'I've got the kettle on!'
The houses were strange in Artillery Street, tall, dim and smelly, all slums. My Mum used to get welfare because my Dad didn’t work much. On Mondays it used to be ‘Here’s your Father’s suit, go up the pawnshop’; or ‘Take the sheets off the bed, wash them and take them along to uncle’s, get a few bob till the end of the week’; which I did quite often. We used to have to go to Royal York Buildings and get meal tickets for dinners, because they didn’t give you that much money in those days, and instead gave you tickets for meals, or a pair of shoes or boots.
At Christmas we used to get little parcels; my Mum had to go and put her name down on the list to receive this. It was scrimp and scrape, and we were always on the move from one slummy house to another. It wasn’t a case of ‘phoning up for a removal van, we had to hire a barrow and I used to love piling everything on the barrow and helping to push it through the streets.
A lot of the houses were owned by private landlords and were quite reasonable and cheap, but if they had been taken over by the council they could have probably done something with them. It is a shame really they are not there anymore. Nearly every street I lived in Brighton has gone. Although they were slum areas they were happy areas. You hear lots of people say in those days you could go out and leave your front and back door open, and nobody would go in. If anyone did call in it was to say ‘Hello’, or ‘Can I help you?’ or ‘I’ve got the kettle on!’ Even though kids had scraps and fights it didn’t last or boil into anything with the neighbours. I can’t see where all that understanding of the years gone by went.