Friday, June 17, 2005

In which I have good intentions but no staying power

Well. As you all know (how would you? Of course you don't know. I just wanted to write that. Forgive me.) I am a sucker for a challenge*.

* This is not true. If anyone ever says in a 'don't get too excited I'm about to ask you to do something REALLY SHIT' tone of voice "I've got a challenge for you", my instinctive reaction is to freeze, stand very still like a statue and stay that way until they go away.

Well anyway. I could delete all that because a) it is rambling and stupid and b) I have used an asterisk in an inappropriate way and my God I HATE that. See? You see what I mean? I don't HATE that! I don't even hate it in lower case. I am clearly deranged and if anyone knows a really good lobotomist I would be grateful.

(Takes deep breath. Sucks in passing fly. Hacks up lungs. Wonders what life means. Concludes that it means nothing. Balefully chews on fly.)

Leah has kindly included me on her meme-y thingy. Which is lovely of her, and I shall play along like the good girl I know myself not to be but maybe once could have been had I not been infused with Satan at a very early age.

So here goes.

The rules:Remove the blog at #1 from the following list and bump everyone up one place; add your blog's name in the #5 spot. You need to link to each of the other blogs for the desired cross-pollination of your chosen blogs.

1JustAskJudy
2.Angie at HomeGrown
3. Mistress Mary
4. Lakeline...I don't know
5. Léonie..sometimes funny

And the idea is to list five things you miss from your childhood. Nice idea, isn't it? (say yes.)
I'm not sure that the following are things I miss, necessarily, but they are certainly things I remember and that I loved, so that counts.

1. The Snails.
Odd place to start, I grant you. This is what came into my head first, and to be honest in this head of mine, where the wastelands are barren and the tumbleweed is free to roam, I have to take any idea I get and run with it. My sisters (Alex [older] and Sophie [younger]) and I used to, as children, collect snails. We had watched the snails in horror for some time now. We could not quite believe that these slow benevolent creatures, without a cruel bone in their bodies (yes, I know, snails don't have bones. It's an EXPRESSION! Leave me alone. No, no, come back! This means nothing without you!) were being picked up by great big feathery assassins and literally BEATEN to death on stones and other hard things. Imagine. Just slithering along thinking about how nice it was to have a little house on your VERY OWN BACK and look where I've been you can see my little trail sparkling and glistening in the sunlight and then WHAM! It's over. But, we imagined, not after a considerable amount of pain. This bothered us. Well, it probably bothered Alex. I worshipped my Big Sister more than ANYTHING so I imagine I just nodded fervently and cried imitation tears, while Sophie just picked her nose or lifted up her dress or something. So we Did Something About It. Oh yes. We decided that we, the Higgins sisters of Hertfordshire, England, were going to save these poor, under-appreciated beasts from their plight. So we got plasters from the first aid box in the house, and neatly stuck a band-aid over the shell of every snail we could find. That way, we reasoned, the birds would not be able to crack the shells to get to the vulnerable, squishy snaily bit inside. HA! Take THAT Mother Nature! We also decided to steal bricks from the neighbours' walls and build a little house for them. Our collection was renowned throughout the whole of our garden for being the BEST and probably also the coolest. We fed them on cereal. Primarily muesli. Specifically Alpen. They loved it.
The whole shebang came to a rather abrupt halt when we tried to smuggle them to Granny's house in a cardboard box and they escaped in the car. Since then my sisters and I are banned from taking wild animals in the car with us anywhere. Or, in fact, keeping wild animals in brick cages and feeding them on Alpen. Even though it's for their own good. This has put a dampner on many budding relationships for the three of us, I can tell you.

2. Piano Lessons.
I play the cello, my sisters both play the violin. Alex also plays the piano and guitar because she is cooler than Sophie and I, who spend our time shopping and writing bollocks on the Interweb, respectively. Anyway. I had piano lessons when I was little, and I do NOT play the piano now. (No, I am too modest. I can bash out a mean 'bit before I Dreamed A Dream from Les Mis')
Anyway. The reason is that I had some fucking strange piano teachers. I don't know how my mother found them. Maybe she was skimming through the Yellow Pages and came across a particularly moving advert about the plight of bizarre and unnerving music teachers and decided to do her bit for them. Much like my sisters and the snails. Maybe she could get some kind of wristband.
Anyway. Piano teacher #1. Mr Sexton. (Oh, come on. You know it's funny. It's a name, right, but it has the word SEX in it! See? Funny.)
He was, I'm sure a perfectly normal person. It's just that, at the age of ten, certain things freak you out a little more than they would now when you've matured into a sensible well-adjusted adult. (Don't laugh like that! This may be the Internet, but I can STILL HEAR YOU)
Mr Sexton had a skin condition on his face. It might've been bad ezcema, but to my untrained eye it was just this peel-y flake-y rash-y lurgy. And he had VERY strange glasses as well. I think they were tinted. NOT normal. Anyway so the upshot of it was that he couldn't see very well, because the room was a bit dark, and I have to presume that he might have been a little blind. He had to lean right over the keyboard as I was thumping out my C major scale, so that his face was quite close to mine, and he would dab at the red flake-iness with an oversized hanky, causing bits of skin to fall, like elegant snowflakes, onto my hands. I know, and I know I knew then, that it is Not On to mock people because they have strange skin allergies, or funny glasses for that matter. But his skin was coming off all over my hands, people. Now I don't know about you, but for me that is not conducive to good learning.
So we moved on. To Miss Saunders. A lady who had a very dark house with a large, heavy wooden door that opened with a definite creak, smacking of all things Scoody-Doo to my young eyes. She had huge oil paintings of various saints all over the piano-lesson room, whose eyes almost definitely were following me and only me. Miss Saunders drank hot water, plain. And smelled funny. Anyway, to cut a long story short, Miss Saunders turned out to be the leader of a cult. And even though it was some kind of suburban, Middle England breed of cult, it was definitely, and unmistakably a cult.
Piano lessons trailed off after that.

