Growing Up

 

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From my experiences of being bullied and from losing a parent at a young age,  I became a quiet child and I rarely let others ‘in’. Even though I had a one or two friends at school, I never had any close friends.  Occasionally, I would make the effort to socialise, I would go out the front on my bike and play games with the other kids but I didn’t always feel comfortable in the presence of others, I was quite happy in my own company.

Some of the neighbourhood kids were quite troublesome… often, there would be fights, shouting matches and general disruption in the street.  I will never forget the time when a brick came flying through our kitchen window.  Mum was washing up and I was in the front bedroom listening to music. I remember hearing a group of lads arguing loudly directly outside of our house, then all of a sudden a huge crash,  I remember running down the stairs two at a time…  I’m surprised I hadn’t slipped and gone down head first.

Our windows were not like the windows we have nowadays, they were just single panes of glass.  In the cold winter months, our house would be absolutely freezing and the glass, as well as being frozen on the outside, would often be frozen on the inside too.  We had a single coal fire in the sitting room and it was only during the mid 1980s when Mum stopped using it, due to the maintenance and the fact that coal was becoming increasingly expensive. Instead, Mum would fill up hot water bottles and place them under our many layers of sheets and blankets. When it was time for bed, I would be all wrapped up like I was ready to go on an expedition to the Antarctic… wearing a vest, my flannel pyjamas, thick socks and massive dressing gown.  Mum realised we couldn’t carry on like this… the winter months became unbearable, so with the help from my sister, purchased a couple of electric convector heaters… now that was luxury.

Mum was incredibly lucky that afternoon, the brick had missed her by inches… the kitchen was a in complete mess with shards of glass scattered everywhere.  Dad was still with us at the time and thank goodness he was too, because he knew what to do… off he would go, into his little shed, his little sanctuary or what I liked to call the Aladdin’s cave.  Dad’s shed was full of little bits and bobs from cycling repair kits… with the tiny chalk and patches… to little paint pots from my brother’s Airfix kits… various garden tools, seeds, car parts… and a tin of creosote.  Every summer, Dad would be out the back painting our wooden fences with, unbeknown to me at the time, this brown toxic liquid substance.  I used to love the scent of creosote wafting through the summers air as well as freshly laid tarmac… anyway, back to the windows… after a few minutes, Dad  appeared with a pane of glass and a jar of putty and repaired the window in no time.

The kids who were responsible for the damage never did apologise, Mum would go mad and often shout at the troublemakers but at the end of the day, there wasn’t anything we could do about it.  I have always believed in the theory that all events and types of people you attract throughout life adds to the shape of who you become.  Growing up in an area which was notoriously rough became part of the norm, yes, it was a tough, but I can honestly say I am now incredibly thankful for the tough times because without them, I wouldn’t be the person I am today.

My Earliest Memories

man in black jacket beside boy in pink jacket holding plush toy during daytime
Photo by Negative Space on Pexels.com

I was lucky enough to be raised by caring and loving parents who did their very best to make sure myself, my sister and my three brother’s childhood was stable. We all grew up in a three bed house on a council estate, quite a rough council estate come to think of it.  There was never a dull moment, day or night and on one occasion the Police even gave up on the area.  Apart from this, I have many fond memories of my younger years. Especially of Christmas, my Mum always made sure the festive season was one to remember. Our house would be full of colour and sparkling lights along with hand made decorations adorning the walls. We used to go for lovely long walks in the countryside and on rare occasions we would take a day trip to London. We would catch a bus to the train station, Mum would purchase the travel cards and then off we went, we never bothered to plan our day, we would literally go with the flow and it was always an exciting adventure.

We lived in close proximity to an aerodrome and my Mum and Dad would take us there during the weekends or school holidays, Mum and Dad would always walk and we would ride our bikes or roller skate. On occasions, a few of the kids from our neighbourhood would tag along too and we used to sit near the fuel pumps watching the planes take off and land. We had no idea how dangerous that was until one of the pilots shouted at us to move out of the way because we were in their blind spot.  A few years later they decided to cordon off most of the area… we were lucky none of us were seriously hurt.

I spent most of my childhood outdoors and I absolutely loved every minute of it.  I was definitely a Daddy’s girl, there was no doubt about that.  I enjoyed assisting Dad when he had to repair a bike, or plant some seeds.  Dad was a very clever man, I remember my Mum telling me he was an Engineer for a time, but he was sadly made redundant during the early 1980s. This was a tough time for our family and money was extremely tight,  we had to survive on the bare minimum.   The times we would all be sitting in the dark or by candle light due to not having enough fifty pence’s to power the electricity meter… My Dad would always shout ‘Power to the People’… a phrase used in a comedy show back in mid 1970s… to make light of the situation.  My Dad had a great sense of humour.

After being made redundant, Dad experienced bouts of depression. He also suffered with many aches and pains and I had no idea how serious these pains were.  Mum knew they were very serious and no matter how many times she would tell Dad to make an appointment with the doctor, he would always reply, ‘if I go to the doctors, they’ll keep me in and not let me go’.  Instead, Dad’s way of coping was to spend as much time outdoors as possible, so he decided to become an odd job man.  Dad loved to help others whenever he could, whether they needed items repaired or their windows cleaned.  Our life appeared to be rolling along at a steady pace for a little while, well, that’s how it seemed anyway…