The Pickard Papers #1

Saturday 7 June 2014    
Our path through life is full of forks in the road. We make choices and the life that might have been is left back at that junction. A choice that wasn’t mine to make back in 1977 led to my life growing up in Fakenham.   Today I took a trip down memory lane when I stumbled upon a website about Soddenham. The village where I lived until I was 11. I have happy memories of my childhood living in the village and moving away was difficult. Mum and Dad had their reasons for leaving which being 11 were never fully talked about. As I got older any references to Soddenham in conversation with my parents were quickly dodged or frowned upon. I suspect there are reasons I will never know as to why we moved. My knowledge of the village is set within my childhood memories and as children we do not see the adult world around us. It is a joy to have found a website that is dedicated to all things Soddenham and I sent them a message about how thrilled I am to have found their site. It has brought a lot of buried memories flooding back. I will keep an eye on future entries.

Monday 9 June 2014     Work today was quiet. I dipped back into the Soddenham website. They published an interesting item on Bunsen Buildings. A place I remember but actually know little about. I sent a message about my Bunsen Burner collection. Maybe Les can shed some light on the engraved burner. When grandfather gave them to me he said they would be worth something one day! It would be nice to think I have a small nest egg for my retirement.  It is funny how for years I have given Soddenham little thought and yet with the wonders of the internet I am already feeling more connected to my past. If ever asked about Soddenham I generally talk about things most children have as memories and not much about the village. Odd that as someone with a curious nature I have allowed a big chunk of my early years to remain so poorly defined.

SODDENHAM-PICKARD-journalSaturday 18 October 2014     With hindsight details from our past can look so very different. More so when looking back on childhood memories. I did some catching up on the Soddenham website and read an item about the bridges in the village. Reading the article the childhood rhymes that I remember now appear so much darker. I sent Les Taret a message about the rhymes. I wonder if he or anyone else has similar memories. Thoughts about Soddenham are beginning to occupy my mind more than ever. The website is fascinating and reveals a world that it hard to believe I was once part of. It is funny how the grown up world is of little significance when all you want to do is play. Reading the website has led me to believe that Soddenham has a rich history of which I know little. I’m not sure if I have been afraid to return to the village or if I have simply pressed on with my life almost denying those early years. I wonder how different my life might have been had we stayed and I had grown up in the village. Would I have chosen an acedemic path? or might I have worked in the Lichen orchards? Would I still be friends with people I knew as a child? Maybe I would have married M—- T—–? I haven’t thought about her since leaving Soddenham! Mandy had a great smile and was the girl all the boys fancied. We once kissed and talked about toothpaste. She advised Csoddenham-colgateolgate was the best and made a ping noise like the advert. M—- T—–… I wonder if she could ever have been Mrs. Pickard? I wonder if she is still has her Colgate ring of confidence…

Friday 24 October 2014     Can’t get M—- T—– out of my mind! Her and all the other unanswered questions from my childhood. I headed back to check out the village website. Les and his friends are doing a great job. I am fascinated with their insight and knowledge of the history and village life. Speculation about the Barrow has been quashed with news that it is actually a pile of hoggin. Perhaps of little interest to archaeologists but I was thrilled to discover that Jesners are still in business and have emailed them to ask about getting a sample to add to my collection.

soddenham-pickard-6Saturday 25 October 2014     Today a consignment of items belonging to uncle Frank arrived. Much of the box contained items that I think will end up at the local charity shop. His love of 1960’s novelty glass animals was not shared by many. There are a few of his cast iron railway signs that he stole which I may try to find a suitable home perhaps with an enthusiast. The most interesting item is an old tin of photographs of Soddenham. Odd that this should arrive at a time when I’m still thinking me and M—- T—– might have had a future! However there are no photographs of her or her family. There are a lot of envelopes all marked up with various labels but they mean very little to me. It doesn’t look like uncle Franks writing. I will contact Les and ask if he can shed some light on them. If anyone can it will be him and his friends at the Soddenham Historical Society and Curry Club. I wonder if I had remained at Soddenham whether I too might be a member of that club?

