© Copyright Peter Crawford 2014
In this chapter the drive for reform and novelty, evident after the victory of 1945,
is swamped by a heartfelt desire to return to the past as the Conservatives,
led by Churchill are swept to power.
We them look at Pete's developing psychology, before turning to the crowning of a new, young Queen amid a nostalgic revival of medieval piety and imperial pomp and ceremony.

© Copyright Peter Crawford 2014
© Copyright Peter Crawford 2014

1951 had been the year that the Conservative Party, led by Sir Winston Churchill (see right), had ousted the Labour Party. 
At the end of the war people had looked to an end to rationing and shortages, and an end to a country divided by class and privilege. People had been able to pull together in wartime, and most people saw no reason why people couldn't pull together, in a spirit of equality, in the post war period. 
So, unfortunately for Churchill, instead of being rewarded for his wartime efforts with a Conservative victory, he was unceremoniously given the sack by a grateful nation - they were grateful but wanted a change. 
Despite their landslide victory in the first general election after the war, Labour, in the years immediately after the war had become associated in the majority of people's minds with austerity, rationing and a doctrine of central planning & control that was just vaguely reminiscent of the totalitarian regimes of Germany before the war, and the Soviet union both before and after the war. 

Vote Labour - Poster
Labour, to much of the electorate, eventually seemed in some strange way un-English and alien, despite the introduction of the Health Service (see left) and the New Education Bill. 
People, above all, wanted a return to the comfortable way that things had been just before the war, when the country had been emerging out of the drabness and difficulties of the Great Depression. 

Mock Tudor Semi
At that time, at least in the south of England, there had been a mini-boom and there were jobs a plenty.
The suburbs, full of mock-Tudor semis, had been expanding at an astonishing rate; credit was cheap and the shops were flooded with all kinds of new consumer goods, from electric toasters to three piece suites. 
And in 1951 people thought that if a Conservative government was returned, then those times would come again - and, much to everyone's surprise, they did. 
Churchill, however, was coming up to seventy-seven when he won the third post-war general election. 

As a young man he had taken part in the last great cavalry charge of the British Army, in the Battle of Omdurman in the Sudan (see right), and he had also fought in the Boer War in South Africa.

Born in the only non-royal palace in Britain; Blenheim (see left), he was a member of the most privileged part of the British aristocracy, and the cabinet that he appointed were mainly made up of public school educated aristocrats, mainly from Eton and Harrow (see left). 
The naturally occurring recovery from the lows of wartime consumer productivity inevitably enabled this new Conservative government to gain the approval of the majority of the people, and eventually a successor to Churchill was able to regale the voters with the thought that they had 'never had it so good'. 
Peter saw Winston Churchill at the cinema, when the news reel came on, but he paid little attention to the old man with the cigar, who looked a little like Mr Wilkinson.
There were other more important things going on in his life at that time, however. 


1952 had been the year that 'the visitors came' for Pete. 
In addition to those strange goings on, there was another rather uncomfortable holiday in Northumberland, and of course the regular round of school. 
One of the most important lessons in school during that year was learning the art of penmanship.
It must be remembered that 1952 was a time when 'biros' were not readily available, and therefore most people wrote with a pencil or a fountain-pen. 
Now in school, children were taught to write firstly with a pencil, and then with a 'dipping-pen'.
A dipping-pen, of course, is just one step on from a quill.

Hounslow Town Junior School - 1950s
© Copyright Peter Crawford 2014
The pen has a wooden handle, in Pete's school fetchingly coloured either pink or apple-green, and a metal nib, and the pen has to be repeatedly dipped into an inkwell, as there is no reservoir in the pen.
The great advantage of learning to write with a 'dipping-pen' is that it encourages the development of an elegant 'hand' (style of handwriting), which is something almost unknown today. 
The prize for mastering the 'dipping-pen' was the gift, from the child's parents or relatives of a fountain-pen, and fountain pens in this period had the same status and allure for children as a mobile phone has today, and it was important what make, style and colour of pen a child had. 
In Pete's case he was promised a 'Parker' fountain pen by Jane, (Jane always insisted on the best - not for Pete's sake, but because 'Jane's boy' always had to have better things than the other children), if he mastered his dipping-pen and developed a good hand. 
To begin with Pete found writing almost as difficult as reading. 
It was obvious that Pete was left-handed, but teachers in the 1950s weren't prepared to make allowances for individual differences, and so Pete was required to write with his right hand, like all the other children.
This made for some problems at the beginning, when writing was restricted to capital letters written in pencil.

© Copyright Peter Crawford 2014
Eventually, however, Pete got the hang of writing with his right hand, and strangely, although Pete was still a poor reader, he developed a very fine style of handwriting for a seven year old, and duly received his first Parker fountain pen, and a bottle of dark blue 'Quink', that Christmas (see left). 
So Pete began 1953 with a beautiful Parker pen that was the envy of all his friends. 
Of course Pete's was the best kind of pen at the time and, having been bought for Pete by Jane, it was a dark, apple-green - green being Jane's favourite colour. 
The interesting thing about the many 'rewards' that Pete received, was exemplified by the situation of the pen.

