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.

13 comments:

headless chicken said...

Absolutely fascinating Meredic!
.....but I guess there's more....maybe oneday you will tell how things were with your dad as an adult?...or maybe not.
Apart from your parents separation your childhood sounds idyllic. Your Mums instruction on the three r's explain your brilliant writing...even on a blog it's obvious!
I do feel sad that kids these days have so much less freedom than our generation did as kids.
A really interesting post...Being a nosey type,I hope there's more to come!

DaveM said...

I must admit whenever I read articles like this I never really know what to say. Its very interesting and gives me a deeper insight in who you are and also perhaps more of an understanding into your writing.

Its a bit like working with someone, getting to know more about them and gradually moving up the trust triangle to where you feel comfortable divulging personal details to your colleagues.
Like H C's comments I hope there's more to come. HC also wrote an excellent piece about her life. Its a strange world reading these blogs where people divulge interesting facts about themselves when you may never meet them.

sablonneuse said...

Very interesting Meredic. Thank you for sharing your memories and I hope you will continue the story.
Your writing is most enjoyable.

Mike said...

No apology necessary, but I don't know how you do it. I know I never could. [Are you sure you are British?:)]

Is it too impertinent to ask why a therapist is asking you to do this?

For some reason I thought you had a brother as well, living in London? It appears I must have got the wrong end of the stick.

buffalodickdy said...

Funny how kids always remember the parent fights, no matter how few. My Mom and Dad were married 64 yrs, but when you're a little kid, you remember the hollering after you went to bed. I'm sure my kids would probably say the same. For the record, my father nor myself have ever laid a hand on a woman, but we were pretty good yellers!

john.g. said...

Meredic, that was interesting. My grand parents retired to 29 Bryn ceriol, Deganwy. years ago. Small world, I knew Conwy very well. Especially the old harbour.

Jayne said...

I agree with the above, fascinating reading. Looik forward to the pics too.

meredic said...

Headless chicken – I am flattered that you like it. Unfortunately my mum’s teaching never really got as far as punctuation and so I still need an editor. Hey I have written pages and pages of this nonsense. Will there be more indeed….

Davem – believe me I know exactly where you stand on this. ‘Intimate strangers’ and all that. Some of the blogs I read leave me lost.
I hope we do meet up some day.

Sabloneusse – thank you, you are very kind. Yes I have loads more of this up my sleeve. I shall not have to worry about bloggers block for at least a fortnight. And if the dog does something stupid who knows…I may be able to stretch it out until my holiday!

Mike – at last you have found the ‘other’ button!
The occupational health people at work are helping me look at why I am currently a school refuser! Not a matter for frivolity I know but after two decades as a teacher I need to understand why I walked out, in order to try and find a way back.
I am reluctant to give away plot spoilers but my brother couldn’t be in ‘the story so far’ as he hasn’t been born yet!

Buffalodickdy – yes it is amazing what we remember. Now that I have started to write some of this down, a whole load of memories of early childhood seem to be bursting top get out. I will need to write that first bit again.
A 64 year marriage is pretty impressive, do your food related notes stray back to childhood occasionally?
I hope I haven’t implied that my mum and dad ever fought physically. I am sure that was never the case.

John.g - thanks for dropping by. While a man of no religious conviction I find that these small world coincidences are just spooky sometimes. Truly the great Moo Moo is laughing as he dreams us in his sleep.
If you are ever over this way and fancy a pint….

Jayne – thank you. OK OK so I am meant to be doing some gardening this morning….. Oh all right. I shall have a look in the old photo box.

janeygirlfruitbat said...

I know a bit of this story but I like you filling in the blanks. I'm sorry you are a school refuser - you were so very good at what you did.

buffalodickdy said...

Meredic- I know you are not a violent person, and never meant to imply you or your father were. Life happens. I know too many people that were belted around by people that learned it from their parents, and thought it was the way it was. Life unfolds. I brought my sons up to understand when it's time to take action-you must! I also taught them harming people to get your way was wrong.
My sons grew up in a gentler neighborhood than I did. I learned to run when they were large, fight when they were bullies, and my communication skills(talking my way out of an ass-kicking!) are legendary!

meredic said...

janeygirlfruitbat - Welcome, I am filling in my own blanks, believe me. I think I might have the skeleton of a book about growing up in the sixties.
Please don't feel sorry for me.

buffalodickdy - i wasnt worried by what you had written, just that I might accidentally have implied that my parents fights were more than loud.

Mike said...

I found the Other button a while back, but you didn't notice me; I seem to join the party late on most of your entries.

Sorry to pre-empt your brother's arrival!

Sally Lomax said...

I loved this...