What exactly do we recollect when we reminisce about our childhood? Is it authentic experiences or recollections that have been recounted by others? In this article, I aim to share some of my earliest memories and shed light on my upbringing during the 70s and 80s, on a run down council estate in Felixstowe. While some of these memories may not be entirely accurate, I have a strong conviction that they did occur.
At what age are you supposed to have your earliest memories? I have a vivid recollection of lying in a hospital bed at just over two years old, with my parents bringing me a large red toy. I can’t quite recall if it was a London bus or a fire engine, but if I had to guess, I’d say it was the latter since my father used to be a firefighter.
Why was I in the hospital? My parents were away on their honeymoon in London, so my Nana was taking care of me. However, before long, I found myself in the burns unit after spilling boiling hot coffee down my back. Despite no long-term scars, the incident left a lasting mental impact. As a result, I’ve avoided hot drinks ever since.
Nana makes another appearance in my next memory, which also includes a hospital visit. At the time, I was still quite young and being difficult, refusing to walk down Garrison Lane. Nana scooped me up in her arms, but unfortunately, my chubby frame caused her to drop me. After receiving a plaster for my scraped knees and a lollipop from a kind nurse, I felt much better. It’s worth noting that neither of my first two memories prominently feature my parents, except for brief appearances when they picked me up from the hospital.
The third recollection I have is of the old man and myself engaging in play fighting. He hurled me against our shoddy couch, which, in the 70s, was of inferior quality and a ghastly shade of brown. Oddly enough, it possessed unusual wooden armrests, which is precisely what I landed on! The impact caused my nose to burst open, resulting in a profusion of blood. This catastrophe necessitated another visit to the emergency room.
There are some memories that don’t involve accidents, injuries, or hospitals. I recall having a Crying Boy picture at the top of our stairs, which was believed to be cursed and responsible for house fires. Although our Crying Boy didn’t cause any fire, it did suffer some damage. One night, my mother went on a rampage, tearing off the wallpaper, smearing tomato sauce everywhere, breaking records, and burning a lot of things at the bottom of our garden. I can still vividly remember seeing the old man’s fire station shirts covered in Heinz Ketchup scattered across the garden, along with the burnt remains of our beloved Crying Boy.
As the middle child among my siblings, I often found myself alone. My two older sisters weren’t exactly the most enjoyable playmates and my younger siblings were simply too young to engage with. When the older ones did come together to play, it always seemed to end in trouble for myself and my sister Tracey, thanks to our sister Paula. Paula had a tendency to tell on us for everything. I remember one time when Paula was throwing objects at us, and Tracey finally had enough and threw a stone back, accidentally breaking a window. Paula let out a loud scream. Our mother came running out wielding a metal spoon, and of course, Paula played the innocent victim while Tracey and I received a harsh spanking.
The spoon in question bore a resemblance to the one depicted below, albeit sturdier in build, and featuring perforations on the underside with razor-sharp edges capable of drawing blood upon impact with our little bottoms.
The spoon inflicted more painful blows on my rear than it successfully extracted the tiny green creatures it was designed for. It was an unpleasant sensation. As for the spoon’s fate, I was the culprit. At the age of 14, I intentionally bent it repeatedly until it broke into two pieces. After that, I disposed of it with the weekly rubbish.
Another pea spoon classic came after the use of a felt tip pen, tracing paper, and our dining room curtains. Someone had drawn a diamond shape on the curtains, ruling out Rory and Tamara as the culprits due to their age. This left Tracey, Paula, and myself, with me being the youngest at 7 years old. We were informed that we were playing a game with a surprise for the winner.
As a 7-year-old, diamonds were unfamiliar to me and here I was having to sketch one. Tracey led the way by drawing her diamond, followed by Paula, and then me. Regrettably, I copied Paula’s diamond. Surprisingly, mine was declared the winner, even though I had just copied Paula’s.
I got the spoon. Twice. First time I put my hands on my bum. The spoon hurts the fingers more than the bum! I soon moved my fingers away and the harsh realities of metal on arse continued.
It was savoury mince, veg and potatoes for tea. I left my peas.