Sunday, 6 April 2014

Flood footnote.

Last week, while I was feeling sorry for myself, I went for a long walk across the fields that had been covered in flood waters back in February. If you have a look at the archive for January or February you’ll find my flood reports – at dramatic times I posted every three hours as events happened. The photos scooped the national press and TV because I was able to put them up before they could run their pictures.

Anyway, being a sad sack, I was walking along watching the ground rather than looking up at the sky.

I was amazed to find that one of the little streams that runs across the fields and down to the Thames had been dredged out and the mud piled up onto the banks, like a mini levee. The trees had been cut back. They had even built a smooth stone path, finished with sand.

This is the first time this has happened in my lifetime (no, really) and it just goes to show what you can get done by getting shouty with a cabinet minister.

As I wandered along, I suddenly spotted a sparkle in the mud. I prized it out and found an old bottle – here it is, partly cleaned up:

The wording reads ‘Taylor and Co, established 1849, Staines’.

It’s old but it’s not ancient, it has a mermaid embossed it which means it predates the printing I remember on 1970’s bottles or the paper labels you had in the 1950’s and 1960’s.

However it can’t be 19th century as it needs a crown cap. My guess is 1920’s or 1930’s but it could be 10 years either way.

What interested me most of all was that it had been thrown into the little stream on a popular walk, probably on a sunny day just like last week.

In those days, bottles were expensive and carried a deposit charge which was returned when you took the empties back to the shop. When I was young, kids like me scoured the countryside looking for discarded bottles to get the money back for ourselves.

This bottle was chucked in hard, depression times and would have been thrown by someone quite well off, or out to impress.

I’m startled by the link – something which hasn’t been seen for 80 odd years, gets exposed by chance and  suddenly I’m connected to someone long dead and forgotten, the last person who touched it all those years ago.

It’s eerie.

Neil Harris

(a don’t stop till you drop production)

There should be a review of The Reggulaters gig here, but to be frank I’m a little wasted right now – later, later.

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