It is now only two days until I pass into official middle age, two days before it all comes crashing down upon me. Actually that’s not true. I have long since been comfortable with my transformation from hip thirtysomething into a forty year old man. I’m sure that forty year olds have a lot going for them and, if not, then I’m here to shake things up for them.
I started reminiscing (even more than usual) about my youth and decide to record some of the lessor-known facts in case anyone was interested. They are in no particular order and most of them are probably not worth hearing anyway. Consider yourself warned:
I watched a lot of television as a child. A lot. I spent most days flicking through the TV guide circling what I wanted to watch in the upcoming week. On weekends it was worse, starting around 6:30am for the kids TV, taking a little break around lunchtime when the “adult” programs started and then coming back in the afternoon for more cartoons, sitcoms and anything else. The BBC repeated tons of sitcoms over the weekend and I was there for them. In my tiny child brain I would sing, “Who do you think you are kidding Mr Kipling?” when watching the opening for ‘Dad’s Army’. Don’t ask me why, it doesn’t quite scan properly (which may explain a lot of my efforts at writing poetry) and there is absolutely no correlation as far as I’m aware between the beloved cake-maker and the murderous dictator.
Later on I wanted to be a space cowboy but earlier on in my life I wanted to be a wizard. This may have been spurred on by what I read in ‘George’s Marvellous Medicine’. I would steal various shampoos, conditioners, bubble baths and sometimes things from the kitchen cupboards (the bathroom was next to my bedroom so it was easier to sneak in and out with my effects) and mix them together to create potions. Did I have a proper cup or beaker to do so? No, I used the top of an old toy that had broken off. It was as curved green pot thing that was supposed to be the top of the tree. I think my mum noticed things were oozing out of the back of the small wooden desk in my bedroom so they broke in to look at what I had been doing. It seems as though I had also mixed in a dead spider to my current concoction to, I don’t know, heighten the potency of the potion. Needless to say I was politely asked to stop.
I did a lot of showing off. I had three other siblings to compete with, I had no choice. Right? Right. I’m glad we’re on the same page. During the summer holidays my dad would “borrow” a video camera from the school he was working at and we would make home movies of varying quality, mostly terrible. In the quieter moments I would use the camera to record whatever I thought would be a good idea at the time. Once I made a stop-motion video of my pink dinosaur killing himself by jumping off the end of my parent’s bed, and when I say stop-motion I mean practically still shots with huge jumps in the middle rather than painstakingly moving the dinosaur into the next position. The crowning achievement however was the time I recorded five minutes of me narrating a fictitious race between… well that part is lost to me. It was a race though because I was doing my best Murray Walker impression. I was young and I had a cold so my enunciation was pretty terrible. I moved the camera wildly from side to side saying whatever came into my head. The film is notorious for one line that my brother and sisters still bring up to this day. I cannot tell you what I am actually saying because there is no substitution in the English language that would explain it yet I cannot fully believe I would say what I said at the age of 6 or 7. What did I say? Sigh. “I wanna see some boobies!” I didn’t fully know what boobies were at that age so why I would want to see them is anyone’s guess. It’s baffling knowing that it’s me and not being able to understand what I’m trying to say. The answer is lost to time.
One more before I go. I had a knack of trading things at an early age. In primary school I would take the toy or thing that came in the box of cereal and I would trade them at school with other kids for toy cars. I didn’t want the cereal toys, I wanted their toy cars and for some reason the other people thought this was a fair trade. In secondary school (you may have heard this one before) I would take the lunch that my mum had so carefully put together and sell it to someone in my form for the price of a school dinner which, I believe at the time, was £1.30. I did this every day so I came away with over a fiver a week to add to my pocket money pile. I used the money to go into town at the weekend to buy video games and CDs. My mum wouldn’t be home until after 5pm on a weekday so I would come home and eat bread (about a quarter of a loaf) and cereal to take away the hunger pangs I was feeling. She didn’t find out about this until I was in my twenties. I ate so much bread I believe it may have contributed to the intolerances I am now experiencing as an adult man, plus it made me round and chubby like the Pilsbury Doughboy from all the extra carbs.