From my experiences of being raised on a council estate, there were many good times which I liked to believe, balanced out the bad… I have many fond memories, not to mention comical ones and some you literally couldn’t make up.
My eldest brother loved cars, well, he loved anything which had an engine and moved extremely fast. One of his hobbies was drag racing and there were many times, before he set off to one of his weekend events, he would be outside, tinkering with one of his pride and joys… his head would be under the bonnet, then he would be behind the wheel, foot flat on the pedal. His mates would gather out front with their Kit cars and our street would be alive with the sound of beefy engines. The fragrance of oil and diesel fumes would fill the air… I used to enjoy watching all the commotion.
Our garden was like a graveyard for car parts, there was an engine in the back garden and various other bits and pieces like tyres, tools and tins of Castrol oil. One morning, I woke up to find a speed boat in our front garden… a real life speed boat. Where it came from, I had no idea, but I knew my eldest brother was responsible. I used to love sitting behind the wheel and I would let my imagination run wild. Dad had gone crazy, this boat was almost as big as the front garden and Dad absolutely cherished his garden. So the boat had to go… my brother managed to sell it eventually, to a politician.
I was only eight years old when I had another slightly traumatic experience, well, I think my Mum was more traumatised than I was, so here’s what happened…
One hot summers evening, my brother was out the front with his mates as per usual, with his car jacked up at a precarious angle, obviously trying to fix something or another. Music was blasting out from the car stereo and I was running up and down the garden path without a care in the world… up until I tripped over my own feet and fell head first. Slightly dazed, I managed to stumble to the back door and into the kitchen shouting and screaming for Mum.
My Mum came running out from the sitting room thinking someone had been murdered. She took one look at me and then shouted for Dad… Mum grabbed some clean cloths out of the airing cupboard and wrapped them around my left knee as tight as she could while Dad stood there not knowing what to do for the best. Then the next minute, I remember being carried to my brother’s little white work van… a van he used to borrow occasionally and thank goodness he had borrowed it on this particular day. My sister was out and his other car was still up in the air with most of it’s parts scattered all over the road. This van was a two seater, so I had to sit on my Mum’s lap with no seatbelt, whilst my brother, drove like a lunatic to the hospital. Mum suffered with terrible car sickness back in those days and my brother’s driving skills certainly didn’t help, he had to stop several times on the way, Mum did suffer terribly, bless her.
Once at the hospital, to our relief and our surprise, we were seen almost straight away. A lovely Nurse asked Mum what had happened and then we were led into a little cubicle. I hadn’t realised the extent of the damage until the Nurse unwrapped my Mum’s impressive bandaging skills… and to my horror, my left knee had been sliced open from one end to the other, the perfect slice, there was hardly any blood at all. I started to panic, the Nurse chatted away and made jokes, she did her very best to calm me down. I had eight stitches altogether and I was told not to put any extra pressure on my leg for at least 4-5 weeks. Thankfully, because this occurred during the school holidays, I had enough time to recover. The journey home from the hospital was very similar to the one going, my brother tried not to drive like a maniac… but Mum still suffered. We were in and out of the van like a Jack-In-The-Box and because I was sitting on Mum’s lap with my bandaged knee, I had to manoeuvre myself out of the van as quickly as I could before it was too late, so you can imagine what the outcome was. We were so happy to arrive home.
The following day, Dad went to check the garden path to see what could have sliced my knee open. After scanning it throughly, he found one flint stone slightly raised… one single flint stone was to blame for my poorly knee and I happened to fall right onto it.
The 5 weeks went by fairly quickly and it wasn’t long before a lovely Nurse visited our home to see how I was doing and to remove the bandages and stitches. The Nurse asked me if I wanted to keep them… so I did, in a little plastic container. Sadly, overtime, they turned a shade of green so Mum decided to throw them away, but I will always have the scar to remind me of that day.
Looking back, I can only compare this moment to a scene from a ‘Carry On’ film… chaos and comedy all rolled into one. Little did I know at the time, there were many more of these comedy moments to come…