Wednesday, 28 January 2015

The Year Before School

I have been pondering on friendship, and how much of it is purely based on chance.  If we do not meet a person then they cannot be a friend.  How does friendship develop beyond first acquaintance?  Some people we relate to easily, other friendships develop out of a mutual acceptance - we can spend time together without driving each other round the bend.

My parents moved into their brand new house in the late 1950's.  By the early 60's when I was born, most of the surrounding houses had two, three or four children.  In the houses immediately around us,  girls predominated.   However, for the last 6 months or so before I began school, I did not play with the girls.  They were heavily into dolls and prams, and I wasn't.  Instead my memory tells me that I spent quite a lot of time with the boy who lived next door but one, who was and always will be 10 days older than me.  Clive was an only child, much loved and adored, brought up to be a credit to his parents, and to be polite and considerate to all.  I was the third child of four, clothed where possible in hand me downs and used to fighting my own corner.  We were probably very good for each other.  

Clive's mother used to give us lectures of children who had explored drains and drowned.  It didn't stop us lifting the covers and peering down at the mysterious depths, watching the flow of liquid below... probably not the most hygienic of past times!  

Clive's dad ran the transport depot for the local electricity company, and so they had all the latest electrical gadgets including a TV.  Sometimes I was invited in to watch children television. Jackanory was OK, but I found Thunderbirds to be quite bizarre! The drop down mouths and puppet strings were rather off putting, for a child more accustomed to the pictures my imagination conjured up during Listen with Mother, while my own Mother washed up and enjoyed the peace of her own thoughts.

I remember a TV sitting on the floor of our front room and looking at it wistfully and asking if it could be turned on.  However the horizontal hold was dodgy.  It was only turned on for 1960's satire which was on long after the Archers theme tune heralded my nightly departure up the wooden hill to Bedfordshire. One day my Mother got fed up with it cluttering up the place and the dustmen took it away.  It was not replaced until my Gran came on an extended visit several years later, while her new home was decorated. She left behind 2 armchairs and several other pieces of furniture. During her stay my elder brother managed to land an impressive number of paper airplanes on top of her wardrobe.

One day when Clive and I were completely engrossed in some game, when two teenagers walked past, and commented on the healthy colour of my friends cheeks. 
"Hello rosy!" they greeted him  
"That is MY name!" I thought indignantly, but they were gone

Too soon the time came to start school.  Despite being in the same class, our social circles widened and our friendship never really regained the momentum of the summer before school. Now both houses are sold, our parents are no longer alive and we are now just shadows of the past, filed in a section of memory labelled 'childhood'.