story of a young boy's home-life, during the hectic days, months and years of the devastating World War II. From eating un-peeled turnips, to breakfast of bread and lard. Collecting paper and milk-bottle tops to salvage for the war effort. Council workers building new roads by hand. Having thirteen people living in a three bedroom house, with refugees from the London Blitz forced onto already large families. Two six and seven year old brothers having to walk three miles each-way, to collect sacks of coke from the gas-works, on an old set of pram wheels. Catching rabbits in their burrows by twisting a long thorny dog-briar into their fur and pulling them out, then selling them to house-wives for their family's dinner, door to door for half a crown. Cutting-up fallen branches for firewood to sell in sand-bags; thick pieces one shilling a bag, twiggy stuff for just a tanner. Digging gardens with spades as tall as themselves, just to earn a few bob to make ends meet. No benefit system in those days, No free Health Service either; people had to pay if they were ill and had to see a Doctor to get some Jollop. If you were really hard-up, you might borrow a few bob from the National Assistance Board. Into the air-raid shelter or under the kitchen table as German Bombers droned overhead and Ack-Ack guns boomed. Householders kept chickens, ducks, rabbits and even the occasional pig in their back garden to eat; as well as growing as many vegetable crops as possible themselves, due to the food shortage. School children were taught horticulture at the schools allotments in order to grow veg-food themselves. All rather different from the mollycoddled UK we have today.
Born at Downpatrick, Northern Ireland, one of six children, their father being a long-term regular soldier, caused each child to be born at a different place in the world. Brother Fred was a Raj Child, born at Chittagong, which was then part of India, before becoming East Pakistan at the 1947 Partition, now Bangladesh. With the constant moving around, the children's education was neglected and the two boys mostly taught themselves from books and the wireless. Fred became a trainee wildlife officer for the local Council until joining the Royal Air force, while James worked in farming and as a trainee forestry Officer with the Forestry Commission; before enlisting in the Royal Army Veterinary Corp where he fought in the Korean War, before transferring to Singapore to train tracking and guard dogs until being posted with a contingent of Gurkhas and SAS Troopers, as second in command to fight Chinese Communist Terrorists in the Malayan Jungle. After demobilization, he walked the length of the UK, from John O'Groats to Lands-End, which inspired him to take-on a greater challenge and he planned his walk to Singapore. On his return, he married girl friend Rosemary, a show business Drum Dancer, and they have one daughter, Cheryl. Taking a College course on Landscape Design & Construction, he built a business of commercial landscaping with a fifty acre wholesale nursery; which included a fishing lake, deer-park, camp site, plant hire and haulage; retiring to a villa in Cyprus for 10 years, before returning to the UK.