'As the fifties roll on, Peter becomes aware of America through his American friend Zac - but what secrets does this American boy bring to a tranquil, suburban life ?
And then there are other people coming into Peter's life - people from foreign lands bringing excitement, new ideas and much more !'


It is difficult for people now, with DVDs, Blue Ray, and huge LCD and OLED TVs, taking up a whole wall, to realize how limited television was in the 1950s.
The screens were often less than 14 inches (35.5 centimeters), and in monochrome (black and white), and at the beginning of the decade there were less than 1.5 million televisions in the whole country.
And, although the size of the screen on a 1950s television was minute, compared to today's televisions, the actual size of the cabinet was usually very large, to accommodate the bulky cathode-ray tube and all the valves.
It was, undoubtedly, because televisions were not only very expensive, but also very unimpressive in terms of size and picture quality, that the cinema (usually referred to as the 'films' continued to be an important part of many peoples lives.
And for Peter, even although there was a television in the house, the cinema was still an important part of his life in 1955.
Now 1955 was a good year for films.
By this time, Peter was so interested in films that Jane and John had started buying Peter a film annual each Christmas, and Peter received his first film annual, along with his Dan Dare annual, for the Christmas of 1954.
Cashing in on the popular appeal of the Coronation, 'John & July' was the story of two young children who ran away from home in order to see the Queen crowned.
While it was a very lightweight film, it was made both poignant and popular by the inclusion of theme music by Eddie Calvert, the famous trumpet player.
So popular was the music, that for many weeks the theme music stayed in the 'top Ten'.
Both in terms of the musical style,  and the content and overall atmosphere of the film, 'John and Julie' summed up much of the cultural milieu of the early fifties.

Theme from John and Julie
Eddie Calvert

Albert Edward "Eddie" Calvert (15 March 1922 – 7 August 1978) was an English trumpeter, who enjoyed his greatest successes in the 1950s. Calvert had his first United Kingdom, number one instrumental single in 1954, with "Oh Mein Papa". Calvert was born in Preston, Lancashire, England, and grew up in a family where the music of his local brass band featured highly. He was soon able to play a variety of instruments, and he was most accomplished on the trumpet. After World War II he graduated from playing as an amateur in brass bands to professional engagements with popular dance orchestras of the day, including Geraldo's plus Billy Ternet, and he soon became renowned for the virtuosity of his performances. Following his exposure on television with the Stanley Black Orchestra, an enthusiastic announcer introduced him as the 'Man With The Golden Trumpet' - an apt description that remained with him for the rest of his musical career. In the late sixties he left the UK, making South Africa his home. He continued to perform there, and was a regular visitor to Rhodesia. He continued to record for the local market and performed a version of "Amazing Grace", retitled "Amazing Race" specially adapted for Rhodesia.
On the 7 August 1978, Calvert collapsed and died of a heart attack in the bathroom of his home in Rivonia, Johannesburg. He was fifty-six years old.

'Storm Over the Nile' was quite a different matter.
This film truly deserved the description 'epic'.
The film was an adaptation of the novel 'The Four Feathers', and was directed by Zoltan Korda.
It featured Anthony Steel, Laurence Harvey, James Robertson Justice, Mary Ure, Ian Carmichael, Michael Horden and Christopher Lee, and was filmed extensively on location in the Sudan - although the director extensively used footage of the action scenes from the 1939 film version, which were stretched into CinemaScope.

At the Battle of Omdurman (2 September 1898), an army commanded by the British Gen. Sir Herbert Kitchener defeated the army of Abdullah al-Taashi, the successor to the self-proclaimed 'Mahdi' Muhammad Ahmad. It was a demonstration of the superiority of a highly disciplined European-led army equipped with modern rifles and artillery over a vastly larger force armed with older weapons, and marked the success of British efforts to re-conquer the Sudan. However, it was not until the 1899 Battle of Umm Diwaykarat that the final Mahdist forces were defeated.
The village of Omdurman was chosen in 1884 as the base of operations by the Mahdi, Muhammad Ahmad. After his death in 1885, following the successful siege of Khartoum, his successor (Khalifa) Abdullah retained it as his capital.

'CinemaScope' (see right), of course was the 'new thing' in the early fifties, with its huge, very wide screen, and was the film industry's attempted answer to the encroachment of television, which was already beginning to eat away at cinema audiences.

CinemaScope was an anamorphic lens series used for shooting wide screen movies from 1953 to 1967. Its creation in 1953, by the president of 20th Century-Fox, marked the beginning of the modern anamorphic format in both principal photography and movie projection. The anamorphic lenses theoretically allowed the process to create an image of up to a 2.66:1 aspect ratio, almost twice as wide as the previously common Academy format's 1.37:1 ratio. Although the CinemaScope lens system was made obsolete by new technological developments, primarily advanced by Panavision, the CinemaScope anamorphic format has continued to this day.  CinemaScope is still widely used by both film-makers and projectionists, although today it generally refers to any 2.35:1, 2.39:1, or 2.40:1 presentation or, sometimes, the use of anamorphic lensing or projection in particular. Bausch & Lomb won a 1954 Oscar for its development of the CinemaScope lens.

Miklós Rózsa
The music for the film was composed by Miklós Rózsa (see left), who later became on of Peter's favourite film music composers.

Mosque at Omdurman
Miklós Rózsa (18 April 1907 – 27 July 1995) was a Hungarian-born composer trained in Germany (1925-1931), and active in France (1931 – 1935), England (1935-1940), and the United States (1940-1995), with extensive sojourns in Italy from 1953. Famous for his nearly one hundred film scores, he nevertheless maintained a steadfast allegiance to absolute concert music throughout what he called his "double life." Rózsa achieved early success in Europe with his orchestral 'Theme, Variations, and Finale' (Op. 13) of 1933 and became prominent in the film industry from such early scores as 'The Four Feathers' (1939) and 'The Thief of Bagdad' (1940). The latter project brought him to America when production was transferred from wartime Britain, and Rózsa remained in the United States, becoming an American citizen in 1946. His notable Hollywood career earned him considerable fame, including Academy Awards for 'Spellbound' (1945), 'A Double Life' (1947), and 'Ben-Hur' (1959).

The film was a magnificent evocation of the British campaign in the Sudan against the Mahdi, or 'expected one', who had raised the Sudanese tribes against the combined rule of Britain and Egypt.

Peter, of course, knew quite a lot about Egypt, as John had served there in the war, and he found the scenes in Cairo and of the Nile fascinating, little realising that one day he would see those places 'for real'.

Another film of that year that featured the music of Miklos Rosza was 'Men of the Fighting Lady' (see left).
This was a film, directed by Andrew Marton, and starring Walter Pidgeon, Keenan Wynn, Dewey Martin and Frank Lovejoy, which was set during the Korean war, on board an American aircraft carrier.