3. The Next Door Girl Gang.
The NDGG (oh yes, we were acronyming it up back then) came about when we discovered that we had lots of girls living in the next door houses to ours. To the left, there was Charlotte and Sophie. To the right, Anna. And in the house to the right of Anna there was Sarah, Becky and Lottie (who, just to through a bit of spanner in the works, had a dog called Sophie). We had a big tree in our garden, in which we sat every weekend, all weekend long. We had to sit in age order - a rule imposed by Alex, and adhered to strictly. In case you are at all interested, the order of seating was as follows:
Alex
Me (second! score!)
Charlotte
Sarah
Becky
Big Sophie ( my sister)
Little Sophie (next door)
Lottie
Actually though, thinking about it, Sarah was older than me, and Becky was older than Charlotte. And Lottie older than Big Sophie. So, in reality, it was just an order that had very little to do with age, and more to do with superiority. We used to sit in our ranks up the tree, ordering the little ones to go and get drinks, snacks, and, in fact, anything we desired, while we reclined in the upper branches, necking vodka and getting smacked up to the eyeballs. Ah, the heady days of youth. Actually I can't really remember what exactly we did in that tree. I remember concocting elaborate games, our favourite of that ilk being a game called "The Queen of Sheba", not quite as romantic as you might think. As I recall it involved running very fast from place to place, taking hostages and using weapons. There might have been an ultimate prize to be captured, but there might well not have been. That game was disturbingly similar to another game, imaginatively titled "War". I think there might have been more weaponary and a larger field of play. You know the old adage - gratuitous violence and heavy artillery: That's what little girls are made of.

Hmm.. This is supposed to be a list of things I miss about my childhood. So, technically I can't tell you about the time I broke my nose on my knee whilst attempting to execute a particularly challenging feat of gymnastics on the sofa (read: a head over heels with a run up). I remember the tragic thing being that I had put my new leotard on especially for the occasion and when my stupid nose exploded on my knee my leotard got blood all over it and had to be thrown away. My gymnastics career came to a rather abrupt halt at that point, I seem to recall.

Right. So. I suppose there are a lot of things about my childhood that I miss, but unlike Leah my things are not really specific. My memory tends to be a bit erractic - I have impressions of things rather that specific, detailed recollections of particular people or places. Almost like it is a lot clearer if I happen to catch a distant memory without meaning to, but the minute I try to focus to closely on it it disappears. There are a couple of things that stand out. Listening to my Mum's pregnant stomach and trying very hard to hear my little sister moving. Seeing Sophie when she had just been born and mentally registering that she appeared to be in a shopping trolley with a blanket in it. Going on holiday as a family and always singing " We're All Going On A Summer Holiday" very loudly, even if we were going skiing. Naming my hamster 'Apple' and my toy cat 'Elephant'. It was grey. That still makes sense to me. Being made to do cello practice everyday, even if I was ill (Mark - if you're reading this, you know I mean 'cello).

Actually there is loads of stuff. Much of it about my sisters as well. Like the time Alex skipped into a lamp-post, or when Sophie leapt wildly from Granny's sofa and went straight through the glass coffee table.

But... I am going to pass the torch now as I'm getting bored a little bit. I think maybe it's because of the seven hours sleep I've had in the last48 hours. But it was all worth it - I went to see U2 in concert last night at Twickenham and they rocked. And my ticket was free with work (my job has its perks) so it made all the more special and exciting.

So here are my nominations for continuing the meme:

Bug (don't give up! Here is some stuff to write about!)
Doug
Jenny
Number1hypocrite

That's it for this post. I have limped through my leg of the relay race, let everyone down by being the slowest member (Ha! Meme-ber!) of the team. But here it is, the baton. Do with it what you will.

5 Comments:

Blogger Leah said...

Wow. The part about the snails made me laugh so hard. Well, mainly it was the part about how you're banned from having wildlife in the car. Nothing like a really specific ban. And what if you found a really rare baboon or something that you needed to take to a zoo? :)

3:50 pm

 
Anonymous number1hypocrite said...

I'll do it!

But give me a few days. I'm busy this week.

2:53 am

 
Blogger Bug said...

Oh my giddy god - I have to think up things again?? OK!!! :D

I love snails. I think they're cute! I'm glad you tried to save them

10:37 am

 
Blogger mapletree7 said...

Nonsequitur alert: Are you named after the Georgette Heyer character named Leonie?

9:38 pm

 
Anonymous Jenny said...

Is it bad that all it made me think of was yummy escargot? Am I horrible?

Thank you so much for the nod, but I've given up blogging, but alas for you, not the semi-annoying, non-funny comments. ;)

5:32 pm

 

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