At the bottom of the bed
One of the most disconcerting things about getting older is the realisation that events and experiences that feel like they happened last year, last month, last week in fact are memories from 10, 20, 30 and more years ago. My mother and father and I left the house that my mum and I returned to after my birth 52 years ago and so the stories I share here refer to happenings more than half a century past. As I said they feel much closer.
Sunday mornings in our little house were, more often than not, spent in the front bedroom. The place where my parents slept. I can’t remember (and sadly there is no one to ask now) if we had breakfast in bed or not but I do remember that, for my dad and for me, their bed was a magical place for at the bottom of it their lived some fairies. So, whilst mum tried to doze we would, on my dad’s instigation, go visiting. He was a tall man and I was an energetic child who today might have a label. My nan once asked my mum if the doctor could prescribe something ‘to calm her down’. So the sheets and the bedspread (no duvets then of course) would soon be in a mess and mum’s chance of sleeping were zero.
I don’t have too many memories of being in my own bedroom, as mostly I see myself in my minds-eye with one or other or both of my parents. Cuddled up on my dad’s knee and pulling his ear whilst sucking my thumb, playing together in the garden. Sitting, with legs swinging, on the kitchen table singing songs with mum, baking and reading together. Eating meals together in the bright sunny kitchen (including the day I asked dad if he had a stick in his trousers like the boys in school), watching TV together (I can here the Coronation Street opening theme as I write this) and laughing together, lots of laughing together. I do remember though that my bedroom wallpaper post-babyhood was blue and decorated with single occupancy aeroplanes carrying small furry animal pilots. Now I wonder if that’s where my concern to challenge gender (and other) stereotypes began? Overall, my memories of living in Briar Road, Prescot are strong, vivid, as are the pictures in my head that I have to accompany the stories that my parents told me of their times in the house before I joined them. My favourite of these being of my mum’s changing emotions when persuaded to be the first out of bed to make tea on the Christmas morning four months after their wedding. Her grumpiness changed to delight when she found a carefully wrapped present on each of the stairs. My dad’s cuppa had to wait. There are many more stories in my head; some are from my memories, some were told to me by my parents, and some I’m not sure of the origin of.
My dad’s and my adventures in fairyland were not restricted to our weekend adventuring for I also remember the stories he made up about Tipperty Tapperty Sam the gnome that lived under a bridge by the side of a stream. Sam was a carpenter and his main income came from his skill at making doll’s house furniture. Although my dad had some short stories for adults published in the 1960s/70s and wrote others with children in mind (including one about a mouse who wanted to fly) he never wrote up his Sam tales. Maybe one day I’ll have a go.