For my Children – 1 – My earliest memory

One day they may stumble upon these.

I was born in Hull on the east coast of England in November of 1971.  My mother was one of eight and my father one of three.  I was the first grandchild born into what would eventually be a family that numbered somewhere between sixty and seventy, though it is often hard to recall all the names and connections witha family so vast.

The fishing trade was still the heart of Hull and very much at the heart of my mothers side of the family.  My mum’s father was a trawlerman as were a number of my older uncles, with my other aunts and uncles only 7 or 8 years older than me.  My earliest memories seem to be dominated by that side of the family for some reason and I cannot really recall my fathers side at all or even our own smaller family of just mum, dad and me.

My mother tells me how my grandad and uncle would return from months away at sea and turn out their pockets and invite me to help myself to whatever money they had – which was often a lot.  Casting my mind back I can vaguely remember my uncle taking me to the toy store and telling me that I could have whatever I wanted, and I headed home with a blue scooter which had the most fantastic tassles which hung from the handles.

I also remember Queen.  No, not the queen but the band.  Even now so many of their songs trigger memories or shadows of memories that take me somewhere almost now lost to me.

Memories of coming downstairs at my granparents house and the smell of stale beer and cigarettes are also still quite vivid after more than forty years too.  Curiously I can even still see the ash tray on a stand in the middle of the floor with the push top opening mechanism that I was often told to leave alone.

Even before then though I remember being in a pram outside a house on the other side of the street looking back across to where my mum’s parents lived on the Greatfield council estate in east Hull.  It is quite clear to me still and I described it to my mother, pointing out the actual house when we visited forty years later.  She insists surely I could not be rememberin gthat because I was probably only three at the most, but I remain quite certain that I remember it quite clearly even now…

 

On the street where I once lived.

I’ve been all around the world and today I stood back where it all started.

I have lived in many places, both  north and south of the equator but in the beginning there was Hull.  I left when I was 9 but there is something about the place that resonates with me still and despite the many roads that took me away from the place there is still part of me that thinks of it as home.  Perhaps it is because it fills my very earliest memories and names and places that I should have forgotten remain with me still.  Maybe it is because the accents and turns of phrase hold for me a comfort and familiarity which I cannot describe but that make me feel part of something in many ways long forgotten.

Whatever it is I always enjoy the occasions when I get to go back.  Today was one of those days when I got to met up with family on my Mum’s side to celebrate my cousin’s son’s 21st.  My mum is one of 8 and at last count there were at least 48 of us on that side of the family so there are always reunions to be had even if we don’t always remember each others names.

Whilst the day itself was great it was the detour on the way home that I enjoyed most.  I decided to go and take a look at the house I grew up in as I had heard that the estate is now mostly derelict and scheduled for demolition.  Sadly it is and the photo below shows the house now.  It is only the left hand side of it.

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So many great memories came flooding back and as sad as it is times change and things move on and whilst it was a quite wonderful place in the late seventies it’s days are now sadly numbered. I remembered old Stan from across the street who we would taunt with songs of ‘Stan stan the mucky old man washed his face in a frying pan.’  God kids are bastards.  Stood outside I could still hear the sounds of kids laughing on a late summer evening and playing ‘Kerby’ as cars passed us by.  With a smile I remembered painting the electricity box with oil paints and my dad being so angry and I could still see snow falling through the amber lights in winter.  I also remember where I was when I was told that a friend of ours had died that day.

Such a mix of emotions and memories but it was not all sad though, and in fact it turned out to be a pretty amazing trip when we saw what had been done to a number of the properties in the area.  Keep in mind that there are probably a few hundred of these places being demolished and though the memories and lives that have been lived will remain eventually there will be nothing left of themso to see what some amazing graffiti artists did to lift the place was just fantastic.

I think the photos say it all.

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The homes will be gone in 6 months and will be replaced with new builds and the hope was that there would be less chance of people vandalising them if they were decorated.  The more things change the more they stay the same I guess as eventually new families will move in and the cycle starts again.