor was
broken, so Dad twisted a key in the hanging cord and I had to keep
the meat turning. One tasteful memory was having a kipper cooked
on the grill over the fire, with fat sizzling and dripping on the
fire. Kippers these days don't taste the same.
"In that small oven Mother cooked oats in a large stone jar and
pickled herrings with roe and rings of onions. We usually had oats
in the morning, bread and jam at dinner time, and bread and rosemary
lard for tea.
"Things did improve later and we never went to school hungry.
"We had stew on Tuesdays and I remember one day that mother and
I and a brother and sister were sick after the stew, but a sister
who did not like stew was okay.
"It was a mystery until my father said he could not find some gladioli
bulbs he had got to put in the garden. Mother had mistaken them
for onions and put them in the stew . . ."