The sounds of my childhood


My husband and I were having a cup of tea in bed last weekend – he was about to start reading something in a magazine about ‘wire money’ (whatever that might be) and I was pondering: should I start the laundry,  read another chapter of  ‘Silence of the Lambs’,  or start the next chapter of my book (all of which actually means that I was scrolling down the twitter feed on my mobile).  Through the open window, we heard the sound of seagulls (a few seem to have got lost on their way to the sea and have been hanging around Camberley for a day or two). That got us into a discussion about the sounds we associate with the places where we grew up… ‘You should write about this in your blog thingy’ he said eventually. So here it is.

I grew up in the town of Aldershot, in Hampshire. It’s probably best known as The Home of the British Army (and perhaps less well-known as actor Martin Freeman‘s birth place – his father was in the army, mine wasn’t).  Tuesday mornings, especially if the wind was blowing in the right direction, meant parade practice on the drill square along the Queen’s Avenue. Sometimes you could even hear the scream of the drill sergeant. (It made me resolve never to join the forces.)

On Tuesday or Sunday nights (it was a long time ago) we’d hear the distant roar of the stock car races (the track is long gone now).  Then at Christmas you’d get ‘the tree’ – a Christmas tree on the back of flat-bed lorry, all lit up, with Christmas Carols being played over a loud speaker – it moved at walking pace (to allow the ‘Lads of the Village‘ to knock on doors and collect donations for local good causes (in researching this piece I was saddened to learn that the charity ended in 2010) and was a signal that Christmas was almost with us. Even now, the memory sends a little tingle of childhood excitement down my spine…

Then there was the clip-clop of hooves, an unusual sound on a suburban street you might think: Dolly, the Rag and Bone man’s pony. I would rush out to see her and hopefully pat her (being obsessed with horses for much of my childhood). The grown ups would rush out in hopes of getting some manure for their roses. I don’t ever remember my mum giving the rag and bone man any unwanted goods, though I’m sure she must have done.  Knowing my mum as I did, I suspect she might have been on the hunt for bargains…

Other less salubrious sounds were the family who lived in the house whose garden backed on to ours: when I was young the husband had a terrible smoker’s cough which half the street could hear!  The sound of an IRA bomb exploding in the Officer’s Mess one lunchtime in 1972 was, thankfully, not a common one.

The sound of church bells always takes me back to my childhood:  we lived near St Michael’s Church (where rumour has it one of Charles II’s illegitimate children is buried – though I notice the church site makes no mention of it!) – the local campanologists would practise mid-week for any forthcoming weddings (presumably for funerals too) and on a warm summer evening the sound would drift for miles…

What sounds take you back to your childhood?

 

 

 

 

One thought on “The sounds of my childhood

  1. The memories, WOW, At age 15 I used to cycle from Aldershot (Gloucester road) all the way down the Farnborough Road to work. It was so cold in the winter of ’63, My mum couldn’t afford to buy me a coat. I cycled to work in my school uniform. The town of Aldershot was great in those days.

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