Down my ‘Memory Lane’.
Posted by Big John on August 10, 2008
I was recently in South London and decided to take a look at the street where I had spent my childhood.
The first thing that I noticed was that you had to pay to park. When I played in that street more than sixty years ago, not only were there no ‘pay and display’ machines, but there were no cars.
The houses still looked much the same, although in the days during and just after World War II there were no brick walls or gates, just the stumps of ornate iron railings which had been removed so that their metal could be used in the ‘war effort’.
I lived in the house with the window boxes and the white bay window just to the right of the street light. The reason that a number of the houses have plastered bay windows and not the original Victorian brickwork is thanks to Herr Hitler’s Luftwaffe dropping a bomb which destroyed the row of houses on the opposite side of the road, and badly damaged the front of my home and the homes of a few neighbours.
As I looked at those houses, memories returned to me of those working class neighbours amongst whom were a coalman, an ostler, a chimney sweep, a tram driver, a costermonger and one dodgy family who only lived there ‘part-time’ as they spent the rest of their time as ‘guests of His Majesty’.
I had been told that properties in the street had been selling for ridiculous prices recently, and had heard rumours of ‘gentrification’, although I did not see much sign of this. In fact the few people I saw were not of the ‘posh’ variety, but could well have been the descendants of those West Indian immigrants who first appeared in the area during the 1950’s.
To my surprise the far end of the street had ‘disappeared’, just like the old Victorian pub which had gone up in flames during the Brixton riots of 1981; and trees had appeared where there had once been only ruins.
I was pleased to see that kids still played in the street, although I doubt if they still played games like ‘Tin Can Tommy’….
… If only I had taken an old tin can with me.