|Me aged 7|
Walking on pavements was a novelty, with big flat paving slabs that were so smooth. I was scared too walk on the cracks because that's where the worms would hide, so I preferred to walk on the road. The roads all had drains where all the water would go when it rained. I always wondered where the drains took the water too, and why they never got full up.
The postman In Ireland, Tommy Doyle, would bring the mail into the house and sit down for a chat and a cup of tea, but not here. The mail just dropped through the letter box and we never knew the postman's name. A big lorry, full of really smelly men, turned up every week to take our rubbish away. They would collect the bin from the garden, put it back where it belonged and close the gate after them. If you wanted them to take away an old sofa or a leaking boiler, they would be happy to oblige. I never saw a refuse collector in Ireland, I guess because we grew everything that we ate, hence there were no tins or packaging. Then what we didn't eat, we either fed to the chickens or put on the compost pile. At night, in England, lights would come on in the street outside, which meant you couldn't see the stars so well, but it did mean it wasn't as scary.
I can't stress how very difficult it was for my parents being foreign. It wasn't really until I grew up that I realised just how bad it had been for them, because they didn't really have any friends to speak of. My Dad's family were all dead after the war, except for an Aunt who lived in Brussels. My Mum's family never visited because my Dad just didn't like them. I'm not sure why, because at the time, I thought you couldn't find nicer people anywhere. I am still in touch with my Uncle Paddy, who is the best of the best people I have ever known. He is my Mother's older brother, but I always thought of him as more of a Dad. Him and his wife Mary have always made me feel like one of their children, and no matter what ups and downs I have been through, they have always welcomed me back. "Welcome home Daniel", is what they greet me with when I visit. I would like to pay tribute to them both, as two of the finest people one could ever come across in a lifetime.