Today I met a gingerbread person, who foretold the end of the world. My uncle is a baker, and a realist, so while some of his gingerbreads smile, others seem very sad. The Curse of The Gingerbread People, as it is well known, is that unlike humans they are doomed to wear the same face forever. I am glad to be human.
Today, I purchased a set of second-hand toothbrushes and a book of children’s stories. I spent a lot of time on facebook, with the result that a lot of people now know too much about me. The colour of the wind is blue. I’m sure there are still jewels hanging in the sky, along with the jewellery stores that sell them.
I am still afraid of change, so there is no change there. Perhaps I miss some things and people. The echoes of laughs reverberate from the top or the bottom of a well.
I have yet to watch my favourite movie. I’m documenting the things I’m scared to lose. Except, to do this I have rehearsed a story of likely-to-be-lost things. Who knows what things I have already lost in the process? There are gaps here that might want to be filled. That is your homework. This story is useless. I hope that you like it.
I remember my school teacher in a fit of teacherly rage, rapping her ruler against the table…
“YOU WILL LEARN MATHMATICS WHETHER YOU LIKE IT OR NOT”
I commenced crying instantly whenever things seemed to be happening louder; a habit I did not shake off for a while and one that, perhaps, did not win me many friends. Mother says of her once-fragile-little-cupcake, that I missed out on numbers because I spent a lot of time abroad, seeing – not “Doctors” exactly, but I’m making this easy for you.
Since this is not exactly my life – my life being something that has existed essentially out-of-time, conducting itself in the manner of an unruly shopping trolley – I need not bestow on you the many confusing, vague details. They were “Conductors”, not doctors. They wore white – they wore clogs. White clogs of course. The clogs offset anything intimidating.
There was the bust of an intelligent person displayed in the lobby, an old fashioned kind of elevator, and one of the other parents – who was not my mother – had green hair. I bathe in sage, as my mother is advised.
I sent my mother searching this new terrain for the exact kind of cocoa – or tea – we all drank at the Institute. The children needed a break from being pressed against wooden things. This was new and revolutionary and my mother trusted it.
Soldiers marched in the square apparently, and it was colourful.
The kind women gave me a storybook about Ferdinand the Bull, who refuses to fight and would rather smell the flowers. These are the women I remember the least, but I remember the story.
The Institute’s rigorous regime, which apparently worked a few miracles of evolution, did not afford us much spare time. I spent a lot of it at the puppet theatre, and my mother buys me toys from the Popeye Shop which has a neon sign animating the smoke of Popeye’s pipe. At home, I once jammed a big red candle into the VCR, fully expecting to see a glorious lit church candle ablaze on screen. I have always been interested in animation, and still find watching cartoons to be a semi-religious experience. I was a spoilt child.
At home, a giant wooden ladder occupied an entire wall of our living room.
I had brought a lot of sights and sounds back with me, as well as ludicrous exercises, and “splints” like drainpipes to strap to ensure my feet were positioned right, and not experimentally. We went back and forth many times. At home, my brother had freckles and “bum-bags” were in fashion.
To be good at different words. Was I ever? I wish I could be. I had the songs given to me on counterfeit cassettes from a shop near the market, where they also sold bread – excellent bread, and cakes, better than you have ever tasted. I am now a great believer in bread.
If time must progress let it move slowly, through thick layers of chocolate.
In the evenings, I would put new labels on the covers of books, with my own titles. I had a wooden xylophone.
I dreamt about a little girl at the Institute who had perfect blonde hair and a perfect, palsy-ed smile of innocence, who fell and I could not stop her from falling, and the wooden things falling on top of her.
This is not a dream for your text books.
I was convinced that Ennio Morricone’s theme to The Good, The Bad and The Ugly was sung, in part, by swans. I described it as “the song with the swans in”. Nevermind.
My mum made friends with another mother who was not my mother. This one was welsh and a thick, unmistakable accent of perfume followed her. She wore furs and was differently soft. So there were three soft and pleasant people together; the third was her daughter who again was very Welsh and liked dolls. So my mum bought her lots of dolls – sorry, babies – complicated babies that rode bicycles. I was jealous. Her daughter grinded her teeth a lot. Eventually it became a sweet sound, coming from a sweet person. Nevertheless, my mother urged me to not to imitate her. There were a lot of mothers here.
I need someone to get me out of hilarious and unlikely scrapes. Fortunately, I have been blessed with a loving family, and they are constantly blessing me. We need a brick-built semi to contain all this light. Straw would not do, and neither would a mansion. I am okay here, thank you, although a mansion would be nice. Can I have a mansion, without clouds and all this light? There are very few curtains in this house.
In my little school in England we are learning about the Victorians; specifically Victorian children and all the dreadful things that happened to them. The cruelty of history is novel and comforting. I’m threatened with the mines if I say the slightest thing. I am a Victorian boy – I have a stick and a hoop and with this I am satisfied. But of course I’m not and my pretend games now have a serious aim – I must escape history, if it ever comes my way.
I share a bedroom with my brother, and as time goes on my yearning for a space of my own intensifies. In one of my nicest dreams I find myself in a prison cell which is flooded by yellow light, and through the bars of a single window I can catch a piece of moon.
Ain’t Misremembered: A Patch of Life, In Colour is available in some shops but not the kind you frequent. It doesn’t really even exist here, if you look closely enough. The ISBN number begins with 4. That, I believe, is what they call “The Rule of Four”. If you want a copy, use a photocopier, consult The Nurse, or do me curious sexual favours atop an apple cart.