Old technology

Record Player

Record Player (Photo credit: Rolf Venema)

We spend our whole lives these days trying to upgrade our lives and it’s a constant race! About a year ago I started regressing I think and bought myself a record player. So satisfying!When we were growing up we were very excited to have a tape recorder – record players were for grown ups to touch only. We might have got our sticky fingers on them. We did buy records, which I still have but the tape player was so much more fun! Tapes meant blank tapes, which meant you could make mix tapes; record the chart show and record yourselves being silly. The tapes are still somewhere under lock and key.

I remember Dad’s old typewriter and the sound it made. There was a bottle of tippex next to it for correcting mistakes. We did get an Atari computer with a few games on it but until my dissertation I didn’t really use a computer. The odd game here and there (Chuckie Egg), but essays at school were hand written and at university were word processed.

We had a telephone with a dialling circle – not good if you had to dial 999 quickly. We had a phone upstairs in Mum and Dad’s room as well as downstairs, which meant a bit of privacy to talk to friends and later boyfriends. You were never quite sure if someone was listening in though! Phones were attached to the wall so you couldn’t lose them. If you made arrangements with someone you made sure you were there to meet them. Mobiles didn’t exist until university days and even then not everyone had them.

Old telephone
Old telephone (Photo credit: macinate)

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]

The Girl from the Sea by me

This is a bit of shameless promotion – please have a look at my story and download.  If you enjoy it please feel free to comment on the amazon pages to help promote. “The Girl from the Sea” is about a young girl who witnesses a murder, gets kidnapped, nearly drowned and survives, making some good friends along the way.  Set in any coastal village about 150 – 200 years ago (although the time is not specified deliberately).

The inspiration came from the kind of books that I read as a young girl – Enid Blyton, Roald Dahl, Nancy Drew and The Hardy Boys and also from spending a holiday in West Wales which became the setting in my minds: jagged cliffs, hidden bays and lots of rock pools to explore in.  I hope you enjoy.

Ready-made talent

Shoemaking

Shoemaking (Photo credit: daryl_mitchell)

Written for The Daily Post – the article is about “A Lost Art”.  My take on this is traditions which should have been passed down through the generations but have suddenly disappeared.  Do you know what crafts your ancestors did?  Mine mentioned below are only a couple of generations back but sadly I haven’t inherited any of the talent!  (Or not that I am aware of anyway!)

During my research of my family history I am coming across various professions.  We come from a very working class background filled with domestic servants, gardeners, agricultural labourers etc.  Occasionally though I come across somebody with a trade which fascinates me.  There is my great great grandfather Edwin who was a shoemaker in Brighton and all of the Hutchinsons in Worthing who were boatbuilders.  It got me wondering if I have hidden talents inside me that are just part of my blood?  Perhaps I could secretly knock up a pair of loafers, or a stylish pair of kittens?   I wouldn’t know, I’ve never tried and I wouldn’t know where to learn how to be a shoe maker.  Could I build a sturdy fishing boat or sailing boat and guarantee that it won’t sink?  Surely there’s a reality tv show in this.  We could discover a whole new generation of talent – useful and creative talent though rather than just the same old singing and dancing routine.  That would be something worth watching!