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's perfect '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.
I must now have a little cry so excuse me ...