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E-Book by John Burden (YoE 1958)

I have just finished reading a book written and published by one of our contemporaries. Published in eBook and paperback form, “The Time of Our Lives: Growing Up With the Well-Hard Babies 1945-1960” by John Burden (year of entry 1958) is an absolute must for all Old Secundrians.

Why? Because it transports all of us who were brought up and educated in Portsmouth back to those carefree days - and does so with humour, accurate insight and fine detail.

I found the book to be an accessible, humorous and realistic child’s perspective on the life of city youngsters growing up post-war. It had me in stitches of laughter and its ability to transport the reader back to those days and revive forgotten memories was probably better than any text book on growing up in the 1950’s.

The book is the first of a trilogy, and this opening volume provides fine detail of city life in general as well the ups and downs of the primary school years. The same level of perception takes us almost up to the O Level years at the SGS and John’s experiences there will resonate with many: although affectionate and appreciative, his accurate description of grammar school education in those days doesn’t pull any punches either!

To sum up – the book comprises over 300 pages of extremely humorous and well-written reflections on growing up in the Portsmouth area. Far from being the grey and gloomy period that is all too often the perception of today’s society, the book makes a point of underlining the sheer joyous freedom of growing up in the fifties. It is easy to read, there’s a lot to laugh about and it awakens many dormant memories by providing a realistic and entertaining perspective of life for those fortunate enough to have been born just after the war.

The book is available on Amazon, and in the short publicity sheet he has produced, John makes it very clear that all proceeds from its sale are donated to charity. In my opinion, it’s worth every penny.

Derek Buckle
Year of entry 1957