When Ella was a little girl one of the greatest thrills in her life was when her dad declared,
‘Pack your things, we’re going on holiday in 45 minutes!’
Imagine that wide eyed excitement at that knowledge that they were soon to be on their way to Southport – the land of funfairs, of seaside, of candy floss…the smells, the sights, the knotted anticipation of fun, joy, of living that childhood dream.
And there I was, the sun on my back, gazing on the tired looking amusement park that I’m sure was the cornerstone – the epicentre of a young girl’s fantasy back in the ’70’s.
Looking back to that day, I could swear that I took several pictures of that scene.
Not so – all I have is a memory.
Ella and I had just been taken out by her lovely friend, Bella, for a truly glorious steak and chips, profiteroles and fancy fish soup tea.
Gratuitous kindness as part of the ramble – an inquiring mind – really revitalising.
A friend who linked Ella to that past.
I felt a vicarious rush as I imagined this delicious history…
And then I realised – I had experienced this – this feeling of almost blind optimism as I once looked upon the architectural splendour of ‘The Mighty Mouse’ a sort of dodgem/ roller coaster hybrid at Butlins Skegness.
We’d enjoyed the wild world of crazy golf whilst looking up at the space age transport of the future – the monorail – as it whizzed by.
I’d been chosen by a girl to partner her in the wheelbarrow race – I’m smiling now as I recall exchanging smiles with her as we walked up to the prize-giving table to collect our trophies for coming first.
I was given Chinese Checkers to mark this momentous occasion. Poor Dad put up with many questions about the mystical ways of our far eastern cousins as he taught me the finer points of the game.
We stayed in a chalet with no toilets – just a couple of beds – each block had shared facilities to keep the costs down.
I remember screaming to the full capacity my lungs would allow when I lost my way on my return from the loos.
God, things were good! Back home, we had a roast on Sundays – a black and white spaniel called Wendy would come and collect the bone…
How did she know it was Sunday…?
We would collect butterflies, bees and wasps, fresh off the Buddleja – the butterfly plant – near Calum MacKay’s house.
I kept blue faced, black eyed caterpillars in a matchbox with the end of our cat, Suzie’s, tail. She’d lost the tip when the door slammed on it – I thought it would keep the caterpillars company.
We still had the moon landings fresh in our minds – the skies were no longer the limit – we lived in a time where anything was possible.
I was going to be an author – I spent hours making up stories – reading them in front of my mum, my classmates, my school…
We’d run around for hours playing hide and seek, kick the can, Japs and Commandos, football…
I had a tortoise called Ben, another cat called Ginger, a budgie called Twinkle and a goldfish I’d won from the fair called Bit.
(I suspect Bit was replaced a number of times – especially after I’d moved Charlie the stickleback in)
As I sat on top of an ant nest just south of Southport, I realised it wasn’t Ella who I envied – it was the childhood me.
I mean – just take a look at that world!
As I felt that, whoops I’ve sat on some nettles, sting on the back of the calf of my right leg, I realised that I still had that youthful optimism – I know every day is going to be different, with new and exciting people, with different perspectives…
Did you say ‘Ant’s nest’?
Another photo I forgot to take – those little (sorry, massive) reddish/ blackish critters tucking in in their 100’s.
It’s funny, when I’m down/ mad/ other worldly, it’s so easy to remember a tarnished world – but when I’m not, hey, I’m 8 years old again.
Except now I know my way to the toilet – I’ve got GPS.
Walk a Mile