|Outside our house in Hayes. The same lamppost we used in our games back in the day!|
|The street outside our house where we played with our gang, just any of the local kids.|
I still remember my mother waving me off at the door, after dark on a November afternoon, the street lamps glowing yellow and walking to the top of our road and down the next one to the little library. I must have been all of nine years old. We found the building but the inside has been converted into flats.
The library was my treasure house although I was only allowed to take out three books each week and couldn't join the adult library until I was eleven. But those weekly visits were the high point of my week.
I read through the entire canon of any author I loved from E. Nesbit, through Enid Blyton to Richmal Crompton and hundreds in between. My imaginative life slipped between the games in the street, the exploration of my area on my bike and the books I read. In between I wrote poems, stories and songs.
I started nursery classes at three and a half in this room above a Burton tailoring shop and I remember this big grey front so well. My teacher,Mrs Ison, wore her university gown to teach her class of 3-7 year olds. I loved her classes so much I insisted on going full time before I was four. I was already reading independently and the only time I was ever told off in school was for daydreaming - well, writers are actually supposed to do that, aren't they?
One of my favourite playgrounds in Hayes was the Grand Union canal. I used to ride along the tow path on my bike all year round. In winter the canal iced over and the fish were trapped. I used to release them with a stick, slipping about on the icy path. In summer fisherman sat along the bank fishing for hours. I couldn't swim until I was nine so fortunately I never fell in, although there were some near misses.
This 99p store used to be Woolworths where I spent my pocket money. Opposite was Poplars, selling sweets and tobacco. My mother would send me up the road for five cigarettes in a paper bag and I had three pence for going.
|My brother patiently setting up a photo outside our old post office building.|
Not everyone can grow up on the edge - but then the edge can be found anywhere really. If you let your imagination run free.