Out Now!

Monday, 2 April 2007

Of interest only to Train spotters and those who like lists - my brother perhaps who’ll fault my memory and those who once lived there.

Anyway, back to the street. Facing our house from right to left lived Winnie Barnard and her son Michael Barnard. I can’t remember the father. She was both religious and Irish and always friendly. On a few occasions me and Michael experimented with string and tin cans. The cans acted as telephones, the string as the wire connecting our facing bedroom windows. We usually ended up shouting across at each other and I lost interest in science soon after that.

Next door to them lived an old lady, Mrs Crocker - great name for an old lady. She wore a long orange cardigan and a black skirt. When she died the Tates moved in. They were nice too, but less tolerant of our games because Mr. Tate did night shift and slept, or tried to, during the day. The next house draws a blank. Then came the Lawsons: Rose, and her two sons, Peter and Tony Lawson. Again, interestingly enough I can’t remember the father. Maybe it’s an example of young children focusing more on ‘mothers’ than ‘fathers’.

The Alty’s had two sons. One of them I think was called Charlie. They were smooth and slick, suave with Elvis Presley hair and smart suits. They belonged to a different world - a world I thought that one day I might enter - but never did.

Next house - another blank, - then a small lane, and finally the corner house facing Wyresdale Road. This belonged to the Cooksons and their son John Cookson. They were blessed with a large coal shed in their backyard.

Mr Cookson was a thin wizened man with glasses and a wrinkly face. Mrs Cookson was large and plump with a yellow face. She wore a beret and a floral apron. I remember, and appreciate now, they were always concerned that their son might not fit in - but he did, because they had that shed which doubled up as a stage for countless plays and puppet shows by the street’s thespians.

Are you still with me? Is the list getting too long? Tough. My fingers are racing, my memory juiced up. I’m bringing a world back to life here - bear with me, please!
On our side of the street lived Mrs Hadfield and Bessie. They were our neighbours to our right at no. 16. She was late middle-aged with the air of a grand-dame. Bessie didn’t have a last name because she was a paid companion and even as children we observed how she always deferred to the grand lady. Our parents also looked up to her. They’d deny it, but we always had to be on our best behaviour if we ever visited (our next door neighbour for heavens sake) and would be dressed a little more smartly. She was nice but both she and Bessie reminded me of poodles in dresses because of their coiffured hair and white, heavily scented face-powder. Mrs Hadfield perhaps more of a pekinese than a poodle. I always thought she could give a nasty bite if crossed.

To our left at No. 12 lived the Hindleys and their daughter Norah Hindley who later became a nun. I remember they had broad Lancashire accents and were gentle and kind - even when I broke their window with a broom pole in pursuit of Huron.

A wonderfully eccentric lady lived at No. 10. May McCarthy. She had red hair and was my brother’s Godmother at his baptism. As part of the ceremony she was meant to stand over the font as Tony was being baptised and renounce the devil and all his works on behalf of the child. Instead, in a loud, ringing Irish accent that apparently filled the church, she ‘Announced the Devil and all his works and pomp.’ My brother has never looked back since.

At No 8 lived the Hartleys, Jack, Edie, Miles and Kevin. They had the first TV in the street. A small 12” black and white one and we’d look at Robin Hood or Rin Tin Tin through the window - though most times they let half the kids in the street in to watch.

At No. 6 lived our ‘Aunty Dolly’ - really our great aunt because she was our grandfather’s sister.

No 4 is a blank though they gave us some money once when we did some carol singing with mandolins. Their great claim to fame - and ours.

Finally No 2. Once occupied by a family whose father looked like a spiv (this is from the mind of a child he was probably a very good man) and who had this wonderful dark blue Vauxhall car with chrome tail fins. It was alien, polished, American and we’d stroke it surreptitiously as we passed. They were replaced by the Carltons who treated us with tolerance and had a son called Robert Carleton who later joined the police.

There was a boy called Ian who I always thought had an eggy face, who lived at No. I Eggy face? Some people suffer from/enjoy synaesthesia. I tend to see faces in terms of animals or food. Is there a name for that I wonder? Should there be?

A doggy face, a fishy face....In quieter, New Agey moments I wonder if its all in someway related to reincarnation. But, to my knowledge, eggs don't enjoy reincarnation, whatever the Karma. What could an egg do to come back as Ian? I'm babbling; time for a drink.

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