A Station Masters Son or a Mid-Life Crisis?

Just after I moved into the house I live in now, I sat quietly one day to see what would come to me. Emptying myself and opening myself up to be receptive has worked before. It’s amazing what you can find out and what you can find out you already know! It didn’t take long before I had the distinct impression of a boy of about 11 or 12, whose father had something to do with a railway station. He was wearing shorts that reached to his knees and a sleeveless jumper over a shirt. There was a definite connection with this house but I can’t say for certain whether he actually lived here. The nearest railway stations to here, in their day, would have been either Maldon or Tollesbury or Tiptree. The last of these, Maldon to Witham, closed in 1963 with the Beeching cuts so it must have been before that. The feeling I got from the boy was a period around 1930’s – 1940’s.

I looked on the internet to see what I could find out about the houses and any past inhabitants. The coastguards who lived here are listed on a website (http://www.genuki.org.uk/big/Coastguards/Table.html) but I haven’t been able to find anything about railway stations or stationmasters. I happened to mention this to Grant next door one day and he said it rang a faint bell. The hairs on my neck stood on end. He couldn’t place what it was but recommended some reading. Again, I looked the books up on the internet but no mention of railways or stations.

Chris suggested a trip to Essex Record Office. She wants to do some research and Doris wants to go along as well. I could do some research of my own. I’ll need to sign up to ERO to start the process but that’s no problem … it’s free. I think there is certain information I’ll need in order to have access to any documents.

I seem to be concentrating on the past a lot lately. I’ve signed up to Harringayonline and delved into my long-forgotten memories and I’m fascinated by the history of the house I live in now. I think the latter is quite normal for the resident of an old house but overall, the 2 taken together and my recent state of mind make me think there’s more to this than meets the eye. I’m 53yrs old – nearly 54 – I’ve just split with my partner and he’s moved out, I’m off work with stress or depression (I’m not sure what it is sometimes), and I’ve had time to evaluate some of my life. Not that I’ve done much evaluating. My brain seems to have frozen over most of the time lately.

“If only hindsight weren’t so retrospective.”

Am I looking back along the road to see where I’ve come from?

By what route did I get here?

Will it give me any clues as to where I’m going?

So many questions, so few answers. What, after all, am I expecting by peering into the distance behind me when the way forward is, well …. forward. I’ve learnt in the past that acceptance is often more enlightening than trying to understand.

That’s not to say I’ve got nothing out of this searching. I’ve brought to the fore memories I thought had gone forever about where I lived from the age of about 1 to 10. It all seemed inaccessible or forgotten to me. Like I’d blanked that part of my life out. Part of the reason could be that the move was such a wrench at that age that I blanked my past in order to survive the present. I had no contact with any of my old friends from Harringay after we moved so there was nothing to refresh what memories I might have had. Moving from the city out to the country was such a contrast in life style too, that I guess there was little room for remembering. I’ve always been good at shutting things out – forgetting places and people – ignoring, or disassociating from, situations, events, relationships.

Dad was now commuting to London every day and didn’t get home til late. I can remember waiting at the stile by the railway line waiting for dad’s train to pass. He would be leaning out of the window as the train slowed for Witham station, waving at us. We’d often cycle furiously down the road and wait by the little footbridge over the river for him to appear down the hill from the station.

Three years after we moved, my parents split up and dad moved out. This was to have a profound effect on me, one that echoes still today!

Dad moved to Braintree and we were on our own. And it really felt like that even though there was me, my mum and my brother. I guess that being children we looked to mum now that dad had gone and she had relied on dad until then. There was a lot of bitterness splashing around and most of it came from mum. There were some pretty awful times.

All the more reason to shut things out. My imagination flowered and I found places to go in my head that were better than where I was in life. I was able to still my mind and feel that the ‘stilling’ itself was balanced on a pin head. As long as I kept it balanced I was able to maintain the stillness. With it came a sense of being large and inflated and tiny all at once. I was large and I was small depending on how I thought of it at time (Quantum meditation?). I also had ‘lives’ in my head that I ‘lived’ throughout the day, whether at home or at school. I often wondered what my school mates thought of me.

Was it riding above the storm or escaping from it? You tell me. Perhaps some of each. Probably some of each, actually.

Once I went into the RAF I really lost touch with dad. He moved in with an antique dealer in Brighton, wrote to me a couple of times and I didn’t reply. I think the last letter I had from him was about Grandma dying. I found that difficult enough without the blame I put on him for things that had happened and I shut him out too. When he died a few years later I put that behind me rather rapidly too. What did it mean to me anyway? He was dead and gone now and I couldn’t do anything about it.

I’ve learnt over the years that these things come back and bite you on the arse from time to time. I think I’ve just been bitten again!