The Pitfalls of “Going Back”
I freely admit that I am trapped by the past. My memories go right back to the time when I was only eighteen-months old – yes, really.
Most of us, probably, are drawn to things which we knew and things which happened to us when we were younger. For me, those things are no more poignant than they were ten or twenty or fifty years ago. Those memories have always been a part of me.
I had a sweet childhood, being at school notwithstanding! There was no money in our Family, just lots and lots of love.
So I visited the scenes of my life on Google Earth recently. I searched for the places where I had lived, the places that I knew well. It was not an easy task, neither my searching nor my finding. For “there is nothing so constant a change”.
Dunstall Road, where I lived (except for my two years National Service) from birth to my wedding day, still has the old houses which stood opposite my home at No. 71. But the whole side of our part of the street was bulldozed in the mid-1960s. I knew that, and have been along it a few times since; perhaps looking for bits of the past.
On Google, then, I tried to follow my route from our house to Wolverhampton Grammar School, passing Christ Church School – my primary – on the way. The old, tall and austere Victorian building has gone and a new Christ Church School is in its place.
The nearby streets – Leicester, Gloucester and Chester – are a far cry from the rows of tight red-brick terraces, some close-on slums, which I knew. Decent, modern housing is there now. With my political leanings, I feel good about that; with my nostalgic outlook, I feel less so.
Nearby Evans Street, where stood both Clara Smith’s newspaper and sweet shop and a little place which dealt in second-hand comics (oh, Captain Marvel, where are you now?), has similar new houses.
So I ended my searching for my old route to the Grammar right there near the school and those little streets.
I’ve wandered round the streets and areas of the places Rosie and I knew when courting, and looked at the houses in which we lived together. Those online-travels I shall recount some other time when the sweetly sad nostalgia for old Whitmore Reans – the area of my childhood in Wolverhampton – has abated.