Ears That Heard and the Eyes That Saw
So a beloved part of my childhood was definitely spent in our home in Greenford. Days of joy and innocence ( except from the episode with the two little boys in the park bushes!)
Memories of aunties, uncles and cousins coming over (majority not blood related) but nevertheless were family to us. Sounds of laughter and excited chatter from the sitting room and children playing or just hanging out in the dining room. No cares or fears, we went out to play with freedom.
I actually cannot remember winter months in this time of my life. I remember thick fog, I used to think it was the clouds that fell down from the sky as it was so thick and fluffy.
I remember Christmas Eve sleeping with one eye open waiting for that fat white bearded man to come and nibble on the mince pie and juice left out for him and wonder what he’d bring me. Well I was five years old and considered to be a good girl even though I was told I was cheeky!
My eyes were failing me, sleep beckoned, but just then at the corner of a half closed eye I saw a shadow.
I jumped sitting up on my bed rubbing my eyes so I could see properly. My feet felt something hard and I followed the gaze, there she was, the most beautiful black doll you could imagine. She was the size of a 6-8 month old baby with short black hair but in the middle of her head was a pony tail you could extend by pulling and retrieve by pulling on the string on her back. I was in glee as I remembered the shadow and ran out my room and downstairs, no one. I ran in my parents room panting “mum mum dad Father Christmas came I saw his shadow he gave me a doll a real baby seeee” as I held up the doll in excitement.
Mum rubbed her eyes trying hard to play dumb and half asleep (it worked!) she replied “oh that’s real nice, now go to sleep.” Sleep… sleep how could I sleep? I was overwhelmed, Father Christmas found me and brought me the best doll ever and I named her Chrissy. I was convinced at 5 years old; there IS a Father Christmas and he loved me enough to come all the way to my house to give me a present.
“I am a good girl.”
1976 The hottest summer recorded and I was 6 years old, dressed in a swimming costume, I played in the fountains of Trafalgar Square with my brothers. I do not recall my big sister there or my brother Angus, but they must’ve been there too.
In my mind I see myself running, giggling, laughing and wet.
“I sense happiness.”
1977 The Queens Silver Jubilee. There was red, white and blue everywhere, all over my school. I remember having to dress up like British kings & queens with large hats and having a garden party at school. Watching the parade on telly and thinking how lovely the world was with so many happy people. No one said anything about my hair or color, no one has ever answered my question, “why are we not called ‘Brown’ people and white people cream or colored??” Anyway it was a great year and I didn’t feel different outside of my home…
“I felt accepted.”
My big sister Cam use to take me with her to visit her friends. I really don’t know if she did it out of kindness or made to do it as she may have been in charge of looking after me. Regardless, I loved my outings with her. Her friends were always so nice to me and I loved the attention of being the ‘baby sister.’
I don’t even know when he came on the scene, but my sister had this boyfriend, then I remember mum not being happy about something. Later in years I realized it was because my sister got pregnant.
In all of this we moved house and next thing I know mum is busy sewing and my cousin and I have pretty dresses to wear. My other cousins are over from abroad and there’s pure excitement. Why? because there is a wedding, my sisters wedding and she was hugely pregnant. There was lots of people, the sun shone and there was loads of food at the reception. The one thing that stood out to me was the huge bread loaf shaped like ducks.
A lot of work and money went into this wedding, a lot of stress I imagine, but my mother (especially) did not want the ’embarrassment’ of a pregnancy outside of wedlock.
Anyway, I got to be a bridesmaid for the first time ever.
For my sister, it wasn’t the case of ‘I Do’ but rather ‘I have to’!
“I decided I wanted to get married for love.”
The wedding was June 1978 and it was the beginning of a wonderful summer. I became an auntie to a beautiful baby girl. I was 9 years old and automatically felt very grown up. I remember my mum came rushing in the house like a whirlwind to grab a dressing gown and slippers for my sister and rushed back out to head to the hospital. Somewhere between all that excitement was the information that Cam was in labor.
I sat on the stairs trying to imagine what that really meant, was the baby really going to come out down there and if so HOW??
‘I smile,’ “I want to be a mother.”