I was born in and grew up in Torquay, South Devon. We moved so often that my youngest brother, Darryn, had nightmares that we’d moved while he was at school and left him behind. Torquay is built on seven hills, and we’ve lived on virtually every one!

    In 1975, February as far as I can remember, my parents had the bright idea of buying a former baker’s shop. They paid just one thousand pounds for it, and my Dad had the cheek to ask the owner to lend him the money. To Dad’s amazement, the owner agreed, only because no-one else would buy the property. No wonder! It was derelict. Dad managed to get a further eight thousand pounds from the council in the form of a grant to re-build and renovate the property because it was being changed from a commercial property to residential.

    When I saw the shop for the first time, I thought that my parents had taken complete  leave of their senses… As daft ideas go, this had to be the daftest of the lot. I was fourteen, and anything involving dust and dirt got a resounding “hell no!” in response, so I was not impressed at the thought of work. My brothers, Dale, aged eight, and Darryn, aged six at the time, were their element when they discovered the cellar. They dared each other to go down. I avoided it like the plague. My imagination ran riot as to what horrors lurked down there. The boys found a massive old baker’s oven in the cellar, and Dale scarred the witts out of Darryn when they found bones inside it. Dale convinced Darryn that it was a dead body, but it was just a pidgeon.

    It took just two weeks to demolish the interior of the shop. To my surprise, I quite enjoyed tearing walls down, being careful to avoid anything that crawled of course. The walls were flimsy and came down easily. Our Dale litterally ran through one, straight through to the other side, landing unceremoniously on his backside. Not to be outdone, Darryn decided to go one better and jumped from the top of the step-ladder onto a loose floorboard. He went through the floor, and all Mum could see from the room below were two little legs dangling from the ceiling, frantically trying to get free. That was the end of the dares for the day. They both got threatened within an inch of their lives if they got up to any more mischeif.

    The most sereal and memorable moment for me, was when we were all stood in the basement of the empty shell. We looked up through where the roof once was, and watched Seagulls flying overhead. Unbelievable!

Advertisements