Well, not hugely so really

The film opens on his early life in England. Osbourne’s family was poor, and he was the middle child of six siblings and was plagued by massive insecurities while growing up.

He was a subpar student — later diagnosed with dyslexia — who was ashamed of the conditions in which he grew up. The Osbourne family didn’t have an indoor restroom and often didn’t have money for soap.

Poor by the standards of today, certainly. By those of 1950s England? Not so much:

His mother, Lilian (née Unitt; 1916–2001), was a non-observant Catholic who worked days at a factory.[7] His father, John Thomas “Jack” Osbourne (1915–1977), worked night shifts as a toolmaker at the General Electric Company.

Skilled working class, not the lap of luxury to be sure but poor? By the standards of then?

30 thoughts on “Well, not hugely so really”

  1. So Much For Subtlety

    the middle child of six siblings … His mother, Lilian (née Unitt; 1916–2001), was a non-observant Catholic

    Looks like a fairly observant Catholic to me. You have to look not only at the wages coming in but the expenses going out. Six children would cost something. It would make a child feel poor – sharing too much, wearing hand-me-downs, fighting over the best bit of the chicken and so on.

  2. I bet they did have an indoor ‘restroom’ (to rest in) – just not an indoor bog. Bloody yank English eupemisms.

  3. To be a pendant, don’t think you can’t be the middle child OF six siblings , because middle suggests an odd number. You can of course be the middle child WITH six siblings . Unless of course they’re saying that Ozzy was sibling enough for two, which wouldn’t seem unreasonable given the life he’s lead. But I rather suspect that they’ve just got it wrong.

  4. The house where I was born and my parents lived in until 1966 had an outside bog and no bathroom (in the sense of a place to bathe)so washing oneself was a matter of a tin bath in front of the fire in the living room or a stand-up “all over” at the kitchen sink. We were not well-off but certainly not poor. In the whole village of about 300 houses, there were probably no more than half a dozen that had an indoor bog. Crapping in winter could be a trial…

  5. Having an outdoors toilet was quite common – but “not having money for soap” goes beyond poor to destitute. In 1950s Britain the respectable working class would miss a meal rather than not buy soap. Children might go to school in patched clothes or slightly ragged ones but they were *clean* rags.

  6. We had an outdoor toilet equipped with a paraffin lamp, izal paper, an old coat wrapped round the tank for lagging, and some impressive spiders.

    These days, I like to linger and appreciate the warmth and comfort. It is certainly more of a “rest room”. There’s even a selection of light reading.

  7. “the best bit of the chicken”: chicken was expensive in the 50s – the stuff of celebration meals – until the arrival of tinned chicken from the US.

  8. “fighting over the best bit of the chicken”

    If the average Black Country family saw four roast chickens/year in the 50s then they were doing pretty well. Father and eldest son always got the legs, the rest of the brood had to fight over its two wings.

  9. “Fighting over the best bit of the chicken”.

    Must have made a considerable impression. In later life he certainly wasn’t going to share that bat with anyone else.

  10. Erm… didn’t have money for soap yet His father, whom he adored… gave Osbourne a check for 250 pounds

    £250 in 1968 is the equivalent of £4,500 today. Either the Osbournes had a remarkable shift in their prosperity between Ozzy’s early childhood and late teens or there’s some bullshit going on here. Maybe Ozzy was having a ‘Four Yorkshiremen’ moment…

  11. Yes, the chicken was so rare in the 50s that we only had it at Christmas, and it was getting on for as big as the average Turkey is nowadays. For a family of four it was several days eating, including the carcase ending up as chicken soup. That wasn’t poverty, we had beef, pork or lamb joints of unimaginable size today, and they went on to provide meals for days.

  12. Dennis, He Of The Seven Firing Brain Cells

    Either the Osbournes had a remarkable shift in their prosperity between Ozzy’s early childhood and late teens or there’s some bullshit going on here.

    Osbourne has had about seven living brain cells, and no more, for about 35 years now. Why would anyone trust his memory about anything? I have seven that work and can’t remember what I had for lunch yesterday.

  13. My dad was born in a sauna outbuilding at home in the 40’s, the house where they lived in the early to mid 60’s when he left home had a sauna in the cellar, no running water, the bog outhouse was in a small barn where the chickens were behind dividing timber boards – wooden hole with a lid and sawdust to keep the smell down, although I doubt when it’s -25 degrees and chickenshit nearby that one really notices human shit smells…

    This arrangement was a huge shock to my future mother when she visited the first time, being a posh city girl from the capital with all the modern conveniences.

