Brian Thompson has written a funny and interesting memoir of his wartime childhood. His mother seems to have been an extremely difficult woman and yet Brian somehow survived the experience and is now able to write about his early life without bitterness - quite an achievement.
From his early days, his father had given up on his family, preferring to follow his own course, firstly by joining up to fight in the RAF and then by leading a successful commercial life in London. Brian's mother on the other hand made hardly any attempts to care for her son, disappearing into the nearby city of Cambridge to enjoy herself with American servicemen, and to indulge her passion for dancing. We read of the young Brian waiting by the window in the evening for his mother to return home, then putting himself to bed in the empty house, in terror of ghosts and invading Germans.
Later on, he is sent to live with his aunt and uncle, who seem to do a much better job of bringing him up, until their house in New Malden is destroyed in a bombing raid. Brian recounts wonderful stories of his grandparents and their home in Lambeth, and clearly despite the poverty of his immediate family, he had many warm relationships in his life which balanced out the disaster of immediate home-life. Although his mother obviously suffered from bouts of severe depression, it is perhaps his father who showed the strangest attitude. He seemed to show no guilt whatsoever for leaving his young son with his hopeless "Mum", but on his occasional appearances, seems to treat Brian as though there was nothing wrong at all and that it is a privilege to be taken out for the day by his father.
There have been many published memoirs of wartime childhoods. This one is worth reading and reminds us of the difficulties families faced in coping with the disruption of those years, quite apart from the added problems of living in a highly dysfunctional family at the same time.