Write about what you know, they said

Write about what you know, they said. What, I thought- my childhood? That continuum of non- descript non-events that somehow went to define me? Of solitary walks to school, collecting Smurf stickers from the garage, feeling no fear atop of the long,- high wall that went for ever, or the terrifying moments crossing the pub car park, head down to avoid the attention of parka-ed mods, proudly astride their scooters. What do I know? The form of pond life under a microscope, the way in which a fine brush can bear just so much enamel paint, the satisfaction of a finely folded origami shape, then the rush to a tap as it becomes a water bomb, the sibling games in the garden on a summer afternoon, the solitary walls in the woods coloured by the one time a grown-up, intentions unknown, took chase… yes, what do I know? Never boredom nor anger. Sometimes fear, confusion at becoming a target for the vindictive wrath of another. Often laughter, occasional pain, that fall from a tree, that tapped finger, more falls, each leaving a small scar like a badge. Always support, always structure, each day planned like the last, night time routines unshifting, but for the occasional , unsatisfying attempt to read under the bedsheets with a torch, the attempts to watch TV from a perch at the top of the stairs, only to be spotted and roundly put to rights. The long, long, long summers, warm days and bike rides and friends’ houses and marmite sandwiches. The occasional shopping trip to the big town, all concrete and sallow faces. The holidays, long walks to the beach carrying an encampment of wind breaks, towels, picnic baskets, the games of dice and cards, the boat trips and donkey sanctuaries. The books, the music, the jigsaws at Christmas, the relatives bringing cream cakes and motor racing stickers. The love and comfort, the fear and uncertainty, the continuity of it all, the sad, hindsight realisation that it could not be idyllic forever, as self-awareness and hormones left only confusion and a constant need to conform, even as everything only became harder. Write about what you know, they said… but there are no stories, only memories, of another, more peaceful time.

Write about what you know, they said

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