Undoubtedly, the most significant film of that year for Peter was 'Kismet' (see right).
Filmed in Cinemascope and Eastman Colour, and released by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, it was the fourth movie version of Kismet.
This, however, was no 'run of the mill' Hollywood musical.
What raised it above others of its genre was the fact that it incorporated the music of the 19th Century Russian composer Borodin in its score, and in this way Peter encountered another truly 'classical composer'.

'Kismet' is a musical with lyrics and musical adaptation (as well as some original music) by Robert Wright and George Forrest, adapted from the music of Alexander Borodin, and a book by Charles Lederer and Luther Davis, based on 'Kismet', the 1911 play by Edward Knoblock. Kismet is a word, derived from Sanskrit, Urdu or Hindi, meaning fate or destiny, a predetermined course of events.
The word likely evolved from Hindi. The word is normally used in the Muslim cultural sphere. The first recorded use of the word in English was by Edward Backhouse Eastwick who used the word, spelled kismat, in his 1849 novel 'Dry Leaves from Young Egypt'.
The story of the musical 'Kismet' concerns a wily poet who talks his way out of trouble several times; meanwhile, his beautiful daughter meets and falls in love with the young Caliph. The musical was first produced on Broadway in 1953 and won the Tony Award for best musical in 1954. It was also successful in London's West End and has been given several revivals. A 1955 film version was released by MGM.

The film starred Howard Keel as the beggar and poet, Haj, and the story was set in old Baghdad.
With its lavish sets and costumes, and its romantic story and glorious melodies, this film led Peter into a completely new world of exotic, eastern enchantment.

'Richard III' - 1955
Another costume drama, but not a musical, was 'Richard III'
This British film was an adaptation of William Shakespeare's historical play of the same name, also incorporating elements from his Henry VI, Part 3.
It was directed and produced by Sir Laurence Olivier, who also played the lead role.
The cast includes many noted Shakespearean actors, including a quartet of acting knights.
The film depicts Richard plotting and conspiring to grasp the throne from his brother King Edward IV, played by Sir Cedric Hardwicke.
In the process, many are killed and betrayed, with Richard's evil leading to his own downfall. The prologue of the film states that history without its legends would be "a dry matter indeed", implicitly admitting to the artistic licence that Shakespeare applied to the events of the time.
Of the three Shakespearean films directed by Olivier, Richard III received the least critical praise at the time, although it was still acclaimed.
The film gained popularity through a re-release in 1966, which broke box office records in many cities.
Many critics now consider Olivier's Richard III his best screen adaptation of Shakespeare.
The British Film Institute has pointed out that, given the enormous TV audiences it received in 1955, the film "may have done more to popularize Shakespeare than any other single work".
The film was Peter's first exposure to Shakespeare, and he was suitably captivated by the elaborate and dramatic language.


1955 was also a great year for war films, and John Crawford always ensured that Peter went to see all the war films that glorified Britain's role in the second Worls War.

'Above Us the Waves' - 1955
'Above Us the Waves' was a film directed by Ralph Thomas.
It tells the story of human torpedo and midget submarine attacks on the German battleship Tirpitz.
It is based on true-life attacks on the Tirpitz, first using manned torpedoes (Chariots), and then the Royal Navy's midget X-Craft submarines in Operation Source.
Some of the original equipment was used in the film.
The screenplay was based on the book 'Above Us the Waves' by C.E.T Warren and James Benson.
The score was by Arthur Benjamin and performed under the direction of Muir Mathieson.
Commander Donald Cameron VC, who commanded X-6 as a Lieutenant and won the Victoria Cross during the operation, was an adviser to the film.

'The Cockleshell Heroes' - 1955
'The Cockleshell Heroes' was a film about a very similar subject.
The film starred Trevor Howard, Anthony Newley, David Lodge and José Ferrer, who also directed.
Set during the Second World War, it was a fictionalised account of 'Operation Frankton', the December 1942 raid by canoe-borne British commandos on shipping in Bordeaux Harbour.
It was the first Warwick Film to be filmed in CinemaScope and technicolour.
'The Cockleshell Heroes' was filmed in Portugal and several Royal Marine establishments, with the Commandant-General Royal Marines ensuring the actors were trained in proper drill and canoe handling.

Colditz Castle
'The Colditz Story'  - 1955
'The Colditz Story' takes us to Germany.
The film starred John Mills and Eric Portman, and was directed by Guy Hamilton.
It was based on the book written by Pat Reid, a British army officer who was imprisoned in Oflag IV-C, Colditz Castle, in Germany during the Second World War and who was the Escape Officer for British POWs within the castle.
The prisoners of Colditz are high-spirited and eager to needle the Germans.
The escape officer of the British contingent, Patrick Reid (Mills), assists in the escape of other prisoners and finally carries out his own escape.
The film was the fourth most popular movie at the British box office in 1955.

'The Dam Busters' - 1955
'The Dam Busters' - 1955
For Peter the greatest war film of the year - possibly the decade, was 'The Dam Busters'.
The film starred Michael Redgrave and Richard Todd, and was directed by Michael Anderson. The film recreates the true story of 'Operation Chastise' when in 1943 the RAF's 617 Squadron attacked the Möhne, Eder and Sorpe dams in Germany with Barnes Wallis's "bouncing bomb".

Eric Coates - 'The Dam Busters'
The film was based on the books 'The Dam Busters' (1951) by Paul Brickhill and 'Enemy Coast Ahead' (1946) by Guy Gibson.
Grundig TK 8 Tape Recorder
What made the film even more attractive to Peter was the superb soundtrack by Eric Coates.
The main theme music, the 'Dambusters March' by Eric Coates, is for many synonymous with the film, as well as with the exploit itself.
As a reminder of British success, it remains a favourite military band item at fly-pasts, and can be heard at football games during England matches.
One version released featured dialogue extracts from the film (specifically, the bombing run scene).
Peter recorded the march from the radio onto the Grundig ree-to-reel tape recorder.

for much more information and many images see


Early in the summer strange visitors arrived at Pears Road.
One morning a middle-aged lady and her young son suddenly appeared.
Peter had not been forewarned of their arrival, and had no idea who they were.

Zac in Hounslow
The lady's name Pete could never recall, but the boy was called Zac, and in England, at the time, boys were not called Zac.
Now Zac and his mother were American, and came from Ohio.
Now the question was – what was an American lady and her son doing arriving at Pears Road, apparently 'out of the blue' ?
The woman, it appeared, was in England on some sort of business, and she had to go off somewhere.
The result was that she was to leave her son at Pears Road.
And so it was that Zac became one of the family for that summer.
He was a good looking, fair haired boy; the same age as Peter, and he slept in Peter's bedroom on a camp-bed.
Pete and Zac quickly became firm friends, and Pete took him to Inwood Park, and introduced Zac to the local children.
Strange as it may seem, everyone accepted Zac, despite the fact that he 'spoke funny'.

Chessington Zoo Tiger
Windsor Castle
There was no holiday away from home that year, but Jane and John took Pete and Zac on numerous 'days out' to London and to other tourist attractions such as Windsor Castle (see left)  and Hampton Court.
Chessington Zoo Poster
For the two boys, perhaps the most enjoyable trip was to Chessington Zoo (see right), which had recently opened.

