Hold Your Nose

Funny how the smallest detail can act as an aide memoire to all things past. I took one of my boys on a tour of the sights of my own childhood- houses, workplaces, places I loved, places where I got to up to no good. I was born in the back bedroom of an 1899 house in Wigston Fields, just to the south of the city of Leicester. You'll find a picture of it on page 13 of The English Buildings Book - at long last in paperback. The back part of the house was once a remote Georgian cottage, but in late Victorian times large houses gathered around it in the fields and the old cottage was doubled in size. The original trackway became sealed-off as a cul-de-sac, and at the top there was a forbidding brick wall- I imagined heaven was on the other side- together with this lovely piece of cast ironwork forming the base of a tall tube that towered into the sky. We didn't think it special then, quite the reverse. For this, we were told, was a Stink Pole. Not understanding this meant a sewer ventilator I just assumed it was where 'Number Twos' were stored. Probably just mine. The lane is almost exactly as it was when I first propped my bike up against it- just more cars parked against the hedges. This was fascinating to my son, who stared at it and then at me and of course tried to climb up it. Something I never attempted, sadly. But I'm very pleased to see it still in service, 'doing the business' as it were.

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