My parents moved to Taunton, Somerset in the summer of 1974.
The year I turned 18.
The year I left school.
The year I started Teacher Training College.
The year I met my husband (at college).
It was such an uncertain year on the world stage that I thought the world might be blown up. Thank God it didn’t happen.
My family moved to Taunton a few weeks before I took my final exams at school (called A levels in England). So I lodged at a friend’s house during that time. My friend wasn’t doing exams and it was gorgeous weather. I lay on her lawn pretending to revise for my one subject that needed revision. It was geography, which I enjoyed, but hated being examined on it. I failed the exam. My other subject was Art, which as a practical subject, I passed even though my art teacher told me I couldn’t draw and he couldn’t teach me to.
In an amazing coincidence I met an old friend at that friend’s house. Our old drop leaf gate-leg table. We had sold it to them a few years previous, before I got to know the girl. I had many a fun time playing underneath it and sitting around it for family meals then putting the gate legs back after the meal was over. It looked like this one.
Anyway, back to Taunton. I moved there for the summer holidays before I went to college in Hereford and worked at the sausage factory. But I had considered myself as having left home and never felt I belonged.
Throughout my adult life I mostly lived in the north of England and so the motorway or train journey down to Taunton was a familiar one as I visited once or twice a year. My parents moved home several times but always within Taunton. I liked the place.
A few years ago I arrived to live with my mother. She needed more help and I had no-where to live. My mother resisted that reality of her getting older and more disabled but after a while became grateful that I was there.
She passed away last autumn and I stayed in Taunton and became a taxi driver.
I like the town. It has a smallish county town, cobbled street, old building, friendly bustle about it.
1974 was the year the M5 motorway was extended to relieve Taunton of the Saturday holiday traffic during the summer. My Dad was very upset that it took a few hours to do the shopping at Sainsbury’s on a Saturday morning because the whole town was one big traffic jam. It was on the main route to the Devon and Cornwall seaside places.
At the sausage factory I became friendly with another student working there, whose boyfriend was working on the motorway. Very long hours but good pay.
Now, on a Saturday the town can be totally jammed with traffic again. But this is because the population has grown and become more affluent and there are many more cars on the road.