Well it started i suppose way back around easter 1968 when My Mam and Dad didn’t have 50p for the meter and the TV went off (yes we were a normal working family from the North East) by that, i mean poor people from Ashington. Of course Im just making that part up, i don’t really know the circumstances of my conception, I know the logistics and the physics, but not the actual romantic side (I like to think of my parents being romantic when they were younger, save the horrible image of them going at it hammer and tong before they get ready to go out to the club)
So anyway, the deed was done, romantic or frantic, it doesn’t matter. What did matter was that one little swimmer made it, obviously losing thousands of its pseudo brothers or sisters to exhaustion and lethargy (Im not sure the fittest won, just the one that had a head start and woke up on time) Its weird when you think of how slim your chances really are at this point of actually becoming you, i mean, i could have been a girl, a twin, ginger (Doesn’t bare to be thought about really) So here i was, being introduced to the world on December the 24th 1968 in Ashington Hospital. What a wonderful Christmas present i must have been!
The Adamson younger years are a pretty distant memory now, some snippets creep up with whiff of a certain smell, or a noise or even something caught on the TV, It astounds me the emotion a song can stir up or a walk around somewhere only visited in a pram. (not that i can remember much about a pram, to be honest i don’t think i existed until i could walk) I know we moved a lot in my early years (As stated before, we weren’t affluent in any way shape or form, so i would assume debt had some relevance on this)
I may get the houses and places mixed up owing to my current state of memory loss, but i know they were all real (I’ve heard too many back stories taken from ‘The little house on the prairie’ and such) Starting with Somerset Close in Ashington. Out the back somewhere we had a giant rocket frame to climb on, with its red poles and yellow plastic seats to me it was enormous, going back to the site a few years ago, it was a little less scary than i imagined. The command module at the top didn’t reach the stars and you didn’t need a space suit or a full harness to climb around it. Still, in these times of H&S i did notice that the ground around it was concrete (If you fell, you knew about it) I think there used to be a beetle type thing too, but that was for the soft kids, we astronauts were made of sterner stuff.
And girls there were, i distinctly remember one called Michelle Went, I have subsequently met here in my formative drinking years at ‘Lucy’s’ and she was still a hottie then, but i digress. One of the girls smelt of cheese and had some weird name, because of this, i didn’t really want anything to do with her, but as she hung around with Michelle, i had to get on with her (This is a theme that weaves itself through my life with gusto) A couple of ‘harder’ older guys made up the group, oh, and my brother Ian. He becomes an integral part of my life as we were born only two years apart, sometimes i like him, sometimes i could hit him with a brick (oddly enough, thats exactly what our other brother Harry did years later)
Let me introduce you to my family before we steer away from my earliest memory, We have Mother Adamson, (I will do anything for her, she only needs to remember who i am and ask) Father Adamson, this is the man that gets on my nerves more than i ever got on his, but i still love them both very much and have helped him out behind the scenes on many occasion (More about my relationship with them both later) My eldest brother Johnny, then my only sister Margaret, Steven (Stephen) next (you know i never needed to spell his name,) Harry came a while after him then the second part of the family, Ian then me. I cant remember a house that housed us all, but I’m sure we did somewhere. Thats my immediate family. You’ll see how we all interact eventually (even though the age difference from eldest to me is over twenty years.)
One of my lasting memories of this house scans a little like the film ‘The Butterfly Effect’ I remember standing at the top of the staircase in my red quilted jacket (You know I’ve probably made that up, but i am sure i remember a red jacket with a hood) and for some reason (Ian i believe) i was covered in paraffin) I don’t know how or why, but i can distinctly remember the smell, and my eyes hurting. I cant remember going downstairs, but i know i opened the door into the sitting room (Ok Living room for all you posh folk) and i can still see the look of horror on the faces of all those people in there when they realised the smell of flammable stuff emanated from their youngest child. (The fire was on and Im sure my dad would have been smoking) so not the best place for a safe haven i would say.
I feel i have done Somerset Close a massive injustice with the little i can remember, but i know it was a place of family and a few years(?) of growing up. Michelle, Space Capsules, Paraffin soaking and red jackets, not bad i suppose for nearly forty years ago. When i said that certain smells evoke memories, i still get the sense of being drawn straight back there when i smell a closed fire, you know the type with a glass door but real coal or coke. Strange, but everything revolved around that fire. I know my sister told me a story of when she was younger living there and she was drying her hair by the fire with the door open so she could get a quicker dry. Our brother Harry was lying on the couch reading or watching TV or something and she was pushed head first into the open flames. As she got her head out (Without serious harm i may add) she turned to see why Harry had done this, but he just sat up and asked why she had put her own head in the flames. That house, that fire was a bit strange, but not the last time weird stuff has happened around us.
