Life – Terror. Ecstasy. Fight. Denial. Flight. Failure. PAIN. Forgiveness. Reconciliation. Hope. Love. Peace – Death
I was spoilt, as a child, the baby of the family I usually got what I wanted (within limits). Nothing big and nothing too unrealistic, as we didn’t have that much money, small things, lots of small things.
I was born with a shock of bright red hair. I came from (under) a carrot, mum said, Carol, coming from (under) a cabbage although even at that age I didn’t really get it as Carol didn’t have green hair?
My red hair is something I have been reminded of forever. Cousin, Claire telling me that when visiting me as a new born, for the very first time ‘she didn’t like me’ (the red hair). I have reminded her of this at least once a year for the past 50+ years.
Apparently mine, as was Carol’s, was a difficult birth, mum was very petite, she could have been six inches shorter than five foot? She struggled with both births (possibly another near death experience)? Mum had several near death experiences in her brief life.
I was a difficult child in many ways, a very fussy eater, very slight of build, I wore glasses from an early age, sickly, a bad sleeper (I would lay awake long into the night imagining that I was ‘General Jim’, from the Dandy Comic, a child general in-charge of a vast (miniature), remote controlled army (in my day-dreams) I would reek retribution on everybody who had ever perpetrated an injustice upon me.
I was Joe 90 and before he existed, the Milky Bar Kid.
I was bright (surprisingly) passing the 11+ examination. And imaginative. I would tell many small fibs (lies) and invent elaborate stories, expansive, imaginary tales creating my own world (my version of the world where I found happiness?). I had, regular nightmares, imagining monsters traveling thru the waste drains, thru the plug hole in the bath, hiding in the wardrobe.
I would often dream I was falling, usually from the same place, the Raller, an old iron bridge that traversed the railway near to home. I would fall but never ever hit the ground. In this dream Dad would always save me. I would be falling to certain death and he would ‘fly’ to my rescue, catching me mid fall, he would always be wearing just his ‘dad’ white vest and undies (that he slept in), he would swoop down, like a flying Superhero taking me in his arms saving me. I never ever told him of my dreams.
I loved to read and write my own stories, coming third in a national (schools) essay writing completion for which I was given a prize and awarded a very grand certificate. I can remember the certificate, from Cadburys Chocolate, I have no clue what my story was about or what was the prize, I presume it must have been chocolate.
More than anything else I loved my bike, the vehicle for my imagination. I would regularly escape on my bike riding off into imaginary worlds. At a young age, often traveling three, four even five miles or more. My adventures sometimes got me into trouble, ‘gangs’ (of youngsters) defending their territory. I was fast, agile and on most occasions I would escape although I remember one very narrow escape, near Netherton (Bootle) having been attacked by a gang of Gypsy travelers (kids but older than myself) wanting to relieve me of my precious bike. It was a very close shave and I knew it.
Pre-school days – I had a fascination with keys, any keys, all keys. So much so I would steal them from corned-beef tins, from shelves in shops. Once, on returning home from ‘Greens’ the local grocery store I proudly displayed the contents of my pockets to mum, between 5-10 cornbeef tin keys. She slapped my legs and dragged me back to the shop to return my treasure (Corned Beef keys) to Mr Green.
I loved comic books and collected DC comics, Superman was my favorite. I loved my bike more. I mention my bike twice as it was that important to me. I could escape on my bike, my release, my coping mechanism. I was General Jim leading my army from on top of my tank putting the world to right.
Although I was spoilt I never always got my own way.
Dad was in his 40’s when I was born and set in his ways, not as in difficult but he was who he was and at 40 he wasn’t going to change. Growing up (between aged nine and my early teens) there were some iconic TV programmes, influential programmes in relation to popular culture. Top of the Pops, The Man from Uncle and Monty Python’s, three iconic shows that ‘everybody’ watched, everybody that is apart my dad (and by default myself and Carol).
We would ask, plead, beg, cry and moan. I would wait eagerly every week in anticipation, in hope, thinking that this would be the week dad would relent, cave in and allow (us) to watch? That day never came, he ignored our protests, pleading and continued to watch the news or Panorama or whatever rather than watch ‘that rubbish’.
Carol, being older, was eventually allowed to watch at friends.
I would be the only kid in school (my class), the next day unable to join in the conversations about the previous nights episode(s). I was automatically excluded and i hated it. I was ashamed of not being included. Eventually, I learned to pretend that I had seen them, not saying too much to be found out but just enough to feel included. This continued until I was old enough to be allowed to watch at a friends (Jimmys) house. I was jealous of Jimmy’s Mum and Dad, compared with my parents, they were so progressive, so young, playful? Interested? Always watching hip, young TV shows.
Looking back? I was hard on my dad (and mum). Jimmy’s parents were just younger? And they were two, a pair? For most of my childhood I experienced only one parent, even whilst mum was still alive?
Thanks for reading