There must be a word to describe, specifically, the profound sense of regret I feel about having left a post about a potato — a fucking potato — live and kicking on my blog for well over a week.
This is supposed to be a vaguely writerly site, right? Not a repository for spurious vegetable photographs and lurid descriptions thereof.
I can only presume that my descent into tuber enthusiasm and subsequent silence must have something to do with the progress I’m making (albeit unregistered in the current WIPometer word count) on the Novel That Ought To Be Writing Itself By Now, But Instead Squelches Around The Cusp Of A Rubicon Like Pus Being Spooned Back Into A Popped Boil By An Octopus.
Do I sound negative?
Not at all. I’m simply taking time out from a very pleasant eureka moment to confirm that blood still pulses in my veins, occasionally reaching my brain at those critical moments when I have to get dressed, feed myself, and wrestle unsolicited callers to the doorstep with a sequence of expertly frenzied half-nelsons.
That part of the plot goes with that! So obvious, you imbecile.
It’s been a terrible year for vegetable growing. From the wizened tomatoes, dangling from their stems like the scrotums of badly beaten badgers, to the sorry sprouts of chili peppers masquerading as fairy thimbles, every single thing I planted in the spring has been a disappointment.
So imagine my glee when I was woken this morning by hearty cries of ‘have at thee, thou menacing slug fiend!’ I dashed downstairs to see this feisty beggar scything his way through the grass surrounding the potato patch.
I’ve had to lock him away in a biscuit tin. Problem is — will he get any bigger if I feed him another dog?
Natalie's blog can be found here, and her handwriting post, here. If you're dropping in by chance hoping to find substantive research material about showjumping, I'm sorry, but you have the wrong blog.
What can I possibly say about this? I don’t remember a thing. I’m guessing I’m three or four here (years, not Ridiculous Kiddie Hairdo levels), but other than that, I have only heresay to go on. Heresay about my life.
What I know is that this was the garden in which I spent all of my childhood. There were footballs, there were paddling pools, there were endless washing lines of shirts and pants. My parents must have moved here around 1966, when the spawning cosmos of the world into which I would be haplessly thrown was, like my Mum’s herbacious borders of the 70s (behind me, phantom unborn, resplendent against the fence), an imperceptibly fledgeling monstrosity of the senses.
Why am I sat here on this ball? Likely, because I was told to. It’s hard to tell, but it doesn’t look particularly sunny and I have no recollection whether this day, above all others, was one which my post-embryonic facility to spray endless showers of foul muck into my underpants diminished sufficiently to warrant the reward of a photo, but, nonetheless, here I am. Sat on a ball in limbo.
So, I wondered. What’s the first thing I remember? Anything prior to about 1968 is a splurge of wifts and wafts — a polyshimmer glimmer of ‘having been carried’. Tales passed down and shoved into eyes and earballs as truth. But surely I must have been conscious? Surely something struck me, as something striking me, that I noticed, as me, noticing?
Lots of things, I remember, but not with such certainly I can’t be sure they weren’t painted in later. Did I really sit on the porch outside my front door watching Dawn Sidwell ride her tricycle along the pavement? In the sun? I recall this, but I can’t remember from when, and it seems, when I think about it, I’m just an observer. Like I might as well be retelling a story told to me later, and imagining, now, that it actually happened.
So, here it is. Here’s what I reckon.
Those were fortunate years for a kid with a stripy T-shirt, methinks. From our house on the corner of the estate, right the way down the road to the furthest anyone ever could possibly scoot or hop, there was nothing but kids, kids, kids. From Chris and Pat next door to Dawn and Michael one house down, to Neil and Joanne, John and David — and then, over the road, Mark and Jason, Philip and Ellen, Martin and Lee, Chris, Sally-Ann, Nathan, Vanessa, and no doubt more voluminous shrieks of toddlers another half a street after Kay Wragg’s house, the furthest I could pedal. Loads of young families and loads of young kids. And fields either side of all our houses. A mayhem of Action Men and Barbie dolls, playing at growing up.
Every Thursday, all the twentysomething mums would descend on someone’s house, clutching kids and toys and that whole JohnnyMathisElvisBeatles thing that finally dusted the pall of their parents’ nightmares from the world. Tea and cakes and a natter, while the kids ran riot in the garden. That’s how it was.
I can’t remember how it happened, this first thing I think I remember I had a part in. I can’t remember at all. It’s a few years after this photo was taken, and I’m guessing I’d come into the kitchen for some pop, but what I do recall was the sight, through the kitchen window, of all the kids playing in my garden; kids I wanted to run out and be with. So I ran. In my excitement, I forgot how you opened the kitchen door with the handle, and as I pushed against the glass, forgot it opened the other way. And that’s what I remember. There must have been screams, but I can’t recall them. I must have been driven to hospital, but by whom, or how, I can’t say. I have scars on my arms to this day, proof that I threw myself, hands stretched out in front on me, into a sheet of glass for want of excitement, but other than that vivid image of all those kids in the garden, out of reach beyond the window of my four-year-olds’ witness, I have nothing else from that day but heresay.
That, I think, is the first time I remember thinking anything about my life beyond soaking up the foist of my surroundings like a witless bundle of neurons.
What can I say? This was such a treat to read and I hope I’ve done it justice. I’m not sure how you intended it to go, Sylvia, but this is my take on it. If I’ve mangled it to death, then I owe you a forfeit — though preferably not one involving insects and my naked body lowered two hundred feet below the sea in a sealed sarcophagus. In an ideal world, I would have rendered this in an authentic Dallas accent, but as it’s been years since I heard J.R. Ewing (let alone rode him), I ended up sounding like a risibly generic cowboy and ditched the drawl. I am to American accents what Dick van Dyke was to the cockney rhyming slang in Mary Paw-pins.
Whoops — that pirate thing was for something else wasn’t it?