As I said, it was to be many years before I found myself in Isleworth again, and even that occurred purely by chance.  But as the old and seemingly Chinese proverb says: it is better to travel hopefully than to arrive. 
If you don’t understand this proverb, you were once not alone!  The first time I heard it was when I was about thirteen years of age.  We had this teacher, an old man who taught Chemistry and who had been a missionary in China and he used it pertaining to some subject or other.  As I did not enjoy learning about Chemistry and I most certainly did not like this old man, I thought that Chemistry and his ridiculous proverb were dull and of no interest to me and I most certainly thought that the old man was nuts!  However, for some unknown reason the proverb stayed with me over the years and I find myself quoting it to folks, who naturally raise their eyebrows to the sky whenever I used it and dismissed me and thought me nuts!

Anyway, over the years I traveled and eventually I arrived!  But more of the arriving later and enough of the proverbs!

As a child, South London did not hold any interest for me, I am sorry to say.  My father was born in Dulwich and raised in Camberwell and the Elephant and Castle areas.  I was very much an East End Boy and never enjoyed having to go to South London to visit my father’s old haunts and the occasional family member.

It was not until 1975 that I went to Clapham Junction for the first time and only went as a favour to someone I worked with when living in Bern, Switzerland.  I was working at the Theodor Kocher Institut (see Margaret Muller: Our Love Is Here To Stay) at the time and the Head of the Technical Staff wanted a part for some machine that he owned.  Apparently the machine had been made in England and he had tracked down sellers of the part and one such seller was found in Clapham Junction.  Would I go and collect it when I next went to England?  And so one wet morning, I boarded a semi-fast train to the South Coast of England whose first stop was Clapham Junction, which is a crossroads for Southern Railway.  I remember seeing Battersea Power Station once the train crossed the Thames and then Battersea Park, which I had not visited since the Festival of Britain in 1951, and not being impressed.   

Battersea Power Station
Bottom left: Cover of the Pink Floyd album, Animals; Middle: copy of the disc, Animals; and
Bottom right: The Pink Floyd, 1977 

 The train arrived at Clapham Junction station and again I was decidedly unimpressed.  The station seemed dirty as did the streets that I had to pass through to get to the little shop where I hoped to find the part.  The shop was miserable and dreary and the staff were decidedly unhelpful and had no idea what I was asking when I showed them a picture of the part.  I remember that the Head of the Technical Staff in Bern had to make it in the workshop and British exports suffered another blow!

 Scenes of Clapham Junction
Left: Allders (Arding and Hobbs) with its famous capula 
standing at the foot of Lavender Hill; 
 Right, top: entrance to the train station;
Right, bottom: shops on St. John's Hill

Prior to this first visit, all of knew of Clapham Junction was from the notoriety it had gained in the 1960s thanks to the writings of Nell Dunn.  Ms Dunn is an interesting person.  She came from a well-to-do family, but chose to move to Battersea in the late 1950s.  Living and working in the area evidently inspired her writings, which began with a book of short stories under the title, Up the Junction.  The book proved controversial as a result of its glimpse into the lives of working class people.  Ms Dunn employed colloquial speech and introduced many of her readers to an unknown way of life where crime, sexual liaisons and backstreet abortion were commonplace.  The book was filmed for television and directed by Ken Loach, as part of the BBC’s The Wednesday Play series.  It was also made into a film, which was directed by Peter Collinson who was best known for filming the original version of The Italian Job. 

Book, Television Play and Film
In 1967, Ms Dunn published her first novel, Poor Cow, which was also filmed with Carol White and Terence Stamp and with Ken Loach directing and Donovan providing the music.  Mr. Loach has gone on to an illustrious career in film making and continues to film the most interesting and controversial of subjects.  Carol White’s fate was to tragic unfortunately.  Although she apparently was considered to be a promising actress, addiction and bad life choices led to her death at 48-years of age.  Terrance Stamp has enjoyed a successful film career and interestingly enough starred in the Steven Sonderbergh’s film, The Limey, which used scenes from Poor Cow and where he played the same, but now aged character introduced by Ms Dunn.