Thursday 4 December 2014     Les sent me an email to tell me that he has just published another set of the old photographs which belonged to Uncle Frank. I don’t remember seeing this set when I looked at them. The skelteton and gravestone are definitely a bit macabre. The picture I had in my mind of Soddenham from my childhood is not quite the one reflected in the content of the website. Maybe it was because I was very young. Maybe I have chosen to blank out the some of the things thrown up by Les and his friends. On the surface the village seems the same but the more they dig into its history the more a darker side is beginning to show. Perhaps that is just me having my childhood memories challenged.

What the hell is that skeleton….

Monday 2 February  2015     On this rather dull grey day it was nice to hear from Les. He has posted some more of the old photographs. This time of a place called The Establishment.   Les and his friends at The Soddenham Historical Society and Curry Club have been working hard and it would seem they are now also urban explorers. I had no idea they would take it upon themselves to unravel the stories behind the photographs and I certainly didn’t expect they would become explorers in the process. The Establishment seems to be a place with limited history. Few people know what the place was used for or what went on inside.

Tuesday 10 February 2015     For about seven months now I have been learning about the village where I spent my childhood. I have been challenged by some of the things I have learned. However I have also been able to build a context for my memories. I wonder if I have spent other parts of my life being blinkered to the details that make the full picture. Have my studies been at a cost? Was it the move from Soddenham that led to me turning more to books? There are a lot of unanswered questions. Questions that I have never even thought to ask. I’m feeling restless and not sure if there is something more I should be doing with my life? Why do I no longer take risks? Where is the sense of excitement that I have as memories from my childhood? Have I grown old and serious? Should I visit Soddenham? The place has remained buried in my mind for years. During the last year though it feels like the village of my childhood has come back to ask me important questions. I should think about getting answers….

Les today published more photographs of The Establishment and details of their exploration. They are an intrepid bunch and I must say I feel a little envious. I’m sat at home writing my bloody journal and they are out living the dream. The most exciting thing that happened to me in the last week is that I got my car through it’s MOT. This is not the way I saw things going when I lived in Soddenham. Back then I was pretty sure I would be a fireman which definitely impressed M—- T—–. Would she be just as impressed to see that I think a lot and trim the lawns at the weekend?

Monday 2 March 2015     Les contacted me today to let me know he has posted the latest from The Establishment. The latest post is more intriguing than the previous entries but also sounds like Les and Co. might be putting themselves in danger. At the bottom of the entry Les has asked for volunteers to further their investigation. I would like to volunteer but there are strict policies around membership of the Soddenham Historical Society and Curry Club. I have replied to Les asking if there is any way it might be possible to volunteer. I advised ways in which my presence might compliment their skills. I’m sure he will have to say no but right now I want an excuse to head back to Soddenham and I’m in need of some excitement in my life. I hope Les says yes to me joining his team.   I’m a bit concerned about how poorly Anmer has been. If I do go I will take enough safety equipment with me for everyone.

Monday 9 March 2015     I’ve been thinking more and more about Soddenham and the Establishment. Today I was pleased to get an email from Les saying that the SHSACC have discussed me joining as a volunteer. soddenham-bootsThey think they may have found a way for me to join the club albeit on a temporary basis and have written to Alderman Drudge. Les is hopeful he will give it the green light and he will let me know once he has further news. In preparation for a thumbs up I have ordered a pair of Magnum Viper Pro waterproof tactical boots. If I don’t get accepted as a volunteer then these boots will remind me to stop looking at garden furniture and get exploring.

As they say – a journey starts with the first step (and a tough pair of police grade boots)…


One thought on “The Pickard Papers #1

  1. Impeccable piece of diarist work there Mr Pickard, you’ve detailed your background superbly vividly. I’m sure this talent will be a great asset to the team and their future investigations into the strange world of The Establishment.

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