I was born in Newcastle upon Tyne, but I spent all my childhood in the south of the UK in Kent, more precisely in Rainham.
We lived on Edwin Road, and in our garden was an army stone marking the territory. This is the mark for ‘Rainham Mark’, or so I’ve been told.
All around us were characters who lived on Edwin road or Marshall Road.People we knew for years, people with their families , their jobs, their problems, their sorrows and joys.
I remember our cleaning lady, Mrs Mac, who would come and clean the mess of our house. She was a figure, strict, neat but homely, ready for us, ready to look after us.She was the cleaning lady for years.Then, she got old, and Sheila came to help out.
All around us then were the doctors and medical people in my father’s professional network. Dr Coral, Dr Cockrell, Lorna,Lena, all in parties with whiskies! All these people who I remember are dead now.
I remember Berengrave Lane , and Mogs and his lady friend. We bought our veg from her. She ran the fruit and vegetable shop, she was kind and friendly, letting us play with jigsaws, her friendly face beaming out from the leather-like wrinkles that lined her work worn face. Mogs was her lover, he had one arm and one eye. I wondered if he was a war hero! As a young boy, I couldn’t work it all out, why they lived together but weren’t married. No one elese we knew ‘lived in sin’ .She told me Mogs lost his arm and eye in a farm accident long ago, and she looked after him; later, she fell ill with breast cancer and my father was her doctor in Rochester. Mogs, who couldn’t drive, would walk the 7 miles every day to see her. He held her hand, sat by her bed, sang her songs and loved her till the last. Later, I remember seeing Mogs, looking lost, pained and heartbroken. All he’d done wrong was love her.The house they lived in had a big concrete clad all, but behind was just kindness and love. She left her will to a local girls school, and Mogs got to live in the house till he died.Maybe they weren’t lovers, I never was told the truth !
At the end of Berengrave Lane was a chalk pit, full of wildlife. Another doctor lived here, with his wife and her sister.