Our row of soot covered old terrace houses (poetically name Brookfield Place), backed up lopsided against the railway viaduct that towered 10 foot above the dwellings, that connected the main London railway-line and others, with Arkwright Street Station above our house, with a narrow back yard, outside toilets and coal houses built up against the actual grotty fuliginosity covered brick wall of the railway viaduct.
You can imagine the soot, oil, and other residues that would fall into the yard and onto the houses and folk as the express belted past, or the commuter trains would stop at the station, and kick out burning embers with the soot, to fall gently down over our domicile.
Thus, the slightly paranoid personality of myself . . . you see, as the embers fell, often it would set fire to my hair, and a neighbour would run out into the yard to me, and start belting me around the head, as they often would when I got up to no good, so I had to wait until they’d finished enjoying belting me about the head a bit, to find out if my hair had actually been set on fire, or if I’d done something wrong!
Thus my baldness and rampant paranoia?
I grew up with the trains belting past all hours of the night, and despite the fact that they shook the house so violently (the London expresses) that the windows shook, slates fell from the roof, the bed shook, the lights swayed, and the curtains often fell to the floor. The commuters and shunter trains would spew out soot, burning ashes, and shake down lumps of brick from viaduct sides, yet I cannot recall it bothering my sleeping pattern, or waking me up very often at all!
When we moved years later to a quiet, clean, cul-de-sac council house, I couldn’t sleep… The quietness kept me awake!
To follow: A Nottingham Lad’s True Tale of Woe – Part Six
The Catastrophic Canal Calamity