The house photo above dates from 1979, the last time I went back, when I still had the nerve to drive through London. Definitely wouldn't do it now! It's really depressing, the way it's been allowed to deteriorate - this is about 17 years after my parents left and it never looked like this in their time. The windows have been changed to PVC, the fence and hedge have gone and it looks so rundown.This is 2011 and still feels neglected. It doesn't look as if anyone lives here. There's the dormer window, an ugly construction; the fanlight over the door, an original feature, as been removed and a couple of steps lead up to the front door. I wonder how the change in floor level inside has been accomplished as it would be level with the original doorway...? There's a little brick wall at the front even though it's not bonded to the next one on the right hand side.
The road, in the 1940s, had no cars parked in it and we children could play rounders, using the telegraph pole and lamp post as bases - the latter has been moved several feet. Hide and seek was possible as metal fences had 'gone for salvage' and we hid behind the bushes and hedges before being scared off by a rap on the window from the irate householder. We played 'he' (or should it be 'hee'?) and Statues. Was that different from Grandmother's Footsteps? We were always outside, in my memory, playing ball games up against the brick pillars of the house opposite (one pillar is still there), 'dabs' or 5 stones, skipping and hopscotch, the grids drawn with pieces of red brick. And 'Knocking Down Ginger', though not me, of course!!!By 1979 there were a few cars but on Saturday both sides of the road were crammed with cars and this road has been designated as a one way street. Since I was never taught how to back into a space I'd hate to live here now - I'd hate to live here, full stop.
I could still walk along remembering who'd lived in the houses in the 1940s; two elderly spinster sisters and their equally elderly brother whose home smelled (the only time I went in, for some reason) of sweat and old age. Clothes weren't washed frequently then and winter dresses took a long time to dry so this must have been the reason for some of the odour. The hedges have gone, original windows replaced with modern style PVC, front doors have been changed and many have been painted. The little shop has been replaced with another house, too. Stuart and I even walked along the next road to see the back of the houses but extensions and trees obscured the view.
We walked down to see the Catholic Primary School where I went during my pre-Grammar school years, despite being a Protestant. I think we all went to the nearest school so that if there was an invasion our Mums could come and collect us... There's still a school on the site but completely rebuilt, with parking spaces... I must write to them when term begins again. The head, a very Irish man, with big features, ginger hair, red faced and with a strong accent, which I didn't realise at the time, still greeted me even when I was at work years later as he made his (walking) way home.
The road to the school is still a main road but the little cottages which lined one side of the road and the prefabs which replaced them once they were bombed have all gone to be replaced with blocks of flats; the big Victorian and Edwardian houses with large gardens have been replaced with these unlovely constructs.
At the end of my road was this wall with an 'itchy powder' tree, a large London Plane, right on the corner. This is from 1947, me with 3 friends, but unbelievably the wall and the wooden boards at its top is still there, as is the pretty little cottage, though the tree has gone.
And this is me on Saturday against the same wall, having a breather before walking up the hill to the parade of shops. I enjoyed the visit but have no wish to move back to London, I prefer my leafy home with views across the fields, plenty of trees and wildlife - I just wish it wasn't such a dark house. Oh well, can't have everything!
Now, I wonder if this bloomin' thing will double space at the ends of the paragraphs...