History in the Making
George Rough 94 family moved from their farm in Mitcham to a terrace in East Putney in 1928. The same street,Mexfield Road which coincidentally Vivien I moved to in 1975. The house had no electricity and an outside lavatory. “We had gas for cooking and hot water and we used hurricane lamps for light”says George one of six children. As a left over from the farm the Rough’s kept chickens in their 30 foot garden.
A few months after they moved in George’s father brought home a box and a car battery. All the kids stood round as the wires were matched and put together. There was a spark and suddenly the sound of dance music filled the room. The family had a radio. “We all went mad shouting and shrieking it was like magic very exciting.” Today George has a forty inch screen, sky tv and a very full box of dvds. He of course moans about change, not so much the disappearance of outside loos and the eradication of polio but the state of modern football and the end of music hall.
The BBC started radio broadcasting in 1922. At first there were so few radios that there were “listening parties”. George remembers that in those early days there wasn’t much more than dance music, comedians and serials came in the 30s. Until 1927 the BBC did not do the news until after 7pm “in order to encourage people to buy newspapers.” Its use as a government propaganda medium during the General Strike of 1926 changed that. The left at the time accused the BBC as being the British Falsehood Corporation.
For years(1950-60) we had a small black and white TV. When ITV came on stream in the mid 1950s my parents were so hostile to its “populist entertainment” and its effect on our homework that we had to go round to our cleaner’s flat to watch the more popular shows like Emergency Ward 10. Later I remember going round to my sisters in 1971 to watch the Cup Final(Arsenal v Liverpool, that Charlie Charlie George goal) because she had one of the first colour TVs.