Autumn is upon us and another year is entering its closing months. Months that have, to me, always signified more than just a change of season. In my mind November was always dark, dismal and dreary. Furthermore, with the dark evenings came a greater darkness that enveloped everything like a fog. Appropriate, given the smog that even brought traffic to a halt in the early 1950’s.

Conversely, Xmas seemed a time to look forward to and the spring, with its promise of new growth, seemed to herald the prospect of better times. In addition, it has to be said, life was, indeed, much simpler all those years ago. Harsher for many, although that quality was lessened by some sense of its shared nature within that small world of my childhood.

Interestingly, nearly 40 years later, when I went back to where I used to live, the distances that I remember seemed much smaller. The houses were gone, to be replaced by a 1960’s estate, but the railway arches, where my grandfather had a coopering business, were still there as was Southwark Park, where I played. As, also, was part of Nelldale Road where my grandfather lived when he was first married and even George Row, where my great grandfather lived when he emigrated from Limerick in the 1860’s. Those, and successive visits, along with research into my family history provided a sense of continuity that hadn’t previously existed.

Those “November” feelings persisted for many years until I managed to unravel the ball of knotted string that was my early life. I’ve succeeded such that I now have a happier, more contented one with some sense of achievement. I may still be somewhat driven, although I can cope with that. Crucially, November for me is now just another month.

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