Last week I was trying to explain why we find nostalgia so addictive. You know, you’re turning 40 next year but you still get excited by spray on snow, Mr Frosty and Knight Rider.
In fact, there are actual scientific studies on the subject and this proves I’m not talking total bollocks.
On my bookshelves I have copies of Storyteller, Enid Blyton’s The Adventure’s of Pip and a Purnell’s Book of Enchanted Tales. If you don’t know them, it’s because you’re lucky enough to be too young to remember. I grew up with them – so they’re OLD. They sit amongst Caitlin Moran, Elizabeth Wurtzel and The Girl on the Train. Berties Escapade meets Bitch (I never did finish Bitch by the way. It took me too long to really get into it and by that point, I’d grown out of wanting to be a bad girl anyway).
Weirdly, however, I have never quite grown out of listening to the comforting tones of Bernard Cribbins reading about some rabbits and a pig going carol singing (when you hear the chime, turn the page).
So what can I draw from this? Is it because I set out on my journey of life loving what I loved, pure and simple. Then I had an awkward phase of desperately wanting to love stuff I didn’t really love. Then I got tired of being contrived, and just loved what I loved again. Woolly socks, gardening and rabbits that go carol singing. I don’t think I really need to be a bitch to get by in life.
Don’t get me wrong, I still listen to music from my teenage years and have kept a small sample of clothes (but they’re hidden in the loft, not proudly hanging in my wardrobe). I don’t regret my teenage years at all – but I certainly don’t want to live them again. My childhood however, yep, I’ll take some of that back.
It’s never quite the same though. Throw in a little perspective and worldly experience with your retro reads and you’ll be gutted that in your favourite story, the brother is given a name, and the sister is forever known as ‘his sister’ (now I know why my dad reacted so badly when the lad in Schuh back in the 90s spotted me and proclaimed ‘You’re thingy’s bird aren’t you?! Perhaps Elizabeth Wurtzel had a point – I should have told him to fuck off).
The story in question is imaginatively entitled ‘The Witch and the Children‘. And I am going to reignite my love of it by naming ‘Martin’s sister’. She shall now forever be known as Emma – the girl who ran like the wind when the witch (Ethel?) chased them through the forest.
But it would be even better if I could read it while drinking Quattro and eating piglet crisps.
I grew up in the 80s though. It was all Maggie Thatcher, acid rain and terrifying public safety adverts. So why do I have such fond memories? It has to be the naivety. All I knew about Thatcher as a kid was that she had big hair and wore power suits. And I never drank milk anyway.
Perhaps I am finding comfort in ignorance? But saying that, I am soon to be 40 and I have definitely found comfort in contentment.
I’m pretty content these days with how much of a bitch or otherwise I am. I’m pretty content these days wearing a big woolly jumper rather than a tiny dress to go to the pub in if it’s nippy out.
So why do I yearn for the days of foil ceiling decorations, scirocco cars and Look In magazine? Maybe it’s because I believed in magic too. Because when my mum told me that Mighty Mouse was hiding in our lounge I believed her. When my dad took us to the bottom of the garden to show us a plasticine pixie sitting on a branch we thought it was really alive. And when my dad took his hands off the steering wheel as the car still moved I thought it was KITT the car. I wasn’t yearning for magic – I was experiencing it.
My thirst for this stuff feels like homesickness and lemonade.
Perhaps the answer is the magic of nature. There are no pixies in my garden, but there are two happy hens and leaves springing back to life. I’d have been terrified of those hens as a kid. See, you can’t have it all. I do have the magic now, it’s just different. And it doesn’t come at a time when people like Thatcher had free reign over the country.
Oh, hang on a minute….