Wednesday, July 16, 2008


What’s your earliest memory? I was a forces child and can frame early memories in terms of the houses we lived in at different times. I have a block of abstract, unconnected recollections dating from the house we lived in between the ages of two and six - I presume most of them come from the tail end of that period but maybe my parents will enlighten me (I know you read this so here is your big invitation to reveal yourself and comment!).

So, as my inexorably slow train journey home dwindles on (a door problem at Market Harborough – lots of increasingly tense commuters unable to get off) here are my memories from that early period:

  • Learning to ride without stabilisers – taken to the top of a hill and just let go
  • Falling in a dry river bed, dissolving in snot and tears and being helped home by a ‘big boy’
  • Purple walls in the lounge
  • My mother picking me up from nursery in a red plastic rain hat
  • Telling people I didn’t eat eggs because they made me throw up (I don’t remember the puking but I do remember telling people all about it)
  • A homemade cheesecake with a base so thick that it needed industrial tools to cut it
  • Sitting on the (black leather?) sofa with my dad trying to teach me to breath without opening my mouth

Some, or all, of these stories may well have been embellished with retelling over the years although I’ve tried to pick the ‘genuine’ ones (Lil, Pete it’s over to you). You know how it is though, family legends build up over time and I can no longer be sure which is which.

It has got me round to pondering on what Tom will remember of this period. In a few weeks he’ll be four (cripes, where did that come from); slap bang in the middle of the period I’ve been recalling and around the age at which ‘earliest memories’ are stored away for later recall and, well, his short life has been pretty eventful. Does that make it more likely to stick in his head?

In a few short days we will, finally, be in Edinburgh (yes, it has taken a frustratingly long time) so what will Tom recall about our house and life here in Ruddington? The garden? His room? Joe-the-boy-next-door? Hopefully that friendship will endure and we will see them all again. Tanya, his wonderful Teacher of the Deaf who we are already missing enormously? Mrs. Henson and the teachers at his first school?

Tom already surprises us with random recollections from months gone by so who knows what will stick and what will drift away into the ether. Undoubtedly it will be things we least expect, matters car-related and, equally certainly, we will reinforce the events that stick out for us – the things that make it a happy place in our collective past rather than the dark periods that we try to forget. One of those happened last weekend and will be drilled into Tom in the same way as my dubious victory in a Blue Peter competition (some time in the '72-'78 period for those who know their Blue Peter) has gathered an undeserved magnitude in my story.

Last Saturday, minor local celebrity that he is, Tom opened a fete. He cut the ribbon and everything. How cool is that? Opening fetes before you’re four? Now there’s one to tell the grandchildren.


John said...

Minor celebrity? Who else in Ruddington is as famous as Tom? Where are the photos of that ribbon cutting? Come on, don't tease us like this, this post is all words and no pictures of Tom - grin.

Best wishes for Scotland.

Val said...

You have such a great blog, you should post it on Deaf Village

Mum said...

Hi son! Surely you haven't forgotten the memory of when you were three? That is you were so stubborn that you sat at the dinning table from breakfast till lunchtime, when we visited relations because you wouldn't say thankyou, please may I get down!!
I am sure Tom will have some lovely memories to tell when he gets older. Maybe todays will stick in his mind, being packed into that tiny space with all the belongings to "Emigrate to Scotland" We are missing you already. Lil and Pete (Mum & Dad)

Anonymous said...

This post reminded me of some of my earliest memories many of which revolve around Toms Robertson great-grandparents and summers spent with them. Gandpa with his tie and jacket on the beach on the hottest of days, open fires, pinky-purple sunrises and freezing swims, and I must admit several tantrums over dining table ettiquette too! Granny and Grandpa Orkney as I think both sets of grandkids called them would, I know, be so proud of Tom and his Mum and Dad, especially as your all Scottish now!