Arthur Moir

The Moir family in the back garden of their house, Shield Street, Peckham, 1949

Growing up

"We had to sit at the table, and after you'd finished your dinner, you had to put your knife and fork together. Then you daren't leave the table unless you'd asked permission. My father always had a cane on the table, a thin cane so if you did anything wrong, he used to pick up the cane, and you knew, ok you sit up, up right and you just wait. But he never, never ever hit us.

And then Sundays we used to all sit down to tea around the big wooden table, the bread was cut up very thin, and we used to have butter then. That was the only time we ever had butter, on a Sunday, all the rest would be margarine, you know, it was great. And after that we used to have to clear the table for me mum, and do the washing up, and then you was allowed to play cards.

The cards was Newmarket, like a game of snap really. As the evening got on, and as it got towards your bedtime, you'd take one card away, two cards away till you finished up with one in the kitty. The kitty was all the pennies or ha'pennies, and you daren't win! You daren't win, that was for me for dad, that was his win. If we won there used to be blue murder, well not, I say blue murder really. He used to show off and say, "No! No! Someone's been cheating you fiddled the cards". We never did, we would have loved to do it.

We was allowed to have the wireless on. The wireless then consisted of a battery and an accumulator. We used to listen to the Ovaltinies, "We are the Ovaltinies" and then send up for the badges to be an Ovaltinie and go to school and show off because you was a leader."

"It was just picked as a boy, that that was your girl, that was your chosen one. Of course I was a good fella, everybody liked me, I don't know why.

There was this girl, before I was married. I went down in uniform and took her out to the pictures you know. There was none of this kissing and cuddling lark, her mum was very strict with her, just used to shake hands, 'cause in those days if you kissed a girl, you know, used to say well she's going to have a baby. Oh yes! So you just shook hands for the first two or three weeks."

Getting married


Wedding of Arthur and Dorothy Moir, All Saints Church, New Cross, 1949

"It was quite funny really you know, because the vicar, when I was in the church, the vicar, well he was quite a funny guy really. When he sang his mouth sort of went all over the place, he was really a comic, like a clown to be honest with you.

He looked up and said, "Oh! What's gone wrong!" so I looked round, 'cause you're nor supposed to look round you know, when I was waiting for Dorothy to come in, when they're playing Here Comes the Bride and all that, you're not supposed to look round…"No" I said. "That's all right, that's my sisters!" - "Oh Christ!" he said. "I thought it was three weddings!"

Then I looked round and Dorothy's mother, she'd had a few drinks, and she was crying her eyes out, I don't know if she felt sorry for me, or if she felt sorry for Dorothy. Then Dorothy got the giggles. Then he asks us these things and the faces he's pulling, I'm laughing and she's laughing, and Frank my Best Man, he made out he'd lost the ring, so he's fiddling round.

After the wedding there's a guy who lived across the road, he said to me it's fantastic, that's the funniest wedding I've ever seen or ever been to!."

Free time

"I got involved with the City Police through charity work through the Freemasons really, and then I got recommended for the City of London, you know the Freedom of the City of London, I was chuffed!

I had to go up there and read the gospel, swear not to invade on the Queen's privacy, and different things like that. And they show you the big book, you sign and there's royalty and Prince Charles in the book, different kings, and you think to yourself this is great, and you sign the book. Then you have a little party afterwards at Wood Green Police Station, and it's something that you can look backward to, and you are allowed to wear the tie you know.

And once in the year, you are allowed to take a couple of sheep over London Bridge if you can find a sheep to wheel him over there!"

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