Listen up kids. This is what life was like


Dawson Street

This is where I grew up

We didn’t have carpets or central heating. We didn’t have curtains – when it was dark it was dark, when it was light, you woke up.

We cleaned our clothes with a bar of Sunlight soap under a cold tap (no running hot water); no washing machines, no spin dryers, no dishwashers. No fridge, either!

Toilet paper was yesterday’s Daily Mirror (I am not joking) in a toilet at the end of the backyard, that had a door a foot shy of the opening at top and bottom. That was your toilet come rain or shine, sun or snow. A grownup might have gone in for a crafty fag; for us young’uns you did your business and got out of there.

We played out in the street, or climbed the wall into the grounds of the nursing home behind the terraces. We got dirty and we stayed out till it was dark. That was the only rule. You came home before it got dark.

We walked to school. From the age of five. No adult to accompany us, just the other kids from our street and surrounding streets, all headed in the same direction.

If workmen were digging up the street we would play around them, the smell of the freshly dug clay beneath the tarmac smelling like nothing else. When the workmen had gone for the day, we’d get down in their ditch and rub the clay in each others’ faces.

No bathroom, no shower

We were dirty. No question about that. The only washing facility was a sink in the scullery with a cold water tap. You might, once a week, take off your shirt and put some soap under your armpits. But since the shirt you were going to also be wearing tomorrow was the one you’d had on yesterday, well, you see what I’m saying.

Bread, freshly baked each day, was kept on counters, open to the elements in conditions that wouldn’t pass any hygiene test today. Broken biscuits were on display in containers that customers would put their dirty hands in to scoop out a bagful (they were cheaper than the unbroken ones).

This was my life. I am talking about a mere 60 years ago. This was what life was like in working class Britain. It really only started to change in the 1970s. Even so, I did not have central heating or a washing machine until 1988. I didn’t live in fully carpeted houses till the late 80s.

And that’s when my allergies started to really display themselves. Just saying…..

This one-minute video says it all, but I just thought I’d let you know that nothing here is exaggerated.


Also, I wrote a song about the astonishing changes in my lifetime. It’ll be on my new album, Driver 67 Is Having The Time Of His Life, due for release in October.


And, by the way, this is where Jeremy Corbyn grew up,
and from where he went to his private prep school
and then to grammar school. Which of us, do you think,
truly understands ‘the working class’?

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