Pain of Separation

The 60’s were still swinging, the Vietnam War dominated the headlines, and Bugs Bruton had to start School.
How I cried on that first day of separation from Mom.
She ushered me through the large double railing gates, into the noisy mayhem of the playground, then, after a few brief words of reassurance, she turned and started to walk away. My attempt to follow her was halted by a set of towering green railings. Sobbing and sniffling, with my head hung low, I followed their length, stroking the green bars with the fingertips of my right hand as if to reach out for Mom’s hand. Mom was now walking on the on the opposite side of the road, the few yards between us may as well have been a few miles.
Just when I thought things could get no worse, that morning from Hell delivered the coup de grâce.
Mom turned right onto Pinfold Lane and she was blocked from my view by the hedgerow that separated the footpath from Mr. Plant’s garden; and the railings that I was following turned sharp left.
Wide-eyed and panic-stricken, I grabbed hold of the railings and pressed my face against the bars, as if trying to squeeze through the gap, and yelled in a hysterical voice “MOM!”
My knuckles were white, tears ran down my face, the cold iron railings cut off the circulation in my cheeks, making them look pale and sickly, bubbles blew and burst from my nostrils. “MOM!”
She came back and made everything good. Bless her.
This traumatic experience could only have lasted a few minutes, but the memory of it has lasted a lifetime, a wonderful lifetime.

Chalk ‘n’ Cheese.

Newly built, my new home on Pinfold Lane, Cheslyn- Hay, was in a dream location. From my bedroom window – yes, a room of my own, with a built-in wardrobe –  I could view my new World. Gone were the Days of living on the Village High Street, where I used to observe the daily passage of time through the condensation soaked glass. I would see  Women, a shopping bag over one arm, and a head scarf, knotted under the chin to hold it on, heading to Edwards’, the Grocers shop. Men, wearing long thick overcoats and flat caps, heading to the Red Lion.
Greetings were always exchanged as people passed each other, even to folk across the street, and the chirpy pleasantries, quietened and muffled by the wafer thin glass of the window reached into my space.
On one occasion, whilst stuck indoors, I must have been ill or something, I counted three cars, and the number 17 Bus twice.
The 17’s engine, belching out clouds of black smoke, vibrated the windows. The deep, sudden sound would send Mice scurrying under the skirting boards for cover. That always made me laugh, because they couldn’t get any traction on the Lino, causing them to run on the spot, or skid past the hole.
Now, the simple print pattern curtains that hung on a wire in front of my bedroom window, were thrown open to reveal a new World; a World that infiltrated the daydreams of my subconscious childhood mind, asking questions and demanded answers of me, always luring and tempting me with offers of excitement and adventure.
A row of grey slabs, that divided the garden unequally into two halves, led from the front door porch area to a small metal gate. (We were always shouted at for swinging on the gate).
This gate, although I didn’t realise it at the time, was a key feature. To me, back then, its only purpose was to test how high Butch, my Dog, could jump.
Left or right. If the choice was mine, after the gate, I’d go left. Only four houses away was the cinder track that led to weed covered pools, with Moorhens, Mallards and Coots dabbling and pecking for food, and a haunted wood, with paths that turned and twisted through its middle.
A canal, straight as a dye, but no longer in use,  cut through the landscape, its once sharp edges  softened by an overgrowth of Willow and Hawthorn.
The cut, as we called it, was an adventure playground, created by nature reclaiming what the coal industry had stolen from it.
To turn right at the garden gate meant one of several things: School, running errands or joining Mom on the daily tour of the village shops and family.
Left or right – chalk’n’cheese.