Saturday, 28 March 2020


Exterior of 5 Shearer Road

For a few months at the start of 1985, I stayed in a little bedsit at 5 Shearer Road in Buckland/Fratton, Portsmouth, at the start of my freelance comics career for IPC/FLEETWAY, and later (back home) MARVEL UK and REDAN, etc.  I had a small room, and shared kitchen and bathroom facilities, but I always ate out, not being one given to preparing my own grub.  Earlier tonight I was looking at a couple of items I'd acquired while ensconced in number 5 and I suddenly realised that I kind of missed the place.  It represented a time in my life when I was less than half the age I am now, and had it ever occurred to me to project my thoughts 35 years into the future, it would probably have seemed too distant a stretch to even imagine - an eternity away in fact.

However, from this side of the span, it seems like no time at all really, and I marvel at the speed with which the years flashed past while seeming to be almost stationary during the process.  Funny that, eh?  I wish I could jump into my private helicopter (if I had one) and fly down to Portsmouth, let myself into the building I stayed in, and re-experience the feeling of what it was like to live there.  I'm doing that now of course, but only in my mind - it would give it far greater clarity and closeness if I were able to do so in the place itself.  I still possess most if not all of the books, comics, and items I purchased in my few months down there, and they provide a nice reminder of a particular period in my life from long ago.  

I've also got photos of the room and area I stayed in, so if you're not busy watching paint dry, why don't I share them with you?  You'd like that?  Oh, good, 'cos I would too.  So here are some images recorded for posterity on a HANNIMEX 110mm camera (bought in Southsea on a previous stay in 1981) of where I lived more than half my life away.  If you're from the area, feel free to provide an update on any significant changes since I was there.  (For example, is there a blue plaque with my name on it above the front door of number 5 yet?)  These pics form a circular tour (left-to-right) of my room (I'm sure you can work out which one it was), starting out-side the house and ending there.  I'll add some other photos of Portsmouth later.

I once saw a woman walking her cat on a lead on
the street across the road from this window

You can see the little desk I worked at, lettering
and resizing pages for the pocket library mags

I attended a service (may've been a Gospel meeting) in the Salem
Baptist Chapel one night 'cos they were serving tea and biscuits 

Can't recall ever hanging anything in the 'wardrobe'

The bed was comfier than it looks.  I very soon bought two
sleeping bags (zipped them together) and two comfy pillows

My Coca Cola Radio bottle and a can of the 'Real Thing'

Kept some comics and books in the chest of drawers

H'mm, what could this be?  Ah, now I remember -
it's the door in to (and out of) my room

View from the window again

Now this looks familiar

'My' house - home sweet home (sort of)

Okay, next is the road to Portsmouth Town Centre from Buckland/Fratton, and the centre itself, which is very reminiscent of my town back in the 1960s and '70s. Maybe that's why I felt so at home in Pompey.  After the shot of the fountain is the Guildhall, plus the park just behind it.  Back on October 12th 1984, BOB HOPE arrived at the Guildhall to do a gig, only to find it cancelled due to an unexploded bomb being found the day before.  It was in the papers, and he also mentioned it at The Edinburgh Playhouse the next night (13th) - I was there.

The flats on the right (our pov) hadn't been built
when I walked into town on a previous stay in '81

This shot is just before and on the right (our pov) of the previous pic.
I've got one taken in '81 of a horse grazing here when it was a field

Portsmouth Town Centre fountain outside Lloyds Bank, out of
sight on the left from our pov.  It closed many years ago.

Street on the left-hand side (our pov) of the Guildhall

The Guildhall was completed in 1890 and bombed to
bits in 1941.  The Queen reopened it in 1959

Statue of Queen Victoria taken from Library Cafe.  You
may recognise the area from a six-part TV series called
'Going Out', first broadcast in 1981

Dunno what this edifice is, but doesn't it look grand?

Very futuristic-looking

The swans were absent the last time I took a photo
in 1981.  Must've been away getting repaired

H'mm, let me refer to my notes.  Ah, yes - this is a tree

Let's see, what's next?  Some assorted shots near the seafront, and one from a cafe overlooking the bus terminus.

Saw this archway in a TV drama sometime in the '80s 

That might be Gosport across the waters, not sure.

And another shot of the same view

It was either in this newsagent's or a bookshop along
to the right (our pov) that I saw a nice hardback copy
of The Wind In The Willows.  Can't recall if I bought
it there, or later when I returned to Scotland

If you're a Russian agent, look away now

Below is one near the duck pond at the far end of Southsea, followed by one of me in my room in the HOMLEA HOTEL (prior to living in Shearer Road), not too far away from the pond (if memory serves).

Frankly, my dear, I don't give a duck.  (Swans,
on the other hand, I've got plenty of)

Hairy-but-handsome, that's me.  Incidentally, I
still have that blue jumper and it still fits

Tell you what - to finish, let's jump up to London and take a look at the view from the 26th floor of KING'S REACH TOWER when I was there doing some lettering.  I used to visit there once or twice a week (from Pompey), which involved getting up around 4 in the morning so that I could catch the 6 a.m. coach.  I usually arrived about 8.30 or thereabouts, and didn't get back to Shearer Road 'til sometime after 10 at night.  Are you up for it?  Okay, here we go then.

I think I've got pics of this site when new buildings
had been erected.  (Tee-hee!  I said 'erected')

Slightly wider shot...

...and a view of the skyline above it

And that's your lot.  Hope you enjoyed this small tour 'round a snippet of my life 35 years ago.  No?  Ach, you're an awfy hard lot to please.


Philip Crawley said...

You certainly seem to have well documented the various environments that you've passed through on you journey through life. Wish I'd had the presence of mind to do so, but even though I try to live in the monent these days I do try to document that moment more than I did back in the past when I was too pre-occupied with everyday matters at the time. One again proof that the camera is the only true time machine.

Slightly unrelated - just thinking the other day that the way things are going the hermits and the introverts will inherit the earth!

Dave S said...

I love the building the Victory News shop is in- more character than any of the steel and glass things they build these days.

Kid said...

Just a shame they weren't taken on a 35mm camera, PC, as they'd have been a much sharper quality. I wish there were more photos of myself as a kid in some of my former houses, but unfortunately there's not that many. What with cameras on mobiles these days, and built in flashes on digital cameras, it's so much easier for people to document their lives for the future. Hope you and the missus are keeping safe.


I suppose they each have their own charm, DS, but the older buildings certainly do conjure up more atmospheric images in the mind. Just look at that Tudor-style pub next door to the newsagent's - you can just imagine Jim Hawkins having an underage drink in there, eh?

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