Saturday, 24 June 2017


for Adrian, Mimi and Pippa

On a day for memories, I thought of you all; found some of my childhood and remembered.

There I was, that smiling child, lying on the carpet, transfixed by the lift in Adrian’s old toy garage. Up and up and up, then whoosh; paint-chipped Dinky toys racing down the ramp; no sound was more satisfying.

I saw myself sitting at the table outside your kitchen, with Mimi and Pippa (who seem to be something of a sisterly double-act in my recollections), sitting opposite me, cajoling an uncertain Fergus into taking a teaspoon of ‘medicine’ (I’m practising for when I’m a nurse, said Mimi). And when I refused (medicine is surely yuck), Pippa, who always had a laugh in her voice, telling me that it wasn’t really medicine, but rose-hip syrup. I didn’t believe you (roses are flowers!). I relented, of course, and was so amazed that I became a willing patient.

Joanella telling me to wake Adrian up by tickling his feet (That should get him up! or words to that effect). Who’s that tickling my feet? like a teenage troll from the Billy Goat’s Gruff. When I asked What’s that? he put his headphones on my head and almost blew my little mind, although they weren’t as cool – nothing was – as his digital watch. I throw it across the room when the alarm goes off in the morning! he said, to my disbelieving dismay. And, now that I think about it, I’m still amazed that he managed to pour a jug of milk into a newspaper without spilling it on the living-room floor (on my ?4th birthday).

Mimi, or perhaps Pippa, explaining in excited tones how the TV wasn’t working because it had exploded! Being taken to a bedroom to be played a record by (I think) either Marc Bolan or David Bowie, and I thought it sounded awful, but when Mimi (was it?) played ‘Sailing’ on the downstairs music system, I couldn’t get enough of it.

And roses (not rose-hips), and yapping Tara, and your mother being the only person (apart from my wife) who has ever called me darling, and forever equating horses with Pippa, and Adrian taking me out on my 11th and 12th birthdays at the dreaded Ampleforth (and also to the theatre for the first time when I was 14, to see a bedroom farce), and nervously ushering at Pippa’s wedding, and Frant, and Gilpin Cottage, and being loved by your mother, and always feeling happy whenever we saw the Slatterys (sp?!).

It’s probably rather sentimental of me to say so, but I think that neuroscientists (not many sentences about sentimentality contain this word, but I suppose there’s a first time for everything) are looking in the wrong place when trying to find which part of the brain houses memories, because, so far as I can tell, they form in your heart; and that is where we find them.

11th Birthday Bumps! (photo: Joanella)

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