My Mum and Dad never really had much in life. Dad was born in 1917 and mum in 1923. As youngsters growing up they would have felt the full force of the ‘Depression’.
They both served in World War 2. Dad served in the Royal Artillery Mum, well I was never really sure what mum did but we have pictures of her in uniform. I do know she didn’t like it, the military that is. My dad used to sing with a band in the Naafi and my Mum was smitten. Dad was a good singer. He would always sing. I suppose that’s where I get it from. If you come across a singing boater it may well be me.
After the war Dad worked in the furniture manufacturing trade. He was a frame maker for people like Lebus Bros. They lived with his mother and they lived with her mother. Eventually the council gave them accommodation. . . . . .
a Nissen hut!
Nissen huts were not the nicest of places. Dad raised the issue with the council, several times. Eventually they were told there was a new estate being built and they could have one of those when they were finished, October 1950 they moved in. I arrived in December. Elizabeth was not yet Queen. Some stuff was still rationed.
My parents had a simple philosophy in life ‘Always pay your rent if all else fails at least you can’t get rained on. Dad never missed a days work unless he was seriously ill. He left the house in the morning before I got up and arrived home when it was time for my bed.
Another thing my Dad never did was to call the council. What ever needed doing to the house he did it. He considered that if the council were good enough to let him have a house then it was his responsibility to look after it. Unless it was something major we never saw a council worker. Didn’t need one dad was good at DIY a great repairman/decorator/woodworker/electrician etc. Our garden was always neat and tidy and the gate never swung off its hinge. The property was properly looked after.
They had lived in the house for nearly 30 years when the Tories got elected in 1979 (it was me who convinced them to vote tory). The right to buy scheme was a Tory con. Yes Joe Public could be come house owners, and for many this was a good thing (in all honesty there is not one man reading this that would have said no), but the thinking behind it was simple. If you owned the house you lived in you would be unlikely to go on strike because you couldn't then pay your mortgage. Maggie wasn’t stupid. As I see it the ‘Right to Buy’ scheme was the beginning of the end of the unions as they were at that time.
It was about 1982 when my parents bought their house. Yes they got a discount, but they didn't get as big a discount as the family down the road in a similar house. You may wonder why this was? I can tell you it is down to my fathers hard work. Our house was in very good condition, well looked after. The family down the road did nothing to their house in thirty years. They always called the council to even fix a tap washer or a loose screw in a door hinge. So there is profit in laziness.
Yes my parents did get their house at a reduced price, but had they not bought the house they would never have left it anyway. They were not the sort to walk out on 30 years of memories. They didn’t know how. So when people tell me they were wrong to buy the house I have to wonder if I am in the presence of sainthood. I know I am not, but I have to wonder.
Now when I left the RAF after 25 years 239 days, I too was entitled to get in on the RTB scheme. I however had bought a house three years earlier and never for one minute thought about RTB. People get in a situation and make choices. Some good, some bad. I certainly don't think of my parents as bad people because someone offered them a lollipop at half price and they took it. I do consider saints to be of dubious integrity………and stupid.