I remember arriving as a 4 year old, obsessed with Power Rangers, and after riding front seat of a moving van with my Dad, I ran off the van to centre myself in the middle of the pathway, of Osborne Road. I put my arms out asif I was showing muscles and pretended to be red ranger. I looked down the street, to see Natalie on her bike as a child, with a couple of other kids playing on the curb and by their front gardens. I was outside 26 Osborne Road, my home for the next 20 years.
I wasn’t to realise or to imagine that I was about to become part of a unique street which had a group of kids similar ages to me, parents similar ages to themselves, which weren’t just neighbours, weren’t just friends, but were family. I think it is true, family doesn’t have to be blood, it’s the people who accept you, for you. Stick by you through the ups and downs, your development as a human. And of course, not everyone is going to be same people. As you are kids, when you are younger, you normally share most things in common. The energy to want to ‘play out’ as late as possible, to get the next big toy, have the most pogs, football stickers or to be number one cool kid. So growing up, this street was easy. We were part of a group where on our doorstep we could go out and play with people we trusted and liked. Our parents inevitable got on, and were undoubtedly brought together from us, the kids, times together. Funnily enough, I had made friends with Pier, at my pre school nursery, prior to moving in. Only to realise with astonishment that Pier, lived down this street. We were close for a long time, which brought our parents, especially my mother and Piers mother Judith closer. Natalie was Piers sister by the way, to whom I referenced to as I opened my eyes to this new family.
Between the boys, football was our main agenda. I think Carl was always the better one, more skilful and confident. I would always place myself second behind but Martin and Jamie were always decent. Our afternoons would consist of playing pass and shoot or six and dog against Jamies wall and fence. That was pretty much our goal. Myself, Pier, Carl, Martin, Philip, Jamie – we were the main players. Phillip is Martins brother. Craig, Carls brother and Natalie, Piers Sister, formed a unique relationship. Non of the rest of us ever thought it was about one another fancying each other, nor it ever turned out that way, but their more open, creative minds kind of put them as the more adult ones of the group. There insistence on getting the rest of us involved in Halloween shows or other theatrical performances for our parents would always pay off. From dressing up as skeletons or other hocus pocus characters, to once I found myself looking to my right, to see Philip, generally the more shy and baby faced of the group, wearing a pink outfit and pretending to be Baby Spice. Or even a time when they both were in on a secret to post through letters through our mailboxes, playing dumb to us, thinking we were all getting tricked. Only to find out, at the end of the day, literally, that it was them all along. You know, them letters that you hear about pranksters or criminals posting for demands, no hand writing just cut outs of letters to make words. It was funny, because time seemed to go so slowly then, but a big event to us like that, would only last normally for one day. It was very unique. Almost an older version of the Rugrats and their adventures. We all went to Oxbridge Primary school, the bottom end of our street, metres away. It kept us in a bubble really, we lived down the street and went to the same school. Despite our school year differences and our school year friends, we always managed to find time down the street together.
As I mentioned, us the kids getting close lead to our creator becoming closer. Adult and Kid parties, if you like, would be thrown inviting everyone. Normally for Halloween as mentioned, New Years Eve definitely, maybe the odd birthday party, summer times or basically when the parents fancied getting blotted on wine and beer. Through the years our interests at these parties would vary. It would be pogs, football stickers, The Box television songs, Computer games, hide and seek, dress up etc. It would also be a chance for everyone to catch up on one anothers lives. Who did what. Whether Marty or myself were in trouble, who kicked the ball over Sandy’s fence or Carls latest judo fight. There were laughter and tears of course. Jack, my younger brother, was the younger one really. 4 years to the next person close to him and that was Pier, Jack kind ofwas the one everyone was curious about. How Carl or Pier would say to me how much they would love a younger Brother. I always felt protective of Jack and obviously still do, despite the perhaps gulf between us at times. Brothers fight and thats what happens. I guess sometimes I was a little too hard on him. Just for my own naivety and wanting to be in control really. Silly, but that’s called having siblings.
Some great times were when the sun was out, it seemed like one parent would volunteer to go to the Parkwood Pub, and invite all of us kids too. The Parkwood was always a special place for me. The trip through Ropner park under supervision that you could feel comfortable with,, along with the friends from the street, it was just another party for us. The weather would always be good if we were to go to the Parkwood, we would have a football at the ready with some pocket money for Coca Cola and Crisps. The Parkwood had a decent space for a game of football or to play on the slide. It offered something different than the concrete pavement and curbs we so often scurried across. Not to mention, at our mercy, the main gates of the beautiful Ropner Park was only metres away from our houses, at the top end of our street. How we didn’t visit that place enough when we were young. I guess that goes to show you though, in my eyes anyway, it’s not where you go, its who you are with or what you are doing, how much life you are living. We were perfectly happy with walls and fences. Then came the cars. How many cars I can remember all of us sitting on, bouncing the ball off, denting the side door? I think Big Pier, Pier and Natalies Dad’s, old Yellow car was the one that sticks out. Man, that side door had a dent in it. I remember how we would all curse Jamie and his families cars, being all nice and shiny. Even though Jamie was part of the Osborne Road crew, his location separated him from us in away. Honest but true. His house, which had a side back garden huge compared to ours, was always the nicest out of the street, and how we would regard him as posh. Poor Jamie, kids and their words, sticks and stones. However, kids are kids. Jamie was still our mate.
There were many times of controversy throughout all our time down the street. From Martins foot getting ran over by Jamies Dad, twice, by my accidental pushing, to the rumours of Martins smoking habit reaching the surface of one party. Myself included, I’ve been in squabbles to say the least, with my own Dad and other families down the street too. I guess sometimes we can take things for granted.
