1. open your first photo folder in your computer library.
2. scroll to the 10th photo
3. post the photo and the story behind it
4. tag 5 or more people to continue the thread
This photo was taken on my mobile phone a couple of years ago. The walls of Celeste's bedroom were, like the rest of the flat, plain white. She wasn't sleeping and who could blame her for not taking to a sterile room, her not yet two-year old imagination unable to make anything of so much bareness. So, Sexy Older Man grabbed one of her "In the Night Garden" picture books and copied the outline of the characters onto the walls with My Girl's black Crayola crayon. Then, darting to retrieve some of the paints he keeps by his own huge canvas down the road in his house-come-studio, he made Igglepiggle, Upsy Daisy, The Ninky Nonk and Makka Pakka come alive.
But would she like it? We did! But these five feet plus creatures with big eyes and open arms might be too imposing for a wee one.
The next night she slept so happily, embraced by the trees, next to the flowers, under the watchful eyes of her colourful friends. The mural is still there but not for much longer. The Celestial One is four in July and she may be outgrowing CBeebies. A local woman I've met on our Weston-super-Mum Community, Natasha, came round for a recce last week and sized up the room that she will transform into a bedroom suitable for Lestie's next phase as the little girl who is leaving toddlerhood behind.
She's asked to keep the trees and in place of the blue phallus with the red mohican, the rasta dancer with the inflatable skirt and the stoned soft figure (my words not hers!) will be fairies and flowers and butterflies - a magic woodland. All that remains now for me to do is to paint over SOM's work and prepare the blank canvas for Natasha to create her own Wonderland.
Somehow, though, I can't bring myself to do it ...
Of course, when you go to Clarence Park, you can 't actually head straight for the cafe, not if you've got kids with you. You have to get your appetite up first by playing in the swing area, creeping up on squirrels, climbing trees, trying to uproot trees, chasing pigeons and making mud pies. Then after a quick hand wash under the ice cold water of the public convenience tap, you're really ready to eat!
Clarence Park Cafe is a greasy spoon, no question. Bacon, sausage, egg, beans, toast and a mug of tea for £2: at that price, who cares what it's been deep fried in? Tastes good too. And there's something very English about sitting in a park on a cold but sunny February afternoon, eating a Full English with a dollop of brown on the side. Something so comforting that, after you've wiped your plate clean with the toast, the only thing to do is head back up to the counter and order another mug of steaming tea, bag still in.
Two women have propelled me to write this post; the lovely Emma, who I met at a girl's night out at the Old Manor Inn in Weston last night, and Nickie, my brilliant and talented twitter/blogger friend. Emma paid me a much appreciated and wonderful compliment, saying that she'd been reading my blogs for a while now and really enjoyed them: every writer loves such a reaction - it's inspiring, so thanks endlessly to you, Emma. And then that Nickie bird has tagged me again in her meme Childhood Memories that Make Me Smile - it's a brilliantly uplifting post that will have you pining for Play Away and Buck's Fizz. Please take a look!
I'm rubbish at honouring my memes but I won't let this one go, so here's my all-time favourite childhood memory:
I had a happy and fun childhood, spent in Central London until we moved to our home under the quarry in Weston in 1981. I grew up on a Peabody Estate in Pimlico until the age of 12, so, besides my brother and 4 boy cousins, I had a ready made community of friends and, indeed, Buck's Fizz rates very highly on my list of special memories too. We used to make up dance routines to such songs as "Making your Mind Up" in the safe haven of our playground that was overlooked by the low rise London Red Brick flats, skirted by balconies. Kim Wilde, "Rockafella, Cinderella" and "The Hucklebuck" were also on our list. The dance troupe usually consisted of my brother, John, and our mates Mandy and Frank: we were awesome! We also had a first-rate youth club in the basement of Malcolmson House, open every evening for a 5p sub and run by the inspiring and tireless Pat. We loved Colin Bizzell (a cousin in my Mum's huge family) and the tuck shop lady, the ancient (to us), Winnie.
I was a sociable girl but I liked nothing better than to read and I sat with books from the time I could hold them. They transported me to another place, as books should, and opened my mind. Mum took us to the bookshop in Victoria Street every single Friday after school and I think I devoured just about every Enid Blyton book that she every wrote. I adored reading about boarding schools so much that I wanted to go to one (I never did, thankfully). Mum says that, unlike my fiery, fiesty, sometimes uncontrolably physical Celeste, I was an insular child and only wanted to read, that she rarely heard a peep out of me, so busy was I sitting in my bedroom, reading all about Mallory Towers or Naughty Amelia Jane. And then there was Harriet the Spy and Tove Jansen'sperfect 'Moomins' series of books. Sigh ...
Little did I know then that I was preparing myself for a lifetime of study, for years of consulting archives in different cities and towns, foreign countries, where I have poured over old letters, dusty newspapers, microfiches and government reports. The experience of touching and smelling hand-written letters by Mr Tate of Tate and Lyle to the Cuban Government will stay with me forever - being a Pimlico Girl, Tate Britain is also one of my treasured childhood (and adult) memories. I guess I'm just an Old Romantic and thank God for it because it compliments my very practical, scientific mind.
The one book that still sends ripples of excitment up and down my 40 year old spine is a belter by Catherine Storr, Marianne Dreams, and my Rosebud Moment must belong to this delciously dark book.
Marianne has a childhood illness and is bed-bound. Her home tutor tells her all about a boy she also teaches called Mark, whom our herione has never met but whom she constantly thinks about. She draws a house and then starts to dream about it. She draws a figure, staring out from the window and, at night-time, in her dream world, the figure becomes that little boy she doesn't know, who is trapped in the house, which in real life he is, unable to walk. On awakening she draws some stairs, thinking this might help him and, with every brush of her pencil, Marianne's dreams become more lucid and sinister. These kids just have to get well but they also must help themselves, noone else can do it for them.
I nearly wet myself a few years ago in Oxfam, Southend-on-Sea, when I came across My Book for a few pennies and read it again, understanding the deeper meanings of this masterpiece, as you do in adulthood (I think I must have been about 10 years old the first time around). I passed it on to the daughter of a friend so I no longer own a copy. Today, I ordered it from Amazon along with a film based on the book, Paperhouse, which I didn't know existed. I am wishing the days away now, eager to open my little, pleasure-giving parcel that Ian, my postman, will bring.