Chessington Zoo was founded in 1931 in the grounds of a  country mansion of considerable history, as far as can be traced the original mansion was built in 1348, probably as a country house named Chessington Lodge. On 28th July 1931 animal enthusiast Reginald Goddard opened Chessington Zoo to allow the public to view his private animal collection, which consisted of some truly exotic species. 

There was also a trip to Heathrow Airport, for at that time the airport was not a place of danger, with armed police – ever watchful for insane terrorists – but was rather a tourist attraction and a 'day out'.

BEA Ambassador - 1950s
Heathrow Airport started in 1929 as a small airfield (Great West Aerodrome) on land south-east of the hamlet of Heathrow. Development of the whole Heathrow area as a very big airfield started in 1944, stated to be for long-distance military aircraft bound for the far east, but by the time the airfield was nearing completion, World War 2 had ended. The government continued to develop the airfield, as a civil airport, known as London Airport and later Heathrow. The name 'Heathrow' originates from a local hamlet called 'Heathrow' or 'Heath Row', whose land was mostly farms and market gardens and orchards; there was a 'Heathrow Farm' (approximately where Terminal 1 is now), and a Heathrow Hall and a Heathrow House. In the 1950s, Heathrow had six runways, arranged in three pairs at different angles in the shape of a hexagram, with the permanent passenger terminal in the centre and the older terminal along the north edge of the field.

At the Queen's Building (see left) there were playgrounds, and a paddling-pool for the children, along with restaurants and viewing galleries, where visitors could gawp at the 'well-heeled' as they boarded the waiting airliners.
(This is in complete contrast to Heathrow today, where children and sightseers are not welcome, and everywhere you will find police with machine guns.)

There was even a tiny Dragon Rapide (see right), which, for a modest fee would whisk you high above the airport, and then give you a half an hour spin around London – and of course Zac loved all this.
The big question is, of course, who was this boy, and perhaps more significantly, who was his mother ?
Now Pete never asked Zac who he was, or more importantly, who was Zac's's mother - it simply didn't occur to Pete to ask such a question - children are very different from adults......

This may seem strange but, as J M Barrie (see left) reminds us:
 'Children have the strangest adventures without being troubled by them, for what troubles a grown-up will never trouble a child'.
So we are left with a mystery, - but it seems almost impossible not to think of that American officer during the war who had an affair with Jane.
Was the woman the officer's wife, or perhaps divorceed or his widow – and that would make the boy Zac, in a strange way Pete's adoptive half-brother ?
And what was the 'business' that occupied her while Zac stayed at Pears Road ?
The connection with the American officer seems a likely speculation, for it would explain why Jane and John made no attempt to offer Pete any explanations for the strange affair – after all it would then bring into question the whole matter of Pete's adoption.
Pete, of course, knew nothing of this, and enjoyed having a 'brother' for the summer.
To begin with Zac had been difficult, after all he came from a very different world.
America had not been affected by the war in the same way that Britain had.

The Americans had suffered no bombing on their cities, and had not suffered the same privations as the British, and as a result their economy and standard of living had recovered very quickly after the cessation of hostilities.
As a result Zac was very put out by the lack of air-conditioning, which was something unheard of in Britain at the time, and he was also very critical of the lack of a shower, and the small size of British cars.
Very quickly, however, Zac adapted to the post-war British way of life.
Then there was a problem.
Zac loved playing in Inwood Park, and particularly liked the swings and round-abouts.
One afternoon Zac was 'showing-off' on a roundabout, and fell, catching his foot between the concrete and the rotating roundabout.

The result was that he badly injured his foot and couldn't walk, so Pete, thinking he was doing the right thing, ran home to tell Jane and John.
When he arrived home, he was immediately told off for leaving Zac in the Park on his own.
Now to Pete this did not make sense, as he needed John to carry Zac home, as Zac couldn't walk.
This was yet another example, to Pete, of adults being untrustworthy, unreliable and unfair - and Pete's trust in adults never recovered after this event.
Zac was taken to Hounslow Hospital (see left), and his ankle was x-rayed and found to be badly fractured.
The end result was that Zac's ankle was set in plaster.

Zac was then reduced to sitting around the house, or sitting in the garden, so for Pete having a new 'brother' became rather less 'fun'.
Fortunately Zac's mother returned.
Whether or not she had finished her business, or whether she returned because Zac had fractured his ankle Pete did not know, but within a day of her return the pair of them were packed, and making their way to Southampton (see right), for the return journey to America on the 'Queen Mary' (see left).
Pete never met Zac, or his mother again, although parcels of magazines, and some photos, every three months or so, would arrive from America for Pete.
These magazines were mainly about cars and aeroplanes, two of Pete's many obsessions, and after a few months Pete knew more about Cadillacs and Pontiacs than he did about Austins and Rovers.


It was now 1955. Pete had been living in Pears Road for five years.
Life, however, in day to day and material terms had changed very little.
People were undoubtedly richer.

The post-war recovery was well under way under the management of the Conservative Party led first of all by Winston Churchill, and after 1955 by Anthony Eden.
Pete's contact with Glen, and Pete's interest in American films, however, had alerted him to the restrictions in life that were still noticeable in life in mid 1950s Britain.
Now for those who were not alive in the 1950s it might be pertinent to point out what life was like in that era.
We can begin by starting on the morning of an average day.
In the Winter, getting up in the morning was really difficult.
Often the condensation on the window would have frozen, so there would actually be ice inside the bedroom.
In Pete's case he would go downstairs to have wash and have his breakfast.
In the winter it would be too early to have a coal fire lit, so the only heating would be from a 'bowl' eclectic fire (see left).
Of course there would be no television in the morning, so the radio would be playing.
Cornflakes, Porridge or Wheatabix would be the main food at breakfast time, and there was always the chance that a new packet would be opened, and a new free toy would be found
Outside there would be the clip-clop of the horse which was drawing the cart (see right)  from which the milk was delivered to the door.
Also the post would be delivered early, along with the papers.
And of course, in the Winter, it would often be foggy outside, and sometimes there would be smog, reducing visibility to less than a meter, which was a combination of fog and the polluting smoke from millions of coal fires.
Pete, like most children at the time, went to school on his own, walking, as there was no 'school run', mainly because very few people had cars.

The first school (see left) that Pete went to had no central heating, and the classrooms were heated by coal burning stoves.
The new Junior school, however, was centrally heated, which at the time was the very height of modernity.

School ended at half past three, and when Pete returned from school his mother would be waiting for him.
After 1953 there would be 'Children's Television' (see right), but Pete would often go to Inwood park to play after school.
The evening meal would have to wait until John came home from work.
Of course there was no refrigerator, so food had to be bought each day, particularly in the Summer.
Food would be bought either from Mr Kilm's local shop, or from Platt's Stores, in the High Street, or later from Waitrose Supermarket.
Equally there was no microwave, so food could not be prepared quickly, and when the meal was over there was no dish washer.
After the meal, there was television until ten thirty or eleven o'clock, and there was only one channel: BBC.