 Poor Cow - Book and Film
The music used in the film was by Donovan, top right;  
Terence Stamp and Carol White, bottom left; 
Carol White, middle; and Terrance Stamp, bottom right 

In 1966, Carol White and Ken Loach had caused more than a mild sensation in Britain for their work on the BBC’s The Wednesday Play, Cathy Come Home written by Jeremy Sandford, who was married to Nell Dunn at the time.  The play brought to the attention of the British public the lack of sufficient and suitable housing that was still prevalent at the time.  In 1953, my parents and myself were on the verge of becoming homeless and were intensely sensitive to the effects that a lack of housing caused.  It was a shock to me while watching the play that little had changed in the intervening time between 1953 and 1966.  The play brought to the forefront poverty and what it does to people.  The play showed how people who fell on hard times were forced to squat in empty houses and also revealed what life was like for those living in shelters.  The play concluded with a dramatic scene where Cathy ran into a railway station in an attempt to escape the people from Social Services who were there to remove her children.

 Cathy Come Home
Top left: Ken Loach, 1966; Top right: at Cannes, 2007
Bottom: Carol White; Bottom right: with Ray Brooks 

Cathy Come Home was shown on the American television channel, Turner Classic Movies, a few years ago thanks to the guest presenter actor Tim Roth.  I remember that the regular presenter, Robert Osborne, was visibly shaken once the play ended and plied Mr. Roth with a multitude of questions about the social conditions of Britain.

Anyway, as I said earlier, it is better to travel than to arrive and over the years, I have traveled.  And perhaps now it is time to arrive.  I began to want to go to places that I had seemingly ignored in the past.  And where better to begin than South London. 


Crossing The River

It is amazes how wrong one can be!  I am amazed at all the things that I have been totally incorrect about.  I always thought that South London had no real history and that it had been nothing more than a bog.  I had the idea that it was not until the population of North London got to be so large that rather than risk people tumbling into the river, it was decided to drain the land on the South Bank and beyond and send folks off to live there.  Well, perhaps I am exaggerating slightly, but I did think something along this line.  Anyway, I had little time for anywhere south of the river and always turned my nose up when I was forced to venture there!

Who knew that Clapham was not just a place with a funny sounding name, but had a history dating back to Anglo-Saxon times and that its very name means Homestead or enclosure near a hill or that Clapham High Street was once used by Roman soldiers?  Who knew that King Edgar granted the land now known as Clapham to Jonas, son of the Duke of Lorraine in 965 who later was happy to be known as Jonas of Clapham?  I had no idea that William the Conqueror took control of the land once Jonas’ great-great-grandson, Arthur, made the mistake of siding against him!  Clapham was mentioned in the Doomsday Book as Clopeham, and its assets were listed as three hides and six ploughs and a few acres of meadow!

By the 17th Century and until the 19th Century, members of the wealthy merchant class who had made fortunes in the City of London took to building large houses around Clapham Common, which was 220 acres of common land prior to 1878 when it was converted into parkland. 

 Views of Clapham Common
Left top: when it was common land open to grazing animals;
Left bottom: The Band Stand in Victorian times; and
Right, top and bottom: the modern park

Celebrities through this time sort respite here: Samuel Pepys spent the last years of his life here; Elizabeth Cook, wife of the celebrated Captain, lived here for many years following her husband’s death; and Edvard Grieg, Graham Greene and the architects of the Palace of Westminster (the Houses of Parliament), Sir Charles Barry, and of Westminster Cathedral, John Francis Bentley amongst others also lived here.

