Saturday, 24 July 2010

Life On The Mean Streets.

Famous events that have occurred on 24th October:

1857: Sheffield FC, the world’s first football club, is founded.
1926: Harry Houdini ‘s last performance, which is at The Garrick Theatre in Detroit, Michigan.
1945: The United Nations Organisation is born – Allies of World War II ratify the UN charter at a ceremony in Washington DC.

1978: Nicholas Keith Cresswell is born in Queen Mary’s Hospital, Roehampton, London, England.

I weighed 10lbs 10oz at birth.

That is a fact.

No mistake.

There’s no disputing I was a large child. Women spit out their drink when I tell them my birth weight.

“Your poor mum” is the most common response when people discover my borderline-abnormal size as a 1 day old human being.

I found out recently that ‘Andre the Giant’, the famous French wrestler, who was 7ft 4in tall when he died, also weighed 10lbs 10oz at birth.

I’m proud of it. Plus it contains 2 double-digit even numbers.

I grew up in a ghetto of beautiful South West London, called East Sheen.

It was a town packed full of housewives, small children and old people.

Indeed, if you were travelling through Sheen by bus, every scheduled stop yielded a couple of fresh pensioners wearing greyish-brown coats, like a uniform of sorts, and a mum complete with manageable hair and a pushchair.

It got so bad that the oldies venturing onto the vehicle at each stop struggled to find anyone willing to give up their seat, as everyone already sat down was either too old to get up, partially disabled or pregnant.

(Out of interest, who wins the battle of ‘old vs. pregnant’ for a seat on the bus? Does it depend on ‘how’ pregnant the lady in question is? Or indeed how old the 'old' are? How do you decide which is which? Please feel free to debate this with your next of kin).

Well, given the lack of seats available, all I know is that outside the confines of your local “old folk’s home”, you will certainly never see so many confused OAP’s holding on for dear life amassed in such close proximity.

Wherever the elderly are gathered in large numbers you are guaranteed a healthy smorgasbord of charity shops. Sheen obliged handsomely, and was in many ways a real pioneer. Indeed, it was considered by some to be a Mecca of the charity shop universe.

It was also a trailblazer for independent ironmongery shops specialising in the deluxe "Is it a bag or is it a Zimmer frame, oh look…it’s both” market.

This town was simple. It was slow. It was archaic. It was normal.

I loved it, we got on really well.

Hundreds of residents spent their young lives dreaming of escaping the humdrum town, of finding somewhere more interesting and fun to live.

I dreamt of never leaving.

Or at least, perhaps, leaving for pastures new - just so I could return one day, when I was really old, to fight pregnant women for a seat on the bus.

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