Onto Choppington and the club my mam and dad ran. Again anytime i smell oldish beer (not stale) it takes me straight back to the ‘Scotland Gate Social Club’, its not a club anymore, now that IS a shame. names sometime get mentioned in family circles (well to be honest they are mainly family Arcs now as a few of them are missing through one reason or another) a lady affectionately known as ‘Sweaty Betty’ used to work there. I don’t know in what capacity but the name seems to echo through time like Dr Who!!! I know we owned a German Shepherd call ‘Tim’ (nice name) and actually from what i recall, a really nice dog, apart from his penchant for digging up strange and curiously familiar bones (the fact that we lived next door to a grave yard was rather concerting) but he was happy, and i suppose the owners of the bones didn’t mind! (Strange dogs seem to reverberate our families history too, we like an odd pet or two do the Adamsons.)
My first school, my first taste of freedom away from Paraffin pouring buffoons and strange occurrences (for the time being anyway) I cant really remember the name of it, but it was a rather long walk for someone who was no bigger than a dustbin (I’m still not that statuesque now) but i can look back through a child’s eyes at the high walls with spiky railings on top making it look like a prison now (as we lived in Choppington, i don’t think that would be a rather bad idea nowadays) the actual school is a blur, but oddly enough i remember a girl, a girl that smelt of cheese. She wasn’t from Ashington so i know it wasn’t the same one stalking me (I suppose looking back it could have been me,,,,No it definitely was girls back then)
So where was I?, its been a week or so since i left this page but i’m sure i can quickly scan through and remember where my life went from there. It was in this pub that i can remember the distinct smell of (not so ) stale beer in the mornings as we got out of bed. As i said earlier, my recollections of this place are vague to say the least, i cant even remember the rooms upstairs, or the house for that fact.I do however have a fleeting memory of sitting in the kitchen sink having my hair washed. The annoying part is that my brother was in there with me. I mean come on, who washes their kids in the kitchen sink? well my mam for start, and i’m sure if i dig around, i would find one or two other sink kids around. Bad weather, for some reason i remember a lot of drizzly rainy cloudy days there (i thought you only remembered the good times when you were young) and i can recall looking out of a window (in one of the upstairs rooms i guess) and seeing a gable end of a building opposite just fall down in a high wind, not a slate or bit of masonry, the whole bleedin gable end just crash down onto i don’t know what. So, graveyards, stale beer, Sweaty Betty, cheesy girls and dogs oh and crappy weather with falling walls. Not a lot i grant you, but you try rethinking or (reimagining) more like what has gone on in your distant past and i bet you wont do much different.
Newbiggin, oh my life, where to start with Newbiggin. 93 North Seaton Road, thats where….
At the bottom of the first hill you come across in Newbiggin, in fact it was about the second house in the town you pass on the street. Inside it was huge (i can remember lots about this one) the front room (or lounge if you’re posh) had a big bay window sticking out into the garden (not a large one granted) and the back room, about the same size as the front lead out to the yard (well it would have if we had heard of patio doors) the corridor lead through to the kitchen which was where my brother and i learned how to run fast with lighted paper (ill explain that later) through the kitchen (not sure if i get the timing right) was a door? into the shed that could have been an out house at one time or another. Upstairs held three bedrooms.My mam and dads room wasn’t that large actually, but it faced out into the front , mine and my brother Ian shared a room next to this one on the front.Two double beds and two double wardrobes in that one, and the third room lay on the back end of the house. from what i cant remember of that one isn’t worth noting.
It’s funny how memories can stay pinpoint accurate, but events leading up to those memories seem to fade with the morning mists. Just like the circumstances with the paraffin, this house had many such attributes. “Amateur Photographer” that amazing magazine with the soft focus, soft porn vibe of the seventies was readily available lying around the house as my dad was a keen photographer, no no he WAS a keen photographer (I was sure he was, but then looking back with adult eyes I’m starting to doubt that) for some reason taking it into the bathroom and locking the door was a great idea. I have no idea what I was doing in the (the obvious wasn’t even a thought at that age) but I ended e up with a scar on my left hand. (I know a razor blade was involved) BUT WHY????
Now I know we all lived there at one time, mam, dad, Johnny, Margaret,Steven (we will stick to that spelling) Harry, Ian and ill ole me. Did we have a pet at that time? I do t think that we did as mother Adamson worked and I think my dad filled his time doing stuff too. I say I know we all lived there only because I remember a photograph, (you see) with various members of the clan around my eldest brothers wedding day. (But I could just be making that up) the more I sit and think about it,the more I feel I’m telling a pack of lies! But lets play with the notion we were (note were) a close knot family. Anyway, this house, as you enter the front door, you were confronted by two “Gargoyles” either side of the door entering the passageway……..
……..Right a bit of QI trivia here, I learnt a long time ago by watching the great and powerful Fry, that Gargoyles are misnamed all over the land. You see Gargoyles are water fountain heads, these things on either side of the passage doorway are actually Grotesques (and I didn’t use spell check on that either) so there, I can absorb intellectual information, just sometimes it gets lost in the sea of shit bobbing around in my head……..
