It is an odd feeling, to return to the point where one began and to try to imagine that moment. Of course, imagination was would not be possible because one would not yet have learned to see and think and all the processes of cognition.
Canon Street in Taunton was once the site of a maternity hospital, though all trace of it has now vanished. A lifelong friend and I were born there within days of each other. Trying to guess where the wards might have been, there was an inclination to believe that a car park that serves the town centre now occupies ground where people once came screaming into the world. It seemed a prosaic fate for the site, to disappear under the tarmac of a car park, but if Richard the Third endured such a fate, then it should not be a surprise that lesser things might also do so.
There was a momentary thought as to how many people had been born in this place; how many lives had begun in this quiet street. Given the times as they were, there was also thought as to how many lives might have ended, maternal and neo-natal mortality being what it was six decades ago.
There was a feeling that there might have been a plaque or something, not that anyone famous was born there, but that the births of a large number of ordinary people might be worthy of some recognition, and not only the people who were born and their mothers, but the devoted staff who would have provided so much care over the years: is the honest endeavour of ordinary people not worthy of record?
Perhaps such a thing has been suggested in the past – and rejected. Plaques cost money and have to be maintained, who would pay for it? It would cost that much, though, would it? Just a plate fixed to a wall saying that a hospital had stood in this site for whatever years it was there and the number of people who had been born there.
But, then, who would be interested in such a plaque? Would someone go to stand in a car park and say, “I was born here?” It It would not be an auspicious claim to make.
Walking from the car park past the beautiful Saint Mary Magdalene church, the treatment by history of that woman fromMagdala was a reminder that it is sometimes better that things be not remembered than be remembered in a way that suits only the powerful.