These first two pieces set the scene for my entire writings. Both deal with my childhood in London in the 1960s. The first was adapted from a Christian testimony dating from 2002, and published at the Blogster.com website on the 1st of February 2006, the second from an unfinished short story penned in the mid to late 1970s about a close friend from Bedford Park where I was resident for some thirteen years between ca. 1957 and 1970. Once known as "Poverty Park" despite having been London's first Garden Suburb, Bedford Park is now a famous conservation area of the Southfields ward of Acton, west London. It was first published at the Blogster.com website as "Wicked Cahoots" on the 15th of February 2006. Definitive versions of both works were created with further minor variations in July 2007.
Born on the Goldhawk Road
I was born in the autumn of 1955 close to the undistinguished source of west London's Goldhawk Road and my first home was in Bulmer Place near Notting Hill Gate. My brother was born two and a half years later, by which time my parents had bought their own house in Bedford Park in what was then the London Borough of Acton, and suburban west London was marked by a homespun simplicity back then that we can only dream of today. By '63, with my brother and I safe in South Kensington’s French Lycee, social change was in the air, though in truth it had been for some time, especially in Britain and the USA, at least since the rise of rock'n'roll, and youth culture, whose watershed years were '55 to '56, but for all that England in '63 was still apparently in black and white, and the first shaggy-haired beat groups fitted quite snugly into this innocent time of Norman Wisdom pictures, of the well-spoken presenters of the BBC Home Service, Light Service and World Service, of coppers, tanners and ten bob notes, tuck shops and tuppeny chews. I was an articulate child, cheerful and sociable in an idyllic world, although I went on to become a tearaway, both at school and at home, what you might call hyperactive today. Still, I managed to pass my common entrance exam, necessary for entrance into British public, which is to say private, schools, and so become Cadet RNR no. 173, at Pangbourne Nautical College in the September of 1968, officially a serving officer in the Royal Navy aged only 12 years old. In early 1970, we left Chiswick for good and took up residence even deeper in suburbia, where I remain to this day...a suburban dreamer if ever there was one...
When he made
his first personal appearance
in the dirty alley
on someone else's rusty bike,
in a cloud of dust
it rendered us all
speechless and motionless.
But I was amazed
that despite his grey-faced surliness,
he was very affable with us...
the bully with a naive
and sentimental heart.
He was so happy
to hear that I liked his dad
or that my mum liked him
and he was welcome
to come to tea
with us at five twenty five...
Our "adventures" were spectacular:
chasing after other bikesters,
screaming at the top
of our lungs
into blocks of flats
and then running
as our echoed waves of terror
blended with incoherent threats...
"I'll call the Police, I'll..."
© Copyright 2016 Carl Halling. All rights reserved.
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