Ode To Wallsend - a Memory of Wallsend.

I was born at Wallsend Village green in the heart of Wallsend Town,
I spent my childhood in an era great to be around,
We all grew up together and played in our back lanes,
My cousins and my neighbours in the shadows of the cranes.
At the top of each old terraced street there stood a corner shop,
I often spent my pennies there on Black Jack chews and pop.
The last sweet shop to ply its trade was on the street of Hugh,
It was run by Florry Patterson (who everyone knew).
Her deep broad Geordie Accent, I can almost hear it now,
Her pinny and her witch like hair, and deeply furrowed brow.
I’ve fond memories of Rik’s (JET) cafe where a few of us hung out,
that was in the bleak mid eighties at a time we all had nowt.
We used to play our snooker there and play on Arcade games,
We sat around and nursed our teas whilst Prince sang Purple Rain.
My mother worked at Joe Rea’s caff for twenty years or so,
A place where folks like Suzy the tramp would almost daily go.
Rope swings at the Seven Arches, down at Haggies Gut,
Discos at the East End Club, where my stuff I used to strut.
Pick n mix at Woolies, and the street guide at the door,
The downstairs lavs, the Forum Clock, alas they are no more.
Ruddick’s for your fruit and veg, Milburn’s for your kets,
Disque for all your music needs, Joe Simpson’s for your bets.
Another place I had a great times was Richardson Dees Park,
Banana slides and shuggy boats, the Bandstand after dark.
Bottles of Olde English with a motley crew for sure,
The belly laughs we had there were a pleasure to endure.
I still recall the steam omitting from the great pit heap,
And the snow drifts there in seventy nine were var nye ten feet deep.
I ventured there one full mooned night, and could only stand and stare,
When I saw a hungry short eared owl take on a full grown hare.
From four feet up it had a go, but alas it proved too weak,
For the hare kicked out and caught the owl who gave out a piercing shriek.
Fourteen egger partridge nests, sticklebacks and vowels,
Crested newts, mad march hares, tiny shrews and moles.
These creatures shared my stomping ground, up by the swallow pond,
Vivid memories still take me back to the place I am most fond.
I hardly seem to recognise this once great town of mine.
So forgive me if I hanker for a better place in time.

James Bridgewood.

A memory shared by James Bridgewood on Aug 30th, 2013. Send James Bridgewood a message.

 Comments & Feedback

Fri Aug 24th 2018, at 9:03 pm
Trish Bailey commented:

Hello James, I like the way you write and once even tried to write an ode, but without any success.

I don't know why but for some reason your piece takes me further back in time - fifty-two years to be exact! I think it might be the mention of black jack chews and pop that my pals and I bought from a shop on Barrack Lane (I was then was living in Fenham Barracks.) We all do it I am sure: hanker for a better place in time. When I visit Newcastle I somehow expect to find that great city the way I left it! Of course Fenham Barracks was ripped apart long ago, and even part of that bastion: the wall, which contains nothing that it once did in my memory.

When I visit the Cloth Market, to White Heart Yard (where I first began working) I can hear again the sounds from the Sixties and see myself trotting down the Lane in stiletto heels and mini skirt to sneak a quick, private meeting with one of the lads who worked in the optical manufacturers - no hanky-panky of course just a couple of minutes of escape from work!

I often wish we could turn back the clock, to be able to find an opening in the fabric of Time and quietly slip through. Would I miss much of today? Apart from my family - no! I have experienced life from both sides and for me then was better than now.

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