As part of National Novel Writing Month, (#NaNoWriMo) I've set myself the goal of writing a 50,000 word novel (1700 words a day), consisting of short stories about my memories of primary school. Just so that you know, all names of people have been changed unless they are publically known. Each story is based on my own memory, so may not be an exact representation of events, especially since I am writing this over 40 years after things happened! But I hope you will enjoy each story all the same, and that perhaps it will spark your own memories of life at primary school.
Somewhere between being in the middle and the top playgrounds at Ferndown First School, my parents decided, much to my relief, that they would get a divorce. I don't think they ever wanted to get married in the first place really because they were both very young and it was mostly my granny who wanted them to get married and it was considered the proper thing to do when you had a baby back in those days.
It wasn't that they didn't like each other, but they were very different personalities and they wanted very different things from life, so the more time they spent together, the more unhappy they both seemed to become.
I loved them both and I didn't want either of them to be unhappy, and though things were horrible for them both with all the costs and legal things of a divorce, they both knew it was the best thing for them, and for me and my brother. So it all worked out in the end.
Dad moved to a place called Bournemouth that was right by the seaside and the beautiful winter gardens, to live with his new girlfriend, a German lady that he met whilst on holiday on his own in Israel. She had been on holiday with her husband at the time, and my father had been married to my mother but both were unhappy so they decided to start seeing each other even though they lived in different countries at first.
There was just one problem. Dad's new girlfriend hated children, which is why she split from her husband and now she and my dad had a fancy flat together, got a pedigree dog, and suddenly she found herself with weekend visits from two rather annoying children. My baby brother with his constantly snotty nose and mucky fingers, and me with my endless questions and observations about the world.
Thankfully it turned out that my step mum's dislike of small children meant that she had a lot of great ideas about things that dad could do with us which we would really enjoy and would keep us all out of the house long enough to make the flat a child free zone.
She was also an amazing cook so when we did spend time with her she helped us to make loads of yummy things to eat that we had never had before, especially food from Germany, and she taught us to speak German, only it wasn't the normal German that you learn in school, but a funny kind of German called 'Hochdeutsche Mundarten/Dialekte' a little bit like learning to speak english language but with a strong Glaswegian dialect.
Whilst I didn't mind that my mum and dad were getting divorced, because life was in many ways better because now they weren't making each other unhappy. The only thing that sucked, was that we had no money, so me and my brother had free school dinners, we had no tv at home, a second hand car that mum had bought which kept setting on fire whenever we drove anywhere. But worst of all, mum would sit on the sofa until the early hours of each night, listening to sad music, crying her eyes out and not wanting to do anything.
This meant that I sat with her each night, trying to comfort her, and as a result was quite tired in school each day and getting into trouble for not concentrating. But she was my mum, and she was doing her best to look after us and to keep a roof over our heads, and I felt it was my job to look after her, and that was what I would do, it was just tough luck if school didn't understand that.
I didn't know anyone else whose parents divorced, they all seemed to have happily ever after parents, and mums and dads who picked them up from school, made them lovely packed lunches, and wrote messages on paper with kisses that they would get inside their lunch box. My parents were not like that at all, we had a very different relationship, where they spoke to me as more of an equal and grown up, and that suited me fine.
But the best thing of all, was that for some reason I got to go to a lot of pop concerts with my dad, and when he couldn't make it, my mums friends were allowed to take me to the concerts instead. They would turn up at the house late at night, beep the horn, and off we would go, for a girl's night out in the big and exciting cities of Bournemouth or Poole.
My friends were all in bed by 7pm each night, but I was into fashion, Smash Hits magazine, and I was out at concerts and telling everyone I had met all these famous people, because at that age of 6 or 7, I didn't really understand that being in the same room as a person, isn't the same as actually meeting them. But to me it was the same, we were in the same room, at the same time, and breathing the same air. I was certain that they were performing on stage to me, and they could definitely see me, because I was the only kid, I was cute, and I was sat up really high on my dad's shoulders. Even better than standing on the birthday chair because it made me the tallest person in the whole concert room.
One of my favourite concerts was the Eurythmics and Annie Lennox waved at me from the stage, and then at a Thompson Twins concert, the lady who I loved the most Alannah Currie with her mad hair do, and funky hat and colourful braids threw one of her drumsticks for me, but dad didn't quite manage to catch it in time (I was probably quite heavy on his shoulders and he didn't want me to drop me), so it fell on the floor and someone else snatched it.
It made me sad that someone would do something like snatch something not meant for them, but I didn't mind because I knew she had seen me, and I felt sure that she would want to adopt me or be my best friend and that we would live happily ever after.
After the Eurythmics concert, I pretended to be Annie Lennox all the way home. I sang her songs in the car for both sides of the cassette, remembering every moment of that concert, and sang them loudly as my dad dropped me back at mum's house.
Mum got cross when I arrived home because she said I would wake the neighbours with my singing and dancing, but I didn't understand why it was ok to sing at a concert at night when that was noisier than singing in the house, or pushing the play button on my cassette player. I was on cloud nine for months after that, and all my friends in the playground wanted to talk to me and ask me questions about what it was like to go to a pop concert. I had never been so popular and for once I felt all grown up and cool.
I went to so many concerts. Not just the eurythmics and Thompson Twins, who were my favourite, but the Boomtown Rats, and all sorts of other concerts, but it wasn't long before dad couldn't make it because he was away with work and mum's friends would take me and that just wasn't the same. There was no being sat on shoulders, and they talked to me like a kid, not as an equal. I felt tall and proud with dad, but like a baby with the other grown ups.