If you’ve read Attention All Shipping you might recall how my mum’s family was bombed out of Silvertown on the first day of the Blitz in September 1940, fleeing on a motorbike with bombs dropping all around them. Well, after a peripatetic war they were housed temporarily in prefabs on Blackheath with other families who’d lost their homes until new permanent housing could be constructed.
Their prefab backed on to a Territorial Army centre, which is still there, and one day the regimental goat somehow got its head stuck through the railings. My mum fetched my granddad, a man strong enough that around the same time he and my great uncle Charlie had put this plinth in the place where it remains to this day, who rolled up his shirtsleeves, took hold of the railings, braced himself and bent them apart far enough for the goat to free itself and return to whatever it is regimental mascots do.
Today, more than sixty years later, my mum returned to the exact site of the prefab, realised that the iron railings were the same ones as when she lived there as a little girl, rummaged about in the weeds and found the railings. Still there, still bent.
If you’ve read any of my books you’ll know how much I love getting out there and uncovering little pieces of history that have fallen by the wayside. Well, this one’s part of the family.