S is for Secrets
One for sorrow
two for joy
3 for a girl & 4 for a boy
5 for silver
6 for gold
7 for a secret never to be told.
Magpie was common, a bit trashy, the mens’ trousers just that little too tight, their hair just that little bit too long.
I watched it at Karens’ house, her mother seemed impossibily young, wore a patchwork skirt and a matching head kerchief.
She didnt care what we watched, so we sprawled on the sofa, racing green school skirts rolled at the waist, rust coloured ties knotted extravagently with not one but two shirt buttons undone.
We had our secrets, some, secret light, secret latte – easy to share, smoking, being in love with Bryan Ferry, using a toothbrush to throw up after every meal.
Others harder, kept close, seven for a secret never to be told.
T is Teeth
Brought up in a country with little health care and a relaxed attitude to preventative medicine she only went to the dentist once. He, large, red faced, didnt believe in anasthetics for children and removed two teeth by brute force alone. the memory stuck with her and she decided that dentristy was not for her and that she would adopt as more DIY approach.
Her tools of choice – neglect, hard toffees, a persistent probing tongue and when all else fails, a finger, pushing, proding, twisting.
Occasionally she gets it wrong, an abcess sets in and then, face swollen, world shrunk down to just this pain, this throbbing, she crawls to a friend, a GP, who, slightly in love with the girl with the bad teeth, digs out half used boxes of anti-biotics.
The infection healed, the tooth or the stump that is left falls out and she moves on, careful this time to keep a few tablets back, she doesnt want to seem needy.
She has learnt to smile without every opening her mouth.
U is Undulating
The three smaller children are packed into the back seat of the bright orange mini, all available corners, crannies, footspaces are heaving with bags, boxes, loose escaped items. The trunk, almost as big as the car itself, is tied to the roof rack using the fathers’ special knotting skills.
The journey starts as 3 am, so as to avoid the traffic.
Sandwiches have been made, bottles of squash diluted and there are those special travel sweets, which the mother doles out at hourly intervals.
The oldest child, the son, gets to sit in the front seat in recognition of his role as navigator and reader of the AA route map.
The children never question why the father never accompanies them on this annual trip or why their mother orders a new route map each year.
It always arrives 2 weeks before the exodus, kept safe with the important documents and handed over the brother as the mother reverses the car out of the drive.
At the top of each page of directions is a brief description of the landcape they will dive through.