Wednesday, 30 January 2013

A Semi Detached in Stanmore Middx

Miller residence 1947/1964 
 48 St Andrews Drive, Stanmore, Middx is my idea of a living hell. The whole family hated it the moment we moved in in 1947 and it took 17 years for the three of us to escape. None of us looked back! It was the most unpleasant 17 years of my life and all our neighbours felt exactly the same way. They could not wait to escape either. These houses deserve to be bombed and Hitler missed.

Admitedly the Google Maps screen shot makes it look worse today than when we moved in in 1947. Then a line of mature elms embellished the street which was on a steep hill and Lang the builders had given every house an ornamental tree and hedge. It was far more basic than today. It had no porch, no extra bedroom and no garage, and no tarmac garden. It was just house/space/space/ house and all the houses were the same. You entered number 48 and you became soulless. You became a prisoner.

The houses had long narrow gardens and we did all try to do something with them. Again the garden has not improved as we had it lined on both sides with fruit trees and roses and at the bottom was a hedge of conifers that shielded us from being overlooked by the house that backed on to us. They kept hens! We never talked as they hated the fir trees as they said it took their light!

Mummy did try to garden but the ground was pure Middlesex clay and nothing grew unless very, very hardy. It did grow magnificent champagne rhubarb, apples and marigolds. Lots of marigolds and golden rod! Lots of golden rod!

After the war nobody had anything and furniture was strictly rationed. You could have a dining room table but no chairs, or a bed and no curtains. The winter of 1947 was freezing and we just had a sack of slack to keep us warm so it was not a good start.  We didn't have any clothes either!

I was surrounded by boys, Andrew Kett next door and David Tinsley across the road. the Tinsleys were Irish and quite mad. These two were rather like the brothers I never had. Then there was Rodger, he was never in the gang as he was different. When he got older he bleached his hair and became a hairdresser, made lots of money and got out as fast as possible! Nowadays Rodger would have been understood. His brother Derek who was much younger was the same. I feel bad about Rodger.

The Rutters had the house attached to ours and they had two sons, John and Michael. The first morning Mummy was there Mrs Rutter called. She said simply that we, the Millers were the wrong class and she did not want her sons playing with me. Mummy was never to bother her and she would never speak to us and she didn't in 16 years. Mrs. Rutter kept her word and her class hatred. She died of cancer in the room a joining my bedroom. I never went in her house. She never gave us or me a Christmas present. We were not asked to help and were not asked to the funeral. If only she'd known that our family was more working class than hers. Slums of Glasgow and Manchester us!

The house was a mile from any shops and a mile from Canons Park Tube Station. I made the trek to both virtually every day of my life as the 18 bus and the Tube were the only places that offered a glimpse of freedom.

Life got better. We got a fridge and a television, a spin dryer and eventually a Hovermatic but I never had a wardrobe. The bedroom was too tiny for that and a piano which I could not play. The drawing room never got knocked through during our stay. Mummy tried to make it look good by having red wallpaper in the alcoves.

I was so ashamed of the place I never asked my friends back. I did once with the Young Conservatives, yes I cringe when I admit I belonged but you had to as it was the only social kid on the block. This was a disaster as the Upper Class YC's were just so sarcastic. Charlotte Rampling was one of the crowd! Still Robin Lynch of Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous hailed from a similar background. I knew him well.He too had an urge to get out and he did... to LA. In fact we all did get out eventually. A semi detached upbringing certainly encourages one to succeed as it is the only way to freedom.

We tried to get out twice but each time the sales fell through  Eventually in 1964 when my mother and father had a life crisis I went out at the age of 21 and found them a house in Pinner. We escaped. Pinner was bliss!

Fortunately I shall never return. I could not afford to buy that house today and who in their right mind would want to as it is even worse now than it was then!

48 St Andrews Drive Stanmore Middx.


  1. Thank you so much for your article. My sentiments about St Andrew's Drive exactly. I lived there from 1962 till 1985! I loathed it with a hatred - the whole atmosphere. The lak of beauty and Utilty furniture. The best thing to do was ESCAPe,

  2. Ditto us at number 50. The whole area was so claustrophobic and depressing. Miles and miles of semis with more and more open ground built on every year.