Saying farewell

The old man stands on tiptoes, looking at passengers boarding the plane. He spots his people and stands even taller in his effort to wave them goodbye.

He’s still waving even as the plane soars into the sky. Family leaving. He sits dejectedly with his head in his hands. He doesn’t move for an hour or more.

I am just a spectator but I can feel his sadness even though I can’t see his face. How lucky his people are that he thinks so much of them. I hope they return home soon.

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At 15

A muddy field, a boy scout and girl guide camp. A lonely girl with greasy hair, skin tight jeans and more metal than enamel on teeth.

A first sign of interest from the opposite sex. The feeling of flattery, of being wanted – for once.

Bus rides away from the madness. The comforting smell of a warm leather jacket mixed with diesel fumes. Feeling safe – for once.

Holding on out of habit. 15 turned to 19 with breaks on and off. A drunken party ended up with a fist hitting a jaw. History repeating. Time to break the habit and say goodbye. No regrets.

Hide in your shell

Do you think if you are a lonely child you end up being a lonely adult? Not that I am lonely but I lack in friends and that’s been a fairly constant throughout life.

What I lack in friends I make up for in family. I have the best family and I’m so lucky to have them.

It dawned on me, in the middle of the night when most things dawn on me, that I always seem to be the person messaging first. There are a couple of exceptions to this but in the majority of cases it’s always me making contact first. I wonder what would happen if I stopped? Would that be it?

Part of me thinks I must be very unlikable. I started the coffee mornings in the hopes it would open up new friendships. It didn’t. I chatted to people and watched others exchange numbers. No one ever asked for mine. So then I wonder what’s wrong with me and how to fix things?

Maybe I’m better muddling on the way I am. After all if you don’t open yourself up you don’t get hurt. In the past close friendships I’ve had I’ve always ended up getting hurt. Trusting too much and ending up with it all going wrong. Maybe hiding in my shell is the best way to stay.

A lonely child

Most of the time. The bout of mumps when she was 10 heaving herself off the couch and crawling to the kitchen to get a drink because no one was home.

Her dog. Her only friend. Always listening because no one else believed when she told them.

She learnt to stop telling people. To live in her own head or in the books she read.

Watching Top of the Pops alone. Eating beans mixed with spaghetti. Alone. Followed by a packet of mint viscounts. Alone. Getting sick all over the landing alone.

Developing OCD. A way to cope. Having to do a little dance before going to the toilet. Other rituals followed. It helped – a bit. Ringlets and the OCD ritual too close to a candle. Flames and screaming but saved. One time when someone did listen.

Long walks with the dog. Being pulled into the river. Taken home to an empty house by a kind lady and left.

Making toast for tea and always setting fire to the tea towel drying over the cooker.

Cutting eyelashes off in an attempt to be noticed. It didn’t work.

She was a child that was surplus to requirements and she knew it. A puppet that was needed for special occasions. All singing, all dancing but quickly silenced when the audience left.

That was just the way it was.

Sports days and Silver Jubilees

1977 a school sports day and a celebration for the Queen’s Silver Jubilee. A 9 year old cycling as slowly as she could in the slow bicycle race and winning. No one cheering her on.

Wishing time would stand still and the slow bicycle race would go on forever because there were no celebrations at home. Eating as much as she could because it numbed the feelings – a bit.

Day turned to evening, the echoes of laughter faded into dusk. The walk home down the hill. Hearing the sounds before the key was even put in the door.┬áBeing sent away to get more food – again. Just another night in paradise.

 

The School Trip

My first school trip was in the last year of primary school, I would have been 11. Imagine a week away with your friends and no parents? The excitement was almost overwhelming. On the bus, laughing and singing all the way to the songs from Grease as we travelled from Hemel to Southwold, until a friend got sick and we all had to hold our feet up because it was running up and down the aisle.

I wasn’t feeling too well on the journey, and no I wasn’t the one who got sick. I wasn’t sure what was wrong with me but I felt pretty rough. When we got to our guest house we were all ordered to unpack. I wasn’t feeling well enough so I sort of shoved my clothes into the wardrobe. It would have been grand if the teacher didn’t come to look in our wardrobes. I don’t think she was very impressed when my clothes avalanched out and landed on her.

The feeling of being unwell lasted all week. It was a shame because I would have loved looking around Bury St. Edmunds and Southwold as we’d learnt so much about it in school but everything was an effort. I was covered in spots and couldn’t swallow properly. We told the teacher but she told me I had a heat rash and that there was nothing wrong with me.

When I got home and my mother took me to the doctor it turned out I had chickenpox! Needless to say a few weeks afterwards there was a chickenpox outbreak in the school. I wonder why?

Being the new girl in a new school

We found a new home after a few months of moving back from Australia. With that it meant a new school.

A short walk up a hill from home took me to a form of hell. The school was OK, most of the kids were OK but the teacher hated me. From the moment I opened my mouth.

I can’t begin to tell you how hard it is for a 6 year old to try to fit in. I was slapped with a ruler and told not to speak with such a ridiculous accent. She’d ask me questions just so I’d have to answer and she could slap me. I was too scared to say anything at home because I thought it was my fault.

Of course when children see a teacher bullying they are going to think it’s the right thing to do. So not only was I getting hit with a ruler but one girl decided to pinch me. It might not sound like much but it bloody hurt and I was covered in bruises. I was torn between the classroom and the ruler or the playground and the pincher.

Eventually my mother noticed the pinch marks and eventually that was put a stop to. Eventually the accent got slapped out of me too so the teacher didn’t really have an excuse to slap me anymore.

I hated that school. Actually I hated the school after it too. I never felt like I belonged there. I felt slow and stupid. Not helped by the fact that I couldn’t tell the time or do simple sums. I was put in the ‘special class’ for maths and I spent most of the time looking out of the window wishing I was somewhere else.

The strange little girl who didn’t belong.