Monday, 12 November 2012


One of the things about my home town (as I'm sure it is with yours)
is that certain aspects have changed so much over the last twenty-five
years or thereabouts, that some areas are almost unrecognizable to what
they once were.  To anyone who moved away in the early '80s and has
never been back since, the town remains preserved as it was in the amber
of their memories.  If ever they were to return on a visit, I'm sure they'd
be in equal parts amazed and horrified at some of the changes which
have taken place.

Truth to tell, I'm almost envious of them.  To gad about on the other
side of the world somewhere, thinking, in a blissful state of ignorance,
that one's home town remains as it once was seems a reassuring notion
to me.  In that way, the playing fields of your childhood remain forever
inviolate.  Same goes for people;  if you don't know someone has expired
since you last saw them, they're still alive to you and will be for as long
as you are.  What does it profit you to learn that their life's race
ended halfway through your own?

I remember being in a camera shop a number of years ago and
running into a schoolpal who once sat beside me in technical drawing
class (and probably other classes also).  ALAN PARKER was (and is)
his name, a fact which won't make this tale one whit more interesting, but
which I feel compelled to mention for no other reason than that it happens
to be the case.  The conversation ran something like this.  Me:  "Hi, Alan -
what're you up to these days?"  Him:  "I'm on holiday at the moment."
Me:  "Not going anywhere?"  Him: " Yes - here!"  Me:  "Eh?"  Him:
"I emigrated to Australia a couple of years back, and I'm over
visiting my folks."

To be honest, I can't actually recall whether it was Australia,
New Zealand or Canada he had gone to, but Australia will suffice
for the purpose of our tale.  I was actually quite surprised by the news,
mainly because it didn't seem like anywhere near two years since I'd last
seen him - five or six months at the most, I would've thought.  The realiza-
tion that he'd been living in another country and pursuing a new and dif-
ferent life for that period, while I subconsciously imagined him to be still
tripping merrily around the streets of my town, ready to run into at any
moment, was a sobering reminder that things aren't always as we per-
ceive them to be.  In my life, nothing much had changed;  in Alan's, a
whole new horizon lay before him - and he was already several steps
on in the journey which had taken him beyond the narrow (if
comforting) confines of my own world.

A few weeks back, myself and a friend I've known since I
was seven years old, took a wander around the new housing scheme
which now sits upon the sizeable area of land where once resided my
old secondary school.  It was a strange experience because, inside its
boundaries, there were no visible 'landmarks' to indicate our location.
We could've been in any new-built housing scheme in Britain;  it was as
if we'd walked through a dimensional portal and found ourselves some-
where else entirely.  Beyond and out of sight, lay the familiar environs
we'd known since childhood, but within these strange new streets we
were in an unknown place in an unknown land.  It was with a sense of
relief that we returned to our own world some minutes later,
back through whence we had come.

In my more fanciful moments, I sometimes wonder if the 'dear
departed' (assuming they survive death in some form) are aware of
what goes on in the place they left behind;  or do they imagine (like the
distant wanderer) that everything remains the same as when they left it?
If granted a day's visit to their home town from whatever celestial realm
or dark netherworld they may inhabit, would they be surprised and dis-
mayed to learn of the changes which have taken place in their absence?
"What?  My old house has been demolished?  The old cinema has been
gone for twenty years?  My favourite toyshop is now a newsagents?
The Cairneys don't live at number thirty-three any more?"  Or would
such trivial concerns be beyond them in their joy at feeling the wind
blow through their hair once more, and again experience a sun-
kissed walk through green fields for however brief a period?

Try and let me know if you go before I do, will you? 


Comicsfan said...

I'd probably be unfazed by the changes. Even now, I frequently muse at how transitory everything is--that someday, for instance, another family will live in my house, and all the touches that make it "me" will be replaced with their own. And another person or family will move in after they've gone, and so on. In fact, there are times when I'll drive by other places I've lived, and my time there feels like it happened to another person. I feel the same about the city I grew up in.

As the saying goes, "life happens." :)

Kid said...

I, on the other hand, still regard the previous houses I've lived in as still 'mine' in some way, and can never quite fully adapt to the fact that other people now reside in them. It just seems strange to me.

Brian said...

You do seam to have a problem letting go of the past Kid whether it be homes toys or comics it has to be said but if your happy being you then good for you and long may you stay that way.

Dougie said...

I feel the same way about my dad's house, where I grew up. As if one day, I'll move back in.

Of course, one day I hope to move back in to my Glasgow flat. The thought of yet another numpty tenant trashing it doesn't bear thinking about.

Kid said...

Actually, the reverse is true - it's the past which won't let go of me.


Dougie, if you make it your ambition to move back into your childhood home, then it's entirely possible it'll happen one day.

TwoHeadedBoy said...

I can't walk past the house where I spent the bulk of my childhood without stopping for a minute or two and just looking at it. From where I stand on the road I can even see into my old bedroom!

For the most it's completely changed, but it still exists. Without realizing it, I've made my flat into an ALMOST replica of the old house.

Kid said...

THB, I'm the same - I often go for walks around my old neighbourhoods and just breathe them in. I've also 're-created' (as much as is possible) previous rooms from some of my old houses when I've moved to others. It's good to be surrounded by the familiar.

Martin said...

Over the years, I've found it much easier adjusting to and accepting change. With regard to the past, it's clearly impossible to live in a place that no longer exists. Equally, without recognising our past, there can be no meaningful present.

Like many things in life, it's a question of balance. No harm in glancing backwards, but I try not to stare.

Kid said...

Wise words I'm sure. Unfortunately, I tend to stare - with a magnifying glass.

moonmando said...

Ballerup hall in E.K is hosting an exhibition on the 30th November showing the many changes that the town has undergone over the past 50or so years.I believe they are looking for members of the public to go along and share their memories of growing up in the town during this period.You might want to check that out Kid,as it would be right up your street.Hopefully i`ll have some time to do the same.If i find out more i`ll let you know.

Kid said...

If you're free that day, Moonmando, give me a shout and we'll go take a look. Is it on at night?

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