Life was seeming very simple, and had changed little from pre-war days – or so it seemed.

But America had played a large and significant part in the war, and thousands of American troops had been posted to the British Isles before being transported to Europe on D-day, and large numbers of American airmen took off every night in their Boeing Fortresses and Super Fortresses (see left) to fly daylight bombing raids over the crumbling Reich.
Pete's family had been affected in a very personal way by this influx of US servicemen, - although Pete was not aware of the fact, - and it is probable that Pete would not have even been in England had it not been for a certain America officer.
In addition, there was the strange visit of Zac, and his mother, suddenly 'dropping in' unexpectedly from Ohio – to be followed by a regular supply of American magazines.
But Pete was not the only one to be affected by transAtlantic influences.

While the Rev. Marcus Morris had wanted to stem the tide of inappropriate comics, imported from America, with his 'upstanding', morally pure and British comic, 'the Eagle', it was significant that one of the most popular cartoon strips in the comic was Charles Chiltern's  'Riders of the Range' (see right), which was set in the American 'Wild West'.
And not only Pete, who for reasons already explained was rather more interested in the Indians than the Cowboys, was a fan of this particular comic strip – almost all his friends, (the boys, of course), followed these stories assiduously.
Comics, however, were not the only influence on children at this time.
Two other media were beginning to hold children's attention – films and the television.

Two characters in particular were very popular – 'The Lone Ranger' (see left) – and his trusty side-kick, Tonto, the Indian, and Roy Rogers (see right) – and his trusty side-kick, Trigger, the horse, and surprisingly for the times, his girlfriend Dale Evans.
Roy Rogers, known as the 'singing cowboy', started in films and moved into television in 1951.
The Lone Ranger, in similar fashion, began as a film series, often shown on children's Saturday morning cinema, and was subsequently a feature of television throughout the fifties.
These were not the only American imports, however.

In 1955 Walt Disney released the film, Davy Crockett, (see left) and Crockett mania' swept the country – so that even Pete had a 'Davy Crockett' fur cap.
Another American import was 'Rin Tin Tin (see right), the story of an American boy and his German Shepherd dog.
Originally a film series first to see the light of day in the 1920s, and often shown on children's Saturday morning film shows, the story was transferred to the small-screen, and was first shown by ABC television is a weekly series in 1954.
As for feature films these included' High Noon', starring Gary Cooper, 'Broken Arrow', starring James Stewart, Apache Country, starring Gene Autry, numerous Roy Rogers films, 'The Charge at Feather River' in 3D (yes, 3D is not a new phenomena – people were sitting in cinemas, wearing funny spectacles even in the fifties, as 3D was considered to be a possible answer to the increasing popularity of television).
Other American films also included 'Gunsmoke' starring Audie Murphy, 'The Man from Laramie', featuring the famous song and also starring James Stewart, and 'The Battle of Powder River' (see right) to name just a few.


While all this was going on, the regular annual events continued to mark the years of the middle fifties. Christmas, Easter and Summer holidays came and went.
Previously holidays, such as they were, were taken in Newcastle, with the family.
By 1955, however, Pete was old enough to be taken to a less protected environment, & probably by that time Jane and John were in the mood for change.
So they decided to go to a caravan park at Reculver, in Kent.

Reculver was an old Roman Fort, made famous as the sight for the test bombing runs of Barnes Wallace's 'bouncing bomb', which were depicted in the then popular post war film, 'The Dam Busters'.
The first problem with Reculver was the wind, as it seems to be a place that was windy all the time.
The second problem was the desolation. Reculver is stuck in the middle of nowhere, with boring flat countryside, at least compared to Northumberland, all around.

In many ways Pete did not enjoy his holiday at Reculver, apart, that is, from flying a small tethered model aeroplane in the phenomenal wind, and excavating a 'cave' in the sandy cliff-side.
Such excavations, however, had a 'down side'.
Two boys, about Pete's age, had also dug a cave, although somewhat deeper than Pete's.
Then, one day, just before the end of the holiday, there was an accident.
The boy's cave collapsed, burying both of the boy's.
John, along with some of the other parents frantically struggled to dig the two boys out of the collapsed cave with their bare hands, while Pete, and some of the other children looked on.
Did the boys suffocate under the avalanche of sand, or were they dug out alive ?
Pete can't, or won't remember - but it brought home to him the fragility of human life.
It seemed that it was not just 'old ladies' like 'auntie' Ivy who could disappear into the darkness of 'non-being'.
Even little boys, like Pete, could suddenly be snatched away.
So in the end Pete was glad to leave the menacing twin towers, and endless winds of Reculver, and return to the tranquillity and safety of Pears Road.


But to return to everyday life in 1950s Hounslow, - the Transatlantic influence was not only evident in the cinema and television.

Children's toys were effected by this onslaught from 'across the pond', and new crazes followed the films and television series.
Cowboy films produced a craze for cowboy costumes, Red Indian bows, arrows and tomahawks, and six-shooters and repeating rifles.
Other crazes included Hula-hoops, Yo-yos, Davy Crockett hats.

Pete's Nautilus
There was even a miniature clockwork 'Nautilus' submarines (from the Disney film of Jules Verne's science fiction novel '20000 leagues under the Sea').
And all these toys came and went in the 50s.
Music was also changing as the fifties progressed.
The early forties had see a rise in the popularity of jazz, and the dance music of Glen Miller.
With the end of the war there was an increase in the popularity of somewhat more romantic songs, along with a number of very irritating 'novelty songs'.
But then things started to change – and the change was called 'Rock and Roll'.
Originally, 'rock and roll' had been Negro slang for sexual intercourse – not that many people in England realised that.
Rock and Roll was first brought to England by the unlikely figure of Bill Haley.
Although Haley, - somewhat portly, conservatively dressed, and by no means a 'teenager', might not seem to us to be a threatening harbinger of a 'counter-culture', to 'Tin Pan Alley', and the older generation Haley was seen as an anarchistic destroyer of both morality and culture – and was even said by some to be part of a Communist plot to destroy Western civilisation.

'Rock and roll' is a genre of popular music that originated and evolved in the United States during the late 1940s and early 1950s, primarily from a combination of African American blues, jump blues, country, jazz, and gospel music. Though elements of rock and roll can be heard in country records of the 1930s, and in blues records from the 1920s, rock and roll did not acquire its name until the 1950s.
In the 1950s, Britain was well placed to receive American rock and roll music and culture. It shared a common language, had been exposed to American culture through the stationing of troops in the country, and shared many social developments, including the emergence of distinct youth sub-cultures, which in Britain included the 'Teddy Boys'.

But Bill Haley was nothing compared to the next singing idol who was to entrance teenagers both in the United Stated and England – and that singing idol was Elvis!
But of course Peter, and very few of his friends, had 'record players', and so music was something that was heard on the radio or at the cinema, or for some, on the television.

