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Saturday, March 6, 2010

Peek in the Past - All Change - Knutsford to Hale


When I was twelve years old, my parents move our family from the old Victorian semi in Knutsford, Cheshire, to a newer home some fifteen miles away in Hale. (Left: my sister, Sue, outside our "new" front door. Right: my mum in her modern (then) kitchen. No work surface, no refrigerator, no dishwasher, no microwave, no garbage disposal.)

It was a wrench leaving familiar places full of childhood imaginings. But I was growing up, attending grammar school in Altrincham (nextdoor to Hale), and it was time to leave childish things behind. Right? Wrong.

I’d been travelling from Knutsford to Hale by steam train for a year before we moved, and that loyal imaginary horse of mine galloped beside the train, leaping over rooftops, trees, and bridges, cheering me on whenever loneliness or fear set in. I tried lifting the grimy sash window once, to see if he was really out there, but acrid engine fumes and flying soot soon had me dropping the window, and breathing onto the glass instead, rubbing a peep hole with my hand.

I don’t know where the horse slept once we left our home-with-an-attic, but in my mind he was outside every classroom window on good days and bad. Especially bad. Many a sharp rebuke from a teacher swung my attention away from horse-dreaming and back to the lesson.


Not only did I leave behind my comfortable first school, with its soft and kindly teachers, but friends also changed, as did school uniform. And the dreaded homework increased beyond a joke. However, it didn’t take long to settle in at the senior school (left), make new friends, and discover my favorite lessons were English literature and language, and Art—with a huge emphasis on literature.

I also discovered that Mathematics, Physics, and Chemistry, were outside my brain’s ability to fully grasp.

I can still remember the first time a teacher praised my English composition. I was the only class member to use dialogue, and had great fun creating the story. At least a strong imagination came in handy for something. Pity it didn’t work on all the other subjects. History demanded too many facts for my liking. If only I’d been allowed to spice it up with a bit of creative writing, I’d have done so much better. And the Math teacher never did appreciate me making up my own answers. At least I learned a valuable lesson—the odds of guessing the right answer were zero to none. Therefore, taking up a life of gambling would not be a good idea.

(Credit for the photograph of Hale, Cheshire, above right goes to http://www.oldukphotos.com/)

Anne Bradshaw
Famous Family Nights
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1 comments:

Cindy (C.L.) Beck said...

Fun post. Thanks for sharing. I loved your last lines, "At least I learned a valuable lesson—the odds of guessing the right answer were zero to none. Therefore, taking up a life of gambling would not be a good idea."

:)