Pete, despite being left handed, developed a fine right handed script, but not because he wanted to please Jane.
Remember what that other Peter (see right) - who is so important to our story - thought about mothers - 'he had always thought of mothers as very over-rated persons'. 
Well our Pete thought in a very similar way, and in fact he had little feeling for anyone other than himself.
For what made Pete very strange was that, for him, other people were not really real ! 
So Pete developed his fine hand because he wanted the fountain pen, and not to please Jane. 
For Pete the pen was just another 'toy'; another possession; an object of value that raised him above his peers, and gave him status. 
He might be the strange little boy from nowhere, and the substitute for the 'real thing' -
(and this, of course has a resonance with 'Pinocchio' who was not a 'real boy', - one of Jane's favourite films).
The real thing, however, was the little boy, conceived by Jane, who had not been allowed to be born.
Pete might have no real mother or father, - but he would make up for all that by accumulating 'things' – material things, or even better, ideas and knowledge.
'Things' of value, and of status.

And it was this that drove him on, and caused him to conform to what adults expected of him. 
Pete was also very good at pleasing adults, and particularly Jane, simply to get what he wanted; after all, Peter Pan told Wendy that, 'one girl is worth at least ten boys' (see left).

Now quite obviously Peter – that is Peter Pan, - didn't really believe that, but he wanted Wendy to go with him to Neverland, where she would be expected to tell stories to him and the 'lost boys'. 
Equally, our Pete could be very gracious and accommodating, and even flattering, if he thought it would get him what he wanted, and just like Wendy (see right), Jane, - and many other people, - would usually believe Pete. 
Now Pete's efforts to write well had got him the fountain pen that he wanted, but not only did Pete have an excellent fountain pen – he was also a very smart little schoolboy, and much of that was due to his manipulating ways, as Pete was always – even as a little boy - very fussy about his clothes. 
Equally, however, Jane was always eager to see Pete looking his best, and to that purpose she always ensured that he had the best quality school uniform, with 'Banner' shirts, and shorts, and blazers of the best wool from the school outfitters.

© Copyright Peter Crawford 2014
© Copyright Peter Crawford 2014
The school uniform for Hounslow Town Junior school consisted of black lace-up shoes, (Pete's were always 'Clarke's'), grey socks, grey shorts, a white shirt, (with a grey pullover in the winter), a school tie of horizontal blue, gold and white stripes (horizontal stripes were very nineteen fifties, unlike diagonal stripes in the sixties), a navy-blue blazer with the school badge (see left), and a navy-blue cap, also with the school badge. 
This was quite a 'tall order', price-wise, for many families, and contemporary photos show that many of the boys did not wear the full, approved uniform - not out of bravado but rather because their parents simply didn't have the money


Of course, the great event of the fifties, and the highlight of 1953, was the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II. 
This was the first coronation to be televised, and that meant that many people, as the great day approached, decided to buy a television. 
So, of course, early that spring Jane and John decided to buy a television. 
One bright sunny Saturday they took Peter to Hounslow High Street.
They decided to go to the Co-Op, which had a large department store at the 'top' of the High Street, just past the 'Bell' public house.
This store had the widest range of electrical good, and as the family were members of the Co-operative Society, they would get a 'dividend' on the purchase. John decided to buy a 'Murphy' television (see right - V210C 12 inch Television) with the biggest screen available - which was tiny by modern standards.

It was on this occasion that Peter discovered something about Jane and John that never ceased to amaze him.
When John had decided on the model of television, and agreed a date for delivery, he calmly took a stack of big, white, floppy five pound notes (see right) from his wallet and handed them over to the somewhat surprised shop assistant.
Compare such a five pound note to the plastic 'sweety wrappers' that affect to be real currency today)
(In 1953 the Murphy V210C cost forty-nine pounds, one shilling and six pence - which in 2014 would be approximately nine hundred and fifteen pounds !)
You see, from the time of the Great Depression, John had decided firmly against any form of credit, or borrowing money, and therefore he always made sure that if he needed to buy anything he would always be able to pay in cash. 
So, the following Monday the television was delivered, along with an engineer who installed the aerial.

In 1953, of course, there was only one channel, the BBC (see right0, and the programs, such as they were, were in black and white, but that didn't matter, because now Pete lived in only the second house in the whole street to have a television.
And, of course, the other person who had a television was our enigmatic neighbour, Mr Wilkinson (see left), but then, for him, money was never a problem.

With the arrival of the new television, the radio, which had served Jane and John well in the late thirties, and all through the war and into the peace, now looked hopelessly old-fashioned.
Of course now it would be an Art Deco 'antique', and worth a fortune, but then, it was just so much junk.
So it was simply thrown out, and replaced by a neat little 'Bush' radio.
Peter, however, preferred the old radio, with it's mystical glowing dial - a large, heavy presence high up on its shelf.
The Bush, however, was there to stay - at least until 1959.

But there was some considerable time to go before the coronation itself, and the months leading up to the great event were a time of ever increasing anticipation, which almost reached the level of hysteria as the time steadily approached.
Not only was the coronation eagerly anticipated and prepared for at school, with special lessons and projects, but the shops were also awash with coronation memorabilia.

