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.
Dad and I would often go off exploring together, just the two of us. We would usually go on the south coast somewhere, in Dorset and walk for miles and miles and look for creepy crawlies and flowers. Normally we went to places that were quiet and where there were not too many people, but sometimes when mum and my brother were with us we would go to different places like the beach or where there were more people around.
One day we were walking back to the car after visiting a different beach than the one we usually went to, and dad started to walk very fast along the sand as I started to ask him questions and to make observations because it seemed like no one else but me had noticed there was something very different about this beach.
On this beach people seemed to have slightly more brown skin from the sunshine and they also had no clothes on.
'That man hasn't got any clothes on. And that lady has got boobies. That man has got a big willy'. I wasn't very quiet with my observations of the people on the beach!
Mum was walking ahead of us carrying our beach things, and dad suddenly tightened his grip on my hand, and tried to exhale a 'shhssh' sound at me under his breath.
'But why' I asked very loudly.
Mum was laughing to herself under her breath and dad was starting to look very serious and a little bit flushed in case anyone heard me. I could see a big bead of sweat running down his face. It really must be a hot day today. I didn't think it was that warm.
'Maybe you should take your clothes off' I suggested to dad. 'You look very hot and bothered'. Dad didn't seem very keen on my suggestion!
'It's a nudist beach Sarah'.
'But what does that mean?' I asked loudly so that people would be impressed by how eloquent and grown up I was in asking all these questions.
'It means that you don't like to wear clothes' whispered my dad, hoping his answer would satisfy my curiosity. Dad was