Wherever I lay my hat


In a previous post, I remarked on how circumstances of birth have caused me to live in very many places. It’s a constant source of wonder to the ball-and-chain, who lived in the same house from about age 1 to about age 14 and just four places since then – the house we share now has been his home since before I went to primary school. By the time he bought it, I’d lived in about 3 houses.

I wondered what Google Streetview could do to show me my previous residences. Because some of them were on RAF stations (we always tried to live off-base if we could) the Streetview van doesn’t get to some. Others aren’t visible from the main road it went down. A couple have since been demolished. At least one I now can’t remember clearly enough to tell if I’ve got the right one.

Nevertheless, here they are in so far as Google can see them.


We start (with me at c3 years old) in the late 1970s in the Lincolnshire village of Waddington. The village of Waddington was subject of a famous experiment by Granada into what would happen when multi-channel television came along. But not this village of Waddington. This one, nothing happened. We lived in two houses here: on base, then off base when my sister was born. The house was ex-civilian stock (the forces used to offer to buy civilian houses from people who complained that they couldn’t sell due to aircraft noise; mostly they were lying, but here there were Vulcans – beautiful but fucking deafening) and it had a gas cooker. RAF quarters didn’t come with gas, so this was a rare treat.


Honington was a horrible place: so bad the house itself is hiding and is actually next to the backs you can see here. Not even my school having been used as the exterior for Walmington-on-Sea’s Church Hall in the BBCtv series Dad’s Army could make Honington a nice place to live. The local Post Office used to scratch out the Best Before dates on all its supplies, “just in case”. I’ve only ever punched someone once in my life and it was whilst living here. I broke his front teeth and my mum supported me against his mum – it was so out of character for me. Also, the boy was a shit and everyone knew it.


Tattershall. We were posted to RAF Coningsby but managed to both live off base in the next-door village of Tattershall and also in quarters on the “Castlefields” estate. We loved it here, which is probably why we only stayed for a tad under 2 years. Castlefields was so called because looming up over us was a great big fuck-off Norman castle. Everyone should grow up with a great big fuck-off Norman castle half a minute’s walk away.


Slight discontinuity: can’t show you RAF Cottesmore, our next stop, although Google can show you a bunch of JTs with wooden rifles and acne trying to look stern at the gates to the camp. So instead, here’s a house we lived in at Leeming. We lived at Leeming when I was born – my parents met there by accident the day after my dad got his decree absolute and my mum started in a new Mess, leading to both being early to work by some 3 hours (him because he set his alarm wrong whilst drunk, her because they played a joke on the newbie and told her it opened at 5 rather than 8). Then we lived elsewhere (see map), then we were given the option of going to Scotland or coming back to Leeming. We all said we wanted to live in Scotland, so my dad put in for and got a posting to Leeming.

There was a waiting list for quarters. We waited for about a million years in Cottesmore, packed and ready to go and at each others’ throats for the entire time. The original idea was we’d live at RAF Church Fenton, then RAF Dishforth, then RAF Leeming, moving quarter as the waiting list declined. And schools too. So we waited in Cottesmore. Then we lived in this two bedroomed house for six months and I slept in the living room and then in what I think was the airing cupboard. My pet gerbil died here.


Then we moved to the house over the road. This, they said, was a four-bedroom house. My two bedrooms were each the size of the box my recent plasma TV came in. Plus one of them was 7 inches shorter floor-to-ceiling than the other – quality housebuilding.


I think this is where I lived when I left home. I was mostly drunk, stoned and cold whilst there so I’m not sure. I remember getting burgled here. The insurance company wouldn’t acknowledge that I was insured – they wouldn’t even respond to my letters let alone send a claim form – but with luck everyone who worked there drowned in a freak boiling water accident.


When I left home, my parents took the opportunity to retire and move house whilst I was away. They moved here, then later (after I’d got the address from a mutual friend*) I mov
ed here too so I could be unhappy in company. I was that kind of teenager. (*possibly not true)


Later – much later – I left home again and moved here. It has changed since then – specifically I’m not sure how I’d get into the flat any more. The flat was huge and I really liked it, although it suffered from (a) heating up like a baker’s oven in the summer, (b) the alarm on Costcutters ringing at stupid times, sometimes all night, and (c) my sister moving her boyfriend in with me and her boyfriend quickly moving me out. I was stood on the pavement at one in the morning, my sister having locked the door behind me, hoping my then-boyfriend would let me move in. He did.


This is where I moved to. I chose the paint that’s on the garage and front doors. That’s Graham’s car that I chose with him. In the window, the light is his fish tank.

He’s dead now. Someday I’ll write about that whole business. Not today.


I moved back in with my mum. You’ve seen the house earlier. So this is her, caught on Google Streetview the day they took the picture of her house.


There she is again! Blissfully unaware of the big Google van with its big Google camera on a big Google pole sticking out of the big Google roof. Her neighbours spotted her on Streetview first. She still doesn’t remember the van.


And this is where I live now with the ball-and-chain. You can see the back of my Mac in my office window. I’ve checked the rest of that day’s Googling of the town and, from the posters in the windows of the shops, can tell you with some amusement that I had moved into this house less than 4 days before Google took the picture. Quite possibly the same day or the day before. That bush still needs pruning.

One comment

  1. Ha! I was going to do just such a post on my own blog based on Google Street View of places where I have lived. Now you have beaten me to it and I will look like a copycat.

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