Summertime Blues

On the day I was born THIS was number one in the Top 40.

“Have a drink, have a drive”

Have a crash?

Side-burns and demijohn as a percussion instrument aside, it is a catchy tune, but I’d rather have hung on in there for a few more weeks and slithered out to Elvis Presley’s The Wonder of You. Then again, it could have been Tom Jones’ Daughter of Darkness, which some light say, would have been more apt.

It was summer. The days were long. The jeans were flared and summers seemed to go on FOREVER, as happens when you’re on child-time because child-time is different to real time. Everyone knows that, right?

The skies were bluer. The clouds puffier and the sun cracked the pavements EVERY SINGLE DAY!

Then there were family holidays..

I’m fairly sure we went away most years but I only remember a few holidays and judging by sulky chops on most of the photographs, i.e. me, I can only imagine that I was my usual shit self during each and every one of them. I can only apologise to my parents who no doubt sacrificed all year in order to give us a nice holiday. If they were alive today, my autism diagnosis would maybe go some way to explain my behaviour…

I tried hard to enjoy holidays but being in unfamiliar places (and sleeping in strange beds) sent my anxiety orbital. The beds often smelled funny and had, er, unidentifiable stains, and at that time my olfactory sensitivities were monumental. Also, I couldn’t verbalise my problems so this reflected in my behaviour. I was either ‘showing off’, ‘naughty’ or ‘moody’. Moody, I’ll hold my hand up to but I wasn’t ever intentionally naughty and I was too introverted to ‘show off’. What I was, was overwhelmed…

It also pissed me off how flies used to do that circles round the light fittings. Why do they do that? Daddy Long Legs were much bigger when I was a child. They. Were. HUGE. Spiders were the size of COWS and the world was against me in general. Despite all this, I was supposed to enjoy myself?

Sometimes we stayed in B & B’s. I HATED that. It was bad enough being in a strange place with my own family without having to cope with being around strange people too? Strange sociable people who really annoyed me with their constant, “Are you going to give me a smile?’

No. Eff off.

I didn’t say the F word, obvs, as Mum would have ended my life, but I certainly thought it. Why couldn’t they understand that I looked miserable because I FELT miserable?

Then there were the days out..

If I was lucky there would be a plan and I’d know where I was going (sort of) but more often than not Mum and Dad did the ‘spontaneous thing’ which cremated my brain. The result?

This.

Beach days were the worst.

What child doesn’t like the beach?

Me.

I like it now (when it’s empty) but not then. Never then..

I considered it a breach of my human rights to be made to take my clothes off on a beach in front of strangers.

“Who do you think’s looking at you?!”

Well, I don’t know, Mother, perverts perhaps?

To be fair, most children stripped off without a care in the world but I wasn’t like them was I? I was a self-aware misfit. I refused to remove so much as a sock without Mum standing in front of me with the biggest bath towel we had and even then I tried to keep my knickers on under my bikini bottoms. Yes, I was that girl.

One bikini in particular stands out in my memory. I was about 4 or 5 but it was way too big for me. In those days, you had to grow into stuff so nothing fitted. The top was more like a scarf and the bottoms were saggy-arsed which was dead amusing, apparently. The relief when I was upgraded to a swimsuit was IMMENSE!

The whole beach experience was an onslaught to the senses. The smells. The noise. The stimuli..

We had a little Calour Gas stove and I liked the smell of the gas. Possibly inhaled more than what was healthy for me, though. Then there was Ambre Solaire which Mum and Dad slavered over themselves. They’d sit and sizzle in their deck-chairs, havin’ a smoke and drinking countless cups of tea and be in some kind of heaven while me and my brother whinged like buggery – him because he was stuck with his moody little sister and me because I wanted to be sand free and back HOME with my Enid Blyton’s.

I feel guilty about it now because Mum and Dad worked hard to keep us fed, clothed and living in a nice clean home. They deserved a nice holiday but I always managed to spoil it for them, not that it was EVER deliberate.

When it comes to weather – THAT summer of 76 overrules all other summers in my entire memory.

In the Summer of 76, the average house cost £12,704. Wages were about £72 p/w (in those days they came home via a brown envelope) and a loaf of bread cost 19 pence. 19p!!! You could get a huge bag of sweets for like 5p. Imagine that, Kids?!

It was, like, SOOOOOOOO hot, the tarmac on the roads melted. Google it!

Chopper bikes, Space Hoppers, Quosh (warm), water shortages, IRA bombings, unemployment, flares, platform shoes, white dog poo, really great music, really shite music, melty roads and deviant DJs. The 70’s had the lot. I don’t remember the serious stuff because I was just a kid. What I do remember is how uncomfortable I felt in general. Summer is supposed to be fun but it’s not that simple for sensitive souls is it? Plus, I have to remove my cardi, which is like asking an NT to remove a kidney.

Dare I say, roll on Autumn?

“Summer will end soon enough, and childhood as well.”~ George R.R Martin ~ Game of Thrones

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Lion, the Witch and my Wardrobe

When you’re an adult, a wardrobe is just a piece of furniture. It’s somewhere to hang your clothes and store boxes of old photographs from when you were young and energetic, not to mention packing a full set of hormones. To a child, however, it’s a porthole into another world especially if they’ve read (or seen) The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe..

The plot, of course, is that four children are evacuated from London in World War Two and sent to live with a professor who lives in a large country house with big wardrobes. The youngest child, Lucy, has a root round the Prof’s house and finds a wardrobe which also happens to be a portal to a magical land called Narnia. Having pushed past all the moth-balled infused fur coats, she wanders out into a forest where there is a lamppost. Here she meets a dodgy looking bloke who invites her to his house for tea (always say no, kids) but it turns out that this bloke, Tumnus, intends to betray her to Narnia’s resident evil overlord known as ‘the White Witch’. The White Witch has ruled over Narnia for, like, ever, keeping it in a permanent state of Winter. This is to keep the Narnians in their place though it may be due to a bad case of hayfever she had once, who knows? Anyhoo, old frosty chops has an intense dislike for humans so the Narnians are under orders that, should they happen across one of the blighters, they are to turn them in or she’ll start removing fingers/claws/whatever. Tumnus is well up for a bit o’ betrayal in the beginning but changes his mind when he realises he likes Lucy. Oops! Now he feels proper shit that he wanted to hand her over to the Refrigerated One so he does the decent thing and takes her back to the lamppost which is where it all goes tits up. You know how it goes…

When I was about 8 years old, Mum and Dad bought a wardrobe for my room, well, actually it was a combi-robe which was a combined unit of a mirror, shelves, drawers and a single wardrobe. However, to me, it was more than a piece of furniture..

I liked to sit in my wardrobe.

There, I’ve said it.

Thing is, I used to feel safe in there, especially if it had been a bad day at school.

It was a confined space, even for me, who was of Borrower proportions, but I could sit in my little wardrobe, close the door, and cry it all out without anybody knowing..

I was also familiar with The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by then, having read the book and seen it on TV so I would re-enact it because my imaginative play was always about acting out what I’d seen in life or on TV.

The concept of a magical world being accessible from inside my wardrobe fascinated me. What would I have given for it to be true? Only, in my magical world, evil witches wouldn’t be allowed because there was one of those at school masquerading as my class teacher..

A few years later we moved house and two things stopped me throwing the MOTHER of all meltdowns. One was Dad buying me the new Adam and the Ants LP and the other was the walk in wardrobe in my new bedroom. Never mind sit down, I could go horizontal in this one! WOOHOO! The wardrobe also had pretty brass knobs on which I liked to mess with.. which did not please my mother.

“Have you been messing with these ruddy knobs again, Madam?”

“Er, no” and I’d leg it downstairs as fast as my fluffy slippers could carry me.

One of my favourite wardrobes, EVER, was my Nan and Grandad’s because it was JUST like the wardrobe in The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe and yes I did shut myself in it until the whiff of moth balls put me into a coma, Not sure about Narnia but I did find a nice clasp handbag filled with various corn plasters and a few furry Polo mints..

It was easier to re-enact the story in an 1800s Gloucestershire house than in my 1960s built bedroom. More authentic, y’know? Well, as authentic as it can be until your mum walks in and bollocks you for ‘rooting’ through your Nan’s things..

I’m not sure how old I was when I finally stopped sitting (not a typo) in wardrobes. No doubt marriage and motherhood left me with little time to indulge my love of wardrobe interiors. Also, they were jammed full of cricket paraphernalia, old shoes and other such crap that builds up when one has to share their abode.

Then there was that incident where one of the kids mistook their wardrobe for the toilet. *shudders*

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if Narnia existed though, eh? Without the resident bitch, of course.

How fabulous would be to have a really shit day and declare, ‘SOD IT. I AM OFF TO NARNIA!’ Though knowing my luck (and tendency for catastrophic thinking) I would most likely step out into the forest and be instantly mauled to death by a psychotic beaver..

Maybe I’m too old for sitting in wardrobes but I will never be too old to revisit Narnia via the book..

See you there?

“I wrote this story for you, but when I began it I had not realized that girls grow quicker than books. As a result you are already too old for fairy tales, and by the time it is printed and bound you will be older still. But some day you will be old enough to start reading fairy tales again. You can then take it down from some upper shelf, dust it, and tell me what you think of it. I shall probably be too deaf to hear, and too old to understand a word you say, but I shall still be your affectionate Godfather, C. S. Lewis.”

C. S Lewis ~ The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe

Creative Commons Image Via Pixabay