A WALK UP
THE CHESTER ROAD
Where we live
by Chris Myers
1. Where we live
We live in
Streetly, on the Chester Road, at the top of the
hill between the Parson & Clerk and Manor Road. That's to say me, Mum and
Dad and my big sister, Sheila. Graham used to live
with us but he went away, two years ago, and became
a soldier. We haven't seen him for ages and ages.
This is him when he was home for the last time. It
was February. Of last year. He's in Italy now.
here's Sheila, Mum and me in our front garden. Dad
was taking the picture, so he's not on it. This was
earlier this year, in the spring. You can see
living in Streetly because it’s not far from Sutton
Park. We don’t live right by it. I wish we did. It
would be nice to get to it just by walking across
the road and then going straight into it.
From where we
live you have to walk along the Chester Road and
then turn right, all the way down Manor Road and, at
the bottom of that, the gate into the park is just
on the other side of Thornhill Road. It’s
opposite the Golf Club and all the ladies and
gentlemen who play golf use it to get to the course.
I suppose that's why it's there.
You can either go
into the park there or you can walk further on down
Thornhill Road, past all the nice houses, and go in
by the main Streetly entrance. The Beech family live
there, in the house just at the side of the gate. Mr
Beech’s job is to look after the gate and all this
side of the park and he does things like taking the
money from those people who have to pay. That means
people like us who don’t actually live in Sutton.
Sutton people get in for nothing. Of course, if Mr
Beech isn’t in his little hut you can walk through
without stopping but you have to try to look just
like a Sutton person while you are doing it.
way to get into the Park from our house is to go in
exactly the opposite direction. You turn left out of
our front gate and walk all the way down the Chester
Road, past Queslett Road, and use the little gate
which is opposite the Parson and Clerk pub.
That’s the way
Mum and I went for a walk today and now we’re just
coming out of the park, turning right and starting
to walk back along the Chester Road, past the
beginning of Thornhill Road and towards home.
I have lived on
the Chester Road all my life and that is over eight
years, now. I was born here in 1936, in April. I bet
your arithmetic is good enough. And if it is, you'll be
able to work out that now we are in 1944. You are
with me on a nice, warm, sunny day towards the end
of August. I start my new school next week, in
Sutton. But it's still the summer holidays at the
Today is not too
long after D-Day, two or three months ago. And at
about that same time, my brother drove up, from the
direction of Monte Cassino, right through the
middle of Rome, the day after it was liberated. He
wrote and told us it had been "a moving experience".
I BET it was! I
saw him in my mind's eye with his mates, in all their lorries
with their big guns being towed behind, leaning out,
waving and grinning, as they went through
the streets. While pretty Italian girls offered them
glasses of chianti and threw flowers and blew kisses
at them. And all the vast crowd yelling and
cheering with joy and excitement and waving flags
and handkerchieves. And then....
And then, I imagined
him an hour or two later. The city suburbs have been left behind
long ago. The crowds have disappeared.
There's just the constant roar of the lorry's
engine. The rattle of the 25-pounder as it bounces
around behind them on its big tyres over the
broken-up surface, through open countryside and
ruined villages. The clouds of dust coming up from
the lorry wheels, mixing with the fumes of the
vehicle in front, all around the lorry and inside it
too. The sun beating down on the canvas roof. It is
hot and smelly and gritty and everything is jolting and the
seat is hard and the uniform is itchy. Graham has
his arm raised as he holds on to a roof stay to
steady himself, as do the others. They all know there's a job still to be done, ahead. What
would he give at that moment, I think to myself, for
a lovely, quiet pint of bitter at the Hardwick with
his Home Guard mates - including our dad - and
afterwards perhaps a game of solo or cribbage? Or
even at the Parson & Clerk, although Dad wouldn't
The lorry trundles on,
together with hundreds of others, through the long,
hot afternoon. Northwards. Ever onwards. Towards the
But all that
fighting, in France and Italy and everywhere else,
seems a long, long way away when you are having a
nice quiet walk with your mum in Sutton Park. Here, in
this part, there is
not even any danger from flying golf balls like there is nearer to the Streetly
entrance. There, if you see one which has missed you
now lying on the ground, all by itself, you mustn’t
touch it. If they see you doing that, they’ll yell
at you. I think it spoils their game. I have no idea
why. They are really funny people.
Mum and I walk
out of the Park through the little gate. Are you
going to walk with us, back up the Chester Road, and
see what I can see?
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unless otherwise stated, © The Myers Family 2022
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