I remember when 3d Consoles came out. I was lucky enough to be a little spoilt and get the Playstation1. Fifa 97, Crash Bandicoot and Tomb Raider. Everyone was stoked. Before that was Mortal Kombat on the Super Nintendo around Carls house. Resident Evil and Super Mario, always took up many hours of our childhood.
The neighbours of us, the core of the street, well they are remembered. I think the main one was Sandy. An old man, who always had a temper, hated our ball playing against his wall. He hate the loudest and to be honest scariest of dogs. However we just taunted him. He didn’t stand a chance. He would always be a talking point at parties at times, shame really, he just wanted a bit of piece lol. Mrs Tinklier was an old lady who became softer with age as you would imagine. Our house was sandwhiched between Ray and Joan, who had a daughter called Claire, a hot older woman whom me Carl and Martin particularly were fond of. And Launa, at the top of the street, man I use to love her. Natalie was always well thought of, however her involvement as being part of the core group, everyone seen her as a friend. I think puberty, hit Carl, Martin and me first. In terms of finding attractions, we were eager to test our limits. At the time, the Spice Girls were about, we were eager to see Page 3 of the Sun but still in the mindset of taking the piss out of each other if we liked someone.
Even as the years went on, tobacco and alcohol and well ‘other things that came about’, Martin, Craig and myself were always kind of there. The others weren’t really that interested in the adults side of life. I mean, of course, they tried, but I think it was alot more interesting for us three mentioned. Not to mention the Festivals that we went too. This was more a divide between my parents and the Hardwicks, with Carl, Craig and Martin coming on a couple of occasions. At least until we felt old enough to get out there and do them ourselves. I remember my first festival, I was 7 at one called the Phoenix. The Walkers and Hardwicks. I remember it being the second time I realised I liked women.. I seen a naked woman shower that gave me alot of interest. Then, I discovered 3 topless girls close to us sunbathing. I could move by discreetly because of my age with them not thinking I was a perve. I was 7 remember. Yet I was still embrassed. I still got a look though haha ;).
As the years went on, as people got older.ages became more obvious. Even though, there was only 3-4 years between us all, people went there own way. Jamies Sister Tina, tend to distance herself from any activity or appearances, but honestly she didn’t much anyway as she was a little bit older. Natalie, being the only girl and the oldest, invetibaly distanced herself with the ongoing years of education, through school, college and university. Craig went off and done his own thing too, kind of disappeared from the Road. Longstays were myself, the Obriens and Carl. And that I mean seeing each other or still socialising on a regular basis.
The adults moved on too. My parents split up in my mid-late teens, along with Sue and Sean, Martin and Philips parents not far behind. Craig, Natalie and Pier moved out early to Manchester, London and Leeds respectively for university ventures. Myself I was very much a street kid, not knowing what the hell I wanted to do. Some of us would hang out still. Me and Marty got even more close after about 15. We were always close in a sense anyway, as we shared the same ideas for mischieve and we would generally be up for doing anything for a whie. He was the bigger guy and me not so, so it was almost like I was his side kick. Me and Carl always were close due to our similarities. We were of similar statures, we liked Football, Girls and Computer Games. We kind of grew up during the years together really. Developing at similar times. He came to the Carling Cup Final with me in 2004, to watch Boro win the Cup.
I was on a 36 hour journey from central Venezuela to the borders of Colombia. My IPod came on, to which I have only a few songs given to from a travel buddy as my original ones got wiped. The song that came on first was REM, Sidewinder Sleeps Tonite. It reminded me of the parties we all use to have at each other’s houses. It was unique, we the kids were young enough to enjoy that, it was something different, to be in the comfort of our parents, but also chance to show everyone what we did and what we liked. The parents had the opportunity to socialise, get drunk and keep an eye on their kids. It so worked. Of course, it will never be the same again. But how cool would it be, if that could be recreated every once in a while? I mean it would only be one night.
The street has moved on, but of course we are all in each others hearts. The only one missing is my Dad due to his passing away over 3 years ago. I bet he would have loved a good old Osborne Road piss up reunion. How cool would that be, as of 2014 for that to happen? He being there would top it off.
My family have moved out. My mother remarried, my brother in Leeds at University, me writing this right now on a bus in Colombia.
Pier is in Leeds still working I believe, with Natalie got married last year in London. Judith and Pier are still at number 16.
Philip is with his long term girlfriend, working away, still I believe at number 18. His Dad, Sean is still there. However Sean and Sue have split up with Sue living elsewhere. Martin has got a girlfriend and I’m so pleased for him that they are moving in. He looks to be starting something serious.
Carl is based nearer London in the Army which is incredible and part of me is jealous but proud to have a best mate represent our country. Craig, I believe is back in Manchester. Vea and Phil are still at number 16.
Jamie has children with his partner. So has Tina. Whom the latter lives further south of the UK.
The last time all of us were together was at my Dads funeral back in April 2011. And then again at my mother’s second wedding a few months later. Even then, some of us had our pictures, and you look at and think, wow, we are all in different places in our lives. Its crazy to think that. Yet for so long we kept a bond, a togetherness about us. That will never die, it will always be remembered, for us the kids and for the parents. It was a unique and blessed part of the world to grow up in. Maybe years ago, in less of a modern society, we would still be living in the same houses, probably in similar jobs, doing similar things. But the world of today is getting far bigger, and each one of us is discovering that. The world is a far older one than the one of Osborne Road, but the world will never replace what we had in Osborne Road.