Elvis Presley - 'Love Me Tender'
Peter's second contact with Elvis was when he saw the film featuring the song 'Love me Tender', - and that was a song that could hardly be described as 'rock and roll'.
But Peter loved the poignant, sentimental song.

'Love Me Tender' is a 1956 American black-and-white CinemaScope motion picture directed by Robert D. Webb, and released by 20th Century Fox on November 21, 1956. The film, named after the song, stars Richard Egan, Debra Paget, and Elvis Presley in his film debut. It is in the Western genre with musical numbers. Because it was Presley's movie debut, it was the only time in his acting career that he did not receive top billing. The song "Love Me Tender" (recorded by Elvis Presley and published by Elvis Presley Music), was adapted from the tune of "Aura Lee" (or "Aura Lea"), a sentimental Civil War ballad, first published in 1861, with music by George R. Poulton and words by W.W. Fosdick, which became popular with college glee clubs and barbershop quartets, and was also sung at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, New York.

Films, television, toys and music were not the only areas affected by the transatlantic influence. 
Shopping and clothing were also affected.
Davy Crockett,
Pete, of course, had to have a fury Davy Crockett hat, after seeing the film.

Davy Crockett, King of the Wild Frontier is a 1955 live-action Walt Disney adventure film starring Fess Parker as Davy Crockett. This film is an edited compilation of the first three stories from the Disney television series Davy Crockett. The film remains Walt Disney's most successful television film project. The Davy Crockett episodes of the early-to-mid 1950s sparked a national (and later transatlantic) "Davy Crockett craze", with many coon-skin caps being sold, as well as a successful recording of the episodes' theme song "The Ballad of Davy Crockett".

There were other changes in children's fashion, however - and that was a new idea – the idea of children's fashion.
Checked shirts
Cowboy Style - 1950s
In the forties children had simply dressed like little adults, except that boys, before they were teenagers, wore short trousers.
In the fifties, however, the new fashions came from America.
Checked shirts – 'cowboy style' - for casual wear became all the rage.
And with checked shirts came jeans – long denim casual trousers, which again were seen as a 'cowboy' fashion.
So, while Pete wore grey, woollen shorts and a navy blue blazer for school, and a formal suit of shorts and a matching jacket for 'best wear', for his 'leisure' time, playing with his friends, he wore checked shirts and jeans, like a little American boy – in fact just like Zac.
And when the weather was cold he wore a zip fronted 'lumber jacket', which was another American import, being a jacket modelled on those worn by American 'lumber jacks'.
Pete's Baseball Boots
And then there were baseball boots.
There were black rubbers (no, not condoms but plimpsoles), white rubbers, and baseball boots.
Boys had to make sure their mum bought the black ones with the laces in them.
Anyone wearing the dreaded 'slip-ons', with the piece of elastic across the front, was automatically branded a ‘sissy boy’, as were those who wore short white socks.
Jane wanted Pete to wear plimsolls – mainly because they were cheap, and needed to be cheap as Pete regularly 'trashed' them, and grew out of them – but Pete had to have the new fashion, and that fashion was baseball boots, preferably white, which, again, were a new American fashion, - baseball being the American sport, 'par excellence', and of course he got the idea of baseball boots from Zac.
And then there was shopping, and the American fashion in shopping was the Supermarket.

In 1947, there were just ten self-service shops in the UK. In 1951, ex-US Navy sailor Patrick Galvani, son-in-law of Express Dairies chairman, made a pitch to the board to open a chain of supermarkets across the country. The UK's first supermarket under the new Premier Supermarkets brand opened in Streatham, South London, taking ten times as much per week as the average British general store of the time. Other chains caught on, and after Galvani lost out to Tesco's Jack Cohen in 1960 to buy the 212 Irwin's chain, the sector underwent a large amount of consolidation.

The first supermarket in Hounslow was Waitrose, half way down the high-street.
Jane took Pete a few times to Waitrose, but she preferred Platts Store, which was nearer, and a little more up-market.
Platts had been in Hounslow since the early 1900s, but sometime before the war the old Edwardian shop had a facelift - and it was in this way that Pete first came face to face with Art Deco, although he didn't know it was called that at the time (all that remains now is the name, in superb Art Deco Lettering).

Art Deco is an influential visual arts design style which first appeared in France during the 1920s, flourished internationally during the 30s and 40s, then waned in the post-World War II era. It is an eclectic style that combines traditional craft motifs with Machine Age imagery and materials. The style is often characterized by rich colours  bold geometric shapes, and lavish ornamentation. Deco emerged from the Inter-war period when rapid industrialization was transforming culture. One of its major attributes is an embrace of technology. This distinguishes Deco from the organic motifs favoured by its predecessor Art Nouveau. Art Deco is an assertively modern style that ran to symmetry rather than asymmetry, and to the rectilinear rather than the curvilinear; - it responded to the demands of the machine and of new material and the requirements of mass production. During its heyday Art Deco represented luxury, glamour, exuberance, and faith in social and technological progress.

Pete's abiding memory of Platts was of modernity and everything being white and cool.
There was another Art Deco style frontage in Hounslow High Street - further down, near the Bell.
It was an 'Aladdin's cave' of pen's, writing paper, wrapping paper, note-books and endless other items, and was know as Madisons (see left).
To Pete this shop always exuded what he imagined was a French air, particularly at night when the shop sign was illuminated in a beautiful neon glow.


Joan Naylor
Hounslow Town School
At school things were very much the same for Pete, however, Joan Naylor, the much loved music teacher at Hounslow Town Junior School, had noticed that Pete had a very fine singing voice.
As a result Pete appeared in a film of the school choir.
What was odd about this, however, was the fact that Pete was never told where the film would be shown, but the rumour was that it was destined for television in the USA.
St Stephens Church - Hounslow
Later Pete sung a solo, featuring the carol 'We three Kings', at the school Christmas concert.
Eventually Miss Naylor recommended Pete to Mr Turner, (rumoured to be her 'boyfriend' 'lover' ?), who was the organist and choirmaster at St Stephen's Church in Hounslow.
The church had a rather forbidding appearance, but that was nothing compared to the demeanour of Mr Turner.
The choir consisted of about twelve boys and eight men.

The boys, despite their surplices, seemed to Pete to be a rather 'rough' lot, and,of course, most of them were older than Pete.
The head choirboy was tall, handsome and blond, and wore an elaborate medallion round his neck, suspended from a silk crimson ribbon.
He was also unbelievingly vain and domineering.
Pete was expected to attend two practices each week, and sing on Sundays in the morning and evening.
There were also weddings most Saturdays, for which the choirboys received five shillings - a substantial sum for a young boy at the time.


In the middle fifties the relationship between Jane and John, and Gladys and Dick (Auntie Gladys and Uncle Dick) blossomed.
During this time there were regular visits to Baker Street (York Street actually), and during these visits Pete gradually got to know some very interesting people.

