My Unusual Childhood

Discussion in 'Places I Have Lived' started by Joy Rose, Jan 4, 2019.

  1. Joy Rose

    Joy Rose New Member
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    I wrote this short story about my childhood years.

    My Unusual Childhood

    I was born in 1950. If a film was made about my childhood, people would say it was just not credible! My sisters and I often compare notes just to ensure we are not imagining it. Here are just a few of the high/lowlights!

    Our home, in the Channel Island of Guernsey, 'entertained' 13 Germans during WW2, they had left a lot of evidence of their existence, which was around for many of my childhood years. On the back landing were framed cartoons, which one of their number, an artist, had created. They are probably worth a lot of money now, and were part of our inheritance, but we donated them to one of the museums. We didn't think it right to do anything else with them. The pictures were harmless, unlike a lot of the stuff we came across. My bottom still stings from the thrashing I got when I was 10 after playing with a live grenade I found in the attic, which I had been forbidden to enter. The large attic hadn't been cleared for 100 years and contained loads of stuff, which would probably be worth a small fortune today. In 1961, my father had it all cleared out by his staff and deposited on our November 5th bonfire. A green box, they should have checked before adding it to the bonfire, blew up, it apparently contained bullets!

    Strange activity of the paranormal kind was a big feature throughout my childhood. My sisters and I came up with the name 'Kelly' for our spook. It could be disconcerting, and even frightening at times. Still it had its uses when we had babysitters. We would relate some of the tales then tell the sitter we were going to bed, nine times out of ten they would insist we stayed up until we heard my parent’s car coming through the gates, then we scarpered upstairs

    My primary school, (4-14 when I first went there in 1954) was something out of a Victorian horror film. The head teacher (who had been the head teacher when my father was a pupil, and a teacher when my grandfather was a senior boy) was a sadistic bully who beat kids from poor homes within an inch of their lives. He even beat one boy unconscious! I didn't enjoy my time there, I was bullied by other children as I came from a better off home than most. It was a relief to go to the Ladies College, a private girl's school, at the age of 11.

    Dad would cut up sheets of asbestos for use in his horticultural business. My sisters and I loved playing with the dust, which had a silky texture. I liked the taste of it too, it was like cheap muesli!

    There were children with whom I played, but preferred to go off on little adventures on my own, most of which were a danger to life and limb.

    I was taught to drive a small blue caterpillar tractor when I was five. It was great fun, providing you didn't touch the exhaust pipe at the side of it! Health and Safety wasn't something, which was considered in those days. I also drove the small motorised trucks well before I was ten. My father taught all his daughters to drive his cars from the age of 12, he went in for large ones. We used to drive them around our property. When I took my driving test at 17 the examiner looked shocked when he saw little me (5' 2.5" in height) and the size of the car I was driving. When the test was finished, he told me to come back in 6 months, and he would pass me, which he did, I was very miffed about that. I consider myself a good driver. My younger sisters borrowed a relative's Mini on which to take their tests.

    One really amusing incident which stands out, was when I was 12 and my mother and I were invited to 'take tea' with the elderly lady who had bought the property just across the road from ours. She was a cousin of the Queen. My mother insisted I dressed up for the occasion, which didn't please me, I have always disliked dressing up! However, it was worth the effort, we were shown into the drawing room of the lady's house by the butler. The sofa and chairs had dustcovers on them and it was obvious the room was being painted. He explained that 'Madam' liked to do her own decorating, Mum and I were gobsmacked. The old girl wasn't really up to the task, especially as some of the old paintings, which hadn't been removed, had paint splashes on them! There were probably quite valuable. The lady of the house put in an appearance and was quite entertaining. The butler brought in the tea, tiny cucumber sandwiches and cakes. All served on exquisite bone china.

    Unfortunately my parents were religious, evangelicals who believed you had to get 'saved' or burn in hell, which was forced down our throats as kids. I wish I had never heard of god or Jesus. It was a great relief to lose my faith by the time I became an adult.

    Whilst there were some aspects of my childhood which I didn't appreciate, my sisters and I were very fortunate, compared to so many of our contemporaries.

    My very earliest memory, which was verified by my mother as being correct, was being in the maternity home, in a white canvas sided cot, with the nurse looking down at me. The walls were cream and green.

    I remember, when I was a year old in 1951, sitting in my pram in our kitchen listening to the first episode of The Archers. I have listened to the programme ever since.

    When I was two I nearly drowned in a pond, I was in a park with my Aunt and her friend, who were supposed to be looking after me. They hadn't noticed I had wandered off, and I fell into the pond when I slipped whilst I was looking at the fish. My mother was not a happy bunny as I had spoilt my 'Mini Mode' outfit!

    Also that year I wandered up our long drive to look at a horse and cart parked at the top of it. The farmer and his wife, who rented one of our fields were sitting on it, when a low flying aircraft startled the horse. It bolted towards me, the farmer and his wife fell through the shafts! 'Auntie' Myra Gallienne who was packing tomatoes in our packing shed, heard the commotion and bravely ran towards me and the bolting horse, picked me up and ran towards the house. My mother opened the door and we both fell in just as the horse and cart passed us with only about 6 inches to spare. It was stopped by a 20ft granite wall at the end of the drive. My father had to shoot the horse as it couldn't be pacified. The farmer died about three months later of a heart attack, he never got over the shock of this incident. I was more upset that I had wet my pants in fright, than dicing with death!

    I was five when I was called into the head master's study, I wondered what on earth I had done wrong. There was the Rector of our parish church with my sister, who is three years younger than me. She had been found walking along the parapet of the reservoir! As she was wearing my schoolbag, which I had left behind when I went home for lunch, they brought her to the school! I was given permission to leave school early and walk her home, surely the Rector could have given us a lift in his car! Apparently my sister had noticed I had left the schoolbag behind, and decided to take it to me. She took a wrong turning, and ended up a mile or so from the school. My mother had no idea she was missing, as she was coping with my second sister, a young baby.

