1954, 55, 56, 57. Childhood years are long and Terry's passed with lots of love and affection, but Jane's were a struggle for attention, and the little that she received meant the world to her.
It was early one evening in 1962 and Terry Mansfield, the boy who had been at the street party in East London, set off on one of his nightly adventures with his friend Brian. The two boys had been friends for as long as they could remember, and wherever one was seen, the other was sure to be not far away. They knew the streets in their area of East London well, and though they were often getting into mischief they prided themselves in the fact that they had always managed to evade capture from anyone that pursued them. Although they were both fun-loving rascals, Terry was the cautious one whereas Brian was more forward and cheeky.
The two fourteen-year-olds made their way to a nearby army surplus dump and climbed up onto the wall, dropping into the yard only after they were sure that there was no one about.
They were after army webbing belts and knew exactly where to look in the army dump. The webbing belts were always in the same place and the boys knew that if they did not take too many, they always would be. They took two belts each and after they had adjusted the width, they clipped them around their waists. Terry was fitting a pistol holder to one of his belts while Brian had picked up a shovel and was trying to prise open a large crate. The crate was well secured and Brian was struggling with it. He managed to get the shovel part of the way under the timber lid but despite all his effort, the lid would not budge. Terry walked over and pulled on the handle with his friend and after a lot of effort from them both, the lid sprang up.
"Blinking hell," Brian shouted. He picked up one of the scabbards, took hold of the handle, and pulled out the steel blade. "Bayonets, loads of them." They both stood looking down wide-eyed at the hoard of weapons that filled the crate. "We'll get lots of money for these," Brian said. "Southend, we'll be able to go to Southend-on-Sea tomorrow."
Terry had seen a canvas bag near to where he found the pistol holder. He went to fetch the bag and they filled it with bayonets before climbing back over the wall.
They were pleased with their booty as they set off for home. But they had not been walking long when they heard the sound of a bicycle's brakes squeaking behind them. They both looked around at the same time, in a slight panic at the sight of a policeman dismounting from his bicycle. Without any hesitation, Brian swung the bag and threw it at him. It glanced off his shoulder spilling its contents over the road. The boys jumped over a small railing and ran across the grass towards a large estate of council flats, knowing if the officer chased them, they would probably lose him in the labyrinth of alleys and balconies. The policeman looked at the bayonets, and not wanting to leave them lying in the road, he decided to gather them up rather than give chase. When the boys saw that they were not to be pursued, they stopped running and began laughing as they continued onto the estate.
"Well, it looks like we're not going to Southend, Brian."
"Yes we will, my uncle's got a job knocking down some more old houses in Whitechapel. He said we could go and clean some bricks again if we want. We can earn a couple of quid tomorrow, and then go to Southend on Sunday."
Terry was up and waiting when Brian called at seven the next morning. They had worked on Saturdays earlier in the year when Brian's uncle had a job at Bethnal Green and Terry knew that they would earn at least ten shillings. It was a great deal of money to him and a lot more than he would get for his weekly pocket money. They caught the Underground train to Whitechapel then walked down to Old Montague Street.
Brian's uncle had the contract to demolish the whole Victorian terraced block. It was half completed and a huge pile of bricks was heaped up in the middle of the site, waiting to be cleaned for resale.
They got through a hole in the fence and saw a boy of about their age smashing some of the bricks with an old cast iron sash weight. Brian shouted and started to run towards him, expecting the boy to run off, but the boy just looked at him then carried on smashing up the bricks.
"Oy, what do you think you're doing?" Brian said as he reached the boy.
"What's it got to do with you?" The boy replied menacingly.
"Put that lump of iron down an' I'll show you what it's got to do with me." The boy gave a sarcastic laugh then continued to smash the bricks. "Oy, pack it in," Brian shouted.
"Make me." He gave a look of contempt as if he thought that Brian was powerless against him.
There was a fruit crate amongst some rubbish beside Brian, he picked the crate up and smashed it over the boy's head causing him to scream out in shock and pain. Brian grabbed the sash weight, but the boy would not let go of it. He pulled hard on the weight, pulling the boy towards him. When the boy was close enough Brian punched him in the face. The boy let go and fell back onto the rubble.
"Not as tough as you think you are, are you?" Brian tapped the sash weight on the palm of his hand a couple of times. "What do you think Tel, shall I break his arms?"
The two friends laughed as the boy jumped up and ran off. They searched around and found the trowels stashed under a piece of sacking where Brian's uncle had left them. Terry had cleaned the mortar from no more than a couple of dozen bricks when he noticed the boy coming back onto the site through a hole in the fence. "That brat has come back for some more, looks like he's not on his own though."
Brian looked over. "Well if there's just the four of them, it's only two each." He reached down and picked up a short piece of timber.
Six boys had come through the hole, and there were still more coming. Terry spotted another group coming in through a missing panel further up. A huge section of the temporary fence was swaying back and forth, there was a large cracking sound then three sections collapsed and fell flat onto the site. A crowd of boys and girls started running through the gap and across the site towards them shouting, only stopping to pick up sticks and lumps of wood.
"Shit," Brian muttered. He looked to the hole that they had used to enter the site, but there was another group coming in from there. "There's bloody hundreds of them."
The two boys dropped their trowels and ran across the site. They ran through one of the derelict houses and out through the front door, closely pursued by the large gang of youngsters, girls as well as boys, all shouting and screaming like an uncontrolled mob of rioters as they chased them back up Valance Road and into the high street.
"The bus," Terry shouted. "Jump on the bus." The bus had just started to pull away from the traffic lights. The boys sprinted along the road and made it onto the platform before the bus began to speed up. The two boys turned around and began laughing as they gave V signs to their pursuers.
The bus conductor told them to move off the platform, and they went up the stairs making their way to the back seat of the bus as it headed towards Bow. The boys dropped onto the seat puffing heavily while laughing aloud.
"Well, who wants to clean bricks anyway?"
"What shall we do then?" Terry said.
"Let's go to the canal at Three Mill Lane. See what's in the barges."