Memories of Haverhill - Liam Kennedy
(Email Dated 30/09/1999)
"Where are you from?" - I often get asked that question.
My normal response these days is "Irvine". Which leaves the person who asked the question with a puzzled look on there face for a few seconds - after which they ask "No - where are you from originally!!!?"
At this point my mind ticks over for a few milliseconds where I think - "now should I tell them I am from England - or should I get more specific - and say Cambridge - or should I get even more detailed and proudly announce Haverhill"?
Mostly I just announce "England" which is enough detail to confuse most people out here. I don't mean to be disrespectful - well - I do really - you wouldn't believe how geographically challenged some Americans can be sometimes - but you have to be mindful of who is asking the question in order to direct your response in the most amusing and confusing way.
Let me explain. I now live in the city of Irvine in Southern California USA. My "cute" English accent is rather a giveaway that I'm not "from around here". I was born in Haverhill, Suffolk, England on January 23rd 1963. Haverhill is where I (in no particular order) grew up, went to School (Burton End, Castle Hill Middle, Castle Manor Upper until 1981), and found my wife of now 18 years (more of a story there than you will ever know). You can figure out for yourself how old I am now.
Despite the fact that I have not resided in Haverhill for quite some time now - It was most definitely the place where I was proud and happy to grow up in. I still enjoy the at least once-yearly visits back to my home town to visit my family and to check out my old haunts.
Haverhill may seem like a little out of the way town - somewhat off of the beaten track - neglected - smelly (very smelly) - but it still holds a real place in my heart as being that place where I grew up. Maybe the years make me look back on things with "rose tinted spectacles" - but I really don't think so. I had a smashing time. We lived originally in Squires Court (where I was born) - and eventually moved to Marlborough Court (on the Clements).
I always liked going for walks up to the "woods" and I remember a particularly interesting episode one afternoon (I was 10 or 11 years old at the time) - when we all got word the farm up on Camps Road had gone out of business. This rumor seemed to have got around the whole of the west side of Haverhill and in a totally public spirited action and for ecologically sound reasons there were hundreds of us in the fields picking all of the Strawberries. You probably figured out it was a bit of a nasty rumor - and completely untrue. Well - I managed to make several trips to the fields and back to my house with several bags full of strawberries when eventually the police turned up in the field with the one very unhappy farmer. Oops! Not being the "unlawful type" I calmly stood my ground when the police constable said the usual "Oi! what do yo think you're up to then!" (actually I was pissing myself with fright and couldn't move an inch). After crying myself silly the Policeman and Farmer let me, and those with me, off the hook after we explained that we thought we were doing the farmer a good deed. Rather hilarious now that I look back at it! Can anyone else remember this? Or even better - does anyone know who made up the story about the farm going out of business?
My most happy times were probably during my final years at Castle Manor Upper School - where I attended the 6th form and "graduated" (as they say out here) in 1981 (I think - it was a long time ago - kay!). My only regret - losing touch with some of my closest friends. I seemed to propel myself out of Haverhill with such speed after leaving School that I managed to lose touch with almost all of my old friends (barring a couple who haven't figured out how to get rid of me yet :-)
So - I am proud to say "I come from Haverhill" - it's a nice place to be from!
I welcome anyone who knows me (and who have forgiven me for being me) to send email to email@example.com- you can also find a few facts about me and my family at my website http://www.thekennedys.net