After a recent conversation with a friend, during which she said how she and her mum had been looking at her childhood home using the Google street view application, I thought I would have a nose around myself.
I thought I would share some of the memories stirred up by my nosing.
My dad was a policeman and back in the day it was the norm for officers to be moved around every couple of years.
My earliest memories are of us living in Lewes, Sussex. But then we upped sticks and moved to Westfield, where dad became the village bobby.
Obviously our history is relatively recent but during my street view rambling I came across this post http://oldpolicecellsmuseum.org.uk/page_id__377_path__0p303p304p183p209p182p208p207p181p.aspx
This was a police house dating from at least 1922 and was also known as Westfield Police Station, the house where I lived during my pre-teens.
It’s a private house now and, externally at least, seems to have reverted back to its original form.
When I knew it, there was a flat roofed extension to the side, with it’s own entrance but was also linked inside. Dads slippers used to sit, on watch,by that adjoining door, waiting for him to come off duty when they would be replaced by a pair of black boots. That is unless Honey, our Corgi, hadn’t stolen away with one of the slippers to her bed in the kitchen. There she used to lick the insides until nice and slimy. Whoe betide anyone foolish enough to put their hand in to try and retrieve the hapless slipper. Corgi’s have sharp teeth.
This was the police station from which my dad worked. There was just room enough inside for a large desk and chair. I remember there being several shelves of files and log books and a cupboard in which dad used to put his police bike and also kept the hand-cranked siren.
Also on the shelves was a mysterious grey electrical box, like a loudspeaker. It had a single control which turned it on and controlled the volume. Every so often dad would turn it on and it would emit a slow steady tick. On occasions the ticking would be replaced by a warbling tone. I subsequently found out that this was part of the national air raid siren system which would be implemented during a nuclear attack. This was my dad’s role if the “four minute warning” was sounded. He would receive a signal through the mysterious box, drag the siren out of the cupboard and crank it up to warn the village of its imminent demise.
What the villagers would have done we can only surmise.
I am pretty sure there would have been a few saying “What the fuck’s that? ”
My years here were quite enlightening. The garden behind the house was over 100 feet long, long enough for me to practice beach casting. I had been given a fishing rod for my ninth birthday.
Slowly over time dad turned our back garden into a smallholding.
Starting with the fruit he planted blackcurrant and gooseberry bushes. We had brambles growing down the side of the plot so always had a plentiful supply of blackberries. We also had a couple of apple trees. Mum turned all that lovely fruit into jams, pies and crumbles, my favourite.
On the veggie front, Dad planted runner and broad beans, potatoes, cauliflower, brussel sprouts, cabbage, curly kale, sweetcorn and artichokes.
Then there were the chickens. First we had a half dozen or so running around in a large pen. This was soon supplemented by a hen house to protect them from the foxes.
As the supply of eggs grew so did the number of chooks. Dad even experimented for a while with battery hens.
Needless to say we kids had plenty to eat and we were encouraged to join in with looking after the chooks, collecting eggs, harvesting fruit and veg and helping in the kitchen.
Our collection of birds increased when dad acquired six geese. Initially they were allowed to roam on the lawn, free effortless grass cutting.
With such close proximity to the house the birds were treated like pets and were given names. Charlie was the gander and the members of his harem were Ethel, Gerty, Snowy and two others whose names escape me.
However, anyone who knows geese also knows that what goes in is matched by lots of goose poo. Well the geese were soon relegated to their own personal pound at the bottom of the garden. We would occasionally collect goose eggs and everyone took it in turns to have one of those treasures.
It was inevitable, but one Christmas it was decided that we would have goose. Well Ethel was volunteered, executed, plucked drawn and duly cooked. All was fine until Mum sat down to her plated meal, whereupon she wailed “I can’t eat Ethel”.
From that point on we had five pet geese. Sadly that number dropped to four when Snowy became broody and was sitting on her egg(s), wouldn’t eat and died.
Another goosy memory was having to put them to bed at night. This became my job whenever Dad was on nights. Have you ever tried herding geese? Also can you imagine a skinny 10 or 11 year old having to face down an angry gander. A gander that has reared up to his full height, wings spread to their full six foot span and with his neck fully extended, hissing like a nest of vipers. Then in the morning letting them out again. Charlie, the gander, used launch himself out as soon as the door opened wings spread, honking for all he was worth, quickly joined by the girls all joining in the chorus.
Fond memories now but not considered a high point by me at the time. But I learnt about gardening, keeping chickens and that getting food on the table isn’t always pleasant or easy. I don’t recall ever being bored, there was always something to do.
Now I am in my sixties I do hanker after those quieter more genteel times. But now I have arrived in the new century I sure would miss the technology. If only the pace of life would slow down. I guess that is what retirement is for.
If only the rest of the world would slow down too.