Gladys and Dick lived in a large, terraced, five storied 19th Century town house.
Dick was not in the least interested in having a beautiful home - most of his waking hours were spent outside the home, and many of those hours were spent in 'drinking establishments'.
Gladys would have probably wanted to decorate and furnish the whole house in an extravagant Art Deco style, and 'flounce around', complete with long ivory cigarette holder and pink gin, like a latter-day Ginger Rogers, but that was not to be.
Dick decided to let out much of the house - after all, accommodation in London, in the mid fifties, was at a premium.
Gladys and Dick lived in the basement.
That may sound a bit depressing, but the basements of such houses could be made to be very agreeable, after all Joe (remember 'auntie Joe' ?) lived in the basement of a similar house in Harley Street.

The first floor (or is that the ground floor ? after meeting Zac, Pete was never sure which floor was which, as the Americans have a different system of numbering), was converted into a self contained flat, with lounge, bedroom, kitchen and bathroom.
The other floors had rooms which were let out with shared bathroom facilities (which was a common practice at the time).
What was interesting about these arrangements were the people involved.
The large flat on the ground floor was occupied by a young captain in the Indian Navy, who worked in the Indian High Commission, in the Strand as a Naval Attaché.

(What is very odd about the Indian High Commission building is the choice of decoration for one of the wall plaques (see right). The building is located at Aldwych, and is situated between Bush House and what was Marconi House (now Citibank). It faces both the London School of Economics and King's College London. Proposed in 1925 by the Indian High Commissioner Sir Atul Chatterjee, the building was designed by Sir Herbert Baker and completed in 1930. It was formally inaugurated on July 8, 1930 by King George V.)

The gentleman living in the ground floor apartment was always known as Mr Kurup, although John Crawford and Dick always called him simply 'Kurup', in good military style.
Mr Kurup was born in Karela, in southern India, and his father was a Brahmin, although Kurup himself declared that he was an atheist - the first atheist that Pete had ever met.
A Brahmin is an individual belonging to the Hindu priest, artists, teachers, technicians class ('varna' or pillar of the society), and also to an individual belonging to the Brahmin tribe/caste into which an individual is born;

(Kurup is an occupational title among the Nairs of Kerala, India. They served as warriors, generals and warlords to kings. It was also a honorific hereditary title dignifying certain Kshatriya clans of Kiryathil Nairs in the Malabar regions. The title of Kurup was also used by a class of Nairs who were employed as supervisors in temples and pagodas.)

Mr Kurup and John Crawford became firm friends - but there was something more than just a personal friendship, as Pete often found them intently studying various manuals emblazoned with either the Indian National emblem (see left), or the emblem of the Indian Navy (see right).
So what was going on between John Crawford and Kurup ? -
Well - whenever Pete entered the room, when such discussions were under-way, they immediately stopped - the manuals were returned to the locked bookcase, and the television was turned on.
Of course, for most of John Crawford's life, India had been the 'Indian Empire' - the 'jewel in the crown', and it was only one year after Peter was born that India became independent.

The British Raj (rāj - "reign" in Hindi) was the name given to the British rule in the Indian subcontinent between 1858 and 1947. The region under British control, commonly called India in contemporary usage, included areas directly administered by the United Kingdom (contemporaneously 'British India'), as well as the 'princely states' ruled by individual rulers under the paramountcy of the British Crown. The region was  also called the 'Indian Empire' by the British. During the 'Indian Empire' India was ruled by the 'Viceroy and Governor-General of India', and the ruling monarch held the title 'Empress or Emperor of India'  (Kaiser-i-Hind - بادشاہِ ھندوستان.).

To Peter, Mr Kurup was truly exotic.
Now this may seem strange to contemporary readers who may know something of Hounslow, where Peter grew up, but at the time there were practically no people from India or Pakistan living in Hounslow ! (and we are not joking) - and it must be remembered that almost all the people living in Hounslow were white, and the majority would have described themselves as English.

Not only was Kurup exotic, but his apartment was also exotic - or should we say 'sophisticated'.
There was a large three piece suite, - armchairs and a long sofa, all upholstered in expensive brown leather - and low coffee tables.
The room was lit by a large, crystal chandelier.
The fire-place was marble, in the Adam style, and Pete was enthralled to see his first cocktail cabinet - in burl-walnut, with pink mirror glass to reflect the numerous glasses and bottles - and, of course, there was a light inside, which came on when the cabinet was opened.
And the most amazing thing of all - for Pete - Kurup had a gun  - and taught Peter to shoot - but that's a story for later on.
But Kurup was not the only exotic character in York Street.

Mostyn Hotel 
Another small apartment was set aside for 'Monsieur Paul'.
What his actual name was Peter never knew.
Monsieur Paul was a Chef - in fact the 'head chef' at the 'four and a half star' Mostyn Hotel in Bryanston Street, just off Portman Street and Gloucester Place, and just a short walk from York Street.
Paul spoke with a delicious French accent, smoked Gauloises, and was an chronic alcoholic (like Gladys) - and quite often John Crawford would have to help to put him to bed.
So this was the first Frenchman that Pete had ever met - and the connection between Monsieur Paul and Pete would become a lot closer in the future, as we shall see later.

Autumnal Cannibalism - Salvador Dali
Then there was Mr Chard, who worked in television.
He was involved in some way with the arts.
He was unbelievably remote and aloof, but he had a huge bookcase filled with very large, and very expensive Art Books, and he was quite happy to let Pete sit in his apartment and look through the books
And this is how Peter started his interest in art, and in particular Surrealism.

Surrealism is a cultural movement that began in the early 1920s, and is best known for its visual artworks and writings. Surrealist works feature the element of surprise, unexpected juxtapositions and non sequitur; however, many Surrealist artists and writers regard their work as an expression of the philosophical movement first and foremost, with the works being an artefact.

Claridge's  Restaurant
Two of the top rooms were home to two young Italian waiters, Antonio and Paolo, who worked at Claridges - and yes - they were the first Italians that Pete had ever met.

Claridge's is a luxury hotel in Mayfair, central London, located at the corner of Brook Street and Davies Street. It is a traditional "grand" hotel, with long-standing connections with royalty that have led to it sometimes being referred to as an "extension to Buckingham Palace".

And lastly there was a Bulgarian 'bouncer', who was deeply 'into' body-building - with a huge 'stash' of body-building magazines which Pete would avidly read.
And so body-building was something that Pete would be involved in, on and off, for the rest of his life - and it hardly needs saying that this was the first Bulgarian that Pete had ever met.
So through John Crawford' brother, Dick, and Auntie Gladys, Pete's world began to open up - and rather more than it was for most of his friends.
But the world was about to open up even more in the next few years - so read on !

Zac had gone home - back to Ohio - but there were new distractions for Pete at York Street.
Pete's world had suddenly taken on an air of what he took to be 'sophistication' - the swirling, mysterious waltz, 'The Shadow Waltz', - that had endlessly whirled round in Peter's thoughts for so long, summing up for him the mystery and romance of a sophisticated, adult world - had now become a reality.


