Eclectic Blue

If memories were all I had

Comments Off on If memories were all I had 02 February 2018

If memories were all I had

Well, I finally made it. I managed to drive all the way to Portishead this morning to do something I have never done before. I went to look at some of my roots.

Having woken up at around 5.00 am and struggled to get back to sleep for a good two and a half hours, I’d had doubts. My past, my fucked up, dysfunctional childhood and all that has followed is not something I have even contemplating looking into until this week. It would much easier to retreat into my comfort zone and stay there forever.

First, I drove to Stonechat Green in yet another part of Portishead I never knew existed. For reasons I don’t yet know, this where a part of historical artwork has been created, some large nails in the middle of some tastefully designed (but still) urban sprawl. It was the Mustad Horse Nails company that brought to Portishead my great grandfather and nine other Norwegians from Gjovik. They liked it so much here, they all decided to stay. Later, my grandfather Alfred came along and met Nelly Louise Ladd, marrying her in Keynsham.

There is no plaque or anything but the nails. At least they are there, a proud (for me) reminder of the people who helped build Portishead.

Then to St Nicholas’ Church, formerly the National Nautical School chapel. Despite my atheism, I do love great architecture and here at the front are two angels sculpted by Nelly’s father (and my great grandfather) Herbert Ladd. There was no one to talk to and no reason to stick around, but I must admit to feeling a little pride.

Finally, at least in historical terms, I drove to Mustad Way. Thanks to my Tom Tom, I knew it was Mustad Way because I would not have known otherwise, given the complete absence of road signs and indicators. I am guessing – and I may need to research this – the Way, which is basically a branch of Majestic and a branch of Home Bargains, was where the Mustad factory stood. But maybe not. The vast car park which led to Lidl, a Wetherspoons, a Subway and much else of little interest, was the sum total of Mustad Way. My earlier experiences had probably created a sense of over-optimism as to what I might expect. A sense of history was somewhat lacking, it must be said.

I was thrilled to have found some heritage but disappointed by Portishead’s attitude towards it. Over a century might have passed since Mustad arrived and since the angels were sculpted, yet Portishead today expands to nothing more than vast new housing estates and shopping opportunities. Who cares about how our town laid the foundations for what we have today so long as we have a branch of Sainsburys nearby? But then, am I to have a pop at Portishead when I live in an area which was formerly farmland and is now featureless concrete? Progress?

In any event, my next book, the not awaited follow-up to my soaraway failed first book Corfu Not A Scorcher is now on the way. It’s going to be a memoir. I’ve even got a name for it. The following 100,000 words are going to represent the tricky bit.

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