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Bombsites and Lollipops - My 1950s East End Childhood: My 1950s East End Childhood

Bombsites and Lollipops - My 1950s East End Childhood: My 1950s East End Childhood [Kindle Edition]

Jacky Hyams
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (302 customer reviews)

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Product Description

Product Description

World War Two is finally over. Millions all over the country are starting to wonder if peacetime really is much of an improvement on the War. Food shortages, endless queues, power cuts, rationing and freezing winters make it extremely difficult to make ends meet as husbands return from battlefields to families they hardly know. Yet some East Enders are living a bombed out damp and squalid Hackney slum, one family are leading a life of luxury, a loadsamoney world funded by illegal betting, where virtually everything is available, thanks to a thriving black market. The Hyams family has a retinue of unofficial servants: a chauffeur, a cleaner and an army of delivery men. They take seaside holidays in posh hotels and dine on the finest foods and delicacies money can buy...but at the core of their daily life, an ever-growing nightmare lurks, threatening to wreck their luxurious existence. In this honest and sincere memoir, Jacky Hyams revisits the 'live for today' world of her childhood, a world where money was no object, growing up in a household underpinned by betting, booze and bribes. From stories of her parents partying with the Krays in the East End of old, to the optimistic swinging sixties of London's West End, this is the intimate story of a unique childhood, set against the backdrop of squalid, post-War Hackney.

About the Author

Jacky Hyams is a London-based journalist and non fiction author who has written extensively, on a wide range of topics, for many of the leading mass market newspapers and magazines in the UK and Australia for several years.

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More About the Author

Jacky Hyams is a Brighton based journalist and best selling non fiction author. She has been writing for a wide range of mass market newspapers and magazines in the UK and Australia for several years.

Her passion for 20th Century history led to the publication of her two best selling personal memoirs about post WW2 London: Bombsites and Lollipops, published by John Blake Publishing in 2011 and White Boots & Mini Skirts: A True Story of Life in the Swinging Sixties, published in February 2013, also by Blake Publishing.

Jacky's third historically related title, The Female Few: Spitfire Pilots of the ATA, was published by The History Press in 2012 followed by her unique history of Britain's WW2 female munitions workers, Bomb Girls: Britain's Secret Army, published in 2013 by John Blake Publishing.

Her latest book, Frances: The Tragic Bride, tells the unold true story of the life of Reggie Kray's first wife, Frances Shea, published by John Blake Publishing in September 2014. Based on interviews and documents that have never been made public before, the story provides an original and fresh perspective on life in the Kray Twins' inner circle -- and the troubled life of the innocent young woman at its centre.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
69 of 69 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A vivid and engaging memoir 4 July 2011
Bombsite and Lollipops tells the story of the author's childhood in Hackney, north-east London, in the years following the Second World War: an age of shortages, rationing, queues, power-cuts, cold and all-pervasive greyness. She grows up in a slum scarred by bomb damage, in a flat in a block with a stinking rubbish chute, but the life that she and her parents lead is way out of the ordinary. Her father, known as Ginger Sid, is a street bookie with a string of shady contacts - he and her mother at one point attend a party given by the Krays - and the family eat well (thanks to the Black Market), dress stylishly, employ a cleaner and a baby-sitter and are driven in a Daimler when they go for outings or for seaside holidays.

The author has some harsh things to say about her own past selves: the solitary bookish little girl with a penchant for showing off in public, and the rebellious teenager who, determined to get out of Hackney, opts out of her Grammar School and heads for Soho and abroad. She comes across, however, as a spirited and plucky character, with the resilience that her mother showed in coping with an alcoholic husband down the years, and the reader may readily discern - both in the stroppy, impressionable child, and in the sarky adolescent - the makings of the writer she is set, at the end of the story, to become.

I myself thoroughly enjoyed this memoir, which should appeal to a wide audience. For older readers, much of it may have the lure of a trip down memory lane (Ah, yes, those sachets of sherbert ... farthings ... the ineffectual Ascot water heater ... Liberty bodices ... smog ... the 1947 freeze ...) Younger readers, who might be disposed to see this evocation of a past age as the stuff of fiction, will benefit from the writer's skilful pointing, throughout the book, to the many differences, social and domestic, between then and now. But readers young and old should enjoy the pace, wit and detail of an unusual and engaging story.
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91 of 92 people found the following review helpful
The cover and the title of this book grabbed me by the throat. It says it all - well, nearly all.

Like the author, I grew up in post-war London, with the city still in ruins and strict rationing putting any luxuries and many essentials almost out of reach for most households.

Unlike the author, my family lived in a fairly decent, modest house, and ate frugally.

Jackie Hyams' family lived in a mean, damp wreck of a house on a bombsite, in one of the shabbiest areas of London, but dined on the finest foods and wore expensive clothes, while an army of unofficial servants catered to them. Extraordinarily, while Jackie's father was able and willing to provide anything that the family wanted, he never considered buying a house in a better area, so they continued to live in squalor. His nefarious business dealings in a world of bribe and favour would colour her view of life for decades to come.

Despite the differences in our upbringings, so much of what she writes strikes a cord within me. She recalls the horrors of the Liberty bodice and smog, the delights of Virol, and the novelty of the first televisions - black and white, with fuzzy, juddering white lines.

Doted on by her glamorous, cheerful mother, and over-protected by her boozy, illegal bookie father, young Jackie was a rebellious, spoilt little girl. She takes the reader on a nostalgic trip to the London of the bleak fifties and the swinging sixties, through the eyes of a girl with an enquiring mind, growing up and yearning to discover life outside her claustrophobic environment.

Recommended reading for anybody interested in the social history of London in the years following the end of the war. I really enjoyed it.
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18 of 18 people found the following review helpful
Format:Kindle Edition
I found the book particularly interesting, because I didn't know much about the black market. It was shocking to hear how men like Jackie's father Ginger benefited from illegal food and money when thousands where starving. I thought it was funny how they lived in a run down hackney flat when he had so much money. This perfectly reflects the era of living for the here and now. The book is beautifully written, funny and sarcastic. Your feel like your in the 1950s and 60s living and expericing all she writes about. An interesting read which I would suggest to anyone who enjoys british history, and a good autobiography.
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24 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the best London books you'll read 24 May 2011
Through this intimate portrait of her family's life in Shacklewell Lane, Hackney from 1945 to the 1960s Jacky Hyams has managed to create a revealing piece of social history. She recollects a time when Londoners lived cheek-by-jowl in multi-occupancy flats, where filling a bath meant hours of boiling kettles on the stove and where visiting a doctors without having to pay for the privilege was a wonderful new invention.
But as well as skilfully charting this momentous time of social change, just as compelling are the expertly sketched larger-than-life characters who make up the writers family. There's dad `Ginger', a boozed-up illegal street bookie who does business in the pubs round Petticoat Lane. Mum Molly, a glamorous `pocket venus' who, thanks to hubby's line of work, dresses like a Hollywood star while the neighbours scrub about in rags. There's Molly's sour faced mother-in-'law and Ginger's crew of bookies runners who duck and dive furtively taking bets. There's even a party with The Krays! When bookmaking goes `legit' in the early 60s and Ginger and his crew struggle to make a living faced with competition from the likes of Ladbrokes, along with some disastrous gambles, things start to crumble for the family. Sickened by her dads increasing love of the bottle and their violent rows, Jacky's escape route comes through a course in Pitmans Shorthand and typing and the discovery there's life up west in Soho's colourful coffee bars and beyond...
Moving and honest, I can't recommend this brilliant London memoir more highly.
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