Thursday, 18 August 2011

mind picture

Me, Barry, Sue, and Judith (from downstairs) on our landing  

Growing up in the fifties. I've recently taken to writing as much as I can remember about my childhood, as I thought it might be interesting to some of the younger generation.
The following is a short extract about our garden and its environs, which at an early age, was our entire world.                                                                                
  .........That concludes our tour of the flat, so we'll now take a step outside the back door onto the concrete landing, which was shared with our next door neighbour, Mrs Dawson. From this landing ran a flight of concrete stairs down to ground level and perpendicular to the block.  Where the back stairs touched the ground was the end of the downstairs flat's gardens, and the start of my tiny out door world of “the Alleys”. These alleyways were no more than concrete paths with a 3 foot high chain link fence on either side, and gates in to the various gardens.The gates were all of a type, being angle-iron and chain-link with big sliding iron bolts that went “thunk” when you closed them hard. They were great for swinging on, but heaven help you if you were caught swinging on one that wasn't yours. You might well imagine the thoughts in our tiny heads as we gradually expanded our world  by exploring a new and uncharted alleyway, only to find that it lead to yet more alleyways. I can remember feeling a bit panicky about not being on home ground on more than one occasion. Nevertheless, coupled with the fact that we were at the bottom of a little used  cul-de-sac, and there was very little traffic as no-one we knew could afford even a second hand car, our tiny world was an extremely safe place to be, despite the pirates, and the Indians and the enemy out there.
Directly opposite the bottom of the stairs and behind the fence was the hedge that divided our garden from Mrs Dawson's  garden. Our garden was an irregular shaped piece of land that ran away to a sharp point at the bottom end. It bordered an alleyway and four other gardens, two of which weren't accessible from the Close. So a lost ball often meant exactly that, particularly if it was lost over Mrs Harding's  hedge. The fact that all the gardens were bordered by chain-link fence and privet hedges meant that there was no quick nip over the fence to retrieve a ball, you had to go the long way round and through the garden gates, but seeing as all these gardens belonged to the upstairs flats, they were constantly overlooked, and our activities were monitored both by our parents and by anyone who was building up a ball collection.
Our garden nearly always looked like a bomb had hit it. My Dad made various attempts to cultivate it, but because of the job that he did , and I suspect , a certain lack of real interest, never really got it together in the face of the onslaught it took from us kids and the friends who came round to climb our Apple tree.
The apple tree was my spiritual home from the age of five to the age of eleven when we left Thorne Close. If I had any real artistic ability, I think I could reproduce that tree, limb and twig, from memory. I spent so many hours nestled in it's branches, it was like a second home to me. As a fruit tree, it was a useless lump of vegetation. I can't actually remember it bearing any useful fruit, though I dare say that it did at sometime. My main interest in it was as a viewing platform, a crow's nest, a safe haven, a launch pad from which to leap into the privet hedge, and just a general hidey hole. The tree itself consisted of two main stems, one of which was completely useless to a ragamuffin of my ilk. It was unscaleable, and even if you could climb it, there was nothing for you when you got there.
The other trunk, on the other hand was perfect. It was pitched at about 60 degrees from horizontal, and had a couple of footholds in the right places. When you got to the top of that part there was a sort of nest/platform made of crossed branches in/from which you could curl up/stand/ sit/ launch, or climb up to stage two, which was another couple of feet higher and a much more precarious perch, but from which you could claim “King of the castle” with no fear of denial.
I expect that in reality the topmost branch was no more than 10 feet from the ground, but there is no doubt whatsoever that it was a tree that was the envy of every lad who would dare to climb for quite some couple of hundred yards around. It certainly gave us some kudos."

mind picture

days and years pass
sun warms memories
everything comes clearer
childhood days,
long as forever
each its own eternity
wrapped in a smile

black iron gate
portal to eden
jungle of safety
unkempt beds
where leggy flowers lie
unable to rise
to meet the day

privet hedges long since gone
developers dream erased
chain link fences
apple tree
new people warren
new sunny days
launchpad for another
generations memory


  1. Now that really appeals to me, thanks Bob.
    I loved 'leggy flowers'

  2. Thanks Neil - I thought that the best line too - almost poetic ;0) cheers mate

  3. Great memories! I really enjoyed reading it. Isn't it interesting how a childhood tree is so meaningful. Mine was a willow tree, and it was my castle. Thanks Rob! :)

    1. Our lives were built on the memories of these times. :0)

  4. Love the poem. And the memories (you haven't changed a bit, Rob!) I grew up in a council flat in the middle of Liverpool, but mostly I remember sunny days, grassy fields and gardens, foggy autumns and icy winters. But mainly long hot summers, and warm springs. Climbing trees, making dens, roller skating round the block ......... happy days!

  5. Isn't it amazing? Nature - trees, grass, bushes, flowers were a significant part of our childhoods, seemingly on both sides of a great pond. Loved reading your story and poem. The places fields, alleys, yards, gardens, driveways became; the enemy's we fought - pirates, Indians,kings, monsters, bandits, etc. Each child with their in imagined place and people. My field was very special to me...I remember when I played in my yard it was with girls with dolls; but in the field few girls dared to play, if they did they played like one of the boys - gender ceased to exist, you were expected to play hard, fight hard, do the same as all the other "guys". I remember this mortified my mother, my father beamed with great pride. Those were the days....

  6. Our childhood memories are our personal treasure.