My best friend at the time, Stewart Wood, who lived next door. (When I went to Cardiff High School some years later,
I was to acquire another 'best friend' with a similar surname.)
I was about 3 years old when this photo was taken; Stewart about 4. Even though he was a year older than me, you
can still see the enormous disparity in our heights over and above this age difference. I am quite suprised looking at these
early photos of me, how plump I was, and how light in colour my hair was.
Shortly after this photo was taken, the grassland that you can see opposite our houses was cleared, and more houses built
there. For about the next year or so, we kids had a lovely playground, playing 'hide-and-seek' in and around the
half-built houses - this must have been before the 'Occupiers Liability Act 1957' came into force (which led to building sites
being fenced off from us kids). I remember once having to confess to my friends when my turn came to be 'on it' that I knew
how to count only up to 37!
One other memory I have of my time here, probably several different occasions now merged into one, was of a nice
hot sunny day in summer, when my mum put a big tin bath out on the front lawn and filled it up with water. I spent a
lovely hour or two that afternoon splashing around in it, jumping in and out of it, and running around the front garden, all
the while completely 'starkers'! I guess I must have been 4 years old, maybe 5. I don't recall Stewart, or my younger
brother or sister, joining me in my infant naturism, but they could well have done. Times have changed, haven't they. You'd
be hard pushed these days to see parents letting their young kids run around in public in the nude - everyone now seems to
have gone 'ape-shit' about child nudity, with a paedophile lurking around every corner it seems - but these were more innocent
times. I was happy doing it, my mum was unconcerned letting me do it, and none of the neighbours or passers-by (it
wasn't exactly a secluded spot) complained about it.
As you can probably tell from the gate, this was a 'council' house. It was either my house, 96 Johnston Road, Llanishen,
Cardiff, or Stewart's house next door, no. 98. The first school I ever went to was the 'Infants' section of Cefn Onn
Primary School. I used to call round Stewart's house first, and he would then take me to school with him. I remember very
little of my time there, except these couple of memories:
I was playing Cowboys and Indians in the playground one day, and, being 'shot', lay on the playground floor. A female
teacher (I don't recall any male teachers there at all, in fact) came over to me and said, "Raymond, what are you doing lying
on the floor?" to which I replied, "I'm dead, Miss!"
I also remember in a music lesson, one mad scramble through a pile of percussion instruments. We boys were all after
the drums, of course. I grabbed one with delight, but it was pulled from my grasp by a bigger boy. I complained to teacher.
She was not sympathetic. Anything for a quiet life, and trying to justify this fait accompli, she said to me, " Let
the 'big boys' have the drums. Here, have this! " and picked out a clapping thing - two pieces of wood, one small bit attached
to a longer piece with a bit of string, that you waggled with your hand. Some bloody consolation that was! I've always had
a complex since then about playing drums, and it wasn't until 45 years later that I was able to get my hands on a big drum
- a 22 inch surdo, used in a bateria (that's the percussion section of a Brazilian samba band to
you) as you can now see below. I suppose I qualify as a 'big boy' now!
I'm the one in the middle, by the way!
" Ha-one! "
" Ha-two! "
" Ha-three! "
" Ha-three-and-a-half! "
" It's 'four', Ray "
" Oh, yes. Sorry Chris. " (Chris is our 'bateria' maestro - that's the guy in charge that gives us our
cues for the response calls.)
" Ha-Four! "
Bang! Bang! Bang! Bang!
" I'm in pieces. Bits and pieces..."
Bang! Bang! Bang! Bang!
Click on the link below if you want to go straight to the next picture and commentary.