I am skipping ahead a little bit. The story of infertility and loss can get somewhat depressing, a hiatus is in order. To keep with the theme though, I have devised the following list of my top ten childhood memories. The adoption process requires a lot of inward reflection, so I am duly obliging.
Falling off my bike
The first memory is not a happy one, but it was a specific event that will stay with me. I was nine or ten, and cycling my racer up to my pal’s house along a newly gritted road. My tyre hits a drain grate, and the wheel buckles. As the bike comes to a sudden halt, my body continues, head over heels I land on my cranium, and skid along the road coming to a stop outside a house whose owner fortunately witnessed the whole thing.
As I lay in hospital, the nurses plucking gravel from my fresh wounds, my dad asks me what nine multiplied by nine is, the good old fashion distraction technique.
I lacerated my back, shoulders and head and still have a prominent scar on my shoulder blade.
Now when people ask me what happened, I pick my story from a host of lies, ranging from being shot by the Taliban to a shark attack near Bondi Beach.
Both my parents are Scottish, so as a child I frequently holidayed north of the border, only now realising what a magnificent country it is. I have very vivid memories of log cabins, playing cricket in the free space, and boating on the Lochs. One such memory is very specific…
Grandma’s water bottle
My Grandma was a hardened Royalist, and her house in St. Andrews remained seemingly plucked out of the 50s when my brother and I visited.
When the cold nights drew in, I was relieved to hear that my Grandma had kitted our beds out with hot water bottles. Only when I jumped into bed and nearly broke my foot did I realise her terminology for bottle was more literal than mine. The huge porcelain chamber held about 4 gallons of scolding liquid, and no doubt contained substances that the British Health Executive has long since banned.
Still, it kept my feet warm.
A gift for mum
I don’t know why I remember this. One day I visited a fete, I wanted to buy a gift for my brother, mum and dad, I can’t remember what I bought my dad and brother, but for my mum I bought, from a second hand stall, a lovely book about a woman named Ira.
It was about ten years later when I discovered who Ira was; the Irish Republican Army. Sorry Mum.
My Father was a rugby player; I wanted to follow in his footsteps. When I got picked for the school team, I was delighted, but my career as a rugby player came to an abrupt end when an opposition forward tackled me and my gum shield flew out of my mouth – my response – tears erupted as I cried for about ten minutes. That really put the fear of God in the opposition school, having the scrum half cry each time he got tackled.
I took up a less physically demanding sport, again the early signs were good, but alas, one day a sliding challenge I made resulted in a penalty. Yep you guessed it, the tears streamed down my cheeks, and to add salt into my wounds the other schools goalkeeper stepped up and blasted the ball into the onion bag.
As I write this I am listening to the Foo Fighters on my IPhone. I have over 200 songs to listen to, which today is pretty meagre.
When I was growing up and in the car heading north to Scotland, my brother let me listen to two albums – Def Leppard’s Hysteria, and Helloween Live in the UK! Back then at the tender aged of ten, I was into my heavy metal, and was also less constrained about singing along.
I can still recite the lyrics to every song.
Everyone probably feels this, but I think my era was the best. With Thundercats, He-Man and Transformers to name but a few, I grew up with the golden generation of children’s cartoons. So good they were in fact, I think I will do a separate post about this very subject.
Zsa Zsa Gabor
This is where things get a bit weird. My cub scout leader managed to persuade me to dress up like Zsa Zsa Gabor. I know we are steering rapidly into inappropriate territory here, but his rationale for dressing one of his cubs as a woman was not his own sexual gratification, but because I had a talent for accents.
We were putting on a show for the mums and dads based on some BBC show I can’t remember. Our Arkela asked someone to put on a Hungarian accent. Somehow, I managed it, and after hours of protestation, I reluctantly agreed to do the gig.
So in front of the village, sporting some dress that I think was picked out of a skip, I stared into the crowd, occasionally cheeping ‘Yes Daaahhhleeng’.
That is the one and only time I have dressed up like a woman, and I can assure you no long term damage was done. Ok Daaahhhleeng.
Despite my cub scout leader’s attempts to emasculate me at a young age, one thing that has been consistent in my life is my friends. I met my oldest friend when I was 5, and I am going on a stag do with him in two weeks time, nearly thirty years later.
This friend I also met at primary school:
And we still live only 40 minutes away from each other…
Yep my favourite childhood memory is also a memory, and continuation of my life in adulthood.
So for all the despair and heartache in my previous posts, I will never feel like I have had a bad deal.
This goes out to my mates – cheers lads.