Like most people, I do not remember very much from early childhood. I’m not one of those idiots who claims that they can remember being born. I’m also not one of those people who says they can remember things, even though they’ve just seen those occasions in a photograph and they have made them up in their mind (most of the time anyway).
The earliest holiday I remember was to a place called Derbyshire. I seem to recall firstly that I was an only child at the time, and that we drove there in an old blue Austin (I’m sure parents will correct me on this). There was an older lady who welcomed us to the cottage, and seemed very kind.
I am able to recollect that early one morning, I badgered my Dad to come down stairs with me, as I hated being on my own. Then Dad said that I was a big boy and that I could watch TV on my own, and let them sleep for a while. Then Mam pointed out that it might have been because I had heard about the recent child murders that had taken place, I hadn’t, but this made me even more scared.
Dad got up with me, took me out, and introduced me to an old farmer who must’ve been the owner of the land. The farmer took my hand and said that we were going to see the chickens. We walked up to a large hut type thing which he unlocked and opened the door of. Out came about twenty flapping chickens, and they all gathered around my knees. I wasn’t scared by this at all, just in awe. Then he took me into their hut where we managed to find six eggs, which the chickens had apparently laid that very night! I boasted to my parents about it when I got back, they were very impressed.
I believe that one day we went to a place called Gulliver’s World, a theme park of sorts. I remember a gigantic statue of a man (I assume he was Gulliver) and Dad telling me that in the story he wasn’t actually the big one, the people were small. My parents took me to what I identified as a river, there was a dark brown wooden boat which we sat in and the seats were soaking wet. “Why are we sitting in a wet boat? Why is it moving?”
To which my Mam replied “We’re going to sort of go down a waterfall!”
“What? Hello? Huh? What!?”
“It’s like a slide with lots of water on it! It’s fun!”
“Will I get wet?”
“A little bit.”
I hugged up to Mam tightly, fearing my inevitable death.
Sadly, the actual plunge does not exist on my mental records, perhaps it was so traumatic that my brain deleted it for fear of nightmares. But parents, take note, do not take your kids to strange theme parks and tell them that they will then fall down a waterfall, they have watched to many cartoons and know that it is always a crisis if you’re heading towards the end of the river, you never do it by choice.
I also went with Dad on a Helter Skelter. I retain the thought of trying to say Helter Skelter and what a magical name for a twirly wirly slide it was. I also loved the fact that we had to sit on door mats. Amazing.
The last memory of that holiday is of me sitting in the car, in the front seat, with Mam in the back. We stopped to get some petrol and Mam asked if I wanted a swap. “What’s a swap?”
“You’ll see when you get out of the car!” she giggled.
Thoughts of a fantastical chocolate bar called Swap came to mind, Willy Wonka style. I stepped out of the car, she lifted me up, placed me in the back seat and did up the strap. This was followed by her sitting in the front seat with me left waiting for my treat.
“Can I have my swap now?”
“You’ve had it!”
“No I haven’t!”
“Yes you have, a swap is when you change places with someone.”
Harsh. Very harsh.