A WALK UP
THE CHESTER ROAD
The Queslett Road Crossroads
by Chris Myers
The Queslett Road
Crossroads and The
So, we'll leave the pub to its peace and
quiet and start walking. Along the pavement on this
side of the road, over the opening of Thornhill Road, where
that goes off to the right and down
the side of the Park, and on up to the
Queslett Road crossroads.
crossroads the road to the right is a short one and
it just leads back to the Thornhill Road again. It's
the Queslett Road on the other side, opposite it, to
I don't think I've
ever been up the Queslett Road and I don't really
know where it leads to. Somewhere up there, I think,
is a place called Pheasey. It's where the Americans
have been for the last year or two. You don't see
many of them walking about. Or any, really. There
were two that I was very glad I didn't meet, though.
I heard Mum telling a friend all about it on the
telephone. The American Military Police caught up
with two men who were escaped prisoners. The MPs
were being very rough with these men, punching them
and kicking them and beating them up. This all
happened in a lady's back garden, somewhere near
here. The lady was very upset at what was happening
and told them to stop it. The one policeman replied
and said "You wouldn't be saying that, ma'am, if
they had got their hands on you first". Mum was
talking about this in very hushed tones. I don't
think I was supposed to hear.
But I have met one of these Americans who
live at Pheasey. And he's the only Yank I have ever
met in my life, so far. He is a nice young man who
speaks in a soft voice and his name is Bob. Bob is a
US Ranger and he has been in Normandy. He has been
injured there which is why he is back here, although
he seems to have recovered well and I can't really
see anything wrong with him. I think Dad knows,
though, because he has written to Bob's parents in
America to tell them how Bob is. Bob isn't allowed
to do that himself. We haven't had a reply yet. That
will take a long, long time.
Bob is my sister's
friend. I think she met him at the Birmingham ice
rink or at a dance. I could tell you a little bit
more about Bob but I'll just say that he is not at
all like I expected an American to be. He doesn't
wisecrack, he doesn't chew a cigar and of course he
doesn't wear a cowboy's hat. Just a smart, smooth
uniform which makes him look like a general even
though he's just a private. Not like Dad's scratchy
Home Guard uniform at all. And he has brought us a
couple of tins of peaches which Mum and Dad went mad
over. He calls them cans but they are really tins.
And I've had some gum. "Got any gum, chum?" my pals
reckon they say to any American they see. I think I
might be too embarrassed to do that. And I didn't
have to with Bob.
As I say, we don't see the Americans walking
around here much, although their camp isn't all that
far away. Bob has to walk to come to our house, I
expect, although Dad possibly uses some of his
precious petrol to run him back at night. I don't
expect he has a bike, as we all do. But we do
see a lot of their vehicles on the Chester Road.
Jeeps of course, and big lorries. I think
they call them trucks. There's one sort which I
specially notice. I looked at one which was parked,
one day. It had its name on the bonnet. Not in shiny
letters but sprayed over with dull khaki paint. I
was close enough to read it. P-O-D-G-E. So whenever
I saw one of those roaring past on the Chester Road,
I knew it was a Podge. For a long time I thought
this was a very funny name to give a big vehicle.
And especially one which is part of an Army. But one
day, I put two and two together. Of course, one of
the American cars I love so much is a D-O-D-G-E. And
I see lorries as well which seem to have the
name of Podge. Of course, they HAVE to be the same
thing. Why didn't I think about that sooner?
Sometimes, as you get older, things sort of come
together and it's nice when that happens. And you
feel a bit daft for not having worked it out
Still the Queslett Road
We'll stop at the crossroads for
a couple of moments more. This crossroads is very
dangerous. There are a lot of crashes. Last year I
was walking past it on the way to the Park with Mrs
Bacon, our neighbour, and her three-year-old
daughter in her pushchair.
dreadful had just happened. I was told not to look.
I don't want to talk about it. It was horrid.
And I think it was here that Dad had a smash
when a drunken driver drove into him. Either at the
crossroads or just in Queslett Road. Dad was coming
back with my brother and sister after a visit to the
flicks. Either the Odeon at Kingstanding or the one
at Great Barr. I was far too young to go. I was
probably only a toddler. This was in our Ford V8.
Here it is, the following day, at Cutler's garage.
It was repaired there and was as good as new
you, you should have seen the other bloke! This was
his car. Fortunately, nobody was badly hurt
although, if you look at Dad's windscreen in the
first picture, I think my brother who was in the
front passenger seat must have had a bit of a
headache for a day or two. I don't think I've ever
heard any of them talking about it. And of course my
brother is now far, far away anyway. But the photos
are still there with all the others in a drawer in
the bureau and I look at them from time to time and
I think of my brother banging his head on that
can remember the V8 quite well and it was a lovely
car. It must have been such a thrill when Dad first
got it. So modern and American, after the boxy car
he had before, a Morris Major. The V8 took us on
very long journeys.
Here it is in South Devon in 1938, behind
me, Mr. Cummings and the 1 h.p. horse. (I liked cars
far more than horses. And still do). Dad had to get
rid of it in 1940 for a Ford Prefect which doesn't
need so much petrol.
But back to the Chester Road. On the
opposite side of the road to us, there are some
petrol pumps and a little cafe. But we’ll stick to
this side of the road because there’s no pavement on
the other side, just a wide grass verge and the
hedge with fields beyond. Filled with corn at the
moment because it's August.
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