We all have funny recollections of childhood and they make fascinating reading. No life story should be without them. Kid’s have some crazy ideas. One of my weird beliefs was that the moon was made of cheese. Well you know, all the craters did look like Swiss cheese so I believed the stories. Seven years later I saw men leaping around on the moon’s surface and it was a very different story.
Memories of childhood can be funny, and you are well-advised to mine this treasure trove. Here are a few anecdotes:
I’ll Show You Mine
In Infants school, by the time I’d reached Grade 1 there were at least two goddesses I’d fallen crazy in love with. At night I even slept with both of them in my dreams. We lay in bed side by side (I was in the middle) and we snuggled but I can’t remember ever touching. They were so beautiful – Helen and Alison.
With no sisters, my knowledge of girls was zero and my interactions with them comprised a total fantasy world.
So it was with trepidation in Grade 2 in the playground one day, I was confronted with a more practical down to earth interaction with Jenny Hallmark as a representative of the fairer sex. I liked Jenny. She was athletic with lovely olive skin.
‘I’ll show you mine,’ she said, ‘if you show me yours’.
Even to slow old me, I knew the implication. This was to be a pivotal moment in my education. She smiled, confident and enthusiastic. I hesitated, a little embarrassed. Her face went serious – it was indeed an earnest invitation to swap views.
‘Well,’ I shrugged and stuttered, ‘I’m not sure.’
But Jenny was persistent. ‘Come on, I’ll show you mine if you show me yours’.
‘OK. You go first.’ (I’d always been curious about the difference.)
And she promptly whipped down her knickers to her ankles and stood up straight again, with her skirt bunched in her fingers.
I was stunned, immobile for several interminable seconds. Oh my goodness. They were right – she didn’t even have a willy! Such strange creatures, these girls.
She reached down, pulled up her panties and said, ‘OK, your turn.’
‘No way,’ I shook my head and ran for my life as fast as my skinny little legs could carry me. Thankfully Jenny didn’t chase me because she was bigger and much faster than me.
When it comes to sex, I suppose I’ve always been pretty courageous.
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Trench full of rainwater
Here is a great anecdote from Clive James (from Unreliable Memoirs) when he was a young boy:
We went to stay with my Aunt Dot in Jannali . . . At the bottom of the back yard lay an air-raid trench full of rainwater. I fell into it within minutes of arriving. Hearing a distant splash, Aunt Dot, who was no sylph, came through the back door like a train out of a tunnel and hit the lawn running. The door, a flyscreen frame with a return spring, made exactly the same sound as one of those punching bags you try your strength on. Aunt Dot was attired in a pink corset but it didn’t slow her down. She covered the ground like Marjorie Jackson, the girl who later became famous as the Lithgow Flash. The earth shook. I was going down for the third time but I can distinctly remember the moment she launched herself into the air, describing a parabolic trajectory which involved, at one point, a total eclipse of the sun. She landed in the trench beside me. Suddenly we were sitting together in the mud. All the water was outside on the lawn. Usually my mother was first to the rescue. This time she was second. She had to resuscitate both of us.
As you can see, a bit of exaggeration goes a long way to capturing the magic of humour.
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Here’s an extract from My Place by Sally Morgan about home improvements:
From a bin of specials in a wallpaper shop, Mum had purchased eight rolls of chocolate-brown Paisley print wallpaper. It wasn’t nearly enough to cover all the walls, but Mum reasoned that it was better to have one feature wall of Paisley print than none at all. It would give our place a bit of class.
Having paid out for wallpaper, she wasn’t about to pay out for glue, buckets, rollers or a ladder. Instead, she dragged out a large tin of glue from the laundry, which she mixed up in the bath. Our ladder was three pine crates piled on top of one another near the wall, and as for rollers, well, as Mum so succinctly put it, what were hands for?
. . . [The wallpapering proceeded rather less professionally than had been hoped]
Unfortunately, Mum wasn’t one to admit failure. She urged me on with comments like ‘It’s beautiful, Sally, you’re so clever with your hands’ and, ‘We’ll have the best house in the street after tonight!’
At one stage, Nan came in and, seeing us balancing on top of the crates completely obscured by the wallpaper, which had somehow flopped backwards over our heads, commented, ‘I’m livin’ in a nut house! You two are the silliest buggers I know.’ Mum blew her top and Nan left, chuckling. She was always pleased when she upset someone . . . Nan was right, the pattern was all mixed up. Mum salvaged some pride by muttering, ‘We can say we did it that way deliberately’.