Sunday, December 19, 2004

Childhood mammaries

Posted by Hello

One t-shirt. Myriad memories.

Blackhorse Road - tube station of my youth. Those of you who know exactly where I was brought up (i.e. no-one who reads this) will know that, as the crow flies, this station was not the closest to our home. Walthamstow Central had this dubious pleasure. The problem was, the crow (where "crow" = "any useful buses") did not "fly" from anywhere near our home to Walthamstow Central.

However, all was not lost. The marvellous, magical 123 bus, departing from the very end of our road, would dispatch us outside the entrance of Blackhorse Road station, the penultimate station on the Northbound Victoria Line and the oft-used terminus of many a Witho family tube journey. The same 123 bus, I might add, which allowed my sisters and I to wile away many a Saturday afternoon, shopping at either Wood Green "Shopping City" (one of the early shopping malls - I imagine it is now a decrepit shadow of its former self) at one end of the line or Ilford at the other. Sometimes, just sometimes, Walthamstow Market just couldn't come up with the goods. Oh, it was fine if you wanted to pick up some cauliflower leaves for the guinea pigs from the vegetable stallholders (who would have only thrown them away otherwise). It was great if you could be bothered to work your way through the crowds down the mile long High Street looking for bargains. But sometimes we sisters needed the shelter of the shiny shops...

When my sister bought me the above t-shirt as a Christmas present, she *knew* that it was the right one. Walthamstow Central would have been too obvious. Blackhorse Road is more enigmatic.

My abiding memory of the station was alighting from the 123 and entering the station via the Forest Road entrance, which required a walk up some stairs and along a corridor to the booking hall. As a child, I would look up at that staircase and think "Wow, that's a long way up!" I later discovered that it had no more than about 5 steps. There was a time when I was small, y'know!

It's not only the station itself, but the font, the shape, the symbol of London Transport which reminds me of home and my happy childhood. When I spent time abroad in my twenties, I always knew I was home when I started to see the car number plates with the oversized lettering (when compared with the French digits) and the bus stops with that symbol on them. In fact, I made sure when I went to France that I took my London tube map poster with me and put it up on the wall. The familiar shapes and colours meant I had my connection with home.

Thanks sis'! Good choice, you know me so well...

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