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/

Top Secret!

Top Secret orders

Top Secret orders

Research into my own family continues – today has been a day of discoveries, day trips and revisiting my old suitcase, which is home to all the documents I have.  (The suitcase is an heirloom in itself – belonged to my grandfather I believe and is an old, brown leather one.)  On my day trip to Worthing I found several of my ancestors homes, or the sites of them – whether they were the original buildings, I’m not sure but it gives you a frisson of excitement when you walk down their street and realise that they must have walked that way too in the 1840’s.  How different their lives must have been.  This particular part of the family were boat builders and lived one street back from the sea front, close to the pier.  More excitingly, I found a local book which mentions them!  They were sailors and won several prizes in sailing competitions and were members of the local lifeboat crew.  It really came alive today…

So I went home and got the old brown suitcase out and started flicking through things.  I found cash books from the first two years of my grandparents’ marriage (1939-40) which made for fascinating reading from a time of rationing; ration books; medals; coins; letters; newspaper clippings and even a silk handkerchief with maps of occupied France and its’ rail connections.  The romantic in me likes to imagine being parachuted in behind enemy lines with only a silk handkerchief to find your way home.

Then the words “TOP SECRET” caught my eye.  How can you not be intrigued?  Date 19 May 1944.  A piece of paper that had been torn up and sellotaped  back together – this was the sort of piece of paper that surely should have been destroyed as soon as it had been read.  “The unit under your Comd is taking part in operation “Overlord“.  I have very limited knowledge of the operations of WW2, so I flicked to Google and lovely Wikipedia immediately did its’ bit.  Part of the D-Day landings – wow!  Codewords and beaches are named: JIG/KING beach, codeword KIPLING.  Considering the scale of the D-Day landings, I’m sure these bits of paper are not uncommon, but to me it is unique.  Someone I know was there and came back to tell the tale.