I could start at the beginning but I’m not sure how much I remember. I remember bits here and there but it’s a little bit vague before the age of about 8. I have been told some stuff which helps so maybe I’ll start at the beginning and see where it takes me.
I was born in 1972. That means I’m 40 this year! Well old! Except I’m still waiting to grow up ‘cos I don’t think I have yet. Anyway, I was born into a family of 3 so my arrival made 4. I arrived to find I had a mum, a dad and older brother.
I don’t remember but apparently life wasn’t very happy in our house and my parents got divorced when I was 2.
I don’t remember ever living with my dad but mum tells me I was a daddy’s girl. My big brother was 5 so he has some memories but I don’t think they’re all particularly nice ones.
After the split, we lived at my granddads for a while, in the house mum was born in. I think I was happy. I don’t have any memories of not being happy. I do have a few memories of infant school.
I remember playing kiss chase in the playground. I always chased the same boy. Kevin B. I loved Kevin but Kevin didn’t love me. Whenever the game was reversed, I would stand still so he could catch me and kiss me but he always ran off after my friend Janine instead. I didn’t give up though. As far as I was concerned he was my boyfriend. It was my first introduction to unrequited love! Thankfully I’m not the stalker I was at the age of 5. I no longer stick around where I’m not wanted!
I remember one day at school they gave us curry for dinner. This was the 70’s. Curries weren’t established as Britain’s favourite food at that point. It really wasn’t nice. The dinner lady had to cut it. Seriously? The fact that they had to cut it shows they weren’t doing it right. So there was this square block of curry on my plate. There was no way I was going to eat that. Not in a million years. I stood my ground and no matter how hard the dinner lady tried to force that stuff into my mouth, I was having none of it. I could sit at a table and refuse to eat for hours and hours if I had to. I had quite a few meal time strikes as a child and this was one of the first. I won. You couldn’t fault the puddings though!
I also remember us going into the playground on Pancake Day. I have this video clip in my head of us kids all in a line, each holding a tiny little frying pan. Whether they were real or toys I don’t know, but within each pan was a little pancake. They were real. The teachers must have cooked them previously for us. They took us outside so we could flip them into the air and I remember one of the pancakes getting stuck on a tree branch. The rest of the pancakes must have been flung all over the playground. Maybe taking us outside was a good idea after all. It was a fun day.
I remember a conversation I had with the dinner lady in the playground when I was 5. My mum was getting married and I was going to be bridesmaid! I used to go and hold the dinner lady’s hand and walk around with her. I think it made me feel special. I was so excited about being a bridesmaid at my mummy’s wedding that I must have told her my big news for a few days on the trot because one day she turned to me and said ‘Yes I know… but when?!’ Maybe she was sick of hearing me talk about it. But it made me think. I didn’t know when. Just soon and that was good enough for me.
I remember going to the toy library. I must have been only 3 or 4. It was at the bottom of the hill past the school. Once a week, mum would take us down there to choose a toy which we then got to play with for a whole week.Then we’d go back and either renew it or get a new one. I can remember choosing a rattley ball on a stick and pushing it back up the hill. It had lots of little coloured things inside which went round and round and round as you pushed it and it made clickety-clack noises as it went. I was so pleased with it. I felt so happy as I pushed it back up the hill. I loved that toy library and when I grew up and had my own little boy, we lived quite close so I took him there too.
One day I spotted my friends down the hill so I ran down to meet them and as I ran I sped up, my body going too fast for my little legs and suddenly my feet went out from under me. I tumbled to the ground and ended up with stinging grazed palms, a bump on my chin and bloody, gravel-filled knees. My friends were forgotten. I got up, saw the blood running down my leg and turned around, crying and limping back up the hill to the safety and comfort of my mums’ arms. I HAD to get to my mum. She’d make it better.
I have a vague recollection of the Queens Silver Jubilee in 1977. Just along the road from our house was a big green area. For the Jubilee, the grownups had set up a street party or some sort of fayre. I just remember there were tyre swings and lots of little triangle flags everywhere you looked and cake. I wasn’t allowed to go on the green on my own as I was only 5 so I think I was with my brother. I still have the Silver Jubilee coin that us kids got given. I found it the other day in a little bag along with the coin from Charles and Diana’s wedding.
