Chelsea Child Rose Gamble

ISBN: 9780563174226



Chelsea Child  by  Rose Gamble

Chelsea Child by Rose Gamble
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London in the 1920s was tough if you were poor, and Rose Gamble’s family were very poor. There were seven members of the family in total, and they all lived in one small room. They coped amazingly well. The book, whilst describing a harsh life, is completely without self-pity. Rosie Gamble’s resilience dominates the tough situations she describes - many of which would leave us today (me definitely) quite traumatized.Life in such a small room required perfect choreography, as is illustrated by their sleeping arrangements. Rosie’s parents slept in a huge collapsible bed that in the daytime was strung up on the wall by a hook, but for the children there was scrambled arrangement of sharing a bed, or chairs used as makeshift beds.The next job was to get the bunks made for Georgie, Joey and me in what space was left in the middle of the room, and the odd bits of bedding left over on the floor in the corner were divided between us.

Our two chairs were tied together for Joey, with the scrubbing board along one side to keep him from falling out. This contraption was pushed alongside Mum’s bed. Joey had a pillow for his mattress and a little square cushion from the pram for his head. My bunk was Dad’s armchair with the wooden back let down flat.....Poor old Goeorgie had the saggy one, with knitted wire like chainmail looping its way over the folding iron frame....Lu and Dodie had the proper bed, the single one in the corner with iron laths for the spring and a flock mattress.....

It was a bit much expecting Lu and Dodie to go to bed when we did because they were older than us, but with all the beds down there was nowhere to sit if they stayed up.There was an outside lavatory serving several families, no bath at all, and food was basic – meat or fish was a great luxury (except for the father of the household.) Finding the money for clothes and footwear was a challenge, and toys - other than those made by the children - were non-existent. The room was heated by a small bedroom fire – sometimes with fuel that had been stolen by the children.

The mother had to work, and was unable to spend time at home – so in summer the baby of the family was tied into his pram, which was tied to some ironwork on a front window of the house - and he was left in the street all day. Someone from the family would come back at lunchtime to attend to him, but for the bulk of the day he was on his own, except for friendly neighbours passing by.In spite of these hardships, the family was incredibly loving and strong. The children all adored their mother and looked after and loved one another too.

The father was the one alien figure, but in many ways they learned to negotiate his temper, his violence and eccentricities. They also had an incredibly rich life playing on the streets. It wasn’t all ideal – there were fights to establish hierarchy – but there was a fantastic quality of play, companionship and pleasure.Towards the end of the book good things start happening to the Gamble family, which is cheering – as they so deserved some breaks.

No part of this book is introspective or depressing though. Rosie Gamble was brought up to live a tough life and she coped with it just fine. I found her and her and her family inspiring and endearing - and a pleasure to experience.

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