Revisiting old memories

Just on a whim, the other day I decided to revisit the place in Islington North London, where I and my family lived from the late forties to the mid sixties. A tedious tube journey mostly on the District line then on the Northern line I emerged in a very different Angel Station. Upper Street was even busier than I remembered but then I turned up Liverpool Road and headed for Chapel Market; I used to walk through the Market ever day to and from school and the changes are a disappointment to me, all now very cosmopolitan but it  seemed to me that much of the old camaraderie between the stall workers has gone. Where in the middle of the Market on the right the old smelly public toilets and to the left the Fishmongers with live eels in a tray outside both have gone. So I retraced my steps back to Liverpool Road to find the old “Blue-Hall” is now a business centre. Further on my old local pub The White Horse on the corner of Theberton street is now called “The Pig and Butcher”.  So a bit further down Theberton Street on the left is Gibson Square where I used to live. It was a really top end five storey ten roomed house when built in the 1780s but by 1900s was just a run down slum with each room let out to rent. As I stood in front of that old house it was amazing to see the same old brickwork surrounding new double or could be triple glazed windows and doors that shouted wealth invested. I was sad to walk past remembering playing marbles in the gutter with my best friend just outside in the gutter. Straight back to Theberton Street I turned left eager to see the shops at the end. Amazingly the barber shop that transferred my head of heir into a “Bobby Vee” is still a hairdressers but the old mews next to it where I was sent to purchase extra milk when Mum ran out is yet another cafe type bistro I could not even find the shop that we knew as Eccletsons that provided our favourite Saturday comics Dandy, Beano, The Eagle, but my favourite was always “Marvel comics” with Superman or my second favourite was “Plastic Man”. All three of us boys used to spread our comics on the table each Satuday morning and avidly devour those perhaps childish story-lines.

Further down then I turned left into Upper Street more bistros and boutiques the old shop that had rolls of oilcloth stood outside had gone – I don’t think I will ever forget the smell of those floor coverings. Crossed over to the south side of Upper Street to the Town Hall. I remember so vividly standing in awe as a five year old looking up at a huge statue of a bearded man wearing pantaloons just inside the entrance doors – so of course I went in. Two security / reception gents in uniform soon approached me, so I asked what ever had happened to the old statue I remembered but the younger of the two shrugged his shoulders but the other asked what my enquiry was all about? I explained that sixty seven years previously I had seen this very distinguished statue of a bearded man wearing pantaloons who I guessed at that time was a Spanish nobleman and the guy who was a large black man gave a broad grin and pointed behind him; do you mean sir Hugh Myddleton he said? And sure enough – there he was the stone man who had impressed me, a stone statue all those years ago. Did you know the man went on to say; that there is a duplicate statue of him standing on Islington Green just down the road. I confessed that I didn’t  even though I must have visited Islington Green a thousand times in my youth. (Mostly to look at the photos outside “Collins Music-Hall where pictures of girl’s stood half naked). I then of course visited Hugh Myddleton’s doppelganger.

(Mike)

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