Friday, 17 April 2015

Don't Look Back in Anger

Right, this week I'm going to be 40 and so what?  Well, what it is, is this:

There are times when I have looked back at parts of my life and felt unhappy, angry even.  This has occasionally been a useful tool to spur me towards the things that I wanted to achieve (as John Lydon so beautifully, and accurately, put it "anger is an energy"); had I been brought up in a privileged bubble perhaps I wouldn't have been quite so hungry for the experiences I have pursued.

But enough is enough.  And so I am resolved, that every time I feel a little bit "poor me" I will make a point of reminding myself of all the great things that I have had, and do have in my life.  In that spirit, here are the five very best things that I am grateful for having as a child:

Every child needs this book!
1. Books.  Whatever else we were short on, there were more books in the house than I could read.  Thank you to my parents for buying "Would You Rather" which me and my brother would pore over for hours, and now my children read, daring each other to choose the least unpalatable way to be killed by an animal.  Thank also to my mum for buying me a "Woman's Experience of Sex" which was thrilling, educating and horrifying in equal measures to me and my twelve year old friends (and their parents - it's not every day you can sit on a wall in Winklebury and read an instructive paragraph on female masturbation).

2. Nursery Rhymes.  One of the teachers at my local school told me that she sees children starting school who haven't had nursery rhymes sung to them.  If I find the parents that aren't singing Humpty Dumpty to their babies then I'm going to hit them over the head with a book of nursery rhymes.  These songs stretch down generations, and have saved us more than once - on one particularly horrendous occasion Old MacDonald's farm extended to incorporate a zoo as our infant daughter screamed her head off until we added another animal....

3.  40-40 In.  No, this is not the stronger version of the revolting drink 20-20.  This is perhaps the best game ever and perfect to play on a council estate where there are rabbit warrens of alleyways and where boundaries can be clearly drawn between the houses of your mates.  Whatever you do, don't be a post-hanger.  Nobody likes them.

4.  Living on an estate.  Aged 8, I could walk to the doctors, dentists, Co-op (before they were "good with food" - who the hell thought that up, it only rhymes if you're Scottish!), bike shop, hairdressers, chemist, primary school, grocers, wool shop, and all of my friend's houses without having to cross a road.  It was the safest bloody place on the planet and the doctor's waiting room had a cool picture of Superman defeating Nic-O-Teen.  This was slightly at odds with the fact I could also buy cigarettes if I had a note from my parents.

5.  Freedom.  No devices and rarely any watches meant that we could go out to play "until it gets dark" and could focus on playing 40-40 or fighting or hiding dog poo under piles of grass, or lying on our backs (once we'd checked for dog poo under piles of grass) looking for shapes in clouds.  We never ventured too far, and there was always a parent who knew what was going on - or reminding us when it was time to go in - like the mum who we could set our watches by (if we had one) as she'd bellow "Riiicharrrrrrrd!" when it was time for tea (her son was called Richard, it wasn't her code-name for teatime) but we felt free - something that I now realise was a priceless gift.

So there you go, no looking back in anger, just five reasons to be very, very cheerful indeed.

Soundtrack: Don't Look Back in Anger - Oasis

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  1. Happy 40th to you this week! LIFE certainly starts now!

    1. Thanks Fiona, I am very much looking forward and feeling excited! xx