Thursday, July 05, 2007
Ordinary Life 1
I have been asked by a Cognitive Therapist to write some brief notes about significant events in my life. I apologise in advance if they get a bit personal. Some find the public baring of souls an uneasy process. I do. There will be photos but I need to find a few first.
My father was a corporal in the RAF, he signed up to avoid national service. This wasn’t such a bad idea, the services allowed him to pursue an education beyond A’ levels. In particular he learned Russian to help fight the cold war. I think the pay was better.
My mother had had various jobs, hairdresser, librarian and school assistant but did not work while her children were below school age. She followed my father from Kent to Scotland where I was conceived. And subsequently when he was posted to Calne, in Wiltshire, where I was born. They moved to follow RAF postings.
I was born July 3rd 1959. Despite being a child of the fifties I have no clear memories of the times.
My sister Melissa was born on June 6th 1960. I can't help but think that she must have come as a slight surprise to my parents.
We lived in a remote farm labourers cottage for a few years. I have fond memories, but I know the lack of services and neighbours must have been a challenge.
In 1964 a second sister, Claire was born. We moved from Wiltshire to South Gloucestershire. A village called Swineford, halfway between Bristol and Bath. The move was probably to be nearer to the college in Bath where my father was training to be a teacher. The house was a wilderness of cabbages, and beside a river that ran through our lives like time. As my sisters and I grew there, our horizons moved from house to garden to village and later to the lure of the cities. For each in our way, it was leaving home that showed us how lucky we were.
I started at Upton Cheyney School in 1966, a little late as I was six at the time, and found that my mothers instruction in reading riting and rithmatic had put me several steps ahead. I really couldn't understand quite why Mrs Cooper wanted me to copy out my name by tracing her letters, but I did. I wrote my address underneath it as well just for good measure. Then she gave me a book to read and a picture to colour in and some sums.
After that I had to write a daily diary. My uncle Hugh rescued some of these and gave them back to me a couple of years ago.
I had mixed feelings about school. Every girl I ever met I fell in love with, and yet I was very shy and just couldn't bring myself to play kiss chase.
Kids gathered there every day from a couple of small villages and the scattered farms of the Cotswold escarpment. We learned and listened to stories and songs on the radio. We played games of war and football. Made ice slides in the winter. Dug escape tunnels on the tump and accompanied Mr Cook and Miss Lapinierre on nature walks deep into the Cotswolds green mystery. On birthdays Mrs Lacey, the school cook, would make chicken and chips for us all. At three thirty some went home by car but most of us walked.
In 1968 my father left home and was soon living with a girl he had earlier met in college. I remember crying when I was told that he wouldn't be coming home, but I can also remember the shouting that went on downstairs, and that didn't have much to recommend it. Twenty years later, when my own first marriage fell, my mother told me that there was fault on both sides.
I don't remember missing dad a great deal at that time. I didn’t really meet him again to any degree until I was an adult.