© Copyright Peter Crawford 2014
When Pete stopped to look in the window of Poulton's Toy shop, which was on the corner of School Road and the Broadway, he eye was very quickly caught by some toy mounted Life Guards and some scarlet coated Foot Guards, made by 'Britain's' (see left). 
© Copyright Peter Crawford 2014
There was also a beautiful scale model of the gilded coronation coach, drawn by eight white horses with postilions in state uniforms, made by the same company (see right). 
Then it was just a matter of nagging at Jane until she eventually gave in and bought them for Pete. 
And so, with his now remarkably large collection of toy soldiers, tanks, field guns and other military paraphernalia, Pete could mount his own coronation processions in the drawing room, long before the real coronation got under way. 
Jane, however, was making different preparations for the coronation. 
There was to be a 'fancy dress' competition with a coronation theme for the children of the local area, and Jane had come up with a winning idea for our Pete. 
© Copyright Peter Crawford 2014
She had cleverly decided that he should wear what was possibly the most elaborate costume there was for a boy for such a themed fancy dress competition.
Pete was to be entered dressed as a Yeoman of the Guard – the Queen's innermost bodyguard, if you exclude the Gentlemen at Arms.
Not only was this a fiendishly complex and detailed uniform for Jane to make, but John was dragged into the project as he had to make a halberd of wood and aluminium.
The only person who's opinion was not sought on this matter was Pete's, but he didn't mind as he was only to happy to dress up in a military uniform. 
And so it went on.
Books, magazines, commemorative cups, plates, tea towels and anything else that could be possibly stamped enamelled or painted with crowns, union jacks and portraits of the Queen were to be found in all the shops.


The 'Visitors' in Hounslow
The Garden Shed
© Copyright Peter Crawford 2014
While, during those warm Spring nights, Jane was busily sewing the Yeoman of the Guard's costume, and John was working in the garden shed, cutting out the metal to make the halberd, Pete was still engaged with the 'visitors'. 
The 'visitors', of course, didn't seem to know anything about the coronation – but then that wasn't really surprising.
It seemed that they existed outside time, and were unaffected by all the mundane events of 1953 and, when Pete was with them, he also seemed to exist outside time. 
In some sense, of course, our Pete always seemed to exist, to some extent, 'outside time' – whether the 'visitors' were there or not. 

Captain Hook 
As Captain Hook (see left) said of the other Pete, 'that was the mystery of his being', and in that way our Pete shared some of Pan's mysterious nature. 
Yes, he aged and grew up in a way that Pan could not, but our Pete, it seemed, was never quite 'of his time'. 

© Copyright Peter Crawford 2014
There was always something about him that seemed to hover mysteriously in that place where he originally sprang from – and that unknown time that he shared with the 'visitors' – the place and time of his mysterious origins - a place of glittering stars and dark skies. 
As we have said, as far as Pete can remember he never spoke to anyone about these timeless 'visitors' when he was a boy, and had little idea of what they might actually mean. 
Many years later, however, Pete confided some details about the 'visitors' to a counsellor – who immediately interpreted the events as a possible 'screen memory' to hide sexual abuse perpetrated by John Crawford.
Wisely, Peter ignored these suggestions - and for good reasons. 
© Copyright Peter Crawford 2014
John Crawford (see right), you see, was a loving father, but not at all demonstrative. 
The war and Jane's betrayal seemed to have made him very distant and aloof, and he found it very difficult to express his feeling to anyone, - Pete and Jane included. 
It was probably for these reasons that John never bathed Pete, dressed or undressed him, never put him to bed, and never read him bedtime stories - in fact no-one ever read Pete bedtime stories.
Peters bedtimes were solitary - and perhaps that's why the 'visitors' came.
In such a situation, there seems very little opportunity for any physical impropriety to have occurred. 
It is also significant that when Pete was a little older, and Jane was ill for a considerable period, John was not prepared to look after Pete, and instead sent him to live with his brother Dick, and Dick's wife Gladys, in London. 
But of course, faced with the alternative explanations that the 'visitors' were real in some way, or that Pete was psychotic as a child, the only viable solution for the counsellor was the 'screen memory' covering childhood abuse, as 'aliens don't exist' - at least for counsellors, and Pete was obviously not psychotic as a boy. 
What is perhaps surprising is the fact that at the time Pete seemed outwardly to be a perfectly normal child, if a little self-absorbed, moody and unaccountably irritable, despite the fact that he seemed to be experiencing some very strange events in his life. 
Now while our Pete was obviously not psychotic as a child, for this would have been so noticeable as to require him to receive psychiatric treatment, and almost certainly be withdrawn from school, he was in some ways not completely 'normal', although that fact does not really explain the phenomena of the 'visitors'.

And it was not really surprising that Pete was not completely 'normal' when one considers what may have happened to him during the first few years of his life. 
Later in life Pete completed a diagnostic test for Asperger's syndrome, which produced a remarkably high score. 
Asperger's Syndrome is one of the 'autism spectrum disorders' that was first identified by Dr Hans Asperger (see left), an Austrian paediatrician, in 1944. 
Symptoms include a qualitative impairment in social interaction, - stereotyped and restricted patterns of behaviour, activities and interests, - one-sided verbosity, and a certain degree of physical clumsiness. 
In addition, individuals exhibiting this condition may appear to disregard other people's feelings, and may come across as cold, insensitive and even cruel, which certainly sums up 'the devil in Peter', as Barrie so beautifully described it.
In addition, individuals with this condition may be unusually sensitive to sound, light, touch, texture, taste, and smell. 