Top left: Samuel Pepys; Top middle: Elizabeth Cook, wife of Captain James Cook, R.N.; Top right: Sir Charles Barry;
Bottom right: John Francis Bentley; Bottom middle:
Graham Greene; and Bottom right: Edvard Grieg

In the Hall of the Mountain King from Peer Gynt by Edvard Grieg

Clapham is perhaps most renown for being home to the group of upper class social Anglican reformers living around the Common during the 19th Century.  This group, known as the Clapham Sect, included William Wilberforce (1759-1833) amongst others.  Their interests lay in the abolition of slavery, child labour and prison reform and the Sect was responsible for the founding of The British and Foreign Bible Society, The Church Missionary Society and The Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.  Their efforts were finally rewarded in 1807 with the passing of The Slave Trade Act, which brought about the banning of the trade throughout the British Empire and in 1833 with the passage of The Slavery Abolition Act, which allowed the total emancipation of British slaves.  The Sect was also responsible for the founding of Freetown in Sierra Leone, which was the first British Colony in Africa and set up with the strict idea of bringing about the end of the Slave Trade.  Following the passage of the anti-slavery laws, the Sect campaigned for the British Government to use its influence to bring about the end of slavery throughout the world.  The Sect through writing, influence and campaigns played a great part in the development of what has become to be known as Victorian morality and the historian, Stephen Tomkins wrote that the ethos of Clapham became the spirit of the age.

William Wilberforce
Bottom right:  Iaon Gruffudd as William Wilberforce 
in the film, Amazing Grace

The Society was founded by
The Clapham Sect


 Where lavender once grew on the hillside  ........

Not long ago I went back to Clapham Junction.  I had wanted to go there for some time, but for some reason, I never had.  Presumably something more important must have kept me from going and it was only then that I had both the time and the inclination to go!  To be honest the reason for my trip turned out to be less about seeing Clapham Junction and more about finally seeing Lavender Hill.  As a child, I had enjoyed the film, The Lavender Hill Mob and had recently acquired my own copy.  Watching the film again obviously renewed my interest in the area and made me decide finally to go and see the area where it was set. 

 The Lavender Hill Mob
The film starred Alec Guiness and Stanley Holloway (Top Middle) with Alfie Bass and Sidney James (Bottom right) and 
was one of the first films of Audrey Hepburn (Top right)

Not long afterwards, on the Saturday morning before Remembrance Sunday, I went to Stockwell to visit the memorial to Violette Zarbo (see Carve Her Name with Pride at East End Memories).  Once I finished looking and photographing the memorial and the area, I found myself on Wandsworth Road where I noticed a bus traveling towards Clapham Junction.  As I said, I had only been there once before, and that was over thirty years earlier and had been markedly fleeting, I thought that it might be interesting to go there now and actually explore the area this time.  Not being familiar with the geography of South London, it was only when the voice of the bus indicator informed us that the next stop was to be Lavender Hill that my ears pricked up.  The words Lavender Hill shook me out of the dream world I had slipped into as the bus dashed through the streets of South London and I remembered the film and my wish to come to and see this place. 
I got off the bus and there I was, standing at the top of Lavender Hill!  I remember thinking to myself, Wow!  Now I appreciate that Lavender Hill is not the Grand Canyon or some other scenic site, but nonetheless I could not but be impressed and felt a certain excitement at actually being there, at last!

  Lavender Hill, Battersea, S.W.11

Lavender Hill is a long rolling hill that eases its way down into Clapham Junction.  Although the houses and shops that line the Hill were in reasonable condition, it was easy to see that they had seen better days.  Obviously the area had once been populated by a reasonably well-positioned working group of people, such as the main character in The Lavender Hill Mob, who tottered on the edge of middle class. 

 Lavender Hill Area

Today, although still a pleasant looking area, it was perhaps less well-to-do.  As I walked down the hill, I noticed a pie shop that had recently closed - perhaps another victim of the recession!

 Golden Pie Shop, Lavender Hill

The Lavender Hill Police Station was almost at the bottom of the hill.  Since this building was relatively new, it obviously was not the one used in the film, which was a little disappointing.  However I realise the need to remember that the film was made some fifty years earlier and evidently the old station was no longer suitable for housing modern criminals.   

