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Kettering

- (Northampton), M 16; s 6, UD, Pop. 29,976 MD, Fri, EC Thurs. See: St. Peter and St. Paul's Ch. (Goth.) "I" A - Dull clanging noise, rhythmical and approximately pitched but not musical
K/008

M, s, UD &tc

What? Well, I have to admit to a certain pleasure in tracking down, among my assortment of road-books and gazetteers, the sort of coded description used to cram as much information as possible into a strictly limited space. Decoded, the Stock-Michelin Guide to the British Isles for 1920 is telling us all these fascinating and useful things about Kettering; I'll admit it's prettier in the original, with its boxed text for the code UD and its charming crosed-clubs-and-number for the all-important golf-club reference I did not include.

And the town plans were, I have to inform you, "based upon the Ordnance Survey by permission of the Board of Agriculture and Fisheries". No, I don't know what they had to do with the OS, either.

Dull clanging noise

And block capitals, in fact, though this wouldn't have fitted neatly on the card. Baffled? Slides, of course. Every playground I ever enjoyed had swings set in an expanse of scuffed grass, a roundabout clearly designed to catapult the eager users across the nearest sheet of rough tarmac, and a slide designed with equal care to flick the eager user feet-first against the nearest dog, child or adult. The slide was always dull green apart from the worn, dull hand-rails and the gleaming steel of the chute itself, and made in Kettering. The name was clearly visible in the steps, open-work cast-iron that resonated underfoot. That's all.

But it's a powerful memory. I was in Leuven while the station was being rebuilt for the HST line, and the sound of the metal steps up to the temporary footbridge was so familiar I expected to sit down with a mixture of fear and glee once I'd reached the top.