  14. Correct Tim, it’s bollocks.

    Even in 1980s many two up, two down had an outside loo and no bathroom and public baths near by. No space in house for them.

    Many Victorian and older flats had a loo, but no bathroom. Mate in 1980s lived in one with parents & two siblings, mirror above kitchen sink – he was in his twenties and electronics apprentice at Ferranti. Flat was on Bath Street!

    @John77, Henry, Sam
    +1

    @dearieme
    Yep, until Ross chicken ‘invented’ (eg Ross 708) a Chicken cost ~6 weeks av wage

  15. First 2-up, 2-down student house on Southbridge Road in Croydon, 1970s, had outdoor loo, and ‘bathroom’ with no bath – a closed room with a sink. Every house in the street was that way, and this was by no means an impoverished area.

    Showers at college, or in the amazing public baths on Scarsbrook Road. This sort of thing was surely dying out by that time, but was by no means unusual. I see from Streetview that that house is still there and with the same ground plan as when I lived there.

    llater,

    llamas

  16. So Much For Subtlety

    llamas September 8, 2020 at 7:05 pm – “Showers at college, or in the amazing public baths on Scarsbrook Road. ”

    I know someone who was a student in a college at university which did not have a toilet in its dorms. If they wanted to go in the middle of the night, they had to get up, walk down the stairs, across the Quad, out the gate, across the road, to use the public ones on the other side.

    And by “college” I mean Balliol.

    Or at least so he said. He may have been having his own Yorkshireman moment.

    The first politician to promise “a chicken in every pot” wasn’t Huey Long, the least famous populist to rise to prominence in America. It goes back to Henri IV, the Protestant who also said Paris was worth a Mass so clearly he was a loss to the advertising industry. Technically Henry said “I want there to be no peasant in my realm so poor that he will not have a chicken in his pot every Sunday,” except in French, so close enough.

  17. If they wanted to go in the middle of the night, they had to get up, walk down the stairs, across the Quad, out the gate, across the road, to use the public ones on the other side.

    Why didn’t they just crap out the window? If it’s good enough for Elizabethan nobility… (or is that how the scriptwriters got the idea?)

  18. I’m not sure where toolmaker is now, but jobs evolve in status. In the late 80s, everyone wanted an office job. But call centres are like factory work now.

  19. “I’m not sure where toolmaker is now”: Sir Keir Starmer thinks it’s pretty lowly, having been prolier-than-thou by giving it as his father’s occupation. (Then it turned out that his father was indeed a toolmaker – he owned the factory.)

  20. <blockquote.Patrick
    September 8, 2020 at 12:29 pm

    I bet they did have an indoor ‘restroom’ (to rest in) – just not an indoor bog. Bloody yank English eupemisms.

    And used wrong too. American homes don’t have restrooms. We have bathrooms and toilets. A restroom is something you find in an office or store.

  21. SMFS: He may have been having his own Yorkshireman moment.

    Or summat.

    There are/were no dorms in Oxford colleges and Balliol’s gates would be locked late at night so no nipping out to the public lavatories in Magdalen St.

  22. @ SMFS
    I think he was pulling your leg. Firstly the gates would be locked at night and secondly, IIRC, there are no public toilets on the south side of Broad Street – they’re in Market Street.

  23. At my Oxford college (early 70s), you had to go down to the bottom of your staircase, then out through the rain/snow to a communal bath/toilet block. Today all the student rooms have en suite facilities.

    Back home, my uncle and aunt in rural Lancs (halfway between Blackburn and Preston, not on a hill farm on top of the Pennines) had an outside loo that was a large metal drum filled with disinfectant and emptied by the council every week. They had a septic tank put in while I was in Oxford.

  24. “…and often didn’t have money for soap.” Often, you didn’t need to have money for soap. The Salvation Army used to give poor families bars of carbolic soap (or “that French soap, Carbolique” as I used to tell other kids at school when I wanted to show off). I seemed to recall it also being used on my hair to get rid of nits.
    Two up, two down, cold water house (for six people), with an outside lavvy (torn up sheets of the local paper as toilet paper), and a tin bath hanging from a nail in the back yard.
    Nowadays, kids whinge if the Jacuzzi Isn’t the right shade of magenta, or whatever.

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