Miss D'Silver and class
Hounslow Town Junior School
The first signs that any other strange things were happening was a visit by Jane to Pete's Junior School Teacher, Miss D'Silver.
Miss D'Silver was of Goan extraction, - (although Pete did not realise this as she had a very pale complexion, and spoke with a perfect, 'educated' English accent, and it was only many years later that Jane explained to Pete that she was part Indian.
(Jane had an odd habit of explaining things to Pete when it was far too late for the information to be of any use to him).
Miss D'Silver was a very sweet teacher, who was always very kind and thoughtful towards Pete.
Pete, however, always had the feeling that Miss D'Silver felt a bit sorry for him, probably because she thought that while he was a 'cute' little boy, he was not very bright.
The reason for the visit was to ask permission for Pete to miss a week of school to start his holiday early.
Jane and Ivy on 'Puck II'
River Thames 1940s
John Crawford on 'Puck I'
Norfolk Broads 1938

This holiday was to be a visit to Norfolk - which for Pete was something new - although this was not the case for Jane and John - but Pete didn't know this at the time.
Jane and John had always been attracted to boats and to life on the river.
They had a succession of boats, all named 'Puck'. - 
Now why Puck ? -
If you don't know who is Puck - well, here's a hint .....

Puck - 'A Midsummer Night's Dream'
William Shakespeare
If we shadows have offended,
Think but this, and all is mended,
That you have but slumber'd here
While these visions did appear.
And this weak and idle theme,
No more yielding but a dream ...

'A Midsummer Night's Dream'
William Shakespeare

Pete was never able to find any connection between Jane and John and either 'A Midsummer Night's Dream', or William Shakespeare, although John could quote large chunks of Shakespeare when the mood took him, however, Pete never remembers him quoting anything from 'A Midsummer Night's Dream'.

Puck - Mickey Rooney
Peter Pan
Vittorio Carvelli
Puck, is a character in William Shakespeare's play 'A Midsummer Night's Dream' that was based on the ancient figure in English mythology, also called Puck.
Puck is a clever, mischievous elf or sprite that personifies the trickster or the wise knave. In the play, Shakespeare introduces Puck as the "shrewd and knavish sprite" and "that merry wanderer of the night" in some scenes it would seem that he is longing for freedom. There is, of course, a strong connection between Puck and another mischievous, 'merry wanderer of the night' - Peter Pan.

Perhaps the name had no significance - but Jane had a habit of taking names from films - an example is the cat 'Chloe'.
In 1935 there was a filmed version of 'A Midsummer Night's Dream' - and probably Jane and John saw the film.
Puck was played by an incredibly 'cute' Mickey Rooney ( a favourite of J D Salinger - as you will discover later).
Was this the 'cute' little boy that Jane wanted ? - and so the boat was named after him.

A Midsummer Night's Dream (1935) is an American film of Shakespeare's play, directed by Max Reinhardt and William Dieterle, produced by Henry Blanke and Hal Wallis for Warner Brothers, and adapted by Charles Kenyon and Mary C. McCall Jr. from Reinhardt's Hollywood Bowl production of the previous year. Felix Mendelssohn's music was extensively used, as re-orchestrated by Erich Wolfgang Korngold. The ballet sequences featuring the fairies were choreographed by Bronislava Nijinska.

The first 'Puck' was acquired in the late 1930s, after Jane and John married.
The second 'Puck' was acquired straight after the War (1945).
The 'Puck' that Pete knew, a very upmarket, four berth cabin cruiser, was acquired in the mid fifties.

A cabin cruiser is a type of power boat that provides accommodation for its crew and passengers inside the structure of the craft.
A cabin cruiser usually ranges in size from 25 to 45 feet (7.6 to 13.7 m) in length, with larger pleasure craft usually considered yachts. Most cabin cruisers usually have a small dining area and some have an aft cabin (a cabin to the rear of the cockpit, with a double bed) Some cabin cruisers are equipped with heating, and power generators. Most also have water heaters and shore power electric systems.

This was the 'Puck' that was used for the holiday on the Norfolk Broads.
So - Miss D'Silver told Pete what a 'lucky boy' he was to have a holiday on a boat, and he was, because none of his friends had holidays like this.
Joe and Tommy Before their Breakup
Early Fifties
Now Pete was to see a new side to Jane and John, because, unknown to Pete, (and he knew very little of Jane and John's past) Jane and John would be re-living part of their past - before Pete arrived on the scene.
But there was a twist to this holiday.
'Joe' - Josephine - Jane's friend from wartime - the nurse who lived in Harley Street, had recently 'broken up' with Tommy Kane, the alcoholic ex-guards officer - so Jane had offered Joe a cabin of her own on 'Puck'.
What John thought about this arrangement we do not know, as Joe had kept some important facts from John on his return from the Middel East), but Pete liked his 'chain smoking' 'Auntie' Joe, so for him there was no problem.
And for Pete, this holiday meant new clothes - white shorts (not green for a change), white shirts, new denim jeans, white baseball boots and a 'captain's' peaked cap.

So the Summer came - Pete left school early - and John 'picked up' Joe from Harley Street.
Then it was a drive - Jane, John, Joe and Pete, down to Wroxham, on the river Bure.
And there, at Wroxham,  was 'Puck'.

Wroxham is sometimes called the "Capital of the Broads" and was the first centre on the Broads for boating holidays and excursions from the late nineteenth century, when expansion of the rail network had made access to the area easier.

The first job was to buy up some stores.
Jane, Joe and Pete went off to do that, while John checked the boat, ensured that the water-tank was full, and bought a full tank of fuel.

Undoubtedly, even at this point, it was the first holiday that Pete really enjoyed.
The boat was far better than Pete could have possibly hoped for, and quite a step up for Jane and John on the previous boats.
The new 'Puck' had four births (beds), a fully equipped galley (kitchen), a 'head' (toilet) and a cockpit with a removable roof.
The boat was powered by a 12HP Morris "Vedette" engine with electric start, with three separate cabins, and was twenty-four feet long, with a draught of two feet, a beam of eight feet, and six foot of headroom.

'Puck' - Main Cabin
'Puck' Underway
Being a nineteen-forties boat it was all fitted out in the finest wood panelling - not a bit of plastic to be seen anywhere - apart from maybe the steering wheel.
Once all the supplies had been loaded, including lots of 'Penguin Biscuits' for Pete, it was time to set off.
This was the first time that John Crawford had used the boat, so leaving the quay-side was quite 'nerve-racking', but once in the river it was, to coin a phrase, 'plain sailing'.
Pete had his own cabin in the 'bow' (notice all the nautical terms - port, starboard, stern, bow etc.), triangular shaped, and leading down from the cockpit.
It was completely private, and well away from the 'grown-ups'.
Pete ensconced himself there with a troop of his model soldiers, and a collection of 'Eagle Annuals'.
Now in the mid fifties the 'Broads' was nothing like it is today.
In the mid-fifties the 'Broads' was a haven of tranquillity - a place of cool, rippling peace.
Up until this point Pete had led a very busy life - with a hectic round of school, library, and games in Inwood Park.

