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Memoirs ~ The Orange Moon, Wolf Man and Flight of Fancy

The Orange Moon sounds like the stuff of fairy tales and magic. The Orange Moon was in fact an orange sandy slope that had its beginnings beyond the bottom edge of our garden at number 5 Hillcrest Road, and that stretched way down towards the newly built Hillcrest Estate, where the new tower blocks had been erected; towering brick built boxes.  The Orange Moon linked the past of a bygone Victorian era with modern 1960s architecture.  I wonder how many children sat on the Orange Moon dreaming of bright futures both before and after me. I am not sure who thought up the name but it was what it became known as and provided a wonderful platform for play, and make-believe. We would meet some of the kids who lived on the estate there, and play and mess about. It was a wonderful slippery slide, and quite steep and was the stage for many stories. The Orange Moon didn’t belong to anyone; it was just there and bought kids together who might not otherwise have played together. It was a childhood haven where there were no visible divisions at least not in my eyes. Issues like class, religion and colour had no place in our childhood; childhood was a time for play and a time for being children; a time for fairy tales and fantasy with the odd argument thrown in for good measure. The Orange Moon was a meeting place and playground all in one. Back then all those issues that now provide meat for myth to ambitious Politicians did not exist or if they did, we as children did not tend to think about such things. 

Hillcrest Road only had a few houses still standing. Those still there and occupied were numbers one through to nine. If there was any house beyond number nine I am none too sure. One through to nine, are the ones I remember. Next to number nine was the wood and in the woods lived the Wolf Man, so –called because of his pet wolf. He was a big man with a dark countenance. He had thick black eyebrows and dark menacing eyes and long messy wiry hair, the original Gruffalo. He had giant shovel like hands that looked as though they could have easily strangled someone to death, in the instance of a breath if he so chose. He looked dirty like he had been crawling through the dirt or had somehow got covered in soot. He must have been dirty as he lived in the woods and probably had nowhere to wash. He looked almost not human like a wild man who was part animal. He never spoke but roared if he caught us near. He didn’t like children and use to chase us away. As if that wasn’t bad enough, he had a pet wolf or wolf companion. Either way it was a ferocious beast with large yellow glinting eyes, and sharp teeth that wouldn’t think twice about ripping you apart limb from limb. It was wise to take heed and not venture too far into the woods. It was common knowledge what had happened to Little Red Riding Hood. It was also known that curiosity killed the cat but as I was neither Little Red Riding Hood nor a cat I felt that gave me some sort of advantage over the situation and decided to investigate. I was always a curious child and liked to find things out for myself. 

One day I was playing outside with Tina who lived with her family in number nine. Tina was a playmate before she too had to go to school. Tina was a pretty girl but had scarring on her stomach where a boiling hot cup of tea had fallen on her and scalded her. I had never seen the scarring but had heard what had happened to her as a lesson never to reach for boiling hot drinks on the side where I could n’t  reach. Now Tina was also quite a curious child and together hand in hand we ventured towards the wood to see what we could see, although what we thought we’d see and how we thought we’d act we hadn’t as yet given any thought to. As we got closer we could smell a fire burning. The fence was a mixture of grey corrugated iron and wooden post railings that had seen better days and beyond that lay the woods. You hear tell that you can’t always see the wood for the trees, but for a wood there really didn’t seem to be that many trees. It was more waste land than woods. So this was where we were supposed not to go. What was all the fuss about? Then, “ROARRRR” it was the Wolf Man and his wolf coming after us chasing us. We turned on our heels and ran as fast as we could screaming all the way back to Tina’s house where we bolted through the door, quickly slamming it shut behind us. We hadn’t looked to see if the wolf man was coming, we didn’t dare in case he caught us up. How long we lay against the door I don’t know but it seemed like ages. I can still recall vividly how breathless we were, how afraid and excited by the fact that we had escaped. We did n’t go looking for the Wolf Man again. 

Following the excitement with the Wolf Man of the wood was another wonderful experience. There was a dog kennel at the side of the house, although Prince, our dog who I was scared of was now living with a nice old lady down the road, although my mum and dad said she had lured the dog away by giving him treats. I distinctly remember flying, that’s right flying from the roof of the kennel to the back door in broad daylight. I can remember the sensation of flight. Although I had only flown a few feet in the air, it gave me quite a thrill and sense of awe and wonder.  Unfortunately, I had no witnesses so couldn’t prove it. You’d have thought they’d have believed me after all, I’m a girl and if I said it, it must be true, mustn’t it? Girls don’t tell lies do they? At least that’s what I’ve heard said in recent years by those that claim to be in the know.

Time turns things upside down and inside out, and addles our brains like nothing else can. The wolf man turned out to not to be a wolf man at all. He was the Watchman whose job it was to keep trespassers and unwanted children away from a waste site, where there was much debris and potential danger to unsuspecting individuals, especially children. The wolf too was a figment of my imagination and was actually the watchman’s guard dog, a German Shepherd. Yet, as a small child I was adamant that I had seen a wolf man and his faithful lupine companion. The reality was he was just a workman but the story of the wolf man and the wolf makes for better reading and was what we told everyone at the time; and at the time it was what we convinced ourselves to be true.  As for my flight of fancy, that is exactly what it was. Perhaps I jumped or dreamed of flying but as to actually flying, you tell me. If I could do it then, I would do it now wouldn’t I? Or just maybe you forget how to fly when you’re an adult.

© Liola Lee 2010

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November 2018
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