……..it was at Newbiggin that I made my first school friends, those in the last place are an ancient memory now, even then I suppose, as I have all but forgotten everything there was to remember (except cheesy). A huge lad named “Golly” a ginger guy called “Simpa” a girl called Jocelyn, we had a good mix a blonde dude Edwin, then Brian, these are just a few of the names that immediately spring to mind as I’m writing this, all in all Windsor First School was a cool springboard to leap from. An old world war building that imposed itself onto it’s students, a separate “Nissan” hut for the dinner hall (with table monitors…. How cool was that, you aspired from an early age to sit at the ends of the table and have responsibility, could yo imagine that now?) more about the school later.
The beach played a huge part in my life here, as Newbiggin is a coastal town, what else could there be? Strange how the days were warmer and the summers longer back then, but isn’t it always the way? We had the needles eye (just a needle now, and a stumpy one at that) we had the church point (that seemed MILES away, but in actual fact was only the other side of the bay). We had the promenade with the boat ramp, (a fantastic place to take your bicycle on a stormy day) no seriously, the stormier the better, when the waves crash against the back of the sea wall behind the prom, and the chances are if you get it wrong, you are a dead man. We were fuelled on adrenalin (well scared shitless, but you didn’t want to look like a ‘Scaredy Cat’ did you)
I distinctly remember an afternoon where I had worn my blue ‘wellies’ to an outing to the needles eye (all alone if I remember correctly) and the sand had gotten to the rim of each boot. Every step I took, the sand rasped a red welt around my calfs. Not having the sense to tuck my trousers into my boots, it stung with every inch of movement. I sat down and cried because I feared I wouldn’t be able to make it home. (Take the wellies off? Never!) I feared because I was sure the sea was going to come in and gobble me up. The fact that the tide came nowhere near whee I plonked myself meant nothing to me at that age. Life was cruel. Oddly enough, I did make it home.
When I revisited Newbiggin last year, I walked along the beach (what’s left of it) all the way back along the prom and tried to gain access to the needles eye bridge. As I stated before, it’s a stump now, no bridge, so no eye. The paddling pool on the prom has been filled in, not for ‘Health and Safety’ just for the fact that the local council can’t afford to keep it maintained. I find that a lot around these towns now, they all cite H&S but in reality it’s a financial thing. The prom looked different and the ramps had been taken away so no kids could have fun on their bikes anymore. The hill leading from the beach to the school wasn’t as steep as I remember, but it was still impressive, and you would still lose a football kicked over the fence into the by blue wobbly stuff.
Just away from the needles eye bridge was a bowling green secluded in a park for the old and bold folk of the town. It was a lovely place to visit as the grass was snooker board flat and perfect for being so close to the sea. A hut, well a club house nestled at one end with a roofed area to drink lemonade or whatever old bowlers drink, and a couple of park benches allowed them to sit and discuss the finer points of the ‘jack’ (I just made that up, i don’t know what they discuss) it was here I first encountered the female form in all it’s beauty. A girl (no names no pack drills) told us in no uncertain circumstances, that we should all race around the bowling green. (Now the fact that we were in this place at all, let alone running on the grass lends itself to the other fact that it was either none playing season? Or later in the evening, so we obviously broke in.) the winner would get a look at her,(when I say get a look at her, you can imagine what I’m meaning) Christ Operation “Yew tree” springs to mind now, but we were ALL in primary school. Well I didn’t win, so my face was thunder!!! But she was a gracious girl and decided to show EVERYONE what she had anyway, god bless her!!!
Windsor First school moulded my persona, it gave me a chance at an early age to find out who I was, and who I was, was a Wiley old fox (even at the tender age of……erm…….young). Wet dinner times were spent in the hall, I can recall the day when we were all huddled in (my glasses naturally steamed up)-oddly enough my brother wore glasses too, our Ian just decided to hide them in a bush on the way to school everyday because he was the only one in his year group that wore them apparently and he didn’t like looking odd- anyway, I was blind with steam and no amount of rubbing with my greasy fingers alleviated that fact. So up to the dinner lady I trumped. Being the cheeky chappie with the industrious smile, I asked, in my most lovely voice, if I could go outside because the rain had just about stopped and I couldn’t get my sight back in this heat. Aw bless her, she looked at me like the poor down trodden waif I was and looked outside.The drizzle had all but stopped so she opened the door for me. It was at this moment I shouted for the guys and the whole school piled out into the rain, oh the glory, oh the admiration, oh the soaking wet clothes after dinner for the next couple of hours!!!
Whilst we were at WF, the film Star Wars came out, and we, being kids with active imaginations, too to playing this film out in the school yard. My mate Paul was Luke (a ginger Luke?) Golly was Chewbacca because of his unfeasibly large stature for a preteen, and I was Han Solo (somehow this suited my personality (even at this age) I was cocky, cool and cute!!!! Every playtime we we out amongst the stars in the Millennium Falcon and once we asked a lower year pupil to find us some extras for storm troopers. When he was signalled, he was supposed to run around the corner with a few (as in the scene where I, I mean Han chases them, then gets chased himself) I ran disappeared from view of Paul and Golly then seconds later I ran back around with genuine fear in my face, half the bloody school had been recruited by this little shit of a lower year, and I ended up nearly trampled by the crowd. The playtimes were more of a select affaire after that.