THAT REMINDS ME: The Jeff Dunn column

THAT REMINDS ME: The Jeff Dunn column

OLD STOMPING GROUNDS: The children enjoyed playing on the Gunkle and around the Wards Yard.

Milford Pill in 1951

First published in Milford Mercury news
Last updated

SEASONAL greetings from TRM world , may all you wish for come true, and may you be free from cares and woe the whole year through.

There have been loads of replies re the Dock mongoose etc, but, along with the other feedback, I'm keeping them until the New Year.

For as it's the festive season, in the immortal words of Max "You need hands"

Bygraves, "I'm gonna tell you a story".

It's a simple tale, from simple times, but one I hope that will remind you of the days when growing up was a simple pleasure. Here's a clue as to which year it was...the Xmas No1 record was.... "Xmas Alphabet", by Dickie Valentine.

But first it's "teaser corner". Last week the answer was 25 , as told to me by...

Eric Harries, Gerry Thomas, Linda Frampton, Alan Scard, Jean Buckingham, John Glover, Billy Barratt, Joan Earles, Marie Oughton with David Phillips, Les Haynes, the Tish Llewellyns, John Steer , Royston Holman, Ken Davies, Enid de Wolf, and John Roberts. Thanks everybody.

Here's the final poser of the year for you to chew over with your turkey sandwiches.

A man was born in 1960. He's alive and well today , aged 38 . How is this possible ?

Right..now it's time for my story ... I'll call it.....

"THOSE WERE THE DAYS , MY FRIENDS". "Where are you two going ?", my mother was smiling , because she already knew the answer to her question.

"Up the Gunkle", I replied, tucking a woolen scarf into my jerkin.

It was early afternoon, Boxing Day, 1955.

I was eleven years old , living in the steel houses in Vicary Crescent, in the Pill area of Milford, which was a fairly new Council estate, having been built shortly after the end of the Second World War.

The excitement of the "big day" celebrations were all over and done with, and was already fading into my distant, and selective, memory.

My presents had been the customary collection of goodies ; 2 large, shiny oranges, a box of dates, a board game, three Annuals, and the latest in the Just William series of red, hardback books, all of which had been stuffed neatly into the pillow case that was left dangling at the bottom of my bed on Xmas Eve.

I'd been delighted with my "star" present. A full size dartboard. It was much more to my taste than the previous year's Meccano set... which had merely embarrassed me, and underlined how useless I was with my hands !...Though it had suited my dad , who'd just about constructed a new Town Hall with it !

On Xmas morning, I'd immediately hung the dartboard in the kitchen, and played non stop "arrows", until my distraught mum had finally despaired of my disruptive presence...not to say 'wayward darts' ..shooing me away, so she could get on with the Xmas dinner....roast chicken...a rare treat, and always my favourite meal of the year.

The rest of the day was filled with home made fun....laughter and music .

We didn't have a TV , so there was no bickering over who wanted to watch what.

But now it was the day for the Feast of St. Stephen. And anything goes on Boxing Day.

In the corner of our "front room" was a large Xmas tree, bedecked with all the usual yuletide baubles and bells, although its magnificence was slightly tarnished by the po faced, moth eaten fairy that glared defiantly at everyone from the top of the tree, as if daring someone to openly criticise her looks so she could start a fight !

The fir tree had been installed by my dad just a week earlier, and, much to my mum's disgust, was already showing worrying signs of heavy and persistent "needle shedding". Strung around the room were brightly coloured festive decorations, complete with tinsel, shimmering like silvery strings, and sprigs of holly , mistletoe, and balloons (some still half inflated ), all strategically placed to add a bit of magical mystique.

In the grate, a coal fire, buoyed by the logs my dad and I had collected over the preceding few weeks, was crackling and spitting like a cantankerous old biddy.

In the room, with my mother and father , were Joyce and George Wigham , our neighbours from across the road, and their son David, my school mate and best pal.

We'd listened patiently as the "oldies", enjoying their seasonal post lunchtime sherries, laughed, joked, and reminisced about the year gone by.

Dave and I were getting "fed up" being stuck indoors. We'd roasted a few chestnuts in the fire, helped ourselves to some home made mince pies, washed them down with our favourite tipple, dandelion and burdock , but were now itching to get outside.

To be fair, our "gang" had already been enjoying the freedom offered by the school free days, doing the usual sort of things that kept us from "under our parents' feet".....

These activities mainly involved playing on the Gunkle, exploring the Pill area, (see pic) and mooching around Wards Yard (see pic).

"Don't be too long David...your Uncle Billy is calling round later....so don't go too far...and don't get in a mess....you've got your best clothes on " ! , Mrs Wigham warned her only child, and my mum nodded her agreement.

Dave's Uncle Billy was a policeman, and a hero in the eyes of we kids. On more than one occasion Dave had "used" his uncle's lawkeeping status as a weapon, and, 5 minutes later, as we made our way happily up onto the Gunkle, we recalled one such an occasion from just a week earlier. I'll continue the story next time , when I'll tell how David and I learned that the Gunkle, our favourite "playground", wasn't always a safe and innocent place to be....It may have been our favourite "playground", but there were those with an evil intent , and that could make it one of the most dangerous and frightening arenas in Milford.

Thanks for listening , see you next week.

Comments

Comments are closed on this article.

Send us your news, pictures and videos

Most read stories

Local Info

Enter your postcode, town or place name

About cookies

We want you to enjoy your visit to our website. That's why we use cookies to enhance your experience. By staying on our website you agree to our use of cookies. Find out more about the cookies we use.

I agree