Sunday, 21 July 2013

Fifty Shades of Green: Part 3 – Early Friends

The earliest friend of mine that I can remember was back when I was in nursery school. Her name was Emma, and she must have been a little bit younger than me. I remember that she was still at the nursery when I moved on to the first year of school. I only have a vague impression of what she looked like – namely, that she had short blonde curly hair.

As I’ve mentioned in an earlier post, when I was a little boy I had a great love of trains. One key thing that I remember about Emma is that she always used to call trains “lorries”, even after she had been corrected many times. I remember the last time I saw her was not long after I had started school. I had gone back to the nursery for a visit. Everyone, including Emma, were sat on the floor in front of me. I must have been telling them what school was like. One of the staff there then told Emma to tell me what that they had all done recently, and she told me that they had all been on a lorry. She was quickly corrected and I was told that they had in fact been on a train (and I was jealous!).

Another early friend that I remember was one of my next door neighbours. He was an Indian boy called Glenn, and, again, I think he was slightly younger than me. One of our shared interests was Sooty. His family had somehow acquired two copies of the same Sooty video, and so they let me have one of them. I watched that video many, many times, and can still remember the stories in it (one where Sweep eats all the food in his sleep; one where they get a rabbit that eats and eats and eats; and one where they put on a Christmas show). I still have that video at my mum’s house.

One time I had a tent set up in the garden. I was in there on my own, and I think I was doing some puzzles in a puzzle book. I think I had expressly told my parents that I wanted to be left alone. Which is why I was surprised when Glenn suddenly burst into my tent! On that occasion I was a bit annoyed to see him – and he wasn’t very helpful in solving the puzzles...

Eventually, Glenn’s family decided to move to India, and so that was the last I saw of him. The next person to move into that house didn’t have any children for me to play with. I missed having my friend next door...

One of the earliest friends I can remember in school was a Chinese girl called Victoria. We were in the same class – and sitting at the same table – when we were 7, although I think we may have known each other in at least the year before. I remember that she was quite short, and I remember her being intelligent.

I, however, was still finding my way. I remember at the start of our third year of school (what would now be called Year 2 – with the Reception Year coming before Year 1) we were told that if we didn’t finish all of our work we could potentially be kept behind. I took this far too literally. There was one day where I hadn’t finished all of the work that everyone else had done by the end of the day, and so I thought that meant I couldn’t go home until I’d finished it. Victoria, of course, had finished all of her work. I remember her advising me, as she was leaving the classroom, that all I needed to do was copy down what was on a flip chart and then I could go. I sat in the classroom crying, as I tried to finish my work. After all of the other children had gone home the teacher was seeing a parent in the classroom – but hadn’t noticed me. Eventually, I finished my work, and stood up in tears – at which point she realised I was still there. She told me that I didn’t have to stay behind, and she quickly helped me to get my things together and take me out to a neighbour of who was taking me home that day – and who had been wondering where I was.

I was also still getting the hang of my words. I remember once that I had somehow acquired three rubbers (that’s “pencil erasers” for any American readers out there!). Now, I had a little trouble with my speech when I was little, and didn’t quite have the hang of all of my words. For some reason, I decided to inform Victoria of my rubber collection. I placed all three rubbers in my upturned palm, went up to her, and told her that I had three rubbers. Only what I actually said was, “I have free rubbers!” She went, “OK then!” and took one of them out my hand. When I asked her why she had taken one of my rubbers she informed me that I had told her that they were free. I think she knew what it was I had been trying to say, but decided to do this to show me my mistake, so that I would learn the difference between the words “free” and “three”. And, indeed, I did...

I don’t know what came of Victoria. I have no memory of her beyond when we were 7. We may have been split up into different classes the following year, and at some point she may have moved away.

These are some of the earliest friends I can remember, who all played a part in the early years of my life.

I wonder where they are now, who they became, and how their lives turned out...

Next Week: Why I Write

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