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Mike Short was born in Washington Street in 1933 and by the time he was seven was helping his dad regularly on his two allotments.

" With the coming of the War it was obvious that a lot of food we imported would be cut off, so allotments became a way of life, part of the government's `dig for victory' campaign. My dad came from a rural family and had only moved into Brighton originally to work at the diamond factory at the bottom of Coombe Road (now known as the Deco building). When that folded he went to work at Allen Wests who were big electrical manufacturers. My dad worked from 7 in the morning till 8 o clock at night and when he came home quite often he was on home guard or air raid duty, so it was me who had to do whatever I could on the allotments. From the age of seven I'd come home from school and work on the land.

We grew all the staples _ brassicas, potatoes, peas, beans - but no luxury type foods, no fruit; we used to get our fruit from Bates Farm. We also had quite a large garden attached to the house, with chickens and rabbits and more vegetables.

In 1940 we moved into one of a block of four houses known as Moulsecoomb villas which were originally the servants' quarters to Moulsecoomb Place. They were beautiful little oldie-worldie buildings. They stood where the university caretaker's houses are now. Apart from the Lewes Road we were surrounded by allotments, two playing fields and half a dozen tennis courts.

Because my uncle was a railway man he was allowed to have a supply of sleepers for firewood and I used to get the job of cutting them up - I've still got that bow saw out in my shed! When he died that eventually stopped and I then had the job of going out collecting firewood.

My life was also punctuated with queuing! Friday mornings I would go down to Coombe Terrace and stand outside the old Westerns chemist to buy saccharin tablets. Saturday mornings I would go down to the bakers at the bottom of New Market road and buy bread, and two other days of the week I would stand in a queue at Bate's farm shop.

On special occasions we went to the Open Market - on Saturday mornings you couldn't walk through it without bumping into people that you knew!

If I had any spare time after all that I would go wandering all over the Downs. I would take a kettle, some tea, a bottle of water and anything that I could scrounge to eat and go walkabout for the day.

They started to build the college and so we moved out of our cottage in 1961 just before they were knocked down. It was a Brave New World when they started building things like the Polytechnic and we thought it was good. Its only afterwards when it went on and on and on and you think `when are they gonna stop' and `when will the concrete end?' "

   

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