Language Hat has written a piece about bungalows and how people feel about this old-fashioned word nowadays.   For me it’s two things: there’s the John Lennon song Bungalow Bill, a pun about Buffalo Bill living in (in my mind, at least) an English suburban red-brick bungalow.  The other is what was always know in my family as ‘The’ Bungalow.  

My uncle, in the foreground, in 1927.  The bungalow was always painted cream colour, with pale green trim.

My uncle, in the foreground, in 1927. The bungalow was always painted cream with pale green trim.

One of my great-grandmother’s seven children had rheumatoid arthritis, a horrible chronic disease that left him paralyzed.  His doctors recommended that he get some sea air and so during the First World War my great-grandmother built a little summer house by the sea in Norfolk.   She died at 45, in the great flu epidemic of 1918 and my great-grandfather died a couple of years later.  The children moved themselves down to the bungalow and ran wild there for nearly two years — or until someone complained about the gramophone they were playing in the garden.  That led to an aunt returning them to captivity. When they grew up they spent their holidays there with their own families (there were four or five bedrooms, but it was one of those small summer houses that could absorb lots of visitors).

Note the expression on my great-aunt's face; this was traditional, because of the water temperature

Note the expression on my great-aunt's face. This was because of the water temperature.

 I went there as a child too, there was always a strong East wind that originated someplace like Siberia or Sweden– swimming in the North Sea was a bracing ordeal that I never want to repeat — but there were rock-pools and a lovely lagoon with crabs.  

The Norfolk coastline is subject to constant erosion; arriving at the bungalow after the winter storms the first thing to do was see how much of ‘the plot’ had dropped into the sea since last time you were there.  Twenty years ago, the bungalow was finally sold by the last of the children (Betty, my great-aunt, in the bathing suit, above) to some families of Hassidim.  Later this century it will disappear.

All these photographs were taken by my grandfather.  In this picture below — of his wife (my grandmother) and daughter (my mother) — his caption is about the vehicle licence plates.  He’s done it in several other pictures too.  

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