Warbreck Moor and two more to follow. I loved the skyline, now with knowledge, then because it seemed strange. I loved red brick.
The corner of Wyresdale. To the left Shaws the Chemist, now Bargin Booze (sic) To the right Taylors the Breadshop, now something else. I used to daydream as to who lived under the spire.
This picture of Easbourne Road is way before my time...honest. But it hasn't changed that much. The Wesleyan church has unfortunately been knocked down and replaced by some small town houses - with unadventurous roofs.
I had my first hallucinogenic experience when I was about seven. It was at the dentist’s. I remember his eyes staring down at me, a black rubbery mask-like thing put over my mouth and nose and a stern voice telling me to breathe in deeply. The next thing I remember is being a large, furry bat flying down a long black tunnel that was too small for me. I’m telling you, being a claustrophobic bat is not a nice experience, but having said that, it prepared me for the sixties and seventies. I woke up with a dry throat and a bloody mouth.
The dentist was inappropriately named, Mr Friendly, he smelled of antiseptic, and his drill was the size of a small power tool that could have tackled concrete. The first time he inspected my mouth was when I was about five. I bit his finger and ran out the surgery, past my mum in the waiting room. Within moments I was tearing across a main road, (Warbreck Moor) and was someway down Wyresdale Road before my mother caught me. I was taken back to Mr Friendly and my lessons in dentistry continued.
If I was to freeze-frame just one moment and try to recapture what Warbreck Moor was like in the 1950’s and 60’s, you’d have to imagine me tugging against my mother’s hand and staring back at the road I’d just crossed. The road is still there but the shops and small village atmosphere have now entirely gone.
Directly opposite me was a small patch of grass called Baker’s field where the green No. 2 and No. 30 buses would stop and take us to town. Occasionally a red Ribble bus would pass, coming from such obscure far- away places as Blackpool, Preston, or Ormskirk. Just to the right of the field were four shops. Mangells was a greengrocers shop with wooden floorboards and a perpetually stale and rotten smell. At the back of the shop was large barrel of vinegar with a tap. You bought your own bottles and it was filled up for a penny. There was also a metal bucket in which he kept his beetroot. We never bought his beetroot and this was largely due to my grandmother. She worked in the shop part time and when she needed to go to the toilet, was directed to the metal bucket. Whether there were beetroot in it at the time, or she had to first take them out, she didn’t say.
Next door was a Newsagent, Ruddocks - the centre of much gossip which continued unchanged when it was sold and renamed as Gordons. Next to that was an off-license, and then, on the corner of Wyresdale Road, Shaw’s the chemist.
In an age now of chain store pharmacies, it is hard to recapture the prestige and respect local chemists once enjoyed. His word was law and followed to the letter. Mind you, I’ve never forgiven him for prescribing Friar’s Balsam. It was a foul yellowish liquid that you could rub on your chest, or drink in hot water. It tasted of sugar and sulphur and left a yellowish stain on wherever it landed. It was supposed to cure most things - along the lines of Elias Ashmole’s cure for asthma: swallow a young frog wrapped in muslin. (it’s slime presumably lubricated your throat before being pulled out). Confronted with the frog or Friar’s Balsam, recovery was swift, almost miraculous.
Crossing Wyresdale you had Tailors the baker, Albert the greengrocer and Dave the butcher. The shops were punctuated by a harsh redbrick Methodist church which had a great roof for climbing on…in search of God. Then, on the corner of Eastbourne Road: another newsagent, Robertsons, a fish and chip shop, a haberdashery and finally Moses a small, slightly more expensive bakery. Just to the right of the door as you came in were large sacks of dog biscuits. To a five year old they were just biscuits and I grew to like the taste, until my mother found out and stopped me.
And that’s it, the known world to a five year old who hated the dentist.