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7 Reasons That Revisiting My Childhood Has Been Difficult

Posted on September 14, 2010 in Top Posts | 3 comments

At 7 Reasons (.org) this week, we’re reliving our childhoods.  Jon, my friend, colleague and collaborator, suggested it as a theme for the week and it seemed like a good idea.  I can do that, I thought, and I decided to spend last Sunday engaged in childish pursuits.  But it wasn’t a brilliant success.  In fact, reliving my childhood has been bloody difficult.  Here are seven reasons why.

A wooden spoon with a sad face

1.  Cycling. I cycled a lot as a child and decided to relive my boyhood by going for a ride.    I straddled my bicycle and began to pedal and, after a few pedal-strokes, I found the old technique beginning to return.   As I cruised along the riverside, the wind tousled my hair and the sunlight dappled through the trees and caused me to squint, and it soon began to feel as if it were only yesterday when I had last ridden a bicycle.  But it wasn’t yesterday.  It was the day before yesterday.  So I wasn’t really revisiting my childhood at all.  I was revisiting Friday.  And I didn’t enjoy Friday very much the first time around.  And the spectre of having to eat the mushroom omelette for dinner again was ghastly.  I realised I’d have to do something else to relive my childhood.  Hmmm.  What else did I do a lot of as a boy?

2.  Reading.  I knew that reading would go well.  Obviously I had to select my book carefully; I couldn’t just pick up any old book.  I had to find a book that I’d read and enjoyed during my childhood.  I spent many minutes scouring my shelves and then, in the twentieth century military history section, I saw it:  The well-worn creased black dustcover with the red gothic lettering and the prominent swastika.  A book that I’d loved when I was fourteen:  William L. Shirer’s The Rise and Fall of The Third Reich.  All 1245 pages of it.  I settled down with a glass of ginger beer and began to read.  It was all there: The spare, matter-of-fact prose style; the meticulous attention to detail; the sharp, insightful analysis.  In fact, it took me back in time.  Way, way back.  Back to the autumn of 2009 when I had read William L. Shirer’s The Collapse of the Third Republic.  But I didn’t want to relive October 2009 as I’d have to hear about Balloon Boy again.  And I wasn’t trying to write 7 Reasons to Revisit 2009.  I’d have to try something else.  And then I had an idea.  I would…

3.  Play A Practical Joke.  Barely a day went by during my childhood that I wasn’t tormenting my immediate family with practical japery and I decided to reprise my favourite ever practical joke.  And it worked.  The reaction of the tearful angry shouting woman to the joke transported me back to an earlier time.  A time when, approximately a month earlier, I’d played a different practical joke on her and had substituted beer for tea in her mug.  She’d shouted then too.  I had to clean up the mess and get her more tea.  It was slightly different with this joke – I had to mop the bathroom floor and buy a new roll of cling-film – but it wasn’t different enough to take me back to my childhood.  So I put my thinking-cap on again and decided to…

4.  Follow The Cat.  When I was a very small boy we had an active, adventurous cat and, if I had risen before my parents, I used to let the cat in to the house and play Follow The Cat.  The game is simple:  Take one cat, and follow it wherever it goes.  Always make sure that you’re about two feet behind it.  Certain that playing Follow The Cat would help me to relive the early mornings of my childhood I went downstairs and stood behind our cat.  After two hours he moved, and I followed.  We walked down the hallway, through the kitchen and into the utility room.  Then he exited the utility room through the cat-flap.  This was a turn of events that I hadn’t anticipated: We didn’t have a cat-flap in my childhood home.  It didn’t take me very long to conclude that I was too big to fit through the cat-flap and, looking down at the tiny portal, I felt very large indeed.  In fact, I hadn’t felt as large as that since my ill-considered purchase of a lycra cycling jersey four months previously.  I abandoned Follow The Cat and decided to do something else.  Then I had the idea to top them all.  It was time to unleash…

An original orange space hopper from the 1970s.  Retro.

5.  The Space-Hopper.  I spent years bouncing around on them as a kid and a go on one would surely be the ideal way to relive my infancy.  I went up into the loft to get my space-hopper and excitedly inflated it with my bicycle pump.  Then, somewhat less excitedly, I deflated it and brought it down through the loft hatch.  Once I had re-inflated it – though quite tired now – I decided to ride it down the hallway.  I mounted the gaudy bulbous wind-sack and, with as much power as my legs could muster, propelled myself forward and upward.  I achieved quite a height and, as my graceful arc turned to descent, I braced myself and prepared to bounce.  And I did bounce.  I bounced ninety degrees to the right.  And, as I lay groaning on the hallway floor, having unexpectedly shoulder-charged the living room wall, I was reminded of an earlier, simpler time.  Christmas.  Christmas 2005, when my wife had brought me a space-hopper and I, having injured my shoulder bouncing in the hallway, had deflated it and put it into the loft.  There was nothing for it.  I’d have to try…

6.  Music.  I would listen to the first album I ever purchased.  The Specials’ eponymous debut album.  That would take me back.  As I put the CD on, and the opening bars of A Message to You, Rudy began to emerge from the speakers, I was taken back to another time time.  Back…to Wednesday evening when I’d heard A Message to You, Rudy on a bloody Next television advert and had become astonishingly cross about the commercial exploitation of a track that was very dear to me.  In fact, just thinking about it annoyed me again and so, as I was tired and my shoulder hurt, and as my day of reliving my childhood had gone so abjectly wrong and recognising that I was, by now, in a foul mood that was unlikely to improve and would cause me to irritate others I…

7.  Sent Myself To Bed Without Any Tea.  And so it was that I finally discovered a way of reliving my childhood.  By being quite grown-up, ironically.

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  1. Best one yet Marc – loved this – very clever :0)

  2. Hmmm, let me say that my childhood memories are still fresh in my mind. I still remember how my mom scolded me when I brought a frog in our home. That was very ironic for I though that time it was an achievement for me to bring an animal…

  3. Well we all must grow up… or maybe not!? 😉

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