Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Surprise rug

There is a rug which lives in the kitchen in front of the sink. Bits of washed dishes have a habit of slipping off the draining board and smashing on the floor because we just stack them up precariously instead of putting them away so the surface of the rug had become littered with the sprinklings of a thousand bowls and plates and wine glasses. We decided it was a bit dangerous so we shook it out and moved it to the hallway outside my room, which is next door to the kitchen and seemed to be crying out for a rug.

I had to pee last night. Still half asleep on the way back from the toilet I saw something move out of the corner of my eye, which made my heart explode and I panicked and bolted back to my room (firstly, this extreme night-time panicking happens fairly regularly; secondly, the movement I saw turned out to be my own reflection, but that's not important)

I forgot about the rug, strategically placed over the extremely slippy clic floor - freshly polished by a well-meaning housemate. My legs shot out from under me like bullets going in different directions and knocked me sideways and I became somehow suddenly wedged between the two walls of the narrow corridor, propped by the side of my head and my inside left ankle. I remained suspended, in shock for some time, quietly wondering if anybody had heard the fall and considering the merits of carpeted flooring.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Neighbours Part II: Harvest

The Beattie’s house was next door to ours. It was pebble-dashed and had bits of moss growing in between the pebbles. I used to lean on the wall and pick out the bits with my finger. I once picked at a quite large piece, which turned out to be thousands of baby spiders, which immediately scattered all over the wall. I have struggled with moss issues ever since.

There was a large net hammock at the bottom of the Beattie’s garden. The hammock hung over a bed of hundreds of bright yellow daffodils, a very agreeable place to lie in the shade of the Birch trees and read a book about bee-keeping or listen to the afternoon play on Radio 4. One day I picked all the daffodils and put them in the holes of the hammock. Delighted with my work I ran home and collected my parents to bring them to see the great thing I had done. To my complete shock and utter disbelief, I was frogmarched to the Beattie’s door and made to apologise. (I know, right? What is that about?) I was banned from the garden for a month.

Undeterred, I got an even better idea. The front of the Price’s house was covered in vines peppered with bright red berries. They went on holiday to Scotland this one particular week, so myself, my sister and the Beattie kids picked all the berries our small arms could reach and put them into a big black bucket we found. Then we borrowed the Beattie’s Dad’s ladder and picked the higher ones. “We’ll put the bucket on top of a door and when someone opens the door all the berries will fall on them!” I said. “It’s going to be great!” everyone agreed. It took a couple of days to fill the bucket. It’s good to have a project.

Such traps work like a charm in films, but seldom in real life especially if the eldest member of your gang is 8 years old. I think we knew that – it was never really about the trap; we didn’t even try to set it up. It was like digging a really big hole – we laboured, it was enormous and sublime: thousands of berries were in the bucket because we had picked them and put them there. A more qualified person could not have done a better job. It looked spectacular, a big black bucket spilling over with super saturated bright red beads of effort. We plunged our hands in, letting the berries fall through our fingers. "Hurrah!" we cried, "look what we have acheived!"
Then it was done so we went to play rounders.

When I proudly related the success of the endeavour I was once more shocked and appalled by the largely negative reaction of my idiot parents. I failed to see any parallel with the daffodil incident. Anticipating the Price's reaction may be similar to that of my parents, we panicked and poured the evidence into the stream at the bottom of the garden. This caused a significant enough blockage to cause the water level to overflow and flood the lawn. The Price's returned to their home to find complete and utter devastation. When they dropped round a box of souvenir shortbread later that evening I was expressly forbidden from having any.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Neighbours Part 1: Trees

My sister and I were friends with the kids next door so a group of us had the run of a number of neighbouring gardens. Access to the Price’s garden was through a hole in the hedge at the bottom of the Beattie’s garden. The Price’s garden led to the Speers’, the Speers’ led to Pat’s. Pat had a pond, which sometimes had frogs. I have included a map.

(Subsequently the Brickies moved into the Beatties', the Laverty's moved into the Price's, and the Price's moved into Pat's, so for the sake of currency I have included a revised map.)

The Price’s garden was easily the best because it had two big trees: a large Horse Chestnut called ‘Old Mr Knobby’ and a huge Oak called ‘Paula’. Mr Knobby was a good tree for climbing because it had lots of branches. Paula, too difficult to climb, usually represented an enemy ship or a neighbouring office block, depending on the requirements of the game. Mr Knobby’s trunk split into two half way up, forming a very snug pod for holding meetings in. There was a long bendy branch, which we used as a steering stick for when we played ships. I once tried to change course a bit too enthusiastically and the stick snapped and I fell a good 10ft and landed on my face and my arm, which broke. The breakage went unnoticed and as a result my wrist grew an extra bone, which is entirely noticeable if I point it out. My cross to bear.

On another occasion I was trying to make a jump. Caught up in the moment I forgot about the sharp broken branch hidden on the underside of the larger branch I was perched on. As I slid passed it the small broken branch ripped through my shorts and pants and hoiked me back mid-jump. I was suddenly dangling in the air, completely immobilised, hanging from a tree by my underwear where I revolved slowly for a number of minutes. Eventually the fabric tore and I was ungraciously dropped from my awkward captivity and liberated from the whole bum of my shorts. I don’t think I even went home to change: we were hardy back then and there were games to be played.