I started school, aged four, a month or so before my fifth birthday. It must have been after Easter as the blossoms were on the few trees that dotted Ayres Road Old Trafford.
I walked to school from that day until the day I finished at my catholic Grammar school age 18. Each walk to school was a kind of therapy. A pre-match stroll into a stressful environment when all we really had was each other.
The memories of my first walks. If only it was with my mum. Instead she’d walk me 100 yards up the street to meet with the Finns and Killeens, cousins and next door neighbours to each other, who would walk together to St Alphonsus primary school in Old Trafford. Oddly although both my parents were born in Dublin, because the Finns and Killeens were cousins and lived next door to each other and were from two huge Irish families ( only five kids in our house), I used to refer to them as ‘the Irish kids’.
There was Jimmy and Tommy Killeen, the twins Roger and Tommy Finn, big brother Johnny and sisters Helen and Josephine Finn. They were my morning escort to school and to be fair; with Jimmy and Tommy Killeen minding me, I may have been the safest kid of that age in a ten mile radius of Manchester city centre.
It was a quarter mile walk to school, past terraced streets, the odd tree on the road side of Ayres Road, a sight of blossoms in the odd front garden on the posher side and in the protestant church yard. I remember most that feeling of summer gathered in the weather. The breathing of the world was long and warm and slow and though there was a permanent sense of tension inside me, the anxiety of school and fitting in, the anxiety of how I felt about myself, the walk to school with the collected Finns/Killeens and the walk back home with my own mates, when we’d run along the wall of the Vimto factory and dodge down alleyways giving me that true sense of freedom. The odd time my mum would come to pick me up from school I felt somehow crushed and stifled. That freedom of walking to school helped me to feel independent although also it made the realisation that the world was big and often unforgiving loom large.
Terry Christian is a much loved, award winning broadcaster, journalist, author and stand up comedian. Always championed by UK audiences, Terry was voted 2nd in Celebrity Big Brother and has appeared on many TV Comedy shows including 8 Out of 10 Cats, Would I Lie To You, The Staying In Show, You’ve Been Watching, Have I Got News For You, Room 101, Fantasy Football, The 11 O’Clock Show, The Late Late Show ( RTE), The Panel Show (RTE) and Zig and Zag ( RTE). He has also been a regular guest panelist on the topical Channel 5 series The Wright Stuff and Jeremy Vine. Terry grew up in the Brooks Bar neighbourhood of Manchester with five brothers and sisters and Irish parents from Dublin: Daniel Christian and Margaret Christian (née Cullen).
On behalf of the Museum of Childhood Ireland and Robert Burns, we would like to extend our heartfelt gratitude to all of our wonderful participants for their time and their stories. We are thrilled to be presenting this project and we hope you will enjoy following along with us in the coming weeks.
Have a story on this topic and want to get involved? Contact us on our social media sites, or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org – we would love to hear from you!
The views expressed here are those of the author and do not represent or reflect the views of the Museum of Childhood Ireland.