Strange nostalgia

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kenleyboy
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Strange nostalgia

Post by kenleyboy »

Every now and then something comes your way quite unexpectedly and a story begins to unfold from what in reality is a simple inanimate object , a once everyday item discarded without any further thought . This object came in the shape of a salt glazed ginger beer bottle , a cursory glance due to its age held my interest for a few moments , its rough fired surface dulled over time giving that aged patina which beckons you just a little closer for further inspection . My curiosity got the better of me and I am glad that it had done so as after turning the bottle over I was mildly taken aback with the impressed wording which read " STRANGE " Harrow on the Hill ".
Well I never , a bottle a very long way from home and from somewhere which had very strong connections from those far off youthful days of my childhood and home Town . In historical terms it isn't that old , some would say "modern" but in the bottle world it is still fairly old circa 1890 , the age was one thing but more importantly the personal connections this one little bottle had for me and opened up a door to the interesting world of research which always throws up a few surprises .

It is always nice to look back on our younger days conjuring up all sorts of memories from our personal past , we could even be forgiven for doing so in rose tinted glasses , long hot summers where school holiday seemed to last forever , a little more freedom to roam with out the fear that Parents have today of anything untoward happening , football in the street and the happy echoes of laughing children resonating amongst the urban Victorian Terraces of our street .
Harrow on the Hill was the "posh" part of Town its landmark was an impressive Church high up on the hill and the spire protruding form the forest of trees which hugged its foundations , a church which could be seen for miles around and also afforded the onlooker standing on its summit the views of the City of London just a few miles away . The hill itself was historically important in many ways , Saxon settlements skirted the low lying fields , Medieval street plans were still in existence and of course the much later and prominent Harrow School for boys which gave way to the entirety of the hill itself .Kids from all over Town would often find their way up the hill , a place to explore and enjoy the vast green fields which surrounded the lower levels of the Church , it was always there like some watchful eye and my friends and I would often stop larking around and just stop and stare at the impressive spire , no doubt many children , past present and future will gape in awe at its splendour .

Our streets were less impressive , our landscapes was blighted by the large Gas holder , a huge grey cylindrical structure allegedly built by the Germans and unsuccessfully destroyed in the blitz , we always felt proud of that fact or urban myth , who knows and while the Church was the icon of the hill , the gas holder was the footprint of the scallywags Town , and we were proud of it .
The garboard was a huge local employee our street and the next were all gas board workers "cottages" , no thatched roof quaint chocolate box types , these were more industrial , grey slate roofs , two up two down built in 1880 and quite possibly the last remnants of a proper community where families often related lived and worked side by side . My Grandparents lived but one door away as well as a cousins . There was a congenial mix of residents from all corners of the land from Geordies, Scots , Irish , Welsh and one lovable old girl our neighbour from Yorkshire , all worked either in the mines or had some connection with Coal which was the mainstay of the gas holder at that time .Happy days , full of hope and sincerity where childish fall out would be settled with fists on the wasteground behind our house and concluded with a handshake and life carried on .

"As I trace again thy winding Hill " I recall this quote which brings home just how steep and winding the little cobbled streets were which led you upon the hill , cool in the summer with the help of the large three story Victorian buildings which fenced you in amongst the passageways , but a nightmare to walk upon in the frost and ice . My paper round took me all around the hill and the dark winter mornings would have you believe you were the only living soul left in the world . i stood in awe one morning when I eventually reached the little victorian high street , it was bathed in frost and the old original street lamps burned a globe of light as best they could while the thick mist blurred every nook and cranny of this quaint high street . It was like being transported back in time where the ghostly form of Jack the Ripper would appear out of the gloom , such is the mind of an adolescent .While the world slept I pounded the beat amongst the ancient architecture which is still in evidence to this day . beautiful buildings with preservation orders in place .

It was of course customary for us local lads to have a seasonal provocative punch up with the School boys , it was an understanding which both parties were in agreement , a sort of acknowledgement which had been passed down through time . Someone somewhere would organise this annual set to and word would get around and all manner of ruffians would gather in amongst their respective groups and make their way to the fields of St Marys . To be fair it was half hearted affair , a show of strength and belonging mixed with idle threats and and lots of swearing , if only our Mothers could hear us !
The great Battle of St Marys church field took place one late summers evening , the Schoolboys having the distinct advantage of being well placed under the cool shade of graveyard trees and shielded by the many crooked tombstones while us , the more disorganised reprobates were unfairly rooted at the bottom of the field .
We stopped halfway , the long dry grass affording us some cover , we were knackered ,hot and
parched , this mob of never do wells rested up while we tried to gather up some momentum with the proceedings all the while a volley of mud , sticks and stones rained down upon us.

A schoolboy kind of broke the ice , we spotted him wearing a cut down orange football on his head , neatly fashioned into a German helmet with added swastikas drawn in marker pen . We roared and with laughter being infectious , they did too and the stand off melted away . We met on that field , not quite as grand an episode of the famous Christmas truce but we stood chatted and laughed and realised that really they were not that different to us . I often think of that school boy who quite clearly had a sense of humour and wonder what life through at him , I hope it dealt him some good cards .

