Slow Erosion of the Past

It is odd becoming detached from places you knew so well in the past. Generally, I think it is fair to say that most of us struggle with change in any part of our life even when it is clearly for the better. Most changes are probably neutral anyway in terms of the overall impact they have on us; but the outcries that often emerge when an alteration to a well -liked building – as an example – is proposed can show how much people can object to change even when that change has no impact on them at all other than offending sensibilities. Incidentally, let me be very clear here, I have signed enough petitions of my own over time that I’m not criticising this, merely observing it.

I grew up in an old mining village in County Durham, about three miles from the town of Chester-Le-Street in a bungalow on what at the time was considered a ‘nice’ part of the village; my school headmaster (and local councillor) lived down the street; that kind of place.

I’m an only child but the lack of siblings (which was not deliberate on my parent’s part, they just did not happen and apparently, I was a bit of a ‘miracle’ as it was) was compensated for by a dog and any number of other pets over the years.

But apart from the revolving and evolving cast list of beasties that shared the house with us there was always a dog and considering my parents it was made clear that when I was old enough the job of walking her (and her successors) was laid firmly at my door. So, I spent a fair amount of time walking around the village and the fields behind our house that stretched up a farm at one side and a large comprehensive school on the other. As an aside this was the school I should have gone to, an ugly mass of white Sixties depression. My parents were persuaded by my junior school teachers (in their attractive Victorian red brick across the road) to find a better solution, and as the comprehensive periodically was set on fire – and we knew some of the teachers who had been physically attacked by pupils in class –  they did not need much in the way of persuasion

So, the view I grew up with was mostly of fields that you could run and play in, and a view to a largely empty horizon.

I have just come back from a weekend visiting my father, who now lives alone in the same bungalow. It has been six years since he came home from hospital after his cancer treatment, and five since the last dog died. I still find it odd that some canine is not greeting me as I walk through the door, or that I do not need to worry about putting down food at a level a dog could normally reach after decades of that being a recipe for disaster. Stranger still is that when I look out that window now what I can see has changed completely. An ever- increasing housing estate now covers the horizon and most of the fields; the farm is still there but more derelict every year and no doubt will be replaced by more houses at some point. Perhaps stranger still is that the school has been levelled, and this time they are not going to rebuild it.

The place I grew up with has irrevocably changed. I have mixed feelings about it as I miss that piece of my history which is now consigned only to memory. However, people need somewhere to live more than I need the view. And in the end, it helps me with the inevitable cutting of links; I go back to see my Dad and that is pretty much the only reason. My home was in one place when I was a child; now it is somewhere else, and in another Season, it will probably be somewhere else again. Change is inevitable, how well you cope with it is the measure of success.