© Copyright Peter Crawford 2014
Now Pete certainly had some very definite and stereotyped interests; for example his obsession with building and maintaining his army of model soldiers (see right), his interest in learning all the names of the constellations, stars and planets, (see left) his obsession with Dan Dare, and later his obsessions with ancient history, aircraft, films and cars. 
With regard to clumsiness, Pete began as being left handed, and there is a slight correlation between abnormal chirality, (handedness) and Aspergers.

Equally, Pete, partly because of his handedness, had very poor hand/eye co-ordination as a young boy, although by intense effort he was able to improve his co-ordination to a higher than average level later. 
As a boy, Pete was very sensitive to noise, and his biggest problem was when Jane used her 'Hoover Junior' (see right) on the carpets.
On those occasions, Pete had to either go out into the garden, or at least go into another room. 
He was also very sensitive to the textures of materials; was unable to wear rough flannel or synthetic fabrics, and always had to wear very fine wool or preferably cotton next to his skin. 
Equally, he was very sensitive to the texture, rather than simply the taste of food, and this caused endless problems as his diet became very restricted, and 'eating out' with Pete became very traumatic for Jane and John. 
As time passed, however, Pete was capable of using his will power to help him overcome these problems, and give a convincing impression of almost complete 'normality'. 
The sheer effort of doing this day after day, however, had the effect of making Pete very irritable at times, so that his main problem during his childhood was his appalling, and sometimes uncontrolled temper. 
Pete could put up a good pretence of being amenable, interested and empathetic for short periods, but when the strain became too great he would either withdraw into a sulky silence, or explode in a temper-tantrum, which appalled Jane and John, and often unnerved those around him who were not familiar with his sudden changes in demeanour. 
Unfortunately, Aspergers Syndrome is a lifetime affliction, and so Pete was to suffer the effects of this disorder for the rest of his life.

© Copyright Peter Crawford 2014
As Spring turned to Summer the Coronation grew ever nearer. 

Now Pete did know a little about coronations because of one rather curious fact.
Before the coming a television, John Crawford had bought a 'Pathescope Film Projector' - a strange, and rather expensive item to buy. 
It seems that John had had a friend who was a film projectionist at a local cinema, and he had given John a number of unwanted reels of film.
As they were not 35 mm film they were obviously not films that were shown commercially at the cinema, and where they had originated from is unknown. 

A number of these films were Disney cartoon 'shorts' of Mickey Mouse (see right), Donald Duck and Goofy.
However, there were also some newsreels, including some of World War 2, including the War in the Desert (see left), the Battle of the Atlantic and the Blitz. 

Of particular interest, however, were newsreels showing the coronations of George V (see left) and George VI. 
Before the television made the film projector redundant, John would often 'black out' the stairs and mount the projector on the landing so that it could project a large picture on the wall opposite.
On some occasions when John did this, some of Pete's friends were invited to watch the films. 
So Pete had already seen newsreels of the coronation coach, and the coronation procession, and so had some idea of what to expect. 
While many people were deeply saddened by the death of George VI (see right), who had been viewed as a positive figurehead throughout the dark days of the war, almost everybody welcomed the coronation of the new young queen, who was seen as the symbol of a 'New Elizabethan Age' (see right below). 
It must be remembered that rationing was still in force, and most people in Britain were still experiencing an age of austerity. 
As a result, the coronation was seen as a welcome relief from the general sense of drabness and 'make do and mend', which was the lot of the great majority. 
People were determined to enjoy themselves that summer, and to 'let themselves go', and the fancy-dress competition was just one of the many events planned to coincide with the great day of the coronation itself. 

But for many adults 'letting themselves go' and enjoying themselves was not such an easy matter.
As we have already seen, the war years had created a huge backlog of personal problems for many people, and not just with regard to relationships between husbands and wives, and those who were engaged to be married. 
In particular, the men who had been away had led very different lives for those long years. 
Some had been in prisoner of war camps, some had been in the thick of the bloodiest fighting, and some, like John Crawford, had been living in a strange fantasy world for all those years. 
While London had been 'blacked-out' for the 'duration', and had suffered the Blitz, cities like Cairo (see left), where John had been stationed, had been ablaze with light, and people had partied hard almost every night.
Now there had been times when John's life had been in danger, most notably when he had been in Palestine, but generally speaking, he had had, what was described at the time, as a 'good war'. 
Regardless of the relative lack of danger, John, like many other men returning from the war, had a great deal of difficulty dealing with the change to civilian life.
Moreover, it was not just the fact that these men were now civilians once again.
They also had to adapt to family life, and a society that had undergone many fundamental changes since the start of the war. 
So the post-war society was peopled by individuals who were desperately coming to terms with what had gone before. 
In many cases these individuals, both men and women, had not expected to survive the war, - and for some of them that would have solved many of their problems.
Nevertheless, they had survived, and in 1953 they were trying to make the best of it. 
So our Pete found himself surrounded by many adults who were unnaturally quiet and reserved, and who almost never spoke about their past. 
They were, - particularly the men, - people who displayed the infamous 'stiff upper lip'.
Men of few words, - and far fewer emotions. 

