I don’t think so. I would have remembered. Or would I? It is possible for parents to completely suppress nasty memories during childhood, or so they think. They’re usually still there in your subconscious, especially those that happened before the age of seven. They come back when you least expect. Parents who abuse their children do this to ensure they tell no one.
Arkwife’s, My Reasons – Silent Musings describes how the past can suddenly come back and nip you. She writes about the unexpected effect of seeing an ex’s wedding photos on the web.
“Now I can handle that he’s married…I mean, I’m married as well, and I haven’t seen or heard from him in four years, so why then did I suddenly feel very ill?? Literally nauseous at just the sight of him. It was very weird, and unpleasant.”
I have my old wedding photos posted here somewhere. They’re my old photos as I haven’t remarried, but even so I felt terrible posting them in case my ex felt terrible when she saw them. I flatter myself. Maybe she’d be overjoyed, and anyway, it’s better than throwing them out.
Nasty memories are hard to deal with. I wonder how today’s children will be affected by the current news overkill. Child abuse is quite rightly in the news a lot, but it’s good to see that some feel uneasy that the coverage pushes out other news rather than actually helping. The Cutting Edge talks about MPs wearing armbands, and the scale of the media push. I fear the media take up valuable police time. Last weekend, BBC News 24 had a reporter in the Portuguese town, and a reporter on the beach. It reminded me of Churchill’s, “we will fight them on the beaches” speech.
Now you know I hold up the British media for ridicule daily, so I had a lot of time for the Cutting Edge blog. It made me think back to a supposedly more innocent time, and then I came to my senses. There were “strange men” everywhere in Manchester in my childhood in the sixties and seventies, men who dragged a school friend into a school field and “played” with him, men who beat up children for wearing scouts or ATC uniforms, men who dragged a child onto the nearby golf course and “interfered ” with him. It was a constant threat. We were always being lectured about it. So why does the media raise the profile to this degree when it’s something that’s been around for as long as I can remember?
Reading about the awful way Madeleine McCann was abducted through a bedroom window reminded me of an incident when I was about 13 back in the seventies.
My parents owned a caravan on the edge of the Lake District, near Milnthorpe. It was a Pemberton. The site was called Silver Ridge, and the caravan was called Blue Skies, in gold and black stick-on italics. The site was beautiful and quiet in a forest growing out of limestone pavement. We went there most weekends through the 70s. It allowed us to go to Morecambe when it rained in the Lakes, and the Lakes when it rained in Morecambe. When it rained in both places, we stayed in the van and played a board game called Formula One.
They were great days, and I often think about coarse fishing at Arnside, or sailing a Mirror dinghy the length of Lake Windermere and back.
One evening, we put out the gaslights in the caravan quite late. We used torches to get about. Mum and Dad went into the tiny bedroom at the back, and I climbed into my sleeping bag on the seat at the front. The caravan could sleep two on the front seats, two on the foldaway kitchen table, and two in a room at the back. My brother also slept on the seats at the front. I was right by the side window. The window was slightly open for ventilation, locked by a tiny thumbscrew.
We larked about in the dark, being silly like kids do, making noises and generally having a laugh. And then we settled down. I lay back, and closed my eyes. I thought about fishing the next day, about climbing out of the car at Arnside, and buying ragworm bait. We really needed live bait to catch anything.
I heard a noise outside. It was the faintest noise of gravel scrunching. I sat up, and pulled back the curtain.
I saw the outline of man right up to the window. I couldn’t see his face, but I was sure it was a man. I shouted.
I jumped out of bed, and ran to the door.
“Someone’s outside. Someone’s outside.”
The door was locked. I unlocked it and ran outside, but the man had gone. I looked round. There was no one there. The clothes were still on the washing line. There was nothing missing. I went back inside, and my parents and my brother hadn’t even moved.
“Go back to bed.”
“But there was someone outside.”
“There was no one.”
They didn’t believe me. Maybe they didn’t want to believe me. Maybe they didn’t want me to believe it. The surprise of seeing the outline of someone only a few inches away in total silence was a huge shock, and I will never forget it. Maybe my adult night terrors are linked to this, the past claiming the present. Whatever. I know I saw someone, and nobody believed me.
Filed under: life writing