Great Expectations

We are given 2 different messages in life: don’t expect too much (because you’ll be disappointed).  But then we are also taught to hope and dream – to expect great things.

They are both generally things we are taught by our parents.  You get told not to expect too much at Christmas and birthdays when you’re little because your parents are trying to protect you from disappointment (Grandma’s present normally.  You always hoped that this year wouldn’t be a knitted sweater.  The disappointment when it wasn’t a tape or a computer game cartridge – showing my age!)

The other message is that you can be whatever and whoever you want.  This is a great message ! You can! But we get restrictions put on us at school with exams and choices.  We have to do what we get good marks in, not necessarily what we want/love to do.  A lot of us end up drifting because we follow the choices that school made for us.  That is probably why a lot of people get to their thirties and have no idea how to do anything else.

If you were lucky and were taught as I was that Grandma made you that sweater out of love and she thought of you with each stitch.  (You realise this about 10 years later!).  If you can get through school and get out into the world you can do whatever you like.  Even if you get to your thirties and are slightly disillusioned.  Change is always possible.

One of my favourite sayings is “shoot for the moon, if you miss you’ll be among stars.”  I love this – it says dream big and it doesn’t matter if you don’t make it – at least you will have tried.

Written for the Daily Post “Great Expectations” –  https://dailypost.wordpress.com/dp_writing_challenge/great-expectations/

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Bruised Ballerina

I had a sparkly silver bike which I was showing off on.  I was riding it up and down Leveller Road and I thought I would go up to the top of the hill and ride down the pavement as fast as I could.  I remember sitting on my bike at the top of the hill and thinking it would be a really good idea to try something different.  So I turned the handlebars back to front – it had a front wheel that could turn 180 degrees.  Off I set with the handlebars backwards as fast as I could.

Of course I fell off.  Right at the bottom of our drive.  Grazed knees, elbows, teeth out, cut hands, face – everything.  But the best thing was that I had to go to a school BBQ that afternoon and I was dressed as a ballerina in my beautiful pink tutu.  A slightly battered, bruised and bandaged up ballerina with no front teeth and a black eye.

Games we used to play

Every child should have a camp in their garden or in their house – somewhere where the adults can’t come in without a password.  A private space!  Catherine and I had a camp in the back garden at Newick behind the vegetable patch…a clearing in the trees with a dirt floor.  You could see into the neighbour’s garden.  We probably pretended we were the Secret Seven or the Famous Five and had club meetings with our friends.

Oak Tree Leaves

Oak Tree Leaves (Photo credit: Dominic’s pics)

There was also a huge oak tree opposite our house that we would play hide and seek around.  The smaller tree on the green was where we played “52 Bunker”.  The trick was to stand right behind the person counting to 100 and then grab the tree and yell “52 bunker home!”.  Stuck in the Mud was also fun – a sophisticated version of catch where you had to be freed from the mud by someone crawling through your legs.

It was quite safe playing on the green outside (I wonder if parents would still let their kids play out there?).  We lived in a cul de sac and all the kids on the street played out front together.  I’m sure one mother or another was watching at any one time, but I remember being very free.

We were allowed to walk up to the rec where there was a playground.  We pushed our bikes up there and played on the huge tractor tyre swing.  I could curl up inside the tyre while everyone else sat on top.  Catherine put her leg down inside the tyre to stop it swinging and it smacked against her knee.  She must have broken something but I don’t remember.  I think I remember having to push two bikes home.  Someone must have come to get Catherine.

I seem to remember horrible things that happened to my sister!  I don’t seem to remember what happened next though – maybe my child brain was trying to protect me from the horror?  I’m sure people around me were trying to protect me.  I’m not sure that Catherine even remembers the details – I shall have to ask her!

Earliest Memories

Who knows what your earliest memory is?  I have flashbacks of all sorts of things but they are jumbled up and confused.  How accurate can they be?  We rely on what other people have old us, photographs, bits of songs or books and if you have a slightly over-active imagination like mine it gets worse.

I remember being a teddy bear in the primary school play.  My sister was still at primary school with me – and also in the play, so I can’t have been more than 7.  We were four bears in bear suits singing the Teddy Bear’s Picnic.  It was put on in Newick Village Hall and Sam did an amazing routine with a light sabre – she was a wizard.  I remember that my sister was a messenger.  God knows what the play was!

