They say it’s the dash in between the dates of birth and death that matters but it’s hard to squeeze all the happenings, good and bad, into the story of my life. Some things, the dark things, the mistakes and the disasters stand out loudly, shouting to be noticed. But I am purposefully choosing to ignore them.
I have to focus hard to capture the rare moments of light in an otherwise muddied picture, to see which colours they are; soft pink, brown and white, the colours of our eiderdowns. My sister and I used to enter a world of make-believe in bed at night-time when we would play game shows. Selwyn Toogood was a favourite, “The money or the bag?’” we would shout excitedly, and the Jack Maybury Show when we would clap loudly pretending we knew the answers. Dad would hear us and come in with frowning eyebrows to tell us to ‘get to sleep, or else.’
When the neighbours, Mr and Mrs McBride, got the first tv in the street we were so envious. I could barely understand their broad Scottish accents, but I knew when they said I could watch Mr Ed the Talking Horse. I came home one evening to say I’d watched ‘the witheringnoos’ and it took Dad ages to work out. It was the weather and news. I distinctly remember that moment because Dad laughed out loud which was unusual for my quiet, serious father. It made me feel warm and soft inside.