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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 (380 customer reviews)

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Book 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 large...in 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.

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Product Description

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.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 654 KB
  • Print Length: 257 pages
  • Publisher: John Blake (2 May 2001)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B0078XGWNG
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (380 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #15,161 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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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.

Jacky's passion for 20th Century history led to the publication of her best selling personal memoir about post WW2 London: Bombsites and Lollipops, published by John Blake Publishing in 2011. The memoir has sold over 60,000 copies.

The followup, White Boots & Mini Skirts: A True Story of Life in the Swinging Sixties, was published by Blake in February 2013, also to considerable acclaim.

Jacky's third historically related title, The Female Few: Spitfire Pilots of the ATA, was published by The History Press in 2012. The book has now been optioned by a leading Hollywood producer.

This was followed by her unique history of Britain's WW2 female munitions workers, Bomb Girls: Britain's Secret Army, published by John Blake Publishing.

Jacky's recent book, Frances Kray: The Tragic Bride, tells the unold true story of the life of Reggie Kray's first wife, Frances Shea, first published by John Blake Publishing in September 2014. In the updated paperback version, published in September 2015, Jacky reveals, through new interviews and documents that have never been made public before, even more insights into Frances' story, revealing a wholly original and fresh perspective on life in the Kray Twins' inner circle -- and the troubled life of the innocent young woman at its centre.

Jacky is also the co-author of a second book about the Kray Twins, One of The Family: 40 years with the Krays, published by Century in July 2015. Written in collaboration with hairdresser and Page 3 girl Maureen Flanagan, the book tells the story of Maureen's unique relationship with the Kray family over the years.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
79 of 79 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A vivid and engaging memoir 4 July 2011
Format:Paperback
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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94 of 95 people found the following review helpful
Format:Paperback
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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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A real 'documentary' read 28 Feb. 2012
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
There are several disappointing reviews that might put people off; so I have written this, simply to show its real merits.
Other reviewers seem uncertain how to describe the daughter of Molly and Ginger, the authoress, Jackie. Is this an 'ordinary' childhood'? Is she just a 'spoilt kid'? Is this a case of sheer selfishness - 'Me.me,me'? No it is none and all of these.It is actually a very truthful story of a child's growth to womanhood and independence in a bizarre post-war poor neighbourhood; a privileged, affluent family dependent on a father whose money came from the wrong side of the law and whose friends were often 'undesirables'. Ginger is an illegal bookie's runner and Molly the typical 'dolly bird' of the 50's.
Jackie and her friends present the thoughtful reader with challenging questions about education, morality, family relationships,adolescence and chastity. The answers emerging in the story reflect pre-sixties 'liberation' but are close enough to present the dilemmas facing a generation living across those years.
To suggest that the story is boring can only reflect a reader either careless enough to simply focus on each set of events or unprepared to 'read' the fascinating sub-text that emerges from practically every episode that Jackie describes. An attentive reader will find a central character who, in her storytelling, virtually presents the body-language you might find in a film. I am just a few years older than Jackie. The portrait of the period is clear, vivid and stimulating. The book is the difference between a primary source and a secondary source. If you want a detailed history, buy a history book. If you want to feel and understand what it was like to live in immediate post-war cities, you will find no better book on the shelf especially towards the end.
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