Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Hearing Things..

No wind and a pale dawn sky as I walked along by the sea this morning. The only sound was the soft, insistent shush-shushing of waves breaking on the shingle - and of course the soft insistent ringing in my ears, which frequently accompanies me these days. No matter, it's just another of those sounds which I can block out most of the time, like the incessant cries of seagulls which used to wake me at 4 in the morning, or the chug-chugging of buses waiting at the traffic lights outside my front garden. Nowadays I seem to choose what I hear, like the birds singing while I'm gardening, and a couple of weeks ago it was the frogs croaking, very loudly, in my pond. They all turned up for the annual frogspawn-fest on the first day of Spring. There were at least 10 quite large frogs, not sure if they were in pairs, but there was an awful lot of frantic activity going on, which we watched in total fascination, and it has resulted in a pond full of frogspawn. Lovely.

I remember that as a child I used to lie in bed and listen to the train chugging (yes, it was a steam engine) along the single track "Pull and Push" railway which ran between Romford and Upminster, stopping at Emerson Park Halt along the way. To catch this train at Emerson Park we had to walk half a mile up Osborne Road, and as the road ran parallel with the railway line, we could guage the train times precisely, and knew when to break into a run so that we didn't miss the train. Going to Primary School also meant walking up the road, in the opposite direction, to cross the railway. There was a black cinder path which led up to the railway line, and a simple wooden stile to cross on either side of the line. Then we walked along a criss-cross of cinder paths and alleys to get to school. I can't imagine that those paths are still there today - it would be considered far too dangerous. But in those days we all did that walk and crossed the railway line at least twice a day. Of course a steam train was slower, much more visible and pretty noisy. And we knew that the train ran along more or less every half hour, so I guess we had the train timetable fixed at the back of our minds. In any case, I can't remember a single accident happening along that line in the 20 years we lived there!

We actually lived in Osborne Road and the line ran along the back end of our garden. The railway bank was a great place to go for having adventures, and Sister and I regularly climbed over the fence to explore. Most of the time, though, we just didn't hear the train - it was another of those sounds that disappeared into the background. But to this day I find the sound of a train comforting when I'm lying in bed. And, funnily enough, most of the houses I've lived in have had a railway line within (faint) earshot. In Cambridge we were backing onto the Botanical Gardens with the train station close behind, though not too close. And even here, in Hove, I can hear the train in the distance some nights or early mornings, when there are no other competing sounds. It's quite a way away, but I guess my ears are tuned to that particular comforting and familiar sound.

By the way, one thing I am listening to is Chris Evans in the morning (sometimes) on Radio 2. He has stopped shouting, and has made me laugh a couple of times. He's no Terry Wogan, but I need a bit of light-hearted banter and some music while I'm ironing. So I suppose I have capitulated - but anything is better than the non-stop bickering between the political parties that's currently wall-to-wall on Radio 4.


Retiredandcrazy said...

Romford to Cambridge to Hove. You old social climber you! It's funny how sounds can invoke long forgotten memories isn't it? I remember coming back to the South East after having lived in the Channel Islands as a child. The sound of the constant humming of traffic in the distance was very strange to me, especially at night. That and the fact that it never really got dark at night because of light polution.

Maggie May said...

I think that it is cosy to lie in bed and hear the noise of trains going by.
We once lived near a railway track.
You are lucky to live near the sea.

Nuts in May

Working Mum said...

You've brought back some childhood memories for me. We lived in a house with the Liverpool - Manchester railway line running along the back of our garden. It was far too dangerous to play on, but the sound of the trains at night was comforting (we even had the odd steam train in the 70s). When we moved house I couldn't sleep and couldn't work out why, until I realised it was the lack of trains!

PS I loved Chris Evans on drivetime, but I think he's finding his feet on the breakfast show. I'm currently reading his autobiography and I'm finding a new respect for his professionalism where his broadcasting is concerned. It's a fascinating read.

A Mother's Place is in the Wrong said...

Hi RAC, yes, I guess it was social climbing!! Funny how it looks when you reminisce. It seems to me that we can get used to almost any sounds. But I love the thought of a childhood without traffic. M xx

Hi Maggie, yes it was cosy. And I know how lucky I am to be by the sea. M xx

Chinese visitors - BOG OFF!!! I'm not fooled by your pretend comments. Take your smut elsewhere.

Hi Working Mum, lovely of you to visit and comment. I'm obviously not the only one who finds trains comforting.
As far as Chris Evans is concerned, I am getting used to him. Still miss good old Tery Wogan though!. M xx