Some, of course, would cheer in the crowd on the great day when the golden coach would be drawn through the streets of London (see right).
Some would have a laugh and a few beers during the street parties (see left) that were held up and down the country, but many would be like John, and view the whole affair quietly and distantly, as if it was really of little or no concern to them.
Not that John was not a patriot.
He was still dedicated to his regiment and the flag, - but Pete, even at that age, - could see that the spark had gone out, not only for John, but for many of the men of that age and that time. 
Now a coronation, if we leave out the processions and golden coach, is fundamentally a religious ceremony, and this brings up the question of religion in the nineteen-fifties. 
Firstly, we have to remember that at that time religion in Britain meant, in the main, Christianity.
There were very few Moslems, Hindus or Sikhs living in the United Kingdom at that time, and the only non-Christian place of worship in Hounslow, in the fifties, was an Orthodox Jewish Synagogue, although our Pete knew nothing of this place at the time. 
The figures available seem to show that after the war religious observance declined in Britain.
Undoubtedly many men, because of their experience in the war, had lost their faith, although it is unlikely that many would declare that fact publicly.

Equally, the awful revelation of the events in the German concentration camps, culminating in the Holocaust, shocked many people and made it almost impossible for them to believe in a loving and caring God (see left). 
Superficially, however, Britain remained a Christian country. 
Most people marked the main events of their lives with traditional Christian ceremonies such as baptisms, weddings, and funerals.
In addition, two great cathedrals were undertaken in the immediate post war years, those being Guildford, by Sir Edwin Mauffe (see right) and Coventry, by Sir Basil Spence. 
More pervasive was the inclusion of acts of worship and religious teaching in the state school system.
For our Pete every school day began with a religious assembly, which was essentially Christian.
Hymns, prayers and a homily were the main features of these assemblies, and for the rest of his life Pete would remember, by heart, the words and music of all those hymns gleaned from 'Hymns Ancient and Modern' (see left). 
As you may remember, John Crawford was a Protestant, or more exactly a member of the Church of England. 
Jane, however, was a Roman Catholic; a fact that lay behind some of the difficulties with their respective families. 
What was interesting, however, was that neither Jane nor John attended Church.
© Copyright Peter Crawford 2014
There was, however, a copy of the Old and New Testaments, in the King James translation of the Bible, and a copy of the New Testament, bound in olive wood, taken from a tree in the garden of Gethsemane in Jerusalem, which John had brought back from Palestine (see right).
In addition, there was a metal crucifix, which John, significantly, had brought back from Syria. 
Even stranger, Jane and John sent Pete to a Baptist Sunday School every Sunday. 
Not surprisingly, Pete didn't question the Bible stories that he was told at junior School or Sunday School, but these stories, hymns and prayers did not create in him any religious fervour or belief. Jesus was just someone – apparently a carpenter - who had lived in a distant place a long time ago, and God was just a word.
After all, if Pete had problems believing that other people were real, then he was obviously not going to find it easy to believe that God was real, and in addition God couldn't give Pete any presents, unlike Father Christmas. 

Undoubtedly the 'visitors' themselves were more real and more meaningful to Pete than God, Jesus or the individuals mentioned in the Bible, - after all Peter could see, hear and touch the 'visitors' (see left), and their lack of guile and deception made them more believable, and trustworthy than most of the adults with whom Pete came into contact. 
So it was not the religious aspects of the coronation that fascinated Pete.
Rather it was the 'pomp' and ceremony – the gorgeous uniforms, glittering regalia and glorious music that captivated him when the day of the ceremony finally arrived. 
© Copyright Peter Crawford 2014
Interestingly, it was because Pete experienced this almost unique event when he was a very impressionable young boy that he retained, for the rest of his life, a fascination with monarchy and the ceremonies surrounding it. 

For Pete the concept of monarchy took on a quasi-religious aura.
It was not to the individuals concerned that he felt this reverence, but rather the concept of monarchy itself, so that not only would the British monarchy fascinate him but, in later life, he would equally make pilgrimages to the tombs and memorials of the Khedives, Sultans and Kings of the Middle-East, including the Sha-in-Sha (see right), and also such unlikely individuals as Ludwig II of Bavaria, the 'Swan King' (see left).
But that is another story. 
Back in 1953 we are awaiting the great day, while Jane busies herself with endless fittings of Pete's 'fancy dress', while Pete himself indulges in ever more elaborate coronation processions with his army of toy soldiers on the drawing room floor. 

Eventually, of course, the Summer came; Everest was conquered (see left), and the day of the Coronation arrived – the second of June, - and it rained ! 
For Pete, of course, this didn't matter, as he was able to watch the day's events on the television. 
And so, from early in the morning, Richard Dimbelby's sonorous, measured tones described, in almost excruciating detail, the events of the day. 
It was all far too much for Pete to take in, but John watched avidly, noting all the minute historical details of the ceremony which Dimbelby so lovingly described. 
Pete, of course, wanted to see the coronation procession, with the serried ranks of soldiers, sailors and airmen marching past.

Then there was the ceremony in the Abbey, most of which Pete found rather boring, until the Queen, finally wearing the Imperial State Crown; a mass of glittering diamonds and platinum, made the way down the aisle of the Abbey, accompanied by the Duke of Edinburgh, the Arch Bishops, the Ladies in Waiting, carrying the immense, heavily embroidered, purple train, and the Gentlemen at Arms, with their glittering helmets swathed in swan's feathers (see left). 