When I was little I wasn’t allowed to cross the road on my own and on the other side of the road, in the gutter, was a dead cat. Some local kids were all standing around looking at it and I wanted to see it too. I’d never seen anything dead before and it was too far to see properly from my side of the street. I was curious. My brother could cross the road because he was 3 whole years bigger than me. He went to look at it but when I asked him to come and get me and take me over he wouldn’t. Mums’ rule about not crossing the road on my own was like an impenetrable barrier. I just couldn’t step off the kerb.
We went to the church down the road and because mum was a single parent with two small kids she got support from the vicar and his family. My brother and I would go down the road to the vicarage and play with the vicars kids. These kids turned out to be not very nice. I think there were quite a lot of them. They had this nice garden to play in with a big sandpit in it. One day when we were there, we went to play in the sandpit but we couldn’t because a dog had used it for his business. Rather than tell the vicar so he could clean it up, his kids went and told him that it was ME! I was absolutely mortified and pleaded my innocence. It wasn’t me! I would never do that! But he chose to believe his children, as they were all saying the same thing. He grabbed me by the arm and dragged me inside. I cried and cried and pleaded with him to believe me but he didn’t listen. He got a cane or a paddle or it might have been a wooden spoon, I can’t quite remember what it was, and smacked me with it on my bare backside. I was about 4 years old. I was humiliated and embarrassed and shocked that he could ever believe it was me and shocked that his kids, who were supposed to be our friends, would tell such a mean lie and not own up even when they heard my cries through the window. Maybe it wasn’t a dog. Maybe it was one of the them which is why they blamed me. I don’t know why they did it but it was my first memorable life lesson that some people were bad and would hurt you for no reason.
After that I had a real hang up about the subject of poo. It embarrassed me. I still don’t like to talk about it but I’ve trained myself not to react or get embarrassed when it becomes conversation. 30 years later when I told that story, my mum thought I’d imagined it or was remembering a bad dream but then my brother piped up and said he remembered it too. Thanks bro, I was convinced I hadn’t made it up!
Lucky for us that mum didn’t stay single! We still had our old dad (Bio) and saw him and his new family every weekend but now we had a new dad (Non-Bio) as well and didn’t need to go to the vicarage so often. Mum and dad got married and I was a bridesmaid. After the wedding had happened and life returned to normal, my brother wanted to wear his wedding suit to school. It was bright red and very cool and he wanted to show it off to his mates. Mum said he could but when I asked to wear my bridesmaid dress to school, she said no! WHAT? I was so cross. It wasn’t FAIR! Why could he wear his wedding clothes to school but not me? I didn’t understand that going into school in an floor length silky dress with added muff to keep my hands warm was slightly inappropriate whereas red denim trousers and a matching jacket wasn’t quite the same. I wanted to go dressed like a princess!
My granddad had a dog. She was a little poodle named Candy. In the summer when the ice cream van would come, we would hear the music and run back to our houses to ask our mums if we could have an ice cream. It was a nervous run because you wanted an ice cream so badly but you just had no idea if the answer today would be yes or no. The excitement and anticipation was almost too much. When you got there and mum said yes.. well… that was the best thing EVER! You got your few pennies and ran back as fast as you could to stand in the queue behind all the other kids that lived that little bit closer and got there first. You’d stare at the pictures on the window and try to decide which wonderful lolly or ice cream would soon be coating your lips and trickling down your grubby little fingers. Would it be a 99 or would it be a fab or perhaps a rocket? Maybe a milkmaid but then again, maybe not because they didn’t last long enough. Or would it be a screwball so you got a bubblegum at the end, which made it last even longer? It was NEVER an ice cream wafer shell because they were only for grownups. Nope, it had to be a 99, with a flake and some strawberry sauce if we were lucky. Because granddad would let us have an icecream if we promised to break the end off the bottom, dip it in the top, and make a mini ice cream cone for Candy the poodle. She loved her mini ice creams and it was funny to watch her snaffle them up as quick as anything!
It’s amazing how many memories come back once you get started. These are all from 5 and under. I’ll think of some more another day. But for now I’m back in 2012 and I’ve got a flat to clean. Yep, it’s still waiting for me!
What’s your earliest memory?