Time to take another trip backwards! I'm thinking maybe today's post might be a bit trickier than previous ones. After all, it's fairly easy to remember your first love, first best friend, most memorable toy - but this one took me a while to work out, so maybe it will be difficult for you too. The funny thing is, once I worked it out, I couldn't understand why I had such difficulty with it in the first place.
Anyhow (fav crutch word), when you think about childhood, if you could only hold onto ONE childhood memory, which one would it be? Tough - you must agree.
I remember Billy Connolly telling a story about taking his kids to Scotland and how they went to wonderful places, they saw the salmon leap, they had a picnic next to a castle, and he made up stories about Kings and Queens, they did lots of wonderful things, so much so, that by the end of the holidays, he felt pretty confident when he asked them which part was the most memorable. He was convinced it would be either the salmon or the magic castle, but children are never easy creatures to predict. 'Sesame Street', they told him. You see, they had one of those mini screens in the back of the car, and as they would drive from one wonderful place to the next, they would watch 'Sesame Street' on it!
Which kinda leads me to my answer. Now as none of my family read my blog, I am probably pretty safe saying this, but it wasn't a wonderful Christmas memory, or an endearing family moment, or even an act of human kindness or tenderness, it was the Washing Yard.
Okay there you have it, if I could hold onto ONLY ONE childhood memory, it would be the Washing Yard - Why you might ask, or not, but sure I'll tell you anyhow.
I grew up in what were called flats, run down buildings sort of thing. This meant we had no back or front garden, nor did we have much else either, but we did have a washing yard. The washing yard was a brilliant place - there would be rows and rows of washing lines full of laundry, the sheets were the best because you could run through them and pretend you were flying. Plus it had tall poles to hold up the lines, which you could swing around and climb. Now the washing yard was out the back bedroom window where I slept, and the window was one of those with 3 window panes across. My brother, sister and I would sit in front of the window and each of us got our own window pane, I know, sad but true. Anyhow (told you it was my fav crutch word), we would look out the window, and when it snowed we'd pretend we were traveling through galaxies, or at night we would try to guess which window would light up next, because obviously, everyone living in the flats had windows which backed onto the washing yard, and like Christmas lights, at night each of them would switch on and off.
Often, especially at night you would hear noises from the washing yard as families might fight, a Dad coming home drunk and raising all hell around him, or even worse the banshee wailing. In the morning, the place filled up with seagulls, millions of them, or so it appeared to me as a child, and again the washing yard took on a whole new image. I suppose what I'm saying is that more than anything, the washing yard fuelled my imagination, whether from listening to stories from each of the windows, or seagulls, or running through sheets, it sparked off so many things which made my childhood extra special. My brother ended up becoming a Professor of Physics & Astronomy, which in my opinion was connected to the galaxies we travelled through together.
Gosh this is turning into a long post. Anyhow, here's a poem I wrote earlier as they say, called 'The Washing Yard'. I hope you enjoy it, and please, if you can work out which childhood memory you would choose to hold on to, then let us know!
The Washing Yard
Rows of dance on washing lines
Beneath one hundred sheets a child could fly
Curl metal bars and catch blue sky.
Turn snowstorms into a Milky Way
Laugh and play too young to know
As children blow at Jinny Joe.
And as the night light fills its sky
Banshees wail and babies cry.
Strange voices haunt the Washing Yard
Windows switching on and off
Each pane a different story told
A zillion words bound metal poles.
Then in morn all night sounds forced to hide
When from its sky come seagulls high.
Hoards of birds create such clatter
Swoon and squawk discarded matter.
Magic, to a young child's eye
As adults watch their lives pass by.
Buried in some human tomb
A child's joy,
In an adult's gloom.