Wednesday, 2 October 2013

Walsall: A place from my past

Connecting with a past
One week in July, I decided to make a journey to a place I first saw when I was born, then last went to some 18 years ago.
I have an affinity for Walsall for so many reasons, many childhood memories and even though it is possible my early birth was consequent on the stress of my parents moving house just two days before from London, it just presents a sense of exclusiveness that one was not born in London.
For the way Walsall is pronounced, many confuse it with Warsaw but I was not born in Poland and hence I have to tell people it is near Birmingham if they know nothing about the geography of England, West Midlands or the Black Country.
Seeking ghosts of the past
However, as I arrived in Walsall, I thought I would try to trace a family I once knew. Her kid sister always took me boating at to the Arboretum, she, the big sister was married to a family friend and they had two girls who I last saw in 1978 in Nigeria before they separated and she returned to the United Kingdom with her girls soon after.
Searching through registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages, with just the knowledge of the name of the family friend who was married in England, I was able to obtain the maiden name of the sisters, then their dates of birth, the second marriage of the elder sister and then the trail ran cold.
The pleasures of the past
For the week I was in Walsall, I visited the places where we lived; all still standing buildings saved for posterity whilst on the other side of the road, the old row of houses had been demolished and replaced with new buildings.
One place I wanted to see was the Arboretum, it had a boating lake and I remember beaching my boat the last time I was there, but when I got there, it was quiet, no boats and the only life on the water were ducks and swans.
Apart from being a park and conservation area, a place to probably meditate, what made the Walsall Arboretum fun had been taken out of the place because some years ago a boater fell in the lake and drowned.
A boating tradition of decades going back in my memory to the 1960s of the enjoyment of life and happiness ended by reason of an unfortunate incident before the health superintendents waded in and decided this simple pastime was unsafe.
Holding back the day with the past
My view was erect a memorial for the dead, put up signs and warnings but do not take away the pleasure, though it is suggested the mismanagement of the place and insufficient funds might have been the death knell for that kind of excitement.
I walked around the park, took many pictures but the idyll that Walsall once represented was no more what I saw, I was saddened and crestfallen but the desire still remains to be laid to rest in the town of my birth.
Places change, people move on, history becomes a series of yesterdays stretching back in time and the moment is what we have to enjoy what is there, Walsall remains dear to me and the memories I have of the place might fade but will never be forgotten.
The kid sister who at times was baby sitter, chaperone, governess and big sister has a name that exemplified the enchanted childhood – Joy!
Thank you, Walsall.
My Walsall Slideshow.


Created with Admarket's flickrSLiDR.

No comments: