Dave was one of the Catford street cleaners. He worked Inchmery Road (we lived at no. 3) and the surrounding roads of SE6. This was Dave’s patch. Being the 1960s, everyone knew Dave and Dave knew everyone. His were the eyes of the neighbourhood; in the same way that the bobby and the milkman were then. I wonder whose eyes watch over us now? Upon his cart, he carried, among his tools, a knife – I heard it described once, thus:
“A clasp knife with a beautiful deer-antler handle.”
He could often be seen on his knees in the street, knife in hand, digging the dirt from the paving edges.
“Good morning, Dave. You’re doing a great job there!”
We were yet to go to the moon.
We come, full circle.
The rainbow is washed away by another sudden downpour and a sun & a moon share the same sky.
Memories of the 1960s: Grandma Nelly.
A black, iron, knight, the fireguard, at the fireplace, at grandma Nelly’s, presenting tongs and shovel.
A nodding dog (green velveteen) sat at the window in the back of grandma Nelly’s Sunbeam Rapier.
A tiny, hand carved wooden camel train. It stands, at its tallest, one inch high. Each camel smaller than the last. They are linked by a delicate chain.
A plastic monkey that shins, with a tap on its head, down a plastic palm tree.
A collection of paper umbrellas & cocktail sticks – cutlasses and pitchforks of many glassy (plastic) colours on a bar built into the corner of the living room.
A German Shepherd called Kelly.
Granddad Sid: thin and brycreemed. Grey suit & brown felt hat with tiny feather – blue and green. He could be described as a spiv. He owns a typewriter shop under the bridge at Lewisham. His fingers are black with ribbon ink, yellow with nicotine. He is dead by the age of 50. Lung cancer.
3, Inchmery Road. SE6 (1968/9)
I swallow a (plastic) ‘reed’ from a toy horn. The hospital suggests eating bread.
Mum’s hood dryer in the corner of the kitchen. The smell of setting lotion.
First day at Torridon Primary school. A teacher (?) comes into the classroom & asks the class, “Has anyone not had breakfast?” Several children raise their hand & are brought a tiny bottle of milk & some biscuits.
“Who likes to stare out of windows?” a psychology test (?) – also at school. I do. And, in fact, do so, still. (My ex told me on several occasions to “stop mooning out the window.” I realised immediately that we would go our own way.)
sweets; coconut shreds in pretend tobacco pouches. A pyramid of ice cream. Sweet cigarettes in a variety of detailed packets.
Sailing model boats on the pond at Blackheath.
Fireworks; rockets in bottles and roman candles nailed to fenceposts.
A ‘Guy Fawkes’, dressed in an old suit, stuffed with newspaper, sat in a deckchair on Catford High Street. We are collecting money for fireworks. He will sit on top of a bonfire.
Throwing a parachute toy from the window of cousin Michael’s room. The toy is a metal jeep (the type sometimes seen in the 70s; low wheelbase. Mook?) with a polythene parachute attached. A tangle of thread. My cousin eventually refuses to bring the jeep back upstairs and suggests that I throw something else down. I decide on his sister’s doll’s mirror, interestingly! Mum blames me. Auntie Vicky blames Michael!
My 5th birthday party: Long table of friends and relatives in the garden. June 1969. Cowboys. My early introduction to The Byrds, outsider art, revolt, reveal & Nudie suits! A table cloth of sheets.
Counting the steps to primary school.
The first series of Star Trek.
Polythene bags of plastic soldiers.
Bedsits upstairs at Inchmery Rd., that mum & dad rent out.
Noel Scotford’s collection of matchboxes. His dad the photographer.
The giant, plastic ‘cat’ at Catford. The cat sat, as now, above the entrance of Catford market. Paw stretched out.
Flypaper. Strips of brown, sticky, paper, hanging, attracting flies.
Hit by a car. Taking the morning off school!
Collecting number plates. A notebook fills with number plates. What is the point of this? Imagine attempting to do this now! It would be impossible. But, here, I suspect is the very beginning of my love of notebooks, of lists.
The Quaggy. The tiny tributary of the Thames. It runs at the bottom of the garden. For many, many years I believed the name to be made-up by dad. It is not.
Learning to swim at Ladywell baths. The foot bath, the smell, the noise of voices bouncing off the tiles.
Keeping rabbits and chickens at Daneswood Ave!