Looking for reassurance

Jun 3rd, 2009 | By | Category: Cross Channel

Dosed up on steroids, having difficulty breathing, and waking in the early hours of the morning, going back to sleep was not easy. Think something positive before the black stuff comes clouding in.

Think of five things that made you feel secure in childhood days.

Points West – the BBC local news programme broadcast from Bristol each weekday at 6.00.  It had always the feel and the reassurance of a local newspaper.  Living in Northern Ireland from the age of 22, too often the local news was a repeat of grisly stories that had filled the national news.  Points West rarely had anything grisly to report, it was a daily reassurance that all was well with the world, and where things weren’t perfect, then some earnest person would appear on camera to explain how things would be put right.  Once, a couple of years ago, when walking down the Whiteladies Road in Bristol, I was tempted to walk into the BBC offices to say ‘thank you’.  They would have thought me a lunatic.

Car headlights on a country road – living in perpetual light, with street lamps so bright that it is possible to read standing in the back yard at anytime of the night, there is reassurance in real darkness.  Standing watching from an upstairs window, it was possible to follow cars making progress towards our tiny village from the small town three miles away.  There was not a single street light in the village; the illumination of hedgerows, garden gates, parked cars, and night animals, will forever create a childhood sense of being homeward bound at the end of a long day.

Grocery vans – Shopping options in the village were limited, but each Monday teatime a man called David Macey would arrive with a big old van that was more the size of a lorry.  It had a long nosed bonnet and you could step up inside it through the back doors to buy stuff from the shelves on either side.  He had his scales just behind the driver’s seat and it was here that you paid 3d for Barrett’s Sherbet Fountains.  Looking back, it was hard to imagine that there was much of an income to be derived from kids with thrupenny bits and the odd villager buying a few things, but even now when I see the Tesco Online delivery van, I think of David Macey.

4.45, it’s daylight, but too early to get up.

Two more things?

The Western Morning News – Is this an imagined memory, Ian?  The Western Morning News is a Plymouth paper, why would it be on a kitchen table in Somerset?  Are you sure it was not the Western Daily Press, that would be more likely, it’s Bristol, that’s our area.  The image remained firm, the Gothic type of the newspaper title.  The paper was on Mrs Vigar’s kitchen table at Manor Farm.  Manor Farm was where we went to be collected each morning by the car that transported a handful of us to the grammar school, plucked from our friends and community at the age of eleven.  I still see Mrs Vigar each summer; she has never grown older, still the same smile and word of welcome.  The newspaper on the table perhaps suggested continuity, stability, an order in things.  But maybe I have imagined it, I shall have to ask her.

What was the fifth thing?  I forget now.

I look at the clock, 6.55.

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  1. Some more great memories..Thanks Ian, I agree you didn’t need streetlights I used to ride my bicycle home from ‘Maisies’ without lights no problem (hic). The local paper was The Western Daily Press which was headed in a modern print…The gothic style was The Western Gazette which is still going strong and covered all of the local villages and the area up to Yeovil…and came out on a Friday.

    Would the fifth thing be playing around with the old cars in the ‘Croots’ barns????? It was a treasure trove for me..The little old Austin 7 and the Allard J2….Oh and the Massey Harris combine that Max got stuck in once!!!

  2. I never liked the font used by the Press! It didn’t have that serious feel about it! I think it must be an imagined memory. The Western Morning News has a Gothic title printed in a straight line across the top middle of the page – but in my memory it was on the table each morning at eight o’clock, which it couldn’t have been, because Alan White would not have left Langport so early that he would have been delivering papers in the village at breakfast time.

    The fifth thing disappeared completely.

    I had forgotten Max trying to crawl through the workings of the combine – he tried to go in through where the wheat went, with the intention of coming out through where the straw did, at the back. He is still mad – Google him to see his machines!

  3. Poor soul, I hope the meds kick in soon, you sound a little miserable. I loved Barrets Sherbert Fountains, there’s one little English style lolly shop up in the Blue Mountains that stocks all those childhood faves. Talk about comfort food! Feel better my friend.

  4. My favourite Roald Dahl story finishes with the opening of such a sweet shop.

  5. Get well soon, Ian! The Western Gazette brings back memories of my North Dorset childhood – I’m glad to hear it’s still going strong. May God bless you with better sleep tonight.

  6. I still read the Western Gazette online. One of the things I miss in Dublin is having no local paper.

    The steroids play havoc with sleep patterns – but have helped the breathing greatly, thanks.

  7. 1. Watching from the landing window until we could see our uncle’s car lights turn into their farm five miles away.
    2. The Mourne Observer every Friday – local paper, local people, local news – often about the price of sheep…
    3. The Archers. Omnibus edition every Sunday before leaving for church. Church was at noon.
    4. The grocer’s van… and the baker… What wonderful distinctive smells.
    5. Closing the curtains when the lights were lit and shutting out the outside world.

    So many things….life felt so secure in those days… Thanks for triggering off a host of good memories.

  8. You got to five – but the brain is clearer in the afternoon!

  9. Den Legg only retired from delivering the bread two years ago. He had been doing it for over forty years. Sarah, mum and I used to get doughnuts on a Saturday from him. Mmmm. This was after you had departed English shores.

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