One of the blocks had been bombed during the war - a doodle bug coming in a window, killing all the residents who were sheltering in the basement. My neighbour Ethel told me about it. She had been living in the council estate next door with her family and wanted to visit her friend on the Peabody Estate that night because the friend had just brought home a new baby. The air raid sirens sounded and her mum said ‘no’. While her friend and her baby and her family and neighbours all thought they were in a safe shelter under the building Ethels family were in a nearby railway arch. She said that when the bomb hit the block the arch was suddenly robbed of air. Everyone inside had been buried alive and it took weeks for men like her father to dig out the bodies and body parts. One night at the tea table he started crying and Ethel said to him “Buck up, dad”.
The space where that block had been became a car park. Another block had been removed like a tooth from the middle to create a large partially sunken space, and inside that recessed outline of there was a play space which was eventually fitted out with slides and swings. With the surrounding blocks in a rectangle around it this worked like a giant loudspeaker. The gentle brushing of the courtyard by the porter would wake me up in the morning, you could hear any conversation clearly, and in the summer the children yelled and screamed all day long.