Memories of childhood are often full of sunshine and seas that sparkle from one end of an exciting bay to the other. There’s an innocence to them that adulthood insists on demolishing and yet is always hell bent on trying to rebuild.
A hopeless task but nevertheless a worthy one, depending on one’s point of view I suppose.
One such memory struck me the other day.
I was walking passed a photographer’s window and couldn’t help but notice the leers of married treachery just waiting to pounce, and squeaky clean smirks of children trying to draw me in and part with a few quid.
Well, sod that I thought. I’d been married long enough, in instalments admittedly, and as for childish incitement forget it. Whenever I see a gaggle of objectionable urchins, I’m off. They eat crisps on aeroplanes and trains, so say no more. Viruses I call ‘em, and that’s exactly what they are – I’ve got two who still turn up now and again to use and abuse bless them.
Anyway, as I walked on I suddenly remembered some oak window seats and a mother who looked like a 1940’s Hollywood movie star. Tilted hat, delicious face and eye lashes that had no doubt fluttered my old man all the way down the aisle of no return – in those days ‘I do’ meant I do, and bugger you if you eventually saw the error of your ways.
Next to me on the oak window seat was my twin brother. There we sat, red short trousers, tiny red-spotted shirts and of course leather sandals courtesy of some chap called Mr Clark.
We had been ordered to sit still and this is precisely what we did, there was no arguing with parental tyranny in those days.
It was the early 1960’s, my brother and I were six years of age. I was the oldest by twenty minutes and therefore enjoyed a certain kind of juvenile superiority. Identical we were not. I was fair with hair the colour ‘of a gold sovereign,’ so my mother kept telling me but then she would, my twin’s was as black as the main on Black Beauty.
We were different in other ways too. His school exercise books delighted with red ticks and ‘Excellent’ while mine were plastered with red crosses and ‘No good boyo’ – nothing much has changed here then? Looking back, I can’t say I ever remember the difference in academic prowess ever being a problem between us, perhaps it had something to do with the fact that my twin was the delicate sort, whilst I was always scrapping and coming home with a bleeding nose – usually from fighting his battles for him!
Twins have a tendency to stick together through thick and thin, you know.
So, what we were doing sitting on an oak window seat, keeping absolutely still?
Having our photographs taken that’s what. Indeed, said photo still sits on some bookshelves in my study. It’s fifty two years old now but like I say, childhood memories never give up.
And my twin?
He took off to Heaven a year later, but his memory is still full of sunshine and sparkles from one end of an exciting bay to the other.