Bearing in mind that last Tuesday’s update wasn’t so much a post as a cry for help, I’m planning a series of slightly more upbeat offerings. Bear with me, though: I’m also simultaneously trying to pack all of my possessions into cardboard boxes ready for the Big Move this weekend.
The one upshot to sifting through boxes of crap in my parents’ loft (and, trust me, there can only be one) is the rediscovery of a number of artefacts from my childhood and adolescence. These are variously disappointing (D), poignant (P), and hilarious (H).
Old photos are, obviously, mostly H. There’s some P in there too, though, as it’s clear that I wasn’t a happy child for quite a lot of the time. There’s also quite a lot of D. The camera never lies, etc., etc., and these photos prove that the last time I was at my target dress size, I was ELEVEN YEARS OLD.
I’ll definitely be taking my old school books and reports to my new pad, and not just because my parents have told me they’ll burn anything I leave behind. These windows into my childhood are a little bit P, sometimes quite D, but again mostly H and a little bit interesting, too. At the risk of pissing you off by demanding you read my reports like an army of doting parents, I copy below a few choice quotes on the grounds that they display the essential immutability of character traits formed during childhood:
Year one: ‘Christina’s reading is very fluent. However we must beware of supplying her with content which is too complex in its content.’ (I think this was the year I brought up Our Bodies, Ourselves during rest period.)
Year two: ‘During the problems Christina experienced with hearing loss I was happy to repeat directions for her benefit, but as I understand the hearing difficulties no longer exist the only conclusion I can reach is that she doesn’t listen.’ (Ouch.)
Year three: ‘I have recently had to discourage her from interrupting other, less confident speakers… due to her sheer enthusiam and wish to contribute.’ (At least I wasn’t just being a total bitch…)
Year four: ‘Christina occasionally displays a rather imperious manner towards her peers…’ (oops) ‘… but has tried to alter her behaviour and has become rather more popular as a result’ (phew).
Year five: ‘She is still very nervous about certain situations and often feels confused when her routine is altered or new instructions are given. With maturity, I am sure she will find life easier’ (ah, Ms Sharifi, if only I could share your optimism).
Year six: ‘Christina’s dedication to the percussion section of the orchestra is to be applauded and she demonstrates once again her excellent rhythmic skills. She is an interesting personality.’ (…)
Nothing, however, is as damning, nor as utterly adorable, as my own self-assessment, aged six. The original will be hung in the toilet of my new flat.
Interesting to note that the bits about writing and playtime (both activities that I still rate highly) are the only ones with no spelling or grammatical errors.
All the old children’s books are coming with me: just looking at their covers (the Narnias, the Roald Dahls… all the racist, child-hating Enid Blytons) makes me come over all P. There’s room for another initial here, too – T. For terrifying. In the unlikely event that I conceive something worth rearing, I want to be able to inflict deep psychological wounds on him or her the way my parents did to me with Struwwelpeter, Heckedy Peg (“She’s Lost Her Leg! Let Her In!”), the Hobyahs and The Cat In The Hat. (I scare easily).
I’d be interested to learn what bits and bobs remind you lot of your childhoods. For me, it’s the books every time. Though details of the actual plots sometimes escape me, the general sensation of reading or having them read to me (delight! wonder! horror! boredom!) still feels very close. Judith Kerr’s The Tiger Who Came To Tea consistently crops up as a favourite among Dalrymple HQ’s control group. Did you read this – and can you add anything? I’d be interested to know, for example, if anyone else had a book involving a blue banana, as I can’t be sure whether it’s real or I dreamt it.