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I do of course realize that this has nothing whatsoever to do with Ross-on-Wye but in Britain, Sunday was 'Mother's day'. My mother is no longer with us and over the weekend, thinking about Mum, I decided that I would have a proper go at editing the old cine film shot by my father and mother during the early 1960s and spent the whole weekend, separating hundreds of short clips from the 8mm reels ready to make some proper edits. There were over three hours worth of clips between 10 and 30 seconds in length and, late on Sunday, I put together the first in a series of short film sequences.

I did not originally plan to show this first sequence here. It was purely a thing for family and friends from the era and location but when I uploaded it to Vimeo, the response was amazing. Within minutes of the upload, people from around the world contacted me to say what a lovely film it was. So I changed my mind and here it is.

The sequence begins in Barking, Essex, on the Thames View Estate (bordering the East End of London), where I grew up and shows my younger brothers and I playing in the street. Notice how few parked cars and how little passing traffic there is. It then shows 'Barking Reach' on the River Thames, where we played as kids. On this occasion Mum and Dad were with us. Barking Park used to be a beautiful place, with a bandstand where dad used to play with the band weekly. It is sadly now pretty much run down and wrecked by vandals - well it was last time I visited.

Continued . . .

Barking, Essex 1961 - 1963 (and Central London).

The film moves on, 5 miles along the Thames to Tower Bridge, where Dad shot what must now be very rare footage of us eating sandwiches and a ship passing under the open bridge. Shipping has been dad's life. He started out as a shipwright in the East India dock but studied and eventually became a well respected naval architect - a job which took him to every country on the planet with a coast line. I remember sitting on the toilet crying when he first went away, to Iceland but as kids, we soon got used to him being away in exotic places such as Hawaii, the Caribbean, Australia, Peru, Iraq. He always brought us home a present and I still have small gifts from all around the world. Although retired at the age of 80, Dad still acts as a consultant and surveys the odd ship or boat to keep his hand in - especially in cases of law.

You may see somebody you all recognize in the Barking Carnival scene. Barbara Windsor of 'Carry On' film fame and, I believe, 'Eastenders' nowadays is in the parade with the Carnival Queen. Our down's syndrome playmate is my Dad's poor baby brother, 'Reggie'. During the war, Reggie was so small that he slept in the Anderson Shelter in a small suitcase. The doctors said that he would not see 14 years but he lived well into his 60s. Until his passing, Reggie liked Rupert Bear books and we used to play cowboys and Indians together. One funny memory I have is mum first telling me 'You must never laugh at Reggie'. Being about 4 years old at the time, I misunderstood her meaning and thought she had meant that it was wrong for me to smile in his presence. I spent weeks putting on a dead pan expression whenever I was in the same room and eventually 'Nan' noticed, and asked me what was the matter. She then explained the situation to me properly. He had been bullied badly at his mainstream school, which prompted Mum's lecture.

Despite it all taking place nearly 50 years ago, I can still remember every single incident in this film taking place as though it were yesterday; my pretending to feel seasick so that I would not have to go on the boat at Tower Bridge and my brother John being in trouble for doing his monkey impression, next to 'me with the horn'.

Sic transit gloria mundi! (Thus passes a better world!)

My brother John (left) and I as cowboys with home-made swords in 1961. Although it was my birthday present, John wore the cowboy outfit in the film.
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