I remember ballet lessons with my friend Nicola when we were very small – good toes naughty toes and galloping madly up and down the hall.  Miss Wendy was our teacher and Mrs Stone was the pianist.  This was before tape recorders were common.  Nicola moved when we were 8 I think so ballet must have been aged 5 or so.

I remember Dad coming home from work.  Mum would put us in our pyjamas and dressing gowns and we would drive to Haywards Heath station to pick him up.  I knew he worked in London but had no idea what he did.  When Dad did bath time he would play silly games – hiding us under the towel and saying “Where’s Christopher Robin?” and pulling the towel off.  Fits of giggles!  I am guessing that we were very young then.

Me and Catherine were always put in the bath together and we made cocktails out of all the lotions and potions around the bath topped off with bubble foam.  It was a bit more crowded when our friends came to stay and all four of us girls were put in the bath together.  I was probably made to stay at the tap end, being the youngest.

I remember my sister falling onto the green ceramic soap dish attached to the wall while we were in the bath and gashing her arm open.  She still has the scar.  She must have been taken to hospital but I don’t remember that part.  In fact I don’t remember very much else about that.

I have very vague recollections of Mum being horrified about turning 30 – she was very depressed.  I was only 3 though so I don’t know how accurate that would be.  She tells me that it is true – she didn’t want to be 30 at all, but then who does?

I also remember getting lost all over the place.  I remember I got lost on a cross channel ferry and got bought back by the purser with balloons for everyone.  I got lost in John Lewis on Oxford Street.  Ali and I went to the loo and I somehow got lost and picked up by the store detective.  I was taken to a very odd room and an announcement was made over the tannoy.  My poor mother – how embarrassing!

I also got lost in the Eastbourne Arndale Centre playing on the toy dinosaurs that they used to have and went back into the wrong shop.  Nobody there – I don’t remember how I was found then.

I remember weeping in Uckfield Picture House when we were taken to see The Fox & The Hound, Bambi and ET.  I remember that we used to collect the stickers and sticker albums for all these things.

I remember the sweet shop at the top of the estate after school when Mum gave us 10p to buy sweets.  Penny sweets, Dipdabs, quarters of cola cubes.  All in huge jars behind the counter like something out of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.

These are just some of my childhood memories – what are yours?

Shared in The Daily Post’s “Memoir Madness”- http://dailypost.wordpress.com/dp_writing_challenge/memoir-madness/

Childhood Memories

My childhood was relatively average.  I had a normal upbringing with loving parents and an older sister, four grandparents, two dogs and a house with a garden in suburban England.  I had little concept of the world outside and was lucky enough to grow up in a safe, warm and protected environment.  I went to ballet lessons, Brownies then Guides, drama classes and did averagely at school.

My friends from primary school were the same as me – mostly girls, no one’s parents were divorced and we all shared the school run and went to tea at each other’s houses.  The Mums shared out the duties.  We were all happy.  Some parents were a bit stricter than others; some let us have fishfingers and chips; some sat us down to traditional tea with egg & cress sandwiches and glasses of squash or milk.  Mum was always there when we got home from school.

My secondary school friends were still similar to me but the odd difference was starting to creep in.  The odd divorced parent started to appear on the scene.  It was an all girls school and I remember it fondly now, although at the time I’m sure it was torturous, evil and a waste of time.  We were lucky enough to be taught all kinds of subjects – a variety of languages, arts & crafts, music, drama.  The list goes on…We were privileged and protected until one day or rather one year we all learned to drive!  Freedom.

We all grew up in the beautiful British countryside which meant that we all lived miles apart from each other.  Rural bus services went once a week if you were lucky!  We spent 16 years relying on parents for lifts everywhere.  (My older sister suddenly became my friend, because she could drive 3 years before me, although she did have to put up with me tagging along everywhere!)  Being able to drive meant we could escape to the pub, into town, each others’ houses.  Life was good.  We were learing independence.

Feeling confident and sparky we were suddenly plunged into confusion – boys appeared into our lives for the first time.  Up until now boys had only been distant older or evil younger brothers of friends.  You may think that 16 is quite old to meet boys but remember the protection from the world – all girls school, home in a country town.  Boys just simply didn’t exist until the world opened up. [to be continued]