Although I was born in Stepney under the ‘sound of Bow Bells’, making me a true Cockney, I lived my childhood years at 31, Thurlow Park Road in West Norwood. Located South of the River Thames, Thurlow Park Road formed part of the South Circular, one of the main routes around the South side of London, so it was always busy, night and day. Unlike the North Circular, the South Circular is not a purpose-built route, but a collection of pre-existing suburban roads joined together and maneuvering their way rather disjointedly, through densely populated areas of South London from Woolwich in the East to the A406 junction with the North Circular on the West side of the City.
Playing on the pavements alongside the road, was never a big deal for us London kids. That was our patch and we played out all kinds of dramas on those streets quite oblivious to the noisy traffic passing by. The two Parks closest to us were Dulwich Park, in the ‘expensive’ part of town a little further South, and Brockwell Park in Tulse Hill, going North towards the City. I only ever remember visiting these Parks on special occasions, even though they were only a mile away in each direction. Going to the park was like walking into another world of beautiful open spaces, children’s play areas, lots of green grass, enormous trees and an artificial lake where the highlight of our special outing would be to feed the ducks. And of course, the oblong of ice cream jammed between two wafers!
I’ve always had a very active imagination. Anyone who can write stories about Cosywags, Slickwingers, Clawhammers, Stringfods, the Jellybot and the Evil Megagrit, definitely has issues! More about the strange land of Crystalan in a later Blog! I used to lay in bed imagining all sorts of things and sometimes had to sleep with the light on because I saw monsters in the shadows. So when my school friend who lived in the other side of the road, was given a Hornby 00 gauge electric train set for his birthday, I lay awake thinking about it and wishing that I could have one!
As far as I know (!) I’ve never had a problem with sleepwalking, although some might suggest I look half asleep a lot of the time! But on this night I did something quite spectacular! I walked in my sleep straight across the busy South Circular Road at around 9.00 o’clock at night, obviously heading for the electric train set on the other side. I’m not sure who saw me first. It might have been the sound of the front door banging shut, or the loud sounding horns, or brakes from the articulated lorries screeching on the road surface – but my parents, hearing the racket, looked out of the front room window, only to see a small boy in a pair of stripey blue and white pyjamas walking in a straight line across the road.
They didn’t get to me until I reached the other side, causing some chaos on the way as you can imagine!
I woke up with a start and a huge helping of shock and horror, when I realised what I’d done.
When I look back over my life and remember the scrapes I’ve been in, the near misses, visiting dangerous places, living life at 180 miles per hour, it’s a miracle I’m still here!
God must be extremely patient with me and very vigilant! I know things happen in life that we can’t explain. Some things don’t make any sense at all. But for me, I know that the God in whom I put my trust had a plan for me from the very beginning and nothing will thwart the plans that God has for you.
I’m not the only one on the planet that God keeps an eye on! He has a master plan for everyone.
You just have to search for the blueprint.