A Childhood Memory

September 20, 2012 5:05 pm

I recently undertook a Creative Writing Workshop with CoolTan Arts, as part of some training we are undertaking for an up-and-coming newspaper release called The Dickens News. It will be sold within the Southwark Newspaper at the end of November. It is to be in the style of the famous Dickens Pickwick papers and we are doing this project to celebrate his 200 year anniversary. I wrote my short creative story about my childhood memory of growing up in Southwark and when I had finished writing it, I realised that my childhood was kind of like some of Dickens famous characters, especially with my two wild brothers who could have come straight out Oliver. I have decided to share it on here. Hope you all enjoy it.

A Childhood Memory: Strawberry Fields and Southwark.

My first childhood memory as a child was being taken strawberry picking. My parents didn’t have much money, so my dad would purchase a car for no more than £100 and pack us kids (me, my brother Derek and brother Henry) in the back, my mum in the front and off we’d go.

These trips didn’t happen very often. usually we’d be left to run around the estate with the other children, making our own fun and causing mischief, which would always usually result in one of us siblings being called back indoors and grounded till the next day. These trips were a rarity and I loved a savoured every minute of them.

The countryside of Kent was afar throw away from the streets of Southwark in which I grew up. I adored the scenery, the greenery, the fields and pretty flowers. It sure beat the run down old playground of our council estate. The smells were different too. The dodgy cooking smells, smells of wear and tear, poverty, petrol fumes, anger and frustration were replaced by fields upon fields of pretty flowers. Although every now and again the cheap car exhausted from my dads car would let out a smell that would quickly put peeve to all the prettiness.

My dad tried to take us out of London as much as he could, and as much as his money would allow. My two brothers were both complete rapscallions and created havoc on the estate and streets of Southwark, that my dad wanted them away from the influences that made them go so wild. Strawberry picking was a real treat, even though us kids would always eat more of the strawberries than we actually collected from the fields. The best part was taking the strawberries back home, as mum would always set to work in the evenings making batches of fresh strawberry jam. Mum would put so many jars away for us, and make a few extra pence by selling some to friends and neighbours.

We as kids grew up on the streets of Southwark, its streets were our playground and sometimes our pocket money was made there too. We made money washing cars, particularly outside the famous riverside pubs, as almost everyone back then would drink and drive, so we took advantage of this and washed parked cars for money. The estate where we grew up on faced the river, so running home to get fresh buckets of water was not a problem. And if we were really lucky, a gentleman would say no to having this car washed, but would give us the money anyway.

Growing up by the river in Southwark was so much fun, that the river and its banks soon became another favourite stomping ground for us. Back in the 80’s the river Thames was filthy, full of rubbish and other undesirables, but it was so much fun. The stuff we found on its banks and in its waters ranged from, pieces of old clay pipe, tyres, old bikes, shopping trolleys and we even came across a dead pig once, which was very unpleasant to say the least. My brothers would always take it a step too far though, and they would build rafts with the pieces of wood they would come across floating in the Thames, they would then swim in and upon it. On one occasion my brother Henry was taken home by the river police drenched head to toe in river water and mud, but no matter how many times my parents scolded them, shouted at them and warned them to stay out of the Thames, my two hell cats of brothers just couldn’t. They’re defiance soon lead to them being labelled as trouble makers on our estate.

Yes we were indeed wild, but it sure did make for the best memories, and growing up with such strong male characters (in a way) made me fearless.


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