i remember the day of the puddle
this is probably my earliest memory. i am not like a lot of my friends who can remember what they had for breakfast the second sunday after their third birthday. frankly i have trouble remembering last week – mostly because like mr. kipling i live exceedingly – just not make cakes, keeping it dull. what that basically means is that while i should have lots of interesting memories of early 60s brick lane: i don't.
though very oddly many years back while visiting a friend who had moved into the street i used to live on i was looking out of his back window and said to him – see that bridge there? i used that to cross over the train tracks to get to school (not sure if i was right or wrong side of them), it was a bridge i had never seen from that angle and hadn't been near in 20 years or so. yet several years later when i had moved back to the area i spent many a happy hour in my favourite coffee shop oblivious to the fact that i was born there. go figure.
so back to this day in the early 60s.
it was winter – lots of leaves on the ground – big curly up ones. a nip in the air. soggy splashy park. i am all bundled up in a duffel coat and wellies, short hair and a cheeky grin (the sort of grin that just begs to be slapped). dad is in a suit, white shirt and tie – the proper gent, brylcreemed hair (when he still had some), fag in hand (days before health warnings-not that they had any effect when they came in he just kept puffing as if his previous life he was a chimney), our dog, black lab called sally, running back and forth not sure if she was keeping me safe or treating me as if i were an errant sheep.
dad has a ball at his feet, he kicks it. i run after it. kick it back. dog running back and forth. happy kiddy squeals of fun. two things that the neutral observer would spot straight away – that we were having fun. secondly that the amount of footballing skill on display was disappointingly close to zero, what did we care – i was still a kid who just wanted to play and he was a dad who just wanted his nipper to be knackered come bed time.
it is the nature of kick and run that you end up going all over the place, especially when one of the kickers was a child with no skill at all. it was all about fun, not about skill. dad would kick, puff and throw a stick for the dog.
we roamed the park.
then the fateful kick. it scooted away. i ran after it. dog yapping following, look a big pile of leaves to run through (c'mon who can resist a pile of leaves to mess up … oh you all can, well i couldn't. full speed ahead leaves to mess up.
and then i am in a very large deep puddle. a deep wet cold puddle.
stuck there for hours and close to death.
or 30 seconds and just up to my waist.
you take your pick.
i was a mess.
dog was a mess
mum not best pleased.
dad trying not to laugh too much.
strangely there are still days when i want to jump in puddles and splash about in them, and while that still happens i know i can still find a smidgen of happiness in the everyday and that is good to know.