As time moved on my interest in natural and social history drew me ever more to the Hill , i secured permission to fish a stunning lake within the grounds of the school , a pretty lake designed by Capability Brown , set in amongst some glorious grounds and where Kestrels nested in a tree behind me and the tropical Kingfisher would brighten up a cold winters day by the Lake .
On the opposing side of the Hill I spent 5 happy years serving an apprentice in glass etching and pictorials ,a craft which taught me so many disciplines of which I am forever indebted , yes indeed the Hill has served me well .

So , this little non descript bottle held so many memories for me and took me on a little journey and gave up one other little secret . Joseph Strange , publican of the Crown Inn , Crown street , Harrow own the Hill from 1890 until 1912 . However by a small quirk it appears he was a clerk at the age of 23 in 1881 in the Gas works and lived in the gas works cottages , in the same street as me !
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Blackadder43
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Re: Strange nostalgia

Post by Blackadder43 »

I have a degree in skip reading, but your posts i read word for word
Thanks again for the time, effort and personal stories in writing your posts
I am going to put this in the bottle forum where it does actually belong with its strong ties to this one found bottle ::g
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Re: Strange nostalgia

Post by Bors »

An interesting and Well described account. I think it's nice now`n then to ,as you say ,..." It is always nice to look back on our younger days conjuring up all sorts of memories from our personal past " especially if you grew up with a pretty decent and average childhood like many of us do. Thanks for taking the time & effort to put your story up. ::g
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Re: Strange nostalgia

Post by Mugwamp »

What a great read again Kenleyboy. Not sure if you are a writer or submitting work to magazines but I always find your blogs make great reading and very descriptive. Please, please keep up the good work ::g

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Re: Strange nostalgia

Post by Dave The Slave »

Great reminiscing Paul from a then everyday article.
What a paragraph:
" A schoolboy kind of broke the ice , we spotted him wearing a cut down orange football on his head , neatly fashioned into a German helmet with added swastikas drawn in marker pen . We roared and with laughter being infectious , they did too and the stand off melted away . We met on that field , not quite as grand an episode of the famous Christmas truce but we stood chatted and laughed and realised that really they were not that different to us . I often think of that school boy who quite clearly had a sense of humour and wonder what life through at him , I hope it dealt him some good cards .''
::g :))
Amazing how these memory triggers happen, which they do, just shows how much is in our sub consciounce.
Very enjoyable read, ::g
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Re: Strange nostalgia

Post by kenleyboy »

Mugwamp wrote:
Thu Feb 06, 2020 2:17 pm
What a great read again Kenleyboy. Not sure if you are a writer or submitting work to magazines but I always find your blogs make great reading and very descriptive. Please, please keep up the good work ::g
not a writer as such , have written for a few magazines and one book published but this was some years ago and all angling themed . Just a bit of fun ::g
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Re: Strange nostalgia

Post by meadowman »

A great read, I was totally engrossed.Thanks ::g

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Re: Strange nostalgia

Post by kenleyboy »

Blackadder43 wrote:
Thu Feb 06, 2020 1:55 pm
I have a degree in skip reading, but your posts i read word for word
Thanks again for the time, effort and personal stories in writing your posts
I am going to put this in the bottle forum where it does actually belong with its strong ties to this one found bottle ::g
Thanks Blackadder , wasn't too sure where to pop it . Skip reading is quite a skill , fair play ::g I should really edit some of my posts a bit more intensely , a few spelling mistakes along the way rl;
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Re: Strange nostalgia

Post by ratty »

What a good read ,thanks. ::g

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Re: Strange nostalgia

Post by Bradrick »

Excellent KB... many thanks ::g
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Re: Strange nostalgia

Post by PinkFloyd »

Fantastic write up ::g

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Re: Strange nostalgia

Post by cantona1 »

As always ::g ::g

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Re: Strange nostalgia

Post by dondo »

Great read. ::g Nostalgia ain't what it used to be :D

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Re: Strange nostalgia

Post by Ladybird66 »

The one thing you will find as you all get older is what a funny old thing the memory is. How often I’ve heard my Husband say, I can’t remember what I did yesterday but I can remember the names of all the boys in my class at senior school.’ Most now sadly not with us.
It’s almost as if you have a filing cabinet in your brain for memories that eventually gets full up. Try as you will you can’t squeeze another thing in.
Obviously I can’t share those memories with him but we often compare notes about how things used to be. (How sad ! )
Needless to say really but I was a ‘Tom-Boy’ so there were some things we both remember doing 60+ years ago. Like ‘ratting’. I was a dab hand and a reasonable shot with a catapult and can remember, even now the excitement of spotting a rat on the canal bank and claiming a hit, confirmed by the high pitches squeak it made.
Seems a little cruel, even barbaric now but that’s how it was back then. It was called growing up. These days they grow up with animated computer games. What an alien world with live in now.

Once again Paul your post has held our attention for a while and reminded us of ‘better times’.

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Re: Strange nostalgia

Post by PinkFloyd »

There are many things I’ve done that I’m glad I can’t remember, so having a poor memory is fantastic sometimes . I hate bumping into colleagues from the past .
But isn’t it odd that some daft non events even as a child you remember fully

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Re: Strange nostalgia

Post by Bors »

PinkFloyd wrote:
Fri Feb 07, 2020 6:10 am
There are many things I’ve done that I’m glad I can’t remember, so having a poor memory is fantastic sometimes . I hate bumping into colleagues from the past .
But isn’t it odd that some daft non events even as a child you remember fully
That sounds very much like an oxymoron Paul :D
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Re: Strange nostalgia

Post by ChefClay »

Great read, thank you

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