Saturday, 27 October 2012

Dreams part 2

I'm gradually becoming aware of my mother in my dreams. She is not there completely, in that I don't dream about her face, her voice or her physical presence, but I am just aware of her. It's like a brush on the cheek, or a brief smell of a familiar scent, or a glimpse of her energy somewhere. The energy is of her as a whole person, not as she was at the end of her life so that is reassuring.

Sunday, 7 October 2012

Memories of Caledonian Road Market: Sepia Saturday 215

I'm updating this post for this weeks Sepia Saturday, which shows a picture of a crowded street in Glasgow. Sadly I have no pictures of my own for this prompt, but my father created a picture of his own with these words.

This was one of the things I found amongst my mother's things. It was something my father wrote in response to a request from a local journalist about memories of Islington. His memories would have been from the 1920s up until after the Second World War.

We lived in Kentish Town, virtually on the doorstep of Caledonian Cattle Market. It was a huge rectangular built area with cattle pens surrounding a centre white tall building. When the market was not in use for the cattle, half of the area was allowed for an open market where you could buy almost anything. Stalls displayed bric-a-brac, paintings, vases, old jewellery, metal goods, pottery, pots and pans, food, chickens, live and dead rabbits, live cats and dogs, furniture, carpets and clothes.

An excellent place for bargain hunters and sometimes very lucrative for collectors who wanted information about an article they were looking for. Lighting for the stalls was by Kerosene lamps. Two burners supplied by a centre bowl and air pressurised. As the years progressed glass bowls were introduced over the burners and gas mantels instead of naked jets but there was something warm and old fashioned about the naked lights when they were burning.

It must not be forgotten that the Caledonian was primarily a cattle market complete with pens on the outside, south side were the slaughter houses etc. I remember as a lad from 15-18 years old going to work every morning up York Way into the market square and being confronted by herds of charging bulls and cows and sheep being driven from Kings Cross Sidings to the market or slaughter shed and the nearer they approached the sheds the more frenzied they became and I
used to flatten myself up against the railings to avoid being caught in the surge. I used to think that the animals could sense or smell the slaughterhouse.

At the eastern end (Pentonville Road) were a number of firms dealing with offal etc and it was quite a common sight to see tripe being prepared for distributors. As the years went by the flow of cattle became smaller and only the pen remained but the general market continued to well after World War 2.

I found this picture, from creative commons, of the market itself to give you an idea of the layout.


For some more pictures of this market and other London markets of the time, you could look here.


Now mum's funeral is over we face the long job of 'sorting'. Actually 'sorting' her things into piles to be kept, to go to the charity shop, to be thrown away etc, didn't really take that long. I went back to UK for a week and spent 2 or 3 days in her flat. Before that my brother had already removed her clothes (something my sister couldn't face doing), so actually clearing the 'stuff' wasn't too bad. What I am doing now is looking through the piles of papers and photos, remembering, scanning, deciding whether to keep them and what to do with them. She had copies of the family tree, odd bits of writing, my grandfather's ledger etc etc. The process is long, mostly pleasant and at times bitter-sweet. I found the photo below amongst her things. It is a photo of my father and his cousin Stan. I never met Stan but mum said he was one of my father's closest friends. He died when he fell off the platform of a number 140 bus as it went round the roundabout at Kenton, in North London.
Arthur and Stan

Saturday, 6 October 2012

Drunk dog loses boll*cks

It's been an eventful month for the dog. After he disgraced himself at the dog show by being completey disobediant we decided that his breeding potential was limited!  I was going to wait until I returned from my latest trip to UK before getting him castrated, but in the end thought it would be better to do it as soon as possible. So, three weeks ago he checked into the vets. He was not a happy dog and ended up biting the vet nurse in his terror, but in the end his b*llocks were removed! I have to say I was a little shocked at the size of the surgery, made worse by the fact that he tried to lick it all day. He was obviously in pain, so the following day I returned to the vet and got some painkillers and one of those lampshade collars. He was suprisingly tolerant of it and seemed to quite enjoy banging it into my legs. He was pretty shakey for a day or two but then by the time I had to go back to the UK he was getting better and not paticularly bothered by the wound.

Gremlin with the lampshade

I was away a week and when I returned we took him to have the stitches removed, where it took three of us to hold him still while the vet snipped the stitches. We then decided to get his vaccinations done at the same time. By this point he was in a really bad mood and snarled, growled and snapped at the vet. As we left the surgery the other dog owners looked on with a pitying and slightly scared look! It's hard to explain that this whirling dervish of a dog can actually be a good boy sometimes!

As a treat we took him to Ian's sister's house so he could run around like a mad thing in the garden. This he did, while I picked apples from the tree. The ground was covered with windfalls and Gremlin happily tucked in while I picked away. He had another mad run around and then quietened down and then disappeared. I called him and eventually he staggerred over looking rather sorry for himself. He definately looked ill, seemed unable or unwilling to stand and very sleepy. After a process of elimination we concluded that he must have eaten too many apples and they started fermenting in his stomach, giving him a severe bellyache and making him drunk. He seeemed perfectly willing to do things but unable to work out what to do! This was confirmed by his demeanor over the following 24 hours, where he slowly 'sobered up' but looked like he had one hell of a hangover!