It’s behind you!

As part of my therapy, my counsellor asked me to write a metaphorical story about me, as a child, and my struggles. So this is a little story about anxiety and the upbeat parts of my personality that I wouldn’t give away – the excitable parts. Would I swap my excitability if it would take away my panic? I’m not sure I would.

I’ll be taking this with me next therapy session to discuss it. Which is kind of nerve wracking. But here goes…

She opened her eyes. They were still sticky from sleep and she struggled to make out the shapes of her teddy bears sitting in a neat row at the bottom of her bed. The dust was floating calmly in the sunshine as it shone through the gap in the floral curtains.  The mass of teddy-like shapes gradually sharpened up and she could make out her favourite bear.

It was morning.

But wait. What was that? Was that a dark shadow lurking behind her purple woollen bear?

She couldn’t be sure. It vanished in an instant. But the image hung heavy in the air, weighing down on her shoulders and causing her toes to curl tightly into an awkward stretch.

She needed to be sure. She had to find it. Where had it gone? It was definitely there, wasn’t it?

One by one she lifted all of the teddy bears from their resting place at the foot of the bed. It was time they got up anyway. She placed her favourite bear on the laundry basket. There was nothing there. It must have left already. But what was it?

A feeling of unease rippled over her. She clenched her jaw and leapt up out of bed, determined to find the shadowy thing lurking beneath her bunk bed before it found her. She took a deep breath and peered cautiously between the gap of the cream berber carpet and the varnished pine slats. There were shadows everywhere, morphing into the darkness behind Buckaroo and Hungry Hippos. The darkness created shapes that appeared to move and dance in a menacing rhythm.

Wait! What’s that Knight Rider car doing in the middle of the carpet!? She was sure she hadn’t played with it in weeks. Had she? Had the shadowy thing moved it? Had it created a dark force that could change everything. Buckaroo and Hungry Hippos became ugly. The car took on a life of its own. Her life was in peril.

With her fingers trembling she reached out to pick up the car. It was her favourite car. She loved Knight Rider. But now it was tainted. It had been at the mercy of the shadow. There was something terribly, terribly dreadful about it.

She opened the wardrobe with the wooden slatted doors and threw the car so that it hit the back of the wall, fell, and made an eerie sound with its wheels clanking and buzzing as it collapsed awkwardly into a heap of discarded toys. She closed the door. She walked away. But the pull of the shadows drew her back…

Peering through the slats she searched out the shadows. They seemed to be everywhere now. All around her. They felt threatening. But she couldn’t make out for certain exactly where or what they were. She couldn’t make out a definite outline. But she knew they were there. Taunting her, jeering at her. They felt deathly and heavy and she was sure she could hear them whisper. There was definite danger. It was imminent. She felt sick.

Me grinningShe took a deep breath and walked down the stairs. Her mum was in the kitchen. She was glad she was safe. The kitchen felt brighter and smelt of toast. Her mum had the round ends of the toast and her dad had the square ends. Lucy liked her toast to be light. But it wasn’t quite light enough today. She rejected half a slice pulling her nose into a sneer and pushing away her plate. It wasn’t quite the toast she loved.

She walked into the lounge and felt a little tap on her shoulder. She turned in shock. In horror. Had it followed her down the stairs? Her mum was behind her.

‘Did you see that?’ she gasped.

‘Yes I did.’ said her mum with a smile. ‘It was Mighty Mouse’.

Oh wow! Mighty Mouse. She KNEW he had to be real. He was her favourite ever mouse. She liked Danger Mouse, Mickey and Minnie were fun and she thought Jerry was a hoot. But Mighty Mouse was THE BEST MOUSE.

She couldn’t sit still. She felt another tap on her shoulder.

‘Mum, mum, Mighty Mouse just tapped me again’.

‘Yes he did’ said her mum.

Every time she wasn’t looking Mighty Mouse appeared behind her, teasing her. She imagined him giggling and winking at her mum. She loved that her mum could see him and knew she must be special or he wouldn’t have visited her house. He was in HER HOUSE! How could something this brilliant happen.

She wandered back up the stairs, full of hope at the thought of encountering a super hero of the mouse variety again.

The bedroom was light and the dust particles were dancing happily in the rays. There was anticipation in the air bobbing through the light and twirling around her in excitement.

But wait? What was that? Did she just see her teddy bear move? She was sure he was sitting up straight on the laundry bin when she went downstairs. She’d placed him there when she was looking for that shadow thing.

How had her bear moved?

She knew what it had to be. She was so excited she could burst. Her house was coming alive with teddy bears and super hero mice and all the wonderful types of things she watched Emily enjoy in Bag Puss. And it was happening to her. It was magical. It was amazing. This was the BEST DAY OF HER LIFE.

She left the room and hid in the bathroom. When she sloooowwly, quietly crept back in, she knew she was going to see her teddy bears dancing and picnicking and partying in her room.

Her heart sank. Her teddy hadn’t moved. There was no Bag Puss party. There was no Mighty Mouse. Reality hit. She wasn’t that special. She hadn’t been visited by real live teddy bear creatures after all. She had nothing to report to her friends at play group.

She collapsed on her bed. And looked up to the ceiling, deflated and sad.

Wait! What was that? Did a dark shadow just dart across the room?

Addicted to nostalgia

Last week I was trying to explain why we find nostalgia so addictive. You know, you’re turnBertie meets bitching 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 witch and the childrenThe 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….