Times Past or Past Times
My writing class was given the task of writing biography/autobiography and one suggestion was writing through the eyes of a childhood pet or toy. This is my attempt, just an introduction.
I am certainly well past my best, sixty years or so past. And definitely looking my age with fading hair, skin that seems to have lost any of the bloom it once had and clothes, well once they fitted and complemented my form but now just a means of covering, and disguising, lack of shape. Old age, something, hopefully, that comes to all of us.
But I am ahead of myself. I need to go back at least sixty years. Well, if I am truthful sixty years plus half a decade. As we approach certain landmark stages in our lives we like to subtract years and make ourselves seem younger. I suppose an attempt to forestall the Grim Reeper. The year we will select is post Second World War Two plus or minus a few, just to protect the innocent who do like to conceal their actual age. A lady, does not ever declare her number of years!
The build up to Christmas nineteen fifty something. Conditions were harsh and money short especially in the poorer areas of large cities such as Birmingham. My family, the family I came to live with, occupied a small house with no bathroom and only an outside toilet. There were two bedrooms, one for the parents and one for the children, a boy and a girl. The boy the elder of the two. At the time when I came into their lives the girl was five years old.
She had two girl cousins, close in age but not temperament. They all lived in the same street, 'the horse road' as their nan called it. She was the matriarch of the family, the hub. Although her life had not been easy problems encountered by children and grand children were always brought to her. But more of her later. Let us get back to my appearance.
Christmases of the fifties were very different to those of today, especially for poorer families and large expensive presents were not given. But this particular Christmas was an exception. When Elizabeth, the girl I came to live with, woke up very early on December the twenty fifth hoping that Father Christmas had brought her something really special she saw the pillow case at the bottom of the bed. She knew there would be oranges, sweets, a book maybe a game and a hope that there would be something else. She was five years old and didn't really appreciate that presents had to be paid for by parents and weren't gifts from an unseen yet benevolent being.
It was dark but she could easily distinguish the lumpy shape and stretching out her legs she could feel its weight. She had tried so hard to stay awake, in spite of the warning that HE would not appear unless she were asleep. I was waiting, knowing the joy I would bring.
It was cold, but she couldn't wait any longer so pushing back the bedclothes she stretched down and pulled the pillow case towards her. It seemed quite heavy, she couldn't imagine what was in it. With mounting excitement she pulled the wrapping away from the box and I was revealed.
Each of those three girls had a similar present that Christmas, a 'baby doll' one that closed its eyes when it lay down and made a sound when turned onto its tummy. I'm not sure what happened to my sisters but I still live with Elizabeth. I spend my time in the spare bedroom, watching what goes on in neighbouring houses, and remembering. Sixty years holds a great many memories.