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Here is my entry below for the Bloggers Bash Blog Competition, which you can read about here.

Five Felix Street, by Stevie Turner (copyright Stevie Turner 2019)

The door was olive green, and the brass knocker and doorstep always shone. My grandparents had brought up three children whilst living in 3 small rooms at 5, Felix Street, Bethnal Green, London East 2.

All the houses in Felix Street would eventually fall to the ‘new broom’ of slum clearance sweeping through the East End in the late 1960s, but to my 8-year-old self the house had warmth and character.

On the top floor of number 5 lived Nan and Grandad in their tiny flat. Downstairs on the first floor was Nan’s sister Lou and her husband, and another sister, Mary, and her husband lived on the ground floor. The sisters and their husbands, now minus their grown offspring, all shared an outside lavatory and wash house in the small back yard.

The front door was always open. The ground floor hallway, dark and odoriferous with cabbage, still had its Victorian gas mantles. I would hurry along past Mary’s three rooms and the yard to the stairs going up to Nan and Grandad’s flat. None of the three flats had any front doors, and the sisters walked in and out of each other’s rooms just as they pleased.

Next door at number 6 lived the sisters’ cousins. Nan could lean out of her kitchen window and carry on a conversation with Cousin Pam opposite. They shared a washing line strung between the two houses, and I soon learned to peg out each item of clothing and pull the line along on its runner. More sisters lived within a stone’s throw of number 5.

When it rained, the roof leaked. However, Nan took it all in her stride and placed saucepans in appropriate positions. She had her family around her, and that’s all she needed.

One by one the husbands died, and then the sisters. The cousins were re-housed, and Nan was the only one left at number 5. She was eventually given a brand new place with an inside lavatory and all mod-cons. Ensconced in her newly decorated flat, she sat on the settee and cried as though her heart would break.

 

 

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