Singing the runway blues

file000479808395My childhood is about to be bulldozed. With the government’s approval today to build a third runway at Heathrow, the future of the village of Sipson looks bleak.

489 Sipson Rd was my first home until I was five. Here I would sit in my pushchair in the front garden watching for dad to come home from work. Here, my brother would take me for sneaky rides on his scooter up and down the bumpy lane behind our row.

Looking at the map of the airport’s expansion I think this part of the village may survive. It depends of course on your definition of, ‘survive.’ What’s left of this place mentioned in the Doomsday Book will become stranded and sandwiched between the end of the new runway and the M4 spur road.

But for my first school – Heathrow Primary – it looks (according to the map) like there’s no escape. My first assembly hall singing ‘All Things Bright and Beautiful’ will be where passenger jets thud down in excess of 120mph. The irony that my brother used to race along the road outside in his Mini (me whooping in the back and speed phobic mum in the front) attempting similar speeds, isn’t lost on me.

I know I don’t remember much from that age, but what I do defines my childhood; my first tooth fairy visitation, first (and only so far) white Christmas, and following decimalisation sat at the living room table learning the new coins much faster than mum.

I still know which kitchen cupboard the sugar was hidden, and how to climb up when no-one was looking to stick my fingers into the jar. And I still remember creeping into the ‘strictly off limits’ haven of my brother’s room when he wasn’t in. Sorry Bruv.

I’ve been back several times in the last 45 years, when passing that way, taking a quick drive through. While writing this I also had a quick mooch around thanks to Google maps. I haven’t yet physically been inside my house or school, but I think I may try and do that now (if they’re kind enough to let me).

So, here’s to you Sipson. I cannot save you from the incoming hordes of machinery and impending concrete storm, but in my heart I can. I already have.


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