The Starry Heavens
The Pleiades
Tranquillity on the Broads
The only moments of relative peace and tranquillity had been with the 'visitors', contemplating the expanse of the starry heavens.
But here, on the 'Broads', while the days were full of walks, and the exploration of quaint villages and isolated windmills, the evening were moments of complete rest.

Windmill - Norfolk Broads
Joe's Portable Radio
Unlike today, when people, even when they are on holiday, can't get away from texts, e-mails and phone calls, in the mid fifties, on a cabin cruiser, there was no post, no telephone calls and no one knocking on the door.
In fact, the only contact with the outside world, apart from the occasional newspaper, was a portable radio which Joe had brought with her - and for most of the time that stayed in her cabin.
What was interesting about the Norfolk Broads in the mid nineteen-fifties was the fact that, compared to London, it seemed to exist in a time warp.

Village Shop
Both the people and the places in Norfolk still appeared to happily living in the early thirties, while the metropolis - or at least the metropolis that Pete knew so well, was seemingly hurtling towards the sixties.
What fascinated Pete were all the little differences.
The people spoke differently, the milk bottles were different, the buses were different, - even the groceries were different.
Today, of course, there is a homogeneous sameness about life, not only through England, but throughout many parts of the world - for example, identical McDonalds from Cairo to Moscow to New York.
Fortunately, however, for Pete, who was avidly following Dan Dare in the 'The Rogue Planet', some things were the same in Norfolk and in London, even in the fifties, and so he could still get his copies of the 'Eagle' from the local news-agents.

Near Oulton Broad
Slowly the lazy days of that Summer went by, but for Pete, perhaps the most memorable times were when he was alone in his own little cabin.
There he would lie, in his bunk, listening to the water lapping against the sides of the boat, while he breathed in the warm musty air that rose from the gently flowing river.
Faintly he could hear the muffled sounds of John, Jane and Joe, talking quietly over their 'night-caps'.
Of course, it would be interesting to know what they talked about.
Like most 'grown ups' they had a lot of 'baggage' - many memories from those years of crisis and danger - so recently passed.


Mr Germany
Hounslow Town Junior
The new year began and something very significant happened for Pete.
Pete's new class teacher was a man.
Up until that time all of Pete's teachers had been women - and Peter had a problem with women, because women could be mothers - like Jane-, and were not to be trusted.
The new teacher's name was Mr Germany (he is remembered by other ex-pupils of the school as an outstanding teacher).
Mr Germany came along just at the right time for Pete - coincidence ?
Somehow his teaching unblocked Pete's problem with reading - and from then on Pete read everything he could find, except for 'story-books' (non-fiction).
And so Pete made the most remarkable progress, and changed from being a slightly backward little boy to a highly intelligent little boy - maybe even 'gifted', and it all seemed to be due to one man.

And other things were changing.
Anthony Eden
Harold Macmillan
Britain had a new Prim Minister.
Anthony Eden, worn out, and in ill health as a result of the Suez debacle, resigned.
And in his place was another conservative prime minister - Harold Macmillan.
Macmillan was in many ways fortunate, as he would preside over what was later to be seen as a 'golden age' - which created the 'Land of Lost Content' - a period of relative stability, and relative affluence - never to be seen again.
In addition, someone from John Crawford's past popped up in the news.
This was Μιχαήλ Χριστοδούλου Μούσκος, better known to the rest of the world as Archbishop Makarios.
 Μιχαήλ Χριστοδούλου Μούσκος
Archbishop Makarios
This was the man (not then an archbishop) who had often drunk coffee while discussing religion and politics with John Crawford, when John was in Cyprus after the war.
Later, after John returned to the United Kingdom, a joint police/military plan, codenamed 'Operation Airborne', saw Makarios exiled to Mahe Island in the Seychelles on 9 March 1956, as a ‘guest’ of Sir William Addis, Governor & Commander-in-Chief of the Seychelles.
The next year, however, Makarios was released, and returned to Cyprus.

Makarios III (August 13, 1913 – August 3, 1977), was the archbishop and primate of the autocephalous Cypriot Orthodox Church (1950–1977) and the first President of the Republic of Cyprus (1960–1974 and 1974–1977). 

 'Christ in Majesty'
Jacob Epstein
And while on the subject of religion there was what was possibly a final flowering of fine art in England as Epstein's last great work - 'Christ in Majesty' - was installed in Llandaf Cathedral.

Sir Jacob Epstein KBE (10 November 1880 – 19 August 1959) was a British sculptor who helped pioneer modern sculpture. He was born in the United States, and moved to Europe in 1902, becoming a British citizen in 1911. He often produced controversial works which challenged taboos on what was appropriate subject matter for public artworks. While much of his work degenerated into modernist formalism, his portraits and two great religious works - 'St Michael's Victory over the Devil' and 'Christ in Majesty' are fine examples of English art.

Two very ominous events also occurred in the early part of the year.
In Rome the first draft treaty, intended to set up the Common Market was signed, while at the same time the South coast of England was 'invaded' by continental jelly-fish - 'Portuguese Men of War' - possibly a case of Jungian 'synchronicity' ?
At the end of the year the world of Dan Dare broke into the mundane reality of the 1950s.
The USSR launched an artificial satellite into Earth orbit.

The tiny satellite was known as 'Cпутник' ('Sputnik') - more correctly known as Простейший Спутник-1.
Sputnik was the first artificial Earth satellite. The Soviet Union launched it into an elliptical low Earth orbit on 4 October 1957. The surprise success precipitated the American Sputnik crisis, and began 'Space Race', a part of the larger Cold War. The launch ushered in new political, military, technological, and scientific developments. Sputnik was also scientifically valuable. The density of the upper atmosphere could be deduced from its drag on the orbit, and the propagation of its radio signals gave information about the ionosphere. Sputnik 1 was launched during the International Geophysical Year from Site No.1/5, at the 5th Tyuratam range, in Kazakh SSR (now at the Baikonur Cosmodrome). The satellite travelled at about 29,000 kilometers (18,000 mi) per hour, taking 96.2 minutes to complete each orbit. It transmitted on 20.005 and 40.002 MHz[4] which were monitored by amateur radio operators throughout the world.

Jodrell Bank Radio Telescope 
The signals continued for 22 days until the transmitter batteries ran out on 26 October 1957. Sputnik 1 burned up on 4 January 1958, as it fell from orbit upon reentering Earth's atmosphere, after travelling about 60 million km (37 million miles) and spending 3 months in orbit.

And just in time for the launch of the Russian 'Sputnik', the Jodrell Bank Radio Telescope - the largest of its kind in the world - was completed - although you didn't really need a telescope of such massive proportions to receive the little satellite's plaintive bleeps.

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