Then the Queen returned to the 'golden' coach, and rode back through London to the palace, amidst the music of innumerable bands, and the cheers of the crowds who thronged the pavements. 
There would not be another day like in Pete's childhood, and possibly there will never be a day like it again. 

The final icing on the cake, with regard to the ceremony itself, was a trip to the cinema a few weeks later to see a film of the highlights of the coronation in colour (see left and right).
This was for Pete, truly spectacular, as the television picture had not only been small and blurred but, of course, was only in black and white. 
The celebrations for the coronation were not only on the day of the crowning itself.
Celebrations went on for a least a week, with many events in London, and throughout the country there was 'street parties', 'fancy dress' competitions, sports days, and numerous other events. 
Much to Jane's disgust, Pete did not win the 'fancy dress competition'.
Many of the neighbours, however thought that the competition had been 'fixed', and Pete was obviously very disappointed. 
© Copyright Peter Crawford 2014
As 'runner-up' Pete won a prize of a very large 'Dinky Toy' bulldozer (see right), which simply 'rubbed salt into the wound', as the last thing that Peter wanted was a bulldozer. 
The only Dinky Toys that Peter was interested in were military vehicles and equipment, or 'staff cars'. 
So, the competition simply confirmed again to Pete an already growing conviction that 'grown-ups' couldn't be trusted, and knew nothing about what boys really wanted. 

And so the Yeoman of the Guard Uniform was put away, and vanished from memory, - probably thrown away at the time of the 'big sort-out' when the family moved away to the new house - disappearing into that place where so many pieces of our childhood simply dissolve into nothing. 

© Copyright Peter Crawford 2014
In the end all that was really left of the Coronation were some photos of Pete as a Yeoman of the Guard, a few platoons of model Grenadier Guards and Horse Guards, a model Coronation Coach, some books, a Coronation medal and a Coronation mug (see left), - and of course the television (see right), which would from then on play an ever increasing part in everybody's lives. 

And what of the 'New Elizabethan Age' ?
For England this is the great tragedy - a tragedy of which  most people are not even aware !
There was a 'New Elizabethan Age', but is was tragically short lived.
The vision and the ideals which motivated that new age very quickly faded, and by the sixties they had been lost in a welter of pop culture and acid.
Sir Edward Maufe, Hugh Casson, Graham Southerland, J R R Tolkein, Evelyn Waugh, Robert Graves, Ralf Vaughn Williams, Malcolm Sargent, Neville Duke, Donald Cambell, Sir Edmund Hillary, Francis Crick, James Watson are just of the few innovators who come to mind when one thinks of the 'New Elizabethans' - and yet the paths that they opened up, particularly in the arts, were never pursued.
Great advances were made in technology - the 'Comet' airliner immediately comes to mind - and yet other countries were allowed to take advantage of these technologies and eventually supersede them.
Equally industrial and commercial developments in the automotive industry, and many other areas, were allowed to languish.
Eventually the 'New Elizabethans' took the easy, fast way out of every problem, and we ended up in the Twenty-first Century with art, literature, architecture, technology and a myriad other aspects of our lives which, if they had been predicted in the 1950s, would have simply been thought laughable.
And, unfortunately, the same can be said of the structure of society, where decency has been thrown away, and a loutish 'culture' of abuse has taken its place.
So, as we come to the sixtieth anniversary of the New Elizabethan Age, we have very little to show for it.
It was our great chance - to justify all the sacrifice and suffering undertaken during the Second World War for a new, aspirational society for our children, and our children's children, and we threw it away.

FILMS - 1953
Genevieve - (1953)

There was 'Genevieve', in retrospect a rather boring colour film about the London to Brighton classic cars race.
Pete liked it partly because of its catchy theme tune, by Larry Adler, the famous harmonica player, and also because it starred one of his favourite film actors, Kenneth Moore.
Now Kenneth Moore attracted Pete's attention because he bore a passing resemblance to John Crawford, and was a reliable, unflappable, caring and thoughtful character that Pete could relate to.

'Calamity Jane' - 1953
'Calamity Jane' was a "Wild West"- themed film musical.
It was loosely based on the life of Wild West heroine Calamity Jane and explores an alleged romance between Calamity Jane and Wild Bill Hickok in the American Old West.
The film starred Doris Day as the title character and Howard Keel as Hickok.
It was devised by Warner Brothers in response to the success of 'Annie Get Your Gun'.
It won the Academy Award for Best Original Song ("Secret Love", Sammy Fain and Paul Francis Webster) and was also nominated for Scoring of a Musical Picture and Best Sound, Recording (William A. Mueller).

