When I was born we used to live in a big house. Not as big as the one in my header, I don't want to give the idea that we were landed gentry, but in comparison to houses around, it was big. It didn't stand in rolling hills or fields though, it was in the heart of a smoky industrial metropolis, where fogs descended regularly so thickly you literally couldn't see the person standing a foot away from you. A mile and a half behind the house, beyond a wood-merchants yard where the ringing sound of a massive saw mingled with the fragrance of wood sap, was the Manchester Ship Canal. When the fog came down you could hear the melancholy sound of fog-horns from ocean-going ships as they sailed between factories lining the canal banks. I was born four years after World War two ended, there were still ration-books, and the National Health Service was just a year and a month old. Our house belonged to my Grandfather who owned a plumbing business and my Father was secretary administrator, sitting at a desk just like this one in 'the office', what wouldn't I give to know what happened to that desk. Every morning he would wrestle with its roll-top that never ran smoothly and then sit in his swivel chair to smoke his first cigarette of many.
Photo: 'Homes and Antiques' January 2011