For those of you who have left home, returned or settled elsewhere, raised a family or furthered you career in a new setting; it’s inevitable you will have memories of the place you were born and brought up.
I’ve recently just moved back to the centre of Consett. Although I only lived five and a half miles away for nearly 30 years and spent a good deal of my time in the town, I always missed living in the place I came from. Of all the homecoming stories, mine was met with some amusement by friends and acquaintances, when I commented that I was delighted to be ‘back home’ with them knowing I’d lived less than a 15 minute car journey away!
There is something about childhood and our formative years’ memories that exude a rose tinted hue. Do we remember them exactly as they happened or has some romanticisation been thrown into the mix? To be honest I can’t answer the question. While obviously some of my memories are tinged with sadness – we all go through times that are difficult, when we lose loved ones or experience illness or heartache – yet fond memories foster and forge how we live our lives.
I left Consett in 1974 bound for Teacher Training College in London – prompted by my Auntie Rose to explore another world – I embraced the challenge, loving the excitement of living in Kensington, which was something I could never imagine.
So close to Biba, Kensington Market, Hyde Park and the South Kensington Museums, I enjoyed exploring, walking, using buses and tube trains to visit Petticoat Lane, Notting Hill, Oxford Street, Westminster and St Paul’s Cathedral.
While walking out one day in Kensington Gardens I spotted John Cleese with his family and on a number of occasions stood outside The Royal Albert Hall and The Odeon Leicester Square for film premieres with my friends; watching celebrities and royalty arrive. It was all new and exciting and something very special.
Three years passed quickly and I applied for the pool in Durham County Council’s Education Department to return home and become a teacher. Not sure of my future I applied for some seasonal work in Harrods to secure some money and moved into one room in a flat in Chiswick.
Being a lift operator was great fun, and the old hand operated lifts allowed the skipping of floors so you could go straight from the basement to the 4th floor if need be. On one occasion we heard that John Wayne was in the building. Being a huge fan of ‘The Quiet Man’ I raced my lift down to the ground floor but one of my colleagues beat me to it, and all I saw was the back of him disappearing into her lift and the doors closing behind him!
But on the positive side, Shirley Bassey got into mine! Consequently the job had it’s ups and downs!
Still on the teaching waiting list I applied to The Department of Education and Science and secured a post as a clerical officer at The Victoria and Albert Museum, which I loved. Good working hours, a pay rise,
fantastic co – workers and a huge chance of promotion.
I had never been happier.
Then it came, the letter; I’d been offered a teaching job in County Durham. Obviously my family were over the moon and looked forward to my homecoming. I had to make a big decision.
So reluctantly at first, I found myself back in Consett, with it’s red dust skyline, steel sprinkled dusty gutters and noisy explosions from ‘The Works’, I embraced the moment and settled in.
And now on my second homecoming – even though there is hardly a trace of that steel making and mining community I knew – I’m home Consett!
And I love you,
Just The Way You Are!
February 18th 1978 Billy Joel – ‘Just The Way You Are’ was in the Top 20