I lived next door to an antiques shop for the first couple of years of my life, on the High Street, in Dover. My Great Grandmother's house was furnished, for reasons of economy, with antiques and bric-a-brac - some from the shop next door. I remember the house well (or I remember remembering). It had a scullery lined with delft tiles. A scullery! I suppose this would now be called a utility room. I bought my first antique from the neighbouring shop, which remained in business for years after Great Granny died. This was a set of Victorian buttons to adorn the yoke of a Viyella mini-dress - and so it dawned on me - the realisation that I too could buy, and maybe sell, antiques!
Dover was a happy place to be a child, despite the fact that it still bore the scars of WWII bombing raids. So it was with great surprise that I recently discovered the poem "Childhood" written by the Imagist poet Richard Aldington in 1914, railing against the town where he also grew up. Of course, he appears to have had an oppressive and unhappy middle-class childhood so any town would have seemed as grim - but I was shocked.
"I hate that town;
I hate the town I lived in when I was little;
I hate to think of it.
There were always clouds, smoke, rain
In that dingy little valley.
It rained; it always rained."
Not so! We loved our sunny Dover Days!
"The long street we lived in
Was duller than a drain
And nearly as dingy."
I beg to differ, Mr Aldington. I know you lived on Godwyne Road in a rather grand middle-class house of the kind known in Yorkshire as a "Brass Castle". Part of my own school years were spent in Cobham House on this very "street".
"The High Street and the other street were dull--
The front was dull;
And there was a public park, I remember,
And that was damned dull, too,
With its beds of geraniums no one was allowed to pick,
And it's clipped lawns you weren't allowed to walk on,
And the gold-fish pond you weren't allowed to paddle in,"
That may have been so in 1900.
But we LOVED the park!