My mum Rene (Alice Irene Flitney née Harding) died in 1999. When my brother, sister and I went through her things we found an envelope full of old newspaper clippings and other bits and pieces. We looked through the papers and put the envelope away, but those yellowing pieces of paper keep whispering of half-forgotten times and places. Places like Butlers Cross, Stoke Mandeville, Aylesbury, West Wycombe, Little Kimble, Wendover, Ellesborough, Southcourt and Princes Risborough.

Monday, 8 September 2014

Guest Post; My Sister Remembers - Part Two

Memories of Susan Poulter nee Flitney; Sue is my older sister (although she looks younger!)
Previous instalment here

I remember going up to London with mum and Tony during the last few months of the Second World War. Mum’s family lived in Harrow on the Hill and during one visit there was an air raid and we all had to get under the dining room table, luckily no bombs came near.  I also remember going to a concert at the Royal Albert Hall, but we had to leave and go to an air-raid shelter.

Grandad Harding and Gladys Harding
Grandad Harding (mum's dad) and his second wife Gladys

My sister, Barbara Anne, was born when I was six years old - the result, according to mum, of dad drinking too much potato wine! Mum, who had been able to go out more as Tony and I were both at school, was very unhappy about having another baby and would only speak to dad through my brother or me. I think mum managed to make it clear to my sister all through her early and teen years that she was not really wanted. Dad used to spoil her rotten to compensate I think.

 Mum (Rene Flitney) with Barbara Anne - taken at Ibstone in 1948.

Dad had an office in the bungalow where he did the farm accounts for Mr. and Mrs. Andrews, he always seemed to be working in the evenings. This caused all sorts of problems for mum and dad, and I remember them arguing quite a lot. Dad would promise to take us out, but then the car would break down, and he would spend most of the day fixing it. This led to mum throwing tantrums (and saucepans) and very often threatening to commit suicide.  At some point during all of this my dad had an affair, and the marriage was really under threat. Working-class people didn’t get divorced in those days, and I remember granny Daisy coming and sorting it all out and my dad having to behave himself. He started taking mum to the village whist drive once a month and for a time, they seemed much happier together. He used to get good bonuses from Mrs. Andrews, and he also had a win on the football pools which enabled him to buy a newer car and a television. We were the first working-class family in the village to have TV and some of the Canadian troops who were based at Ibstone Common used to come around in the evenings to watch the ice hockey.

Denis Flitney, Tony Flitney, Sue Flitney, Rene Flitney nee Harding
Denis, Tony, Sue and Rene Flitney taken at The Bekonscot model village, Beaconsfield, Buckinghamshire.

Christmas was always special. Dad would take me to High Wycombe on Christmas Eve to get the presents. The sweet shops were magical places in those days.  We would buy sugar mice and Edinburgh rock. One Christmas I had a beautiful green velvet dress, but would really have preferred the blue one that was bought for my sister!

We seemed to have plenty of friends in the village; we always had our birthday parties in the garden. They were lovely little affairs, with sandwiches, jelly, blancmange and home-made birthday cake. We played pass the parcel, musical chairs and hide an’ seek – none of the paraphernalia that parents feel they need to provide today. Mind you, much as today, there would usually be a fall out between at least two of the guests. Presents were not expected in those days, and if you did get any, they would be very small – marbles or pencils were favourites. We didn’t have the toys that children have today; dad built us all bikes from odd bits. 

Sue, Barbara and birthday cake in the garden at Sonningfield Bungalow.

I remember Rebecca West asking what I would like for Christmas one year, I asked for a dolls pram.  She bought me one, which I expect was a jolly expensive one.  I am sure I would love it now, but at the time I was horrified as it was made of wood, about nine inches high and very brightly painted. I must have made quite a fuss because mum and dad managed to save up and buy me a “proper” pram for my Birthday, but I didn't forgive Rebecca West for many years!

Rebecca West (Mrs. Andrews) - further information from Wikipedia

When dad got a summer bonus, we would all have new clothes and go off to Cornwall for a caravan holiday.  I hated the journey down; we would set off at about 2am and travel all night. I remember on one occasion mum being really ill with asthma when we were in the middle of Bodmin Moor. In my memory, it was always very hot and one year we all got really badly sun burnt and had a few nights without sleep. Another year the weather was so good we all wanted to stay on longer. Dad phoned Rebecca West and she said that of course we must stay, and she sent some money to a bank in the nearby town. Dad didn't have to pay it back so she really must have held him in high regard.  

Susan Flitney Barbara Flitney Tony Flitney
The sun always seemed to shine! Susan, Barbara & Tony with Peggy.

We had a village shop in Ibstone and next door to the shop was a hall where we went to the “pictures” which were actually lantern shows. It was a real event and walking home by torch light was really exciting. 

To be continued....


  1. Thanks for sharing this Sue, I love the picture of you and Tony with mum and dad. x

  2. Sue, Barbara,
    Wow! What a gripping story and so nice that you have such happy memories of holidays and parties. I had a couple of holidays in Cornwall as a boy then lived and worked there after leaving the navy but more of that in my part two.........

    1. Hi John, I loved those holidays and even enjoyed sleeping in the car on the way down. I was always the one wrapped up in a blanket taking up most of the back seat!
      I’m looking forward to your part two. There are great big chunks of your life I know nothing about. Is it the same for you? :-)

  3. Replies
    1. Me too Dara! I feel very blessed to have my sister Sue and cousin John posting to this blog. Thanks for your visit Barbara.


I really appreciate your comment. Thank you!
Barbara x

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