'The Robe' - 1953
And there had to be an 'epic'.
'The Robe' was a American Biblical epic film that told the story of a Roman military tribune who commands the unit that crucifies Jesus.
The film was made by 20th Century Fox and is notable for being the first film released in the wide-screen process 'Cinema Scope'.
It was directed by Henry Koster and produced by Frank Ross.
The screenplay was adapted by Gina Kaus, Albert Maltz, and Philip Dunne from the Lloyd C. Douglas novel of the same name.
The music score was composed by the great soundtrack composer Alfred Newman, and the cinematography was by Leon Shamroy.
'The Robe' starred Richard Burton, Jean Simmons, Victor Mature and Michael Rennie, with Dean Jagger, Jay Robinson, Richard Boone, and Jeff Morrow.
'The Robe' had one sequel, 'Demetrius and the Gladiators'.
The reason Lloyd Douglas wrote the novel 'The Robe' was to answer the question: what happened to the Roman soldier who won Jesus' robe through a dice game ?

Now 3D is not a new phenomena.

3D Audience in the 1950s
A three-dimensional film is a motion picture that enhances the illusion of depth perception. Derived from stereoscopic photography, a regular motion picture camera system is used to record the images as seen from two perspectives, and special projection hardware and/or eyewear are used to provide the illusion of depth when viewing the film. 3D films have existed in some form since 1915, but had been largely relegated to a niche in the motion picture industry because of the costly hardware and processes required to produce and display a 3D film, and the lack of a standardized format for all segments of the entertainment business. Nonetheless, 3D films were prominently featured in the 1950s in American cinema, and later experienced a worldwide resurgence in the 1980s and 1990s. 3D films became more and more successful throughout the 2000s, culminating in the unprecedented success of 3D presentations of 'Avatar' in December 2009 and January 2010.

It was tried out in the 1950s, originally in America and later in the UK.
People, however soon tired of it.

The first 3D film that Pete saw was 'The Charge at Feather River'.
It was a Western film directed by Gordon Douglas, and was originally released in 3D with lots of arrows, lances, and other weapons flying directly at the audience in several scenes.
The film is most notable for originating the name of the "Wilhelm scream", a sound effect used in the Star Wars series, as well as countless other films.
Sound designer Ben Burtt named the sound after "Pvt. Wilhelm", a minor character in the film who emits the famous scream after being shot by an arrow (although the recording actually originated in the film 'Distant Drums' in 1951).
The climax of the film has many similarities to the 1868 'Battle of Beecher Island', though instead of Army Frontier Scouts, Madison's character recruits "the Guardhouse Brigade" from Army prisoners, and arms them with repeating rifles.
Pete loved it, - but then 3D really is for kids !

 'Kiss Me Kate' - 1953
Another 3D film seen by Pete in the same year was 'Kiss Me Kate'.
It was an MGM film adaptation of the Broadway musical of the same name.
Inspired by 'The Taming of the Shrew', it tells the tale of musical theatre actors, Fred Graham and Lilli Vanessi, who were once married and are now performing opposite each other in the roles of Petruchio and Katherine in a Broadway-bound musical version of William Shakespeare's play.
Already on poor terms, the pair begin an all-out emotional war mid-performance that threatens the production's success.
The only thing keeping the show together are threats from a pair of gangsters, who have come to collect a gambling debt from the show's Lucentio, Bill Calhoun.
Dorothy Kingsley's screenplay, which was nominated for a Writers Guild of America Award, was adapted from the musical's book by Samuel and Bella Spewack.
The songs were by the great Cole Porter.
The equally greqat Hermes Pan choreographed the dance routines.
The movie was filmed in 3-D, using the most advanced methods of that technique then available.
Devotees of the stereoscopic 3-D medium usually cite this film as one of the best examples of a Hollywood release in polarized 3D.
Petr loved the songs, settings and costumes, but didn't have a clue about the plot.

'The Desert Song' - 1953
'The Desert Song' is an operetta with music by Sigmund Romberg and book and lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II, Otto Harbach and Frank Mandel.
It was inspired by the 1925 uprising of the Riffs, a group of Moroccan fighters, against French colonial rule.
It was also inspired by stories of Lawrence of Arabia aiding native guerrillas.
Many tales romanticizing Arab North Africa were in vogue, including 'Beau Geste' and 'The Son of the Sheik'.
Pete first came across 'The Desert Song' in 1953 when he saw the film version, in Technicolor, in Hounslow.
It was the third film version of the operetta, the third made by Warner Brothers, and the second in full three-strip Technicolor.
Although it was released in 1953, it was not made in widescreen; at that time Twentieth-Century Fox held the rights to Cinemascope, which was introduced that year in the film 'The Robe'.
 The film starred Kathryn Grayson, Gordon MacRae and featured Allyn McLerie as Azuri.

'King of the Khyber Rifles'
One of Pete's favourite films of the year was 'King of the Khyber Rifles' - an adventure film directed by Henry King and starring Tyrone Power and Terry Moore.
The film is based on the novel 'King of the Khyber Rifles' by Talbot Mundy.
It was a remake of John Ford's 'The Black Watch' (1929).
The Khyber Pass scenes were shot in Alabama Hills, Lone Pine, California.
Released by 20th Century Fox, the film was one of the first shot in Technicolor CinemaScope.

