Whose Book?

Some weeks ago I wrote of a contact who had come to me through this blog, and left my readers with the prospect of a story. This post is that story, the result of a collaboration between me and Dr Neil Gibbs.

Dr Neil Gibbs recently purchased a copy of the Bird Lovers’ Manual ‘How to Know British Birds’ from a well-known internet auction site.

How to know British Birds

He was delighted to have found this treasure,

S. Denny inscription

and intrigued by the child’s pencilled inscription inside the front cover.

Who was this young lady?

I've always kept a unicorn

The name suggested a very popular singer/songwriter from the 1960s and ‘70s; Sandy Denny. Neil sought confirmation of this by researching biographies of the Fairport Convention singer/songwriter, who made successful solo albums during the second of these decades. Interestingly, in these books the only home mentioned was Worple Road. Stanton Road is an L-shaped side road off that main thoroughfare between Wimbledon and Raynes Park.

Our researcher’s next step was to type Stanton Road into Google, which took him to my blog where he learned that I had grown up just 24 dwellings away from S. Denny.

He left a comment on my blog asking if I had known the Denny Family. I responded with an e-mail saying I had, and inviting a telephone conversation.

Without giving away his thoughts Neil asked whether I knew of a Denny family living in Stanton Road. I did, and it was, of course, Sandy who had, at least in the 1950s, lived at 53 Stanton Road. I could be sure of that.

Sandy and David Denny

I was unable to be certain whether this photograph features a Stanton Road or a Worple Road home. It could indeed be either.

I can happily vouch for the veracity of the Stanton Road address. I lived there from 1944 until 1960 when I was 18 and Sandy would have been 12.

Sandy Denny died tragically young (aged 31yrs) in 1978, but her contribution to folk music is being recognized this month (April 27th 2016) when she will be inducted into the BBC Radio 2 Folk Hall of Fame at an Awards ceremony in the Royal Albert Hall.

Screen Shot 2016-03-24 at 12.09.29

Link for Sandy Denny website:

http://www.sandydennyofficial.com

Link for BBC Hall of fame:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/articles/3bsXpkXhDfSfYBsK91C7Ts6/hall-of-fame

Trams And Trolley Buses

This morning the year’s new fox cubs were basking on the lawn with their mother, de-fleaing herself and looking more mangy than last year.  What they were basking in I am not sure, because there was no sun.

After watching the foxes for a while (I almost wrote ‘intruders’, but the fact is we are the intruders), I set off on foot for Wimbledon Village where I bought a birthday present in an antique shop I remembered from our year in the village.  Passing ‘Ely’s corner’ at the corner of Worple Road, I thought of the trolley buses of my childhood.  These were a post tram invention, utilising overhead wires providing the current which was fed to the buses through long connecting rods.  These were much longer than the links used by today’s Intercity trains.  Much delight was taken by all us children when the rods became dislodged.  It was a major undertaking to repair them, which was an entertainment in itself, and, of course, if it happened at the right time and in the right direction, the bus couldn’t take us to school.  In modern football parlance I’d say that was a result.

These buses just ran along Worple Road, providing a transport link between Wimbledon and Raynes Park.  Until the early 1950s Wimbledon sported both trolley buses and trams.

Having bought the present I walked back down the hill for a fry-up at the Mica, finally setting off back to Morden.

Whilst waiting on a red light at the ungated level crossing being approached by a tram in each direction I sensed that a young oriental jogger was going to continue on through the path of the trams.  She didn’t look from side to side and ignored the light.  I held up my hand indicating that she should stop. She took no apparent notice of me, glanced to her left, and ran on.  The tram that was the most dangerous missed her.  She was wearing specs with very thick lenses.  Maybe she couldn’t see.  Maybe she had confidence in her speed.

Today’s trams between Wimbledon and Croydon make use in part of disused railway tracks.  They do not run down Wimbledon Broadway as did the early trams of my boyhood.

This evening we ate gammon steaks, courtesy of LIdl, cooked by Jackie after I’d done the preparation.  This was after a telephone supervision session.  For those unfamiliar with Lidl I would say they are our most economical store providing food of excellent quality at very cheap prices.  In addition to the usual food supermarket offerings they have most interesting central aisles.  You never know what will be on offer there: perhaps a bathroom cabinet, a microwave oven, bikers’ gloves, socks, business suits, children’s toys; you name it you may, fleetingly, find it.  It’s better than a jumble sale because it’s all new and top quality.  When we first arrived in Morden, because my belongings are in four separate places, I found myself without underpants.  This was when I discovered that Morden does not have a mens’ clothes store.  ‘I know’, I thought, ‘I’ll try Lidl’.  And would you know, there they were, in the central aisle, two lovely pairs of Joop’s best.

The Railway Path

Yesterday I wrote of Kevin Lydon’s observation about the pretentiousness of my choice of cinema.  This needs a little clarification.  He thought I should be satisfied with the films on offer at the three circuit cinemas and one fleapit in Wimbledon, or the independent one in Raynes Park.  He had a point.

Today was a very pleasant day for a walk, being warm yet cloudy with a cool breeze.  Perhaps reflective of the change in the weather there was a great deal of scaffolding going up en route.  My walk was to Wimbledon then on to Raynes Park along the railway path which links the two towns.

The railway path is much better surfaced than in my youth; snickets have been opened up to the various turnings off the parallel Worple Road, offering access to their residents and a path through to Worple Road itself; and a high stout metal fence is now in position preventing access to the railway embankment.  The area fenced off from the public has been widened and the wasteland consequently reduced.  Throughout the two mile stretch every available wall or fence is covered in graffiti, the materials for which were not available in the 40s and 50s.

A crowd of lads from a local school shambled along listening to music downloaded on various items of equipment at which my teenage mind would have boggled.

I paused for a while outside the back of my childhood home in Stanton Road, reflecting on the fact that the upstairs maisonette for which my parents cannot have paid any more than perhaps £2 per week, now fetches £1,400 per month in rent.  The railway land at the back having been narrowed and more securely fenced, it is no longer possible there to build dens; light bonfires; weed and flatten areas to make sports fields; or scale the traditional iron railings to mess about on the embankment.  Because Stanton Road is on the ‘right’ side of the railway it is, according to Estate agents, now in West Wimbledon.

On my way back through Wimbledon Chase I was hooted and waved at by a car driver who turned out to be my old friend Dominic Birtwistle.  I had just bought some of the ingredients for the sausage casserole I will make this evening.