Franks Great Wall of Burley

Our dads answer to our mothers command to get rid of the mountain of sand in the back yard before I perished underneath it was to set upon an even greater task than the garage, inspired by the ancient Great Wall of China, that monument to human ingenuity and labour that was erected to keep out the Mongol hordes in 700Bc (or so) and which is the only man-made structure to be visible from space, our dad decided to build a five foot high rendered breeze block wall all the way around his property, partly to use up the sand, partly to keep us kids in the garden, and partly to get him out of the house and out of ear-bending range every evening.

As already mentioned, the house was on a triangular piece of land with the house and new garage on the base of the triangle, the garden stretching to a thin point approximately 30 yards away, its simple maths to calculate that the wall would be at least 70 yards long, with two gateways and reinforcing pillars every five yards or so, it kept him busy for the rest of the year and was duly christened Franks Great Wall of Burley when completed, in fact a few years later we had confirmation from one of the early Apollo missions that not only could they see the Great Wall of China from their capsule out in space, but Franks Great Wall of Burley was also clearly visible. Forty years later it still stands albeit at an occasional jaunty angle where he obviously mixed the foundation cement a little thinner than usual, or more likely, where the cat shit interfered with the foundation setting time.

Beechwood Crescent was the main arterial road from our part of Burley up the hill to Headingley and our house was built on a wide sweep of a bend as the Crescent wound around our house and started its ascent past the Lumley allotments towards the Headingley rugby ground, our address was given as Beechwood Crescent for the only reason that the front door of the house was there, but as a child I can never remember using the front door, only the back door which faced onto a small yard and the narrow cobbled street that was Beechwood Place.

Beechwood Place was where we grew up, the Crescent was too busy to play on and anyway it had been tarmaced and was no fun, the side streets that led off the Crescent were packed full of small terraced houses and were still cobbled, providing whole afternoons of fun to us kids in the summer when the sun would melt the tar in between the stone cobbles, sending it bubbling up where we would twist it around sticks and use it to flick at each other or make intricate models of god-knows-what before flicking them at each other, many is the time that I have returned to our back door and into the kitchen to be belted by my mother for having tar all over my hands, face and worse of all clothes, especially the hand knitted woollen jumpers that our mother would constantly knit for us – can you imagine trying to prise tar balls out of a woollen jumper after your kids had been sent to bed early ?

Such is a mothers love.


2 thoughts on “Franks Great Wall of Burley

  1. Funny how we remember our childhood homes – I was thinking of mine yesterday and how I used to ride my bike up and down the avenue, no regard for the cars. Be different today.

  2. If my kids were younger I wouldn’t dare let them play on the street we live on now, and the sad thing is that there is a Junior school at the top of the street and its parents delivering their kids to that school that are the worst menace – sadder still is the fact that very few children actually walk to that school now.

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