Writer Alan Moore looks back on ‘The Street Where I Grew Up’ in Northampton

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In the second of our features, The Street Where I Grew Up, award-winning writer best know for being one of the most talented comic book writers in the English language, screenwriter and author, Alan Moore shares memories of the house he grew up in...17 St Andrew’s Road, Northampton.

“The Boroughs, punched and trodden on but once all of Northampton, had Saint Andrew’s Road bounding its westernmost extremity, so on clear afternoons the sun dropped like a red-hot shilling down behind corroding railway yards, into the jukebox slot of a forthcoming night.

Sometimes it forced a ray through the street window; through the tiny stained-glass panel in the wall dividing front room from pellucid living room; finally smashed as eggs of topaz, jade or garnet light against the dusty wireless on its high shelf opposite, while we were having tea.

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There were perhaps ten, fifteen houses on the strip of terrace between Scarletwell Street and Spring Lane: red brick that wore a lace mantilla spun from soot, Welsh slate the greying blue of rained-on birds.

Alan MooreAlan Moore
Alan Moore

Beside each recessed entrance a vestigial iron boot-scrape, unused for the most part and unnoticed, relic of the mud before macadam and Victorian horse-exhaust.

At pavement level, cellar mouths with screens of chicken-wire, removable for anthracite deliveries, then three worn-smooth stone steps ascending to front doors of different colours, ours a peeling rose.

Three up, three down if we include the crowding kitchen at the rear, with its enamelled gas-stove, rough cold-water sink and copper boiler that was a gunmetal drum.

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Perfume of washing day and simmering hankies and post-war cuisine, where bath nights saw us folded bare into a three-foot-long zinc tub.

In the back yard, cracked tiles in chequered red and navy jigsawed down into a walled enclosure with an outdoor toilet that had neither cistern nor illumination.

Candlelight sparked ripples in an heirloom bucket. Old newspapers, shredded, on a nail.

The 19th century homes are absent from a map, dated 1807, that my daughter bought for me, as is Saint Andrew’s Road itself.

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Instead, north of the castle ruins, just beyond the dyers’ well, extends a meadow labelled as ‘Elysian Fields’. This is the happy hunting ground of classical antiquity, where fallen heroes navigated their eternities, snuggling closer to the trainyard sunset.

There we were, unknowingly: my family; Fred and Ada Goodman with their irritating dog; a convicted fraudster from four doors down and all the rest – in dirty heaven without even being dead.”

Fact File

Known for some of most influential work in history of comics and graphic novels.

Introduced idea of social responsibility into the genre. Masterminded Watchmen, (1985) V for Vendetta (1982 – 1989) Batman and Swamp Thing.

Won the Eagle Award for ‘Watchmen’ and ‘Swamp Thing’.

Northampton has been the backdrop to two of his novels: Jerusalem (2006) and Voice of The Fire (1996)