My father was stationed at R.A.F. Innsworth, north east of the City of Gloucester. My mother’s family was local. There was not an airfield at Innsworth as this had been an administration centre. My mother and father worked there. It’s where they met and started courting and eventually married and had a baby, me. When I was an infant, our family lived in a prefab in the wonderfully named Frogfurlong Lane which ran northwards from Innsworth to Down Hatherley. Gloucestershire has some wonderful place names!
After that we lived in Singapore and Hong Kong. Upping sticks was quite a normal family event. Living in a different country was not extraordinary to me as a seven year old, not that the concept of another country meant anything much. For me it meant not everybody was white and my family lived a long way off. Plenty enough families came and went. It was all part of life in the Air Force. So when I was told my father had been posted overseas again and we were going to live in a place called Aden, it was life carrying on its normal course of events. All I knew was Aden was many miles away. I was probably excited to know I was again going to a place where it is warm and sunny all the time.
Since our return to from the Far East we hadn’t always lived in the married quarters in Innsworth. For a while we had lived in the neighbouring village of Churchdown. My mother’s parents were retired and they had a house not far from us in the village. The garden backed on to the main line between Gloucester and Cheltenham. I knew my grandfather had worked on the railway. I assumed he lived there because it was nice to remember his former work, not that I ever asked. Most children think life is going to be wonderful and happy and grownups enjoy working. My grandfather’s back garden was one massive allotment. As far as I know, he grew all the vegetables he and my grandmother ate.
I was poor at keeping secrets. I am a little better at it now. I imagine my parents told me when it was safe to do so and everyone who needed to know knew. When I told my fellow pupils at Churchdown Primary school I was going to go to Aden one response was “I wouldn’t want to go there, it’s all desert. No grass.” I wondered how this boy knew as he had never been there, and neither my mother nor my father had told me about that.
© 2012 Gwailo54