Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Some memories

I'm at home ill, lying on the sofa. I'm not *very* ill, I don't think, just schoolitis, my mum used to call it. I have lucozade!

It's in the glass bottle all wrapped in gold - you only ever got it when you were ill back then. To me it's such a treat, it's worth being ill (especially not *very* ill). I only tore off the gold once, to find the very ordinary bottle inside - I don't know what I expected - golden glass? Still, it's shimmering beside me, that secret glossed over.

I think on this occasion I did have an actual fever, 'though, I am warm and lumpen tired.. Mum has dropped back in from work to check on me and the tv is on: it's in black and white. Mum used to half-joke that I was considered a child in need by the powers that be because we only had a black and white tv at home, when most of the neighbourhood had long had colour.

There's some sort of serious play on the tv: the man has a child on his lap but it's not kind or loving, more imprisoning arms, and the mother character is talking, beseeching, her face strained and pulled, held back by another man. And that man slits her throat quickly and it gapes and there is blood and the seated man is carving out the child's stomach with a knife in a circular motion.

Mum catches this last bit and switches the tv off.


It's Sunday, and I am eating sticky pudding from a tin and Birdseye custard, sat beside the Rayburn in my mum's chair, watching Battlestar Galactica in my jammies after a bath. It's the one where they have found a planet, maybe to stay on and be safe at last, but they discover a secret level where the parasitic aliens are using their bodies as hosts. I watch Apollo and Starbuck rapt. Dirk Benedict is insanely beautiful.


It's the weekend and it's sunny and warm and I am wandering the springy lawns of a manor house, while my mother is pruning and taking cuttings for the owners. I am too young to stay home alone, but old enough to keep myself occupied. I am making up stories. All my stories end up with death. Sometimes I find tennis balls they have lost over the tennis enclosure. Sometimes the lawnmower has run over them, and they fall apart in my hands.

They have a swimming pool. So very blue. It's got a cover on. When I can, I sneak off and press down the cover and watch the water swish over it. I know my mum will tell me off if she sees me, but I do it anyway. I lean over it, and I am a little afraid, because I am not a good swimmer and if I fall in, I will go under that cover and I will drown. I have been warned. I imagine falling in, imagine being trapped under, screaming and struggling for breath, and I lean out again and press down on the cover to see the water. I know that if I owned that swimming pool, I would never have a cover on it but always be swimming in it, and I would let the gardener's daughter swim in it anytime she wanted.

My auntie and uncle had a swimming pool at their house, though. It was one they put up in the summer: circular with a wood frame. If I ran round it fast enough I could start a whirlpool, dive into it and be borne around by my wave. It was better when my cousins weren't joining in, it was just me, round and round.

Where it stood, they now have a fishpond, for different sorts of summers.

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