    My 8th year of life, 1958, was rather fun if you enjoyed having electric shocks! I was playing in the water sprinkler on the lawn on summer's day, when I suddenly had pins and needles and was rooted to the spot. My father tried to pull me away but was thrown back! He grabbed a broom and told me to hold the handle, which I did, and I was pulled to safety. It turned out that the rubber housing of the electricity cable, which the Germans living in the house during WW2, had run from the barn to the house under the lawn, had perished. As it was only 6 inches down, the water from the sprinkler has caused the electric shock. Fortunately I was unharmed.

    Also that year I went to turn on the TV, but the plug had broken and until my father could get a new one we had to put the wires into the socket! I touched the wire by accident and was thrown back across the room. My mother was not pleased with my father. 'P’ what would people have said if ‘R’ had been killed?' My mother was always concerned about what people were thinking.

    At the same age managed to knock myself over with one of our motorised trucks! In order to reverse the thing, the steering column had to be turned around, you had to get off it in order to do that. I am not sure what I did, but it knocked me down and the front wheel scrapped my face and chest. My mother came to my rescue, and I got a telling off for not being more careful.

    Two of my father's younger brothers were a feature of my childhood. Like my father they worked extremely hard building up their own horticultural businesses, but before they married their downtime was spent engaging in their favourite hobby, 'dicing with death'. I seemed to get roped into some of the exploits from a very young age. I remember they were supposed to be babysitting me for an hour or two, one Saturday afternoon when I was two. They took me to Albecq, which is on the coast of Guernsey, it has two steep cliffs close together on either side of an inlet. They got their kicks, diving into the water. Any misjudgement on their part and they would have crashed into the cliff on the other side! That particular day, they left little me sitting at the top of the cliff with instructions not to move, whilst they engaged in this dangerous activity! It is a good job I obeyed.

    Another time when I was a bit older, they kindly made me a very large kite, which we flew in one of our fields in a gale. I wanted a go and they foolishly let me have it, I went up in the air a few feet, fortunately they grabbed me before I fell to earth.

    They used to see who could sit on a live electric fence the longest! I was encouraged to have a go too, it was horrible, and they were contrite for once!

    One benefit of their company was that I was bribed with lots of sweets if I didn't tell my mother what they were getting up to. She would have torn them limb from limb!

    Bonfire night was always something to be remembered, as both uncles liked to put in an appearance. Dad bought £2 worth of fireworks, whereas the uncles bought £5 worth each. That was one heck of a lot of fireworks in those days. Of course my daft uncles had to take things one step further than anyone else. They would light the rockets, one in each hand, and wave them around like sparklers. One year they brought rocket flares, which they had for their boat. That was very naughty and irresponsible. My father went absolutely ballistic over that bit of stupidity!

    Marriage tamed them both.

    When I was 11 I was sent to the Ladies College as a fee payer. Some of the teachers would have been quite at home at Harry Potter's Hogwarts! The handwork mistress wore a black gown and fingerless mittens, all she lacked was a witch’s hat. The Latin master believed himself to be a ghost of a prophet, I kid you not!

    The elderly chemistry mistress would do some lessons in the lab and others in the classroom. One which she conducted in the classroom, stands out in my memory, and no doubt that of the rest of the class. She went to sit down on her chair, but somehow managed to fall on the floor instead. She had her feet waving in the air and we had a wonderful view of her knee length pink knickers. All the desk lids went up at once as we tried to stifle our giggles. She stood and said, "It is alright gals, you may laugh!

    There was a Royal visit when I was ten. Mum had taken us down to the pier in St Peter Port during the school summer holidays to watch the boats going in and out of the harbour. There was a commotion further up the pier, but just was we were going to have a look and see what was going on, one of my younger sisters wanted the potty, which Mum always carried in the back of the car. Whilst my sister was doing her business, a head was trust through the open car window. It was that of Prince Philip, who had gone walkabout from the main Royal party, they had just come back on launch having visited one of the smaller islands. Mum nearly died with embarrassment, and I had a fit of the giggles. Years later, when my father was a senior politician, he and my mother had been invited to a private dinner party on the Royal Yacht, Dad threatened to remind the Prince of this incident. I think there would have been murder done if he had.

    In 1965, when I was 15, I was informed that the much younger brother of a friend of my parents was coming over with him and his wife. I was instructed that I had to be nice to the lad who was nearly 18 and about to go to university. To cut a very long story since I have been ‘nice’ since then. We married four years later when I was 19 and he was 22, we will have been married for 50 years in 2019.

    RJG
     
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  2. Holly Saunders

    Holly Saunders Veteran Member
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    WoW what a fascinating childhood, Rose Joy..... and what a beautiful writer you are, you brought the whole of it to life for me, thank you !!!
     
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  3. Patsy Faye

    Patsy Faye Veteran Member
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    Interesting read there Joy - thank goodness you had sisters to share it all with :)
     
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  4. Joy Rose

    Joy Rose New Member
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    Thank you.:)
     
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  5. Babs Hunt

    Babs Hunt Veteran Member
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    What an interesting life you have led Joy Rose. :)
     
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  6. Mary Robi

    Mary Robi Well-Known Member
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    Fantastic read!
     
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  7. Ken Anderson

    Ken Anderson Greeter
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    #7
  8. Holly Saunders

    Holly Saunders Veteran Member
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    You missed an opportunity to visit beautiful Islands Ken, also a Tax haven for many Brits too
     
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