 Lavender Hill Police Station


 Clapham Junction - looking north towards Lavender Hill

Clapham Junction - looking south towards St. John's Hill

I continued down the remainder of the Hill and came to the Junction.  It was a lot tidier than it had been during my first visit.  The large department stores and landmark, Arding and Hobbs, still stood in its prominent position on one of the corners of the Junction.  However, although open for business it now formed part of the Debenham’s chain of stores.  As a result, the stores no longer displayed a unique quality, which was shared by a few stores once present throughout London suburbs, and which made them much more attractive to visit.

 The Arding and Hobbs Building at Clapham Junction
The store was built in 1885 and the capula was added later in 1909 following a fire in the building

The Falcon Public House at Clapham Common

 The Former Francis and Son Building at Clapham Junction

Clapham Junction, like the Elephant and Castle and many other large intersections around London, was once rich in theatres, cinemas and other establishments where the local populace was able to find entertainment.  Just beyond the Junction on St. John’s Hill is The Grand or to give it its full name, The New Grand Theatre of Varieties.  New was added to the name so as not to confuse it with the Grand Theatre of Varieties once present further down the road.  The theatre has a long and interesting history where it has been used for a variety of entertainment purposes.  Despite its history, it has apparently remained remarkable unchanged.

 The Grand Theatre, 2011, now a night club 

The theatre was designed by E.A. Woodrow and built by Gray Hill of Coventry for the Music Hall entertainer, Dan Leno and his associates and opened in November 1900.  The theatre had a capacity of 3,000 and its façade is of red stone and brick and fashioned in a Renaissance style. 

Dan Leno

In 1901, the Grand began to show films along with stage shows however in 1931 the theatre was converted into a full-time cinema.  In 1950, it became part of the Essoldo Cinema Chain, but closed in 1963 and reopened as an Essoldo Bingo Club, which later became the Vogue Bingo Club under the management of Classic Cinemas.  It was under the ownership of this company that a false ceiling was introduced stretching from the gallery and other upper areas thereby cutting them off from the main auditorium.  Between 1972 and 1979, the building was run by Mecca Bingo after which it remained empty until 1989.  In 1978, still owned by Mecca Bingo, the Grand became a designated Grade II Listed building by English Heritage.

The Grand Theatre as an Essoldo cinema
showing St. John's Hill rolling down to the Junction with
Arding and Hobbs and Lavender Hill in the distance
The Grand was next purchased by the Mean Fiddler Group who planned to open it as a music venue, but were not able to open it until 1991, as a result of difficulties in obtaining a licence to sell alcoholic beverages on the premises.  During this time, the building was restored and the false ceiling was removed.  In 1997, the building was purchased by the J.D. Wetherspoon PLC who applied to convert the theatre into a public house.  The company was was refused a licence following an enquiry since the Theatres Trust, along with English Heritage and the Wandsworth Council, decided that the quality of the interior would suffer were the theatre converted into a public house.  Eventually, J.D. Wetherspoon PLC sold the building to its current owners, the Po Na Na Group, who in 2005 converted the theatre into a nightclub.

After walking up and down Lavender and St. John’s Hill and exploring the Junction, I noticed a bus, 337, that went to Richmond.  At the time, I did not know Richmond at all.  I had only been there once before and that was at night and I had seen very little of the place.  I caught the next 337 that came along and soon found myself going on a ride taking me through a number of areas of London that I had heard of but had never visited en route to Richmond.  The journey was to be memorable since it not only proved to be interesting and surprising, but above all, it also proved to be highly amusing!


 The Road to Richmond

Is there a greater joy than sitting in the front seat of a London double-decker on the upper level?


Wandsworth - The Brighter Borough
The interesting and surprising part of the journey was in fact two-fold.  As the bus rumbled along St. John’s Hill, we entered Wandsworth.  This was an area of London, which was totally unknown to me.  My father used to talk of it and always gave me the impression that it was an area with some charm.  My initial dislike of anything in South London took yet another beating once we arrived at Wandsworth Town Hall.  This is a surprisingly delightful building designed by Edward A. Hunt and opened by Queen Mary in 1937 and was obviously deserving of being examined further and explored to the full and which I was to do on another visit.

