|The 40 In 40 Days Project.|
19. The First Memory (1964)
The Au Pairs
|Summer 1964. I
am two and a half years old. This is my first memory.
We are living in a smallish bungalow on
the edge of Doncaster. One bright and sunny afternoon, I am sitting in
my sandpit, just outside the back door leading to the kitchen. My mother
is washing up indoors. I am playing with my bucket and spade.
Bored with making sandcastles, I decide
to embark on a major civil engineering project instead. It will be
something really big, and grown up, and clever, and impressive. I am
going to empty all the sand out of the sandpit. Mummy is going to be so
proud of me!
I set to work with great determination,
repeatedly filling up my little bucket and tipping the sand out onto the
lawn beside me. Soon, there is a great big heap of sand on the grass,
bigger than any of my sandcastles. Wow!
Once Iíve cleared most of the sand
from the pit, I eagerly rush into the kitchen, keen to show off my work.
ďMummy, come and look at what Iíve done!Ē I am acquiring a taste
for praise, and get ready to be told what a clever little boy I am. My
mother follows me outside.
She is not amused by what she sees. In
fact, she looks horrified, and cross. I am spoken to sharply. I am not
to tip sand all over the lawn in future. I am to put all the sand back
in the sandpit, now, please. And she goes straight back indoors.
I am a bit bewildered and a bit upset.
I thought Mummy would be pleased with me. With confounded expectations
and a heavy heart, I start spooning the sand back into the sandpit. This
is more difficult than it was before, as the sand is in a loose heap
rather than a tight enclosed space. It is also not nearly so much fun.
Nine years later, my mother marries a civil engineer. By this time, I am a confirmed aesthete with a pronounced distaste for the great outdoors.