“ And in keeping yourself with labour you are in truth loving life, And to love life through labour is to be intimate with life’s inmost secret “
~ Kahlil Gibran, The Prophet ~
At last, I have decided to take the preceding words to heart and develop this website, if for no other reason, because of the great help and encouragement of my friend, Colm Gibbons and the many people who have taken the trouble to visit the site, for which I am most grateful.
Earlier, Colm presented a personal interview of some years back entitled ‘Growing Up In Dublin’. It gave a brief sketch of some aspects of my young adolescence in Dublin. About fifteen months ago I was informed that my old Alma Mater, St. Joseph’s Catholic High School in Slough, was celebrating it’s Golden Jubilee and I was invited to submit an essay about the impact on young emigrant Irish children moving to England in the late fifties. This was displayed on the night of the Jubilee celebrations at St. Joe’s, along with other people’s experiences, photos etc. It had been more than twenty years since I was last in Slough for my father’s funeral and I was sadly amazed to see that a once thriving town with the largest industrial estate in the world, when it was first built, become a ghost town.
When I was a boy, Saturdays in Slough was the highlight of our week. My pal, Stephen Fahy and I would meet up in the High Street to go ‘shopping’, (If you know what I mean), usually for the latest ‘pop’records of the time. Helen Shapiro, Chubby Checker, Adam Faith and many other stars of the day found their way, mysteriously, under our jerseys by closing time. Roy Orbison was my favorite, so much so that I often ‘bought’ the same record twice or three times in a month, just in case ‘Crying’ got worn out on the Dansette record player.
Alas, the hustle and bustle of those boom years are gone and Slough was practically deserted on the Saturday I was last there. There are few shops that are not owned by Sikhs left in the High Street, hence the lack of pubs.
I met an elderly Irishman in Wetherspoons Pub who remarked to me that, “What Maggie Thatcher failed to do to Slough in ten years, New Labour succeeded to do in five“. When I arrived in Slough in 1959 there were seven pubs in the High Street, where we lived, which pleased my Dad. Now there are only two. Dad got out in time.
Again, this is only a brief sketch, but as I believe that everything is relative in shaping us, especially our youth, I now invite you to read what I wrote in the short essay for St. Joseph’s Golden Jubilee: