I am sat cross-legged, outside a room, petrified to go in…. The funeral of Winston Churchill was being broadcast and I knew I was expected to watch….i was late. I was unsure if I was to walk in, or wait for somebody to notice I was missing. Now, why a 7-year-old would need to view such a spectacle beats me. I can remember getting into the room, but stood in the corner, not facing the television. I am not sure if this was a different occasion, but I do remember that the corner and I were well acquainted. I am, now, never late and I never did like Mr Churchill.
This was my home. Not a home in the normal sense, but a Dr Barnardo’s home….and this was the one I once lived in. I found this photograph, while looking for something else. It was surreal at first; the disquiet was overwhelming me as I stared at the image for ages, unable to look away. Was I trying to remember or suppress. which? I was unable to reach a decision.
Over the years thoughts of the home had been infrequent, mainly when an event occurred, forcing me to look back. This I did brilliantly, managing to annihilate each invasion into my memory bank with a modus operandi the Victorians would have been proud of: Stiff upper lip.
This time, however, my stiff upper lip was wobbling and quickly disintegrated until it was no more… At first I blamed my age followed by my age again. Deep down though (I don’t do deep down) I knew it was the picture and the brief history of the home. It pervaded my mind and wouldn’t let go. Something had to give….. I used logic: as I didn’t want to send myself into the dark place of madness, I took the better option and started to try to put things into retrospect. I have probably forgotten more than I can remember, but I did manage to drag out some events and incidents.
There seems to be a theme of sitting crossed legged on the floor; on another occasion of “floor sitting” I was in the Matron’s bedroom, it must have been early in the morning, as she was still in bed and I was told to keep quiet and not to move. Now desperate for the toilet, I did what any young child would have done: emptied my bladder on the carpet. The fear of the consequences of having a wee on the carpet – as it was their fault – was far less than disobeying an instruction. No repercussions were forthcoming, so I assume I got away with that incident. I can quite honestly say I have never weed on any carpet since!
I have managed to extract quite a few memories, they often catch me unawares, but I now stop and think-I may have a vacant expression on my face, looking like I have lost the plot-but I carry on, trying to remember and I have stopped sweeping away this often painful existence, under the proverbial carpet. Unfortunately I must rely on the information my cerebral cortex is willing to share with me and accept that a lot of the memories are lost.
Did my stay mould me into who I am? Unequivocally. I am remarkably “normal” (Ok, I know that’s my opinion, but it is correct at the time of writing) I do have a few battle scars and a few short comings, but don’t we all? I am who I am…..