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A Shout From The Attic: The Meadow

...Above that was Jubb’s grocers, where I got a job as a bicycle delivery boy in the absence of the regular boy and cried my way through several weeks of gloveless November and December frosts that bit my fingers with pain too much to bear without tears...

Ronnie Bray has astonishingly vivid memories of the neighbourhood in which he grew up. for more of Ronnie's life story please click on A Shout From The Attic in the menu on this page.

The safest place for us was The Meadow, as we called the field where a farmer from somewhere grazed a few cattle. One of these cows came close to being pierced through with a steel-tipped target arrow shot from my new Slazenger longbow when I took it there to practice. Unlike the French at Agincourt, the cow merely responded with a disdainful look that said, “If I lactated like you shoot, you’d have no milk for breakfast!” Or did I imagine that? If a cow bending its neck back around and along its side has ever stared at you, you will know exactly what I mean.

The Meadow was a good place for children to play, especially after the park gates had been closed and locked for the night, which was a just-before-dusk ritual right up to the time they came and oxy-acetylened off the railings for the war effort. It was a much better place to have a rare picnic with a few other now nameless and faceless children, as long as care was taken not to get too near the bovine enchantresses or step into one of their surprises whilst looking for four-leafed clover. The grass was green and long and a fall never hurt, although it was possible to lose one’s popularity by landing on a surprise that had not hardened in the summer’s warmth.

Trinity Street started at Westgate in town. Its lower end held a fascinating array of shops beginning with Feischer’s watchmakers, on the corner of New North Road, where the street level window to the semi-subterranean workroom allowed the idle and the interested to watch craftsmen take timepieces apart, fix or replace something, and rebuild them with deft fingers, magnifying eyepieces, and consummate skill.

Above Feischer’s was Wiley Brothers who sold and repaired bicycles and charged accumulators. They became important when I got my first radio as it had a glass 6 volt accumulator to power the low tension side of things. For sixpence, I got another four weeks of absolute pleasure.

Then, on up Trinity Street was a newsagents shop, a butchers, then Hygeia Cleaners above the archway where my Aunt Nora was once the manageress, then some low terrace houses and Wilkinson’s photographers house and studio with cream painted entrance and glass fronted display panels either side of the door.

The next shop was a herbalists, Heath and Heather, from where I bought my first pack of dried bananas and carob beans. A short way to Bill Haley’s Fish and chip shop where the best cod was fried to perfection, the chips were from Paradise, and they cost threepence for a huge bagful that I can taste yet and have never tasted better, for all the years I can remember.

Upwards from there was a long narrow shop that sold tobacco and sweets run by a charming ancient couple, Mr and Mrs Brown who were kind and courteous even to a scruffy lad such as I was. Next, just where Towning Row went in and doubled back to a spot below Hygeia was Mr Armitage’s second hand shop. I always wanted to live in a place like that, full of curious and inviting things, and I often have!

After that, there were houses all the way up to Portland Street, and Doctor J J Hanratty lived at the corner, with the entrance to his surgery in Portland Street through a dark green wooden porch, outside of which his gleaming black Rover stood for as long as I remember and it was still there when we moved to Dalton when I was sixteen and never went back until it was too late and the Rover was gone along with the brusque Irish doctor, and everything else had changed.

The off licence, across the road from Dr Hanratty’s Rover, was the place where Ben Shaw’s delightfully delicious and delectable range of carbonated drinks was sold. It was a place I and the cognoscenti entered in reverence to carry off giant-sized bottles of Dandelion and Burdock, plus whatever the less discerning wanted to drink.

The Baileys lived in the cellar of the shop but were otherwise unconnected with it. There was one more shop between the off licence and Fitzwilliam Street and I don’t remember ever going into it.

Above Fitzwilliam Street, Trinity Street’s terrace houses were of larger size as befits those who lived close to Greenhead Park. The entrance to Holy Trinity Church after which the street was named and where I was christened was down a short road into the woody churchyard.

The other side of Trinity Street commenced with The Olde Hatte public house, at whose back door I returned the empty beer bottles left about by our lodgers to fund my frequent visits to the cinemas of Huddersfield.

Above that was Jubb’s grocers, where I got a job as a bicycle delivery boy in the absence of the regular boy and cried my way through several weeks of gloveless November and December frosts that bit my fingers with pain too much to bear without tears before the boy made a miraculous recover the week before Christmas and I was left to wonder the uncertainties of fate while he scooped all the Christmas Boxes and not a “thank you” apart from my meagre wage.

Above that a fur shop, Scott’s, and then a plumbers stood back on a paved forecourt that it shared with an ornament shop that had the same semi-clad lady holding two Afghans or perhaps Borzois on a straining leash for all the years of my childhood and would probably still be there antiqued had the shop not been sacrificed along with its neighbours on both sides of the road to rearrange Trinity Street into something strange and new called the ring road.

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