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Winifred Grace Hotten


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My mother used to tell me that her sister was my favourite aunt. Certainly she was the one who found the time time to entertain me in unusual ways which were not open to my other aunts. It’s impossible after all these years to put the earliest events into chronological order but it would be logical to suppose that they took place whilst we lived in adjacent streets (Second Avenue and Fourth Avenue. Porter’s Field, Leyton) and that would place things between the middle of 1947 and the summer of 1949.

Winnie, being a teacher long before government inspectors drained the profession’s enthusiasm, could smuggle a small child into school without any red tape getting in the way. She took advantage of this fact several times before I reached official school age. She must have been an infants’ school teacher because all I remember about those school days is that we went on a bus to Custom House and the classroom included a nice big sandpit. Exactly how many times I was taken to that school I do not know but it must have been at least three or four.

The other treat which I remember reasonably well was seaside holidays, two I think, in Littlehampton. Just me and Aunty Win. I remember the little steam railway in the park at the end of the road, it’s still there but diesel hauled now, and several trips into Brighton on the top deck of a bus. There was a bit of the road on the route that had subsided or something and I particularly remember how the bus swayed as it went over it and looked forward to it on each journey. I don’t remember much about Brighton except that miniature buses gave rides along the promenade and the fairground roundabouts.

Some years later after Aunty Win was married and with children I also recall her explaining to me how her daughter Dorothy had come to arrive on the scene. However, excellent teacher though she no doubt was, she still managed to confuse me about the details. She was also very patient with my tendency to insist on trawling the River Roding and Wanstead Flats ponds equipped with a fishing net and a jam jar.

Information provided by Malcolm Knight.