Up The Junction


Although I live in France now, I am a Londoner born and bred and, although some of it has changed beyond recognition, I still have fond memories of my childhood and teenage years ‘south of the river’.  Before my mum learnt to drive, we went everywhere by bus and train which was very easy to do in London and my dad worked ‘on the railway’ so we got cheap train tickets.  When I was 13 the family moved to Surrey but I wanted to stay on at my school – it was a girls’ grammar school and I was so proud to have got in – so I decided to commute.  So, for the next 5 years or so, I got up at 6 every morning, walked the half hour it took to get to the station and got a train to Clapham Junction.  Then I had a 10 minute bus ride and then another 15 minute walk.  I must have been mad – or that’s certainly what my girls would say to me if I tried to get them to do the same.

After school, having turned up the waistbands on our skirts and loosened our ties in what we fancied was a rakish fashion, a few of us would be on the same bus back to Clapham Junction where we would lust after crepe soled shoes in Ravel and, best of all, go in the Slipped Disc record shop which was in the alleyway leading up to the station.  Here they had all the reggae imports and we used to go into the listening booths and put the headphones on and have a dance.  Sometimes we would even buy something.  The other day I dug out some of the old records and blushed like mad.  Those Jamaicans making reggae music in their garages would put some of today’s rappers to shame with their lyrics.  It was probably better than the sex education I got at school back then where I remember frogs featuring heavily and a very uncomfortable biology teacher.

The old Routemaster* buses were great.  You could sit on the top deck in the back row with all your mates – a blight on all the other passengers and then you could swing very provocatively (we thought)  and dangerously (the conductor* thought) on the pole on the platform when approaching a bus stop in case there was a good looking boy waiting to get on who might be impressed by your antics.  Aaahh, the memories.   So, when I saw it was possible to get hold of the old bus blinds – the rolls that were in the front of the buses which had all the destinations on – I had to have a Clapham Junction one.

Just what my home in the French countryside was missing!  Mr. Tialys, who comes from the North of England and had nothing to do with Routemasters or Clapham Junction, is a little bewildered but then that is the effect I often have on him.  It won’t stay on those chest of drawers but will be hung somewhere – I know not where yet.  I feel that I should have a ‘loft appartment’ or ‘industrial space’ really for this bit of nostalgia art but I don’t.  However, just to show willing, I’ve also photographed it jauntily at right angles to the floor which is what I believe is done in that sort of style.  I’m nothing if not versatile.

For the confused amongst you –

Routemaster (noun)
a double-decker bus (= a bus with two levels), designed in 1954,
 used in London and popular with tourists.
The driver sits in a separate part at the front of the bus and
there is an open platform at the back where people get on and off,
and money for tickets is collected by a conductor.
(from Oxford Advanced Learners’ Dictionary)

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  1. #1 by Jan Marriott on August 14, 2012 - 18:49

    we can never let go of those memories……

  2. #2 by Houdini on September 18, 2012 - 21:39

    I love these old bus reels. Our school bus driver used to even let me wind them on sometimes – which was the highlight of the day. I’ve bid for some on eBay before but always missed out. There’s a place nearby to us that has some chairs with these bus signs stitched into the leather – they are gorgeous! Yours is lovely – and so perfect for you!!! Hang it over the bed so you see it everyday!!! 😉

  3. #3 by Houdini on September 18, 2012 - 21:40

    …although I don’t know what Mr. Tialys would say to having ‘CLAPHAM JUNCTION’ above your bed! It does have certain connotations!!! 😉 x

  4. #4 by Susan Dilaudo on January 29, 2016 - 12:08

    I also attended Clapham County or `Clapham cow shed `as it was sometimes known.I remember the record shop and bought those reggae records with my best friend,Maxine Rich.l didn’t make the most of my time at school and didn’t go much after year 3-still the memories are good ones.Best wishes to you and your family.Sue Dilaudo

    • #5 by tialys on January 29, 2016 - 15:37

      Ooh, hello! You’ve unearthed one of my old blog posts. Clapham Cow Shed it was indeed affectionately known as especially by the boys at Battersea Grammar and, perhaps less affectionately, by the girls at the nearby comprehensive – can’t remember the name but their uniform was grey. I guess you are using your married name but I don’t recognise your friend’s name either. What years were you there? I am fairly ancient and was there from 1967 right through to the upper sixth in 1973. Lovely to hear from you anyway. Lynn

  5. #6 by jendavismiller on January 29, 2016 - 16:19

    What a great post! I’m so glad Susan unearthed it. Some of my memories are similar, especially the turning up of skirt waistbands – and the hasty turndown just before walking in the door at home. And wiping off of borrowed lipsticks. – Of course our mothers never knew any of this. HAHA! And I do believe I’m a tad more ancient than you….if our courses correspond (US to UK)…my high school years were 1966 to 1969.

  6. #7 by tialys on January 29, 2016 - 19:06

    Sometimes I think some of my best posts were written before I had many readers. Still, I amuse myself sometimes by going back and reading them like a diary.
    Anyway, just a tad older Jen. Secondary school in the U.K. starts in the year you are 11.

  7. #8 by Lyz Brennan on April 2, 2016 - 17:01

    Hello. Just came across this whilst remembering the things we used to get up to during my days at Clapham County. I am sure we were there together but cannot find your maiden name to confirm it. Back then I was Elyzabeth Corona and was called fizzy lizzy or sometimes Cat Stevens because of the awful state of my hair. I really wanted to be with the trendy girls and would hang on to their coat tails hoping some of it would rub off but the truth was, i was just the goffer and court jester. Ahhhh memories…

    • #9 by tialys on April 3, 2016 - 12:19

      Hi Lyz – I hope those nicknames were affectionate ones, they sound as if they were. I don’t recognise your name but, to be honest, I would probably only do so if you were in my actual class, or year at least. My maiden name was Allen-Ross but I sort of hope you don’t remember me as I was a very silly schoolgirl indeed – although I did behave a little more seriously once I was in the lower sixth as all my friends left after ‘O’ levels and I was left with the more studious ones who weren’t as likely to put up with my nonsense. The few people I have encountered who went to Clapham County seem to have good memories of it – even those sent to Miss Viner for a telling off (as I was on one or two occasions) – and I’ll always remember it as a good period of my life. Thanks so much for your comment – it was lovely to hear from you.

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