What I’ve hung on to longest/ hoarding

The boxes are still stacking up. It is hard to get rid of things at first, and then something goes in a bin by accident, and you think ‘Oh well.’ This happened to my father’s flat cap yesterday, He was taller than me by three inches and you might have thought he would have had a larger head and larger feet: but life’s not like that. He was smaller in the head and foot departments, so why I was hanging on to it, I cannot begin to tell you. Raw sentiment. And now another wet item in the rubbish.

I haven’t really been very surprised at what I have come across. But it has started me thinking about what has been with me for the longest period of time. It could be said to be my baptism certificate, I suppose, which is framed, and which has been around, and visble (why?) for a good bit. But I obviously can’t recall being baptised. And I was refusenik when it came to being comfirmed, much to the spiritual outrage of the various chaplains etc who inhabited my school. It was almost unheard of. Single white Protestant refuses to participate in a religious ceremony! Shock horror. I was sent for a serious chat about my soul.

My explanation was pobably not very convincing, but it was very long-winded. I am perfectly prepared to talk for several hours if my tongue is unleashed, and I talked my way out of – bored my way out of – confirmation. I explained that I was a very very spiritual person (to have revealed that I was already a total atheist would have been a punishable offence, I suspect). To prove this, I talked rather gaily about pictures of St. Veronica which I had once been shown (a bit Roman Catholic for the authorities), and also my particular interest in the works of Leonard Cohen (‘Jesus was a sailor/ And he walked upon the water/ And he spent a look time watching/From his lonely wooden tower’ – Suzanne). A few hours of this kind of ‘I am unorthdox but I am more interested in religion than you’ stuff got me off the hook. I suspect that my parents were informed, and my father – for some absurd reason, one of my godfathers – wouldn’t have cared. He never set foot in a church except for events which were followed by the consumption of much alcohol, and his standard remark about funerals was to comments on the size of ‘the gate’.

My father had a cousin who had no sons but two daughters, and who also owed my father money, which he never repaid. But he (the cousin) did come round one day with all his toys, since he thought they should go to a good home. Ha. They were military things like tanks and planes, and they had the air of having been put together, with skill, by the said uncle (as he was of course known). I had no skill in using Airfix, and I think I treated the toys with due lack of care and attention as a result. I never got the hang of glue and plastic.

I see I haven’t yet said what I have had longest, which was the aim, and I think it must be the cowboy fort I was given when I was six or seven and with which I played on what I can only call a daily basis. It was readymade, as were the plastic figures I also acquired (and I still have them). In defiance of history, I teamed up the Union and Confederate soldiers and the musketeers, and set them against the Indians, who always won. All the battles, which were knockout affairs, came down to an Indian with a large head and a tomahawk, and a man with a battered cowboy hat and a whip (possibly a lasso, originally) who had come out of a packet of Frosties. They – and a donkey – always survived the carnage.

Do you think I will be taking them with me to my new home?

Don’t be silly. It’s got a loft.

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