I find it difficult to write about my childhood. Not because of disturbing memories of an unhappy past, but rather because it passed me by in something of a blur, and was relatively uneventful.
I realize that to call myself a writer, I should have some agonizing incidents from my formative years to draw on, but the sad truth is, I had a vague, happy childhood.
The sun always shone, I played hopscotch with my pals, and on Sundays we ate Angel Delight for afters.
Well, maybe it did, maybe I did, maybe we did, the truth is, I really can’t remember.
I can recall very few scenes from my girlhood with any clarity. We were just an ordinary family. I wasn’t abused by my parents. No wicked uncles or dodgy neighbours interfered with me. The priest and the nuns kept their hands to themselves.
Pretty dull, huh?
My mother didn’t get her belly-button pierced or have a fling with the milkman. My father wasn’t a raving alcoholic and didn’t rob banks; it was all rather tame and suburban, somewhat anodyne for a writer’s muse. The most disturbing thing to happen was losing my status as an only child when I was six-and-three-quarters; I never quite forgave my parents for the ‘gift’ that was my sister!
My mother, a voracious reader and subject of many a sad poem these days, mostly stayed home to look after the family. She baked her own cakes and biscuits and frowned upon anything out of a packet that was described as ‘convenience food’, except for sweet desserts like Angel Delight and Instant Whip.
She taught me how to rustle up a batch of scones and fairy cakes on a Sunday afternoon, how to knit and sew – and how reading a good book beats domestic chores hands down.
And although there was no unimaginable childhood misery to act as inspiration, if pressed, I could probably write a few sweet words about instant desserts like Angel Delight or Instant Whip…