Wednesday, 1 April 2009

What is a Cuckooite

Written by Tags,



At first I was going to decline Tommy's request, I thought that it was a tall order and much more suited to someone with better writing talents than mine, such as Del Southon, or Jim Davis.

You see Tommy had asked me if I would like to write an article on

"What is a Cuckooite?".

I thought about it for a while, took another swig of scotch and hit the keyboards as my first thoughts, mixed with the scotch started to run through my head and warm the cockles of my heart.

Technically the first Cuckooites were my parent's generation, I am the youngest of about eleven kids, I say about eleven because that is what my Mum always said. 

You see she was never quite sure how many kids she had, and when she was talking to us she always ran through a list of our Christian names before getting to the right one.

My parents were survivors of two world wars, like many other families, they moved to the Cuckoo Estate in the late 1930's, just before WWII started.

For them, moving to the Estate was an unimaginable dream come true.

Families came from poorer, overcrowded, run down accommodations from all over London. Their brand new council houses on The Cuckoo Estate, were full of the all the modern conveniences such as running water, electric lights instead of gas lighting, four fireplaces, and an inside flushable toilet and bathroom. A living room, a scullery, and a Sunday Best Room. Ours was a three bedroom house, actually two medium sized bedrooms and a small room called the box room upstairs.

We had a nice front and back garden, in which we could grow vegetables, raise chickens or grow flowers and hang out the washing to dry or keep rabbits.

When the war broke out, Anderson Shelters were installed in all the back gardens which provided the families with shelter from Hitler's horrific V-Bombs.

Well there is a lot more facts and history to all of this but we'll save that for another time.

The Estate was built on some land that was part of the Central London District School for Poor Law Children. Charlie Chaplin, possibly the first Cuckooite, was a pupil there and the old school became known as the Old Cuckoo Schools or to us "The Cucks".

It is now known as The Hanwell Community Center.

However none of this really answers Tommy's question…"What is a Cuckooite?".

The term Cuckooite, I believe, was originally conjured up between Tommy our editor and Ethel Damian, or Effo as we know her. Apparently, Cuckooites, is what Eff's father affectionately called his neighbours on the Estate.

We all had a great place to grow up and when the war was over, we had so much fun playing in the nearby Castlebar Fields, The Old Cuckoo Schools and it's dungeons, The Bunny or Monkey Park and Churchfields, up Horsenden Hill and fishing for golf balls in the River Brent.  Cuckoo Avenue, where I lived, had two rows of majestic Horse Chestnut trees that would get full of blossom and conkers galore.

Returning to the question "What is a Cuckooite?", well you could say a Cuckooite is anyone who lived on or even near the Estate. Or the descendents or relatives of anyone that lived on the Estate. You could also say that a Cuckooite is someone who would always help their neighbour. Even if was just to loan them a cup of sugar or a pint of milk when they ran short.

You could say that a Cuckooite watched out for his neighbour and his neighbour's children. You could also say that a Cuckooite always looks on the bright side of life and appreciated how lucky they were to have a nice roof over their heads.

You could say that a Cuckooite was someone like Dr.Lasnick who would brave all kinds of weather to go out and care for his beloved patients on the Estate if they were sick.

Another way would be to describe their great sense of humour and common sense.

Or the hardworking way they managed to raise their families on a few shillings a week and kept them well fed and clothed.

Self sacrifice was foremost in our parents nature, they really knew what hard times were.

Their wonderful spirit and kindess to each other was essential if they were to overcome the perils and destruction of WWII.

These values have been passed down to us, almost like DNA they are in our genetic make up. This torch which we now carry and it's flame should never dim, but shine brightly and these same values passed on to your grandchildren too.

Cuckooite's also know how to enjoy themselves, simply and honestly, each year they travel from the four corners of the Earth to meet up for a good old fashioned knees-up in a hall near the Estate. It may sound like a strange ritual, but it's certainly not one to be missed, talented Cuckooites such as Sheila Bransfield and Mr.Finucane, the man with the golden voice, will sing their hearts out as well as dance to Roll Out The Barrel, Knees Up Muvver Brown, and other old favourites.