Wandsworth Town Hall

The external design of the Town Hall is simple although along the High Street there are a number of stone reliefs depicting incidents and industries in the history of the five parishes (Wandsworth, Streatham, Clapham, Putney and Balham-Tooting) which made up the Metropolitan Borough of Wandsworth .


In July 1902, Wandsworth was granted its coat of arms.  The blue wavy division represents the Rivers Wandle and Thames. In 1685, Huguenot refugees arrived in the area and the blue drops on the coat of arms represent the tears of their struggle.  The five stars represent the constituent former parishes. At the top is a long boat, with a dragon's head, commemorating 9th century Danish incursions along the river. The motto of the borough council was We Serve.

Wandsworth Buildings

Top left: Palace Theatre, now a gym; Middle: Coat of Arms;
Top right: Spread Eagle public house;  
Bottom left and middle: South Thames College,
Wandsworth Campus;  
Bottom right: Fountain and War Memorial at the Town Hall


But to return to my trip to Richmond: the truly interesting and surprising, as well as informative part of my journey came when the bus passed a road with a signpost pointing the way to the London Wetland Centre.

The London Wetland Centre was opened in 2000 and is a reserve managed by the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust (WWT) in Barnes.  The area was originally four disused Victorian reservoirs close to the Thames and covers an area of over 100 acres and has created a range of wetland features that has allowed many birds not found elsewhere in the city to make their home in significant numbers.  The centre was the first of its kind to be set up in Britain and is considered a success.  I was very surprised to learn about the centre.  Somehow one does not think of such a sanctuary in an urban setting.  It is amazing what can be done when those with vision come together.

 The Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust (WWT) was founded by 
SirPeter Scott in 1946
Right: statue of Sir Peter Scott at the London Wetland Centre

The amusing part of the journey happened when the bus indicator now present on most London buses informed me that I was about to pass through East Cheam.  (Now before you reach for the keyboard, read on and see what follows at the end of this story please.)  Most people of my age would immediately understand why I found the name East Cheam to be amusing, while the rest of society would think me nuts for laughing out loud on that bus.

When I was a child, I used to enjoy Hancock’s Half Hour, one the classic comedy shows of the 1950s presented on the BBC Light Programme.  The writers were Ray Galton and Alan Simpson who went on to write other great shows including Steptoe and Son.  Hancock’s Half Hour centred round the comedian Tony Hancock playing a less-than-successful comedian, Anthony Aloysius St John Hancock and his assortment of friends and was set in his rundown home at 23 Railway Cuttings in East Cheam. 

Hancock's Half-Hour
Top left: Anthony Hancock; Top middle: with Alan Simpson and Ray Galton (writers); Top left: Hattie Jacques;
Centre: with Sidney James;
Botton left: Kenneth Williams, Tony Hancock, Bill Kerr 
and Sidney James; Bottom right: with Sidney James and Bill Kerr 

Listen to: The Blood Donor 

The programme was a wonderful situation comedy and was highlighted by Hancock’s interactions with his pals.  My friends, family and I listened to each new episode when it was aired and listened again when they were repeated.  We found the programme to be immensely entertaining and each episode invariably caused me to laugh uncontrollably to the point where I ached, which is something that rarely happens today.  Throughout the numerous series, Hancock’s assortment of friends came and went, but those that I especially liked were: Sidney James who played a spiv, a wideboy, a con man, someone who was always into dodgy deals and who constantly outwitted Hancock and who had a characteristic evil-cum-dirty laugh; Bill Kerr whose character came from Wagga Wagga in Australia (I have to confess that before going to Australia, I’d decided that I wasn’t leaving the country without visiting this town!) and who spoke slowly and deliberately and who was considered to be less than bright and used to refer to Hancock as Tub; Hattie Jacques who played Griselda Pugh, Hancock's secretary and occasional girl friend of Sidney James and unlike previous female characters also provided comedy; and Kenneth Williams in his first sortie into comedy and who played numerous roles whenever funny voices were required.

 The Town of Wagga Wagga found between Melbourne and Sydney on the Murrumbidgee River in New South Wales

Hancock’s Half Hour aired on the radio between November 1954 and December 1959.   There was also a television version, which was produced from 1956 to 1961.  The last television series was titled simply Hancock, as it ran for twenty-five minutes!  Only Sidney James was a regular on both the radio and television series, although he did not appear in Hancock.

 The co-stars of Hancock's Half-Hour went on to have successful careers in radio, television and film

The writers, Ray Galton and Alan Simpson,  also wrote the highly successful comedy show Steptoe and Son (bottom left) 

The programme brought notoriety to East Cheam, a very middle class and well-to-do area that implied that it had a poor and dilapidated section, which it did not.  I am afraid that as a result of this programme, I have never been able to hear its name without laughing and doing so loudly and for an extended period of time. 
In order to stifle my laughter once I realised that we were about to enter the precincts of East Cheam, I tried burrowing my face in one hand while I used the other to search for a handkerchief.  Once found, I tried stuffing it into my mouth.  I also tried coughing and even attempted a sneeze.  Unfortunately each of my feeble attempts to hide my laughter only caused my fellow passengers to notice me more than they might have done had I just laughed and allowed them to think me nuts and was simply laughing at an hallucination.

 Arriving in the heart of East Sheen

Because of my coughing, spluttering and laughing, I did not get to see the splendour of East Cheam.  I am glad to say that there were few passengers leaving the bus here and even fewer waiting to get on, so the bus was able to take off and carry me out of East Cheam with some speed.  Thankfully the remainder of the journey to Richmond was evidently less informative since I remember little of it and obviously less amusing since I was to arrive at my destination in a composed state.


FOR THOSE READERS WHO HAVE SPOTTED MY ERROR – have patience please – all will be explained in the next tale.




Will the real SHEENA please stand up!

Many readers would have noticed by now the error that I have name in this story.  Be that as it may ………  believe me, I readily admit that I have made an error ….. but let us look at the reasoning for it!  After all, don't we live in an age when nothing is ever the fault of the person committing the error, right?

My early education suffered from my inability to 1) distinguish the difference between similarly sounding words, and 2) an inability to spell in English.

When I first went to school, my education began in January 1948.  Along with five other children, we joined a class whose academic career had begun in September of that year and who were already reading and writing.  Despite knowing the alphabet and being able to count, we were still at a disadvantage compared to our more advanced cohorts.  Our teacher attempted to catch us up, but I fear I never did.  

Soon after starting school, I was absent for a week.  I must have been ill, but I can not remember what the ailment was.  I remember hearing Mickey Rooney once talk about his gambling habit.  He said that the first time he went to a race track, he lost $100.  After a brief pause, he said that he spent about two million dollars trying to win that initial one hundred dollars back!  And so, for all of my academic life, I feel as if I have been trying to catch up on that lost week!

As anyone who knows me is well aware that I have an inability to spell.  English spelling has always been an art I have never mastered.  I regularly failed Dictation as a child and was constantly scolded, chastised and even beaten for my failings.  Strangers, friends and acquaintances have rarely shown me any sympathy when it came to my inability to spell.  Naturally as a child, I easily dealt with the inability of others to sympathise with my plight ……. by giving them a bashing!  I found that many of these so-called smart people lacked the ability to defend themselves and one bash was generally sufficient to remind them that perhaps it was not advisable to laugh with such glee at my inabilities and failings and at those of others.

Throughout my life the subtleties of the English language were so often lost on me.  It was not that I lacked the ability to appreciate the language of Shakespeare.  On the contrary, I have always enjoyed reading and even joined the Bethnal Green Library at a young and tender age and also enjoyed the plays that I saw in my youth and continue to do so.  However I do have to confess that the joys of poetry have failed to leave a lasting impression on me.

Anyway let me add that in spite of this, no matter how often I was told …….

I before E with some exceptions …….

if there was a chance …… even the merest possibility of misspelling a word …….. I did!  And let us not discuss words ending in –ANT and –ENT, as they are never failed not to be confused. 
Teachers have been known to hurl my exercise books across rooms in despair and so-called better-educated-friends have groaned at my gaffs.  I was seen as a pathetic creature and tolerated in a somewhat patronising manner!

Alas my woes do not end with my inability to spell correctly every word in the Oxford English Dictionary, but extends beyond and also brings me more grief.  Oftentimes I also have an inability to distinguish between similarly sounding words.  To my obviously impaired ear, such words sound the same!  This can often cause me to confuse the meaning of words.  I remember that I was 22-years of age and already with a Bachelor of Science degree before I learned that a PLACARD was not pronounced PLAYCARD!

With continued age and despite the reading of a vast number of books, the writing of a slew of articles and stories, as well as doing my best to train in various professions, my inability to master the English language followed me wherever I went.

At one point in my life, I moved to France.  Here I was amused to find that I was able to spell French words perfectly well and was often asked to do so by my French colleagues.  I always believed that this ability came from the fact that I had not missed the class where sounds were explained.  Another joy of living in a foreign land came when I realised that no one was criticising my spelling of English unless of course they were natural-English speakers.  A few of these people proved to be as beastly as certain of my countrymen.  Sadly, I was too old to dish out suitable punishment to them by now and had to rely on an acid-tongue and sarcasm to keep them in their place!

I hope that the Americans in the audience will forgive me here, as I do not wish to give offense:  I find that I have been happiest here in the United States since most of the people I have had to deal with – both educated and not-so-well-educated – do not hold correct spelling in such great esteem.  They do hold these ridiculous Spelling Bees where nerdy kids compete to see who can spell idiotic words no one uses, but this is not a quality that many find of value unless the parents are overly pushy. 

Living here in the U.S. I have found that it is the way I speak and how I sound (i.e. my accent, which incidentally, I refuse to admit to having one!), which are taken to mean that I am somehow ABOVE and BEYOND any language failings and obviously my spelling and any mis-pronunciations are not to be questioned by them.  I bless ALL Americans for their kindness and for making these assumptions, albeit (or is it albe-them?) incorrect!

And now dear Readers I come, at last, to the point of this interlude in the saga of the Odeon Isleworth! 

Since I had absolutely no idea how the word CHEAM should be spelled prior to the time of the writing of the earlier story ……. to my way of thinking ……. it is quite reasonable and completely understandable, although obviously not correct, that I see it quite normal for me to misspell the name.

I remind the reader that, in my defense, I draw your attention once more to the facts that I suffer with two impediments ……. i.e. my inability to understand English sounds and my inability to distinguish similarly sounding English words, which can result in my confusing certain words.  

My inabilities to either see or hear the difference between SHEEN and CHEAM has led me into the realm of confusion ……. YET AGAIN!

 Map of London showing the location of both SHEEN (S.W.14) and CHEAM (the eastern section was the setting for Hancock's Half-Hour)  

With this simple explanation, I am now ready ONCE MORE to throw myself on my sword and admit to yet another gaff.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with the various areas of London and environs, East Cheam is certainly unknown to you.  For those who were not fortunate enough to grow-up listening to one of the greatest radio programmes ever produced, Hancock’s Half-hour, the humour associated with this area would naturally escape them too.  To my cohorts and me, as revealed in the previous story, the mere mention of the words, EAST CHEAM, causes us to collapse into a heap of gelatinous protoplasm at your feet while choking from our gales of laughter.

And so here dear Readers ……. YET AGAIN ……. I am forced to admit to an error!  Once again, and with regret, I have to confess that on the road to Richmond, the bus carried us through EAST SHEEN and not EAST CHEAM as I continually said.   

And so, dear Readers, the joke appears to be on me ………… YET AGAIN!!!