Monday, July 18, 2011

The death of childhood

We all have that defining moment when our childhood comes shuddering to a halt and we have to face the fact that it's not all banana milkshakes, soggy chocolate cake and dressing up as rainbow bright but I had managed to push mine into the dark recesses of my brain where I store useless information such as the Pythagoras theory, who Henry the eighths wives were and the fact that the egg Mcmuffin was invented by a man called Ed Peterson.

It only came screaming back to me when one of our receptionists at work (Sarah) was telling the story of the couple who lived above her.
One evening her and her boyfriend were sat at home enjoying a bottle of wine together when Sarah heard a noise. She and her boyfriend looked at each other and carried on, not thinking much about it. Then they heard it again and Sarah did what most of us would do in that situation; she turned the TV down for a proper listen.
At that point the words "Get on your hands and knees" swiftly followed by rhythmic banging that can only be attributed to one thing came floating down from the upstairs flat.
Mortified, Sarah and her boyfriend turned the TV back up and pretended that their ears had not just been violently assaulted whereas if that had been me, I would have started jumping up and down on my own bed making energetic sex noises so that they would realise they could be heard and stop or they wouldn't have cared whereupon we would have been locked in a noisy sex versus fake sex competition. Oh, and I probably should have mentioned that the upstairs neighbours are well into their sixties which makes the whole situation even more cringe worthy.

This story in the staff room gave way to all sorts of embarrassing sex stories (love the stuff we talk about at work), then it was my turn and I recounted the following story which left my childhood as broken and battered as an unloved train set.

When I was a kid, probably about nine or ten, I used to go out and see my friends and my parents would tell me to be back at a certain time or when the streetlamps came on depending on the time of year but sometimes I would come back early and find that the front door was locked. Very strange thought my juvenile brain seeing as most of the time, if my parents were in the front door always remained unlocked but being very naive at that age (and who wouldn't be!?) I didn't really think too much of it.

Until one day.

One day, I was cold or I wanted to build a den or something so I  decided to go and get a blanket from the drawer under my parents bed. I innocently opened the drawer and took out the top blanket when something fell from the folds of the cloth.

It was a Polaroid.

Now, had I just picked the Polaroid up from where it lay face down on the floor and put it straight back into the drawer my childhood would probably have remained intact for a good few years until my friend and her boyfriend started having special time underneath the duvet that we were all sharing while watching My Girl one rainy Sunday afternoon or until the time when I bumped into creepy David on the way home one afternoon and he tried to shove his hands down my pants whereupon I punched him in the face so hard that one of his front teeth came out and embedded itself in my knuckle.

But I've always been an inquisitive sort of person so my hand reached out and plucked the Polaroid from the beige coloured carpet, turned the picture over and burned my retinas with a picture that my brain has erased from my memory seeing as it was something that a ten year old should not see especially in her parents bedroom.

I think I must have sat there in slack jawed silence for a few seconds although it felt like decades had come and gone before deciding that I had had enough of holding a picture of my dads willy and chucked it back in the drawer fighting back tears and the urge to vomit.

But wait, there's more....

Surely not! I hear you cry. Surely that's enough to send even the happiest child down the dark spirals of despair but no dear reader, there's more.

As I flung the Polaroid back into the drawer my eyes were drawn to the corner of the drawer where lying innocently was a rubber contraption, white with little nobbles on it, a string of beads which looked like a pearl necklace but wasn't bendy, it was all straight and rigid and what looked suspiciously like one of those egg shaped fridge fresheners but with a string dangling from one end.

At this point I was debating whether a den was worth all this trauma or whether I needed the den to go and hide myself in for twenty to thirty years to recover from the shock.

I decided to go with plan A and stuffed the blanket back in the drawer and went and made a den in the woods with far less dangerous objects such as sticks, stones and left over pieces of barbed wire.