So "What is a Cuckooite?" certainly they are all of the above and more, if you have your own special definition of a Cuckooite….let's all hear it we'd love to know how proud you are to be one too.

Cheers everyone.



Tommy said...

John a great piece on what is a Cuckooite,I could not concur more with your thoughts,

jim davis said...

Your post was a very nice surprise JohnB, and very well writen. I am sure people will want to add to what you have said.

Val B said...

Hi Tags, I enjoyed reading your article, can even say it brought tears to my eyes.
Thought you had been quiet during the latter end of last month, now I know why.

Jean Danials said...

Loved your post,like Val B said it gave me a lump in my throat.You trully said what it is to be a Cuckooite and I hope we can pass it on to our children and grandchildren.We will never have that time again as what we had as children.

Maureen Sullivan said...

Very nicely said Tags,I am new to the site and I enjoy reading what others have to say about life and growing up on the Cuckoo Estate.Your point about folks taking care of others is so true,we where all in it together,kind of like the mess we are in today.

tags said...

Thankya, Thankya,... Thankya all very much.

You are all too kind, and as usual, I really didn't mean to make you ladies cry.

Welcome to the site you have lovely long red hair and smiling eyes?...and did you ever have a brother named Terry...who lived on Lyle Crescent near Borders Road?

Maureen.S said...

Sorry Tags we lived on Brownimg Avenue.This is a great site I look at it every day,it has brought a little bit of my past back that lives in all of us but never seems to come out.

Anonymous said...

Thanks, Tags, for writing that article. Very well written and straight from the heart - and you got me in mine!
I'm sure Terry Finucane must feel the same way I do. I feel really proud that you singled me out for a mention. Thanks for that.
Molly, Terry and I are really looking forward to meeting up with everyone again in September.
Sheila Bransfield

tags said...

Hi Sheila, both you and Terry Finucane deserve more than a mere mention.
You both are wonderful talented singers and have been very special contributors to us Cuckooites, as are many other folks are who work behind the scene such as Jackie, John Holdstock and other regular long time contributors who I have not mentioned here. I look forward to hearing your beautiful voice again sometime.
Cheers John

tags said...

Thank you all,
I really appreciate everyones comments even if I have not mentioned you all this time.

Chriss Taylor said...

Very well said John,you described a Cuckooite right down to a tee,well done loved reading your article.

Grace said...

JohnB wonderful story i and many others i am sure would love to relive those happy years again,when we were young, but who knows if there was,nt a war how much would things have been different ,just think we may not have had this Brilliant Cuckooite Site, so you see we are the lucky ones

Anonymous said...

Great article, Tags (johnB). We have so many talented writers in our group, and look where we got our early education...right on the estate. I think it was the early schooling that we received that has helpd most of us get where we are today.

Roger Martin said...

Tags or John,thank you for taking me back,it is sometimes hard to remember the life we had on the estate,Most of us have moved on but there is a longing we all share for a simpler time and place where materialistic stuff was not important.The world has changed and I beleive we will never see those times again.Thank you for a great article.

tags said...

Thanks Roger,
Did you have a good looking sister called Joan?
Or a brother who would be about 66 I think his first name was Peter he was in my junior class?

Roger Martin. said...

Sorry Tags wrong family.but keep up the good work with your Postings you have a good telent and I enjoy what you have to say.

Eddie said...

I love looking at the pics that are posted, more please, I miss the area very much and it makes me feel a little better looking back at bygone days.

How about "just" a picture section please. I'll def show these to my sons to show those where I once lived.

Tommy said...

Eddie next month I will put a photo show on of old Cuckoo photos,look for it around the 8th of may when i get back from my trip Tommy

jim davis said...

When Tommy puts the picture show on next month of old photo's. It would be nice that if one of yours is shown, you put a comment on telling us where you were and what you were doing on that day. A day at the seaside was such a big thing for most people back then, and so many things happened on those trips it would bring back memories for many of us. Likewise a day at the Monkey Park or Ruislip Lido. Or watching Yvonne doing handstands up against the wall in her navy blues. If anyone saw that now that would be interesting!!!!!

Eddie said...

Okay will def do that.