1. Pedigree Perambulator
Hove, Sussex, Winter, 1949.
Fonthill Rd comes up from the railway climbing quickly. A raven haired woman, not yet 30, struggled home from George St. After the war, a week’s provisions seemed so extravagant. She had a Pedigree perambulator – steel tubes, four large wheels, a sprung chassis, a Bakelite handlebar and a heavy hood and cover. Inside was her baby boy, born in spring at seven and a half pounds, long wished for, and the extravagant shopping. And still it rained. She was sopping wet.
She sheltered under the long dark tunnel he would later scuttle through, scared, on his way to school and home: the one he later ran through after the shopkeeper caught him pinching a lolly: the one he strolled through nervously with a sweetheart. Sixty years later he noted there were now fluorescent lights all along on both sides.
Winter, 1949. She sheltered from the rain, trains slowly rumbling overhead. Torrents came down Fonthill Rd, raced intriguingly through the tunnel, making music in the drains, but she had to get to the top. She had to get the nappies in to dry inside. So she tightened the wing-nuts on the hood of the perambulator, her headscarf, her resolve, and hurried up Fonthill Rd, breathing hard, with the provisions and the precious boy all dry in the heavy perambulator.
She is keen to see him walk down George Street again.
She has seen him pushing the pram and shopping trolleys. She has seen him striding with cricket bags, snooker cues, golf buggies, table tennis bats, mowers, and friends. She has seen him pacing in front of hospital doors, the cricket team, the Board of Directors, the club committee and the poodle. She has seen him walk from the football, work, jetties, bus and train stations, airport gates, from the shops, the church, the burial ground. She has seen him walk through war, depression, the Great Depression, through bereavement and grief and joy, and good old plain contentment.
She has bought him a frame with wheels and brakes. She just wants to see him walk down George Street again.