Rather more romantic was the film 'Roman Holiday'.
This film was directed by William Wyler, who later directed one of Pete's favourite films, 'Ben Hur'.
'Roman Holiday' starred Gregory Peck and Audrey Hepburn. It was set in sunny Italy, with the main characters dashing around Rome on, what were then, very stylish Vespers. Not only did it give Pete a hankering for the sunny south, full of olives groves and vineyards, but it also set in his mind the absolute ideal of feminine beauty in Miss Audrey Hepburn.
One very famous scene is where Gregory Peck shows Audrey Hepburn an ancient carved head of a god.
There is a legend that anyone who is a habitual liar, and places their hand in the mouth of the image, will have their hand bitten off.
Peck does this, and pretends that his hand has been amputated, much to Hepburn's distress.
For some reason Pete was very disturbed by this, admittedly, comic scene.
Perhaps Pete realized that he was not being open about certain things that had happened, or perhaps he knew that the personality that he projected was, in some sense, a lie.
Regardless this scene remained in his mind and developed a significance that was not really justified by such an essentially light-hearted, frivolous film.

And, of course, after the coronation came 'A Queen Is Crowned'.
This was a Technicolor documentary film written by Christopher Fry.
The film documented the 1953 Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II, with a narration of events by Laurence Olivier.
It was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature.

'Peter Pan'
'Peter Pan'
But the highlight of the year - possibly the decade - was 'Peter Pan'.
This was an American animated film produced by Walt Disney and based on the play 'Peter Pan, or The Boy Who Wouldn't Grow Up' by J. M. Barrie.
It is the 14th film in the Walt Disney Animated Classics series.
Peter Pan is the final Disney film in which all nine members of 'Disney's Nine Old Men' worked together as directing animators.
It is also the second Disney animated film starring Kathryn Beaumont, Heather Angel, and Bill Thompson after their roles in the much less successful animated feature 'Alice in Wonderland'.
Bobby Driscoll
Bobby Driscoll provided the inimitable voice for Pan, and also acted as animation model.
(One wonders about the rumours regarding Disney having an 'affair' with the young Driscroll during this period.)
'Peter Pan' was one of Walt Disney's favourite stories and he intended 'Peter Pan' to be his second film after 'Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs', however he could not get the rights until four years later.
The studio started the story development and character designs in the late 1930s and early 1940s.
The great song from the film is "The Second Star to the Right" - with words by Sammy Cahn, music by Sammy Fain.

for much more information and many images see



And so the rest of the Summer, including another excruciatingly boring and embarrassing trip to Newcastle and Jane and John's relatives, passed rather uneventfully, in comparison to the turmoil and excitement of the Coronation. 

What Pete didn't know; and nor did most other people for that matter, was that the prime minister, Churchill (see left), had suffered a stroke a few weeks after the Coronation. 
He seemed to recover, but he lost some of his previous verve and sparkle, and Anthony Eden (see right), the Foreign Secretary, became ever more anxious to see the old man go, so that he could take what he considered his rightful place as the next prime minister. 
1953 seemed a bad time for those who were exalted or powerful.
Stalin (see right) not only suffered a stroke, but succumbed to a stroke, being like Churchill, practically addicted to strong drink and nicotine.
What Pete (and the rest of the world) also didn't know at the time was that Stalin's colleagues were so frightened of the possible consequences that they refused to summon any medical help, or even move Stalin, who was left lying on the floor struggling for breath.

Shortly after Stalin's passing, and the hysteria of his funeral in Moscow, Berria, another murderous Georgian, who was the head of the Russian security services, was executed, as Khrushchev slowly eased himself into an increasingly powerful position. 
It has been suggested that Berria introduced Warfarin, a blood thinner, into Stalin's drinks, this effectively assassinating him - quite possible.

click below for more information about
© Copyright Peter Crawford 2014

The television news, which was then becoming a regular nightly event, showed Pete images of the signing of the peace treaty ending the Korean War, and the beginnings of Senator McCarthy's (see right) 'witch-hunt' for communists and 'fellow travellers' in the United States. 
While Pete didn't really understand most of these events, he registered the images, and was later able to weave them together into an early understanding of the momentous times through which he was living. 

In the literary world there was a minor ripple when Ian Fleming published his first 'James Bond' novel, 'Casino Royale'.
While Pete was far too young, and inept at reading, to read such a book, John Crawford bought the paperback, and it stood for a number of years on one of the shelves of the bookcase, waiting for Pete to reach the age when he would not only read the novel, but also be strongly influenced by the books heady mixture of violence, sophistication and upper class style. 
In this year another, and even more important book was published, which Pete would avidly read in his late teens.
This was Kinsey's Report on the sexual habits of American adults, which would 'take the lid off' an aspect of life that people like Jane and John seemed to think just didn't exist – at least that was the impression that they gave to Pete. 
Up until this time, for Pete, sex didn't seem to be an issue, at least he had no memory of sexuality impinging on his life but, as we shall see, that was all soon to change. 
By now, of course, Pete was growing up. 
He was seven years old, at least according to his strange birth certificate which, as we have seen, had been 'cobbled together' at Brentford Magistrate's Court, and he was tall for his age, and slim. 
Another year had passed. 

As we have seen it was a year of momentous events. 
For Pete personally, however, nothing really significant had happened. 
Political events had swirled about him, but he was largely uncomprehending. 
The new Queen had been crowned, and as a result a large television, (by the standards of the time), in a polished walnut cabinet now stood in the living-room. 
The 'visitors' were still in evidence, but they would soon depart, along with our young Pete's innocence.

click below for the next chapter

© Copyright Peter Crawford 2014

No comments:

Post a comment