Portrait of a Parish - Page 28

Reminiscences of Terry Love - 1940's/1950's


On one occasion, we played a game of train hold-ups on the Portsmouth main line. My memory is sharp and clear, as the Castle Class locomotive heading a long passenger train, billowing smoke, thundered out of the short tunnel beside the aqueduct, and the stab of fear as I realised the enormity of what we were doing. That driver was on the ball, showers of sparks rose from the locked wheels as the whole mass slid up the line accompanied by the screech of metal. With one accord we fled. Retribution was slow in coming but, as sure as winter, it came in the end in the shape of Tom Attwood, the Combe Down copper. I was walking home from the village when I saw him coming towards me with one arm behind his back, a peculiar mannerism of his, while the other pushed his old-fashioned bike. As we drew level, the arm as if spring loaded, whipped out and my ear was clamped between thumb and forefinger. "Got you my lad, got you my lad." - he had a habit of repeating things. My ear was twisted bending my head forward, so that all I could see were his bloody great boots sticking out from under his cycle clips. "Now then, what about this train thing?". "What train, Mr. Attwood?". "Don't lie to me lad, (accompanied by vigorous twisting of my now burning ear). you know full well what train I am talking about. If you lie to me I shall lock you up in the police station until your memory improves. In the mean time let's see what your father has to say." He walked me home without releasing his grip, so I was forced to walk with my head on one side. In the end I had to admit my guilt and, as with most kids' crimes in those days, punishment was immediate in the form of the boiler stick applied to my not overly-fleshed rear end. It was painful, but I was held in some esteem by the rest of the gang for refusing to name my accomplices.

Yes, Monkton Combe was a good place to be after the war, there was always something going on, the annual fete sometimes at Waterhouse, but mostly on Mill Island, attracting a big crowd, we had the usual side shows and stalls, there was always a pig to skittle for and the annual village foot race was always good for a laugh.

I was asked what I though of the village as we move towards the new millennium, the answer - not much. It is no worse than any other village in the area. We must accept things have changed, the populations is exploding out of control. We are short of space, it won't get better, we must try to adapt and make the best of what we have, but one things is for certain, my generation has seen the last of freedom.

Terry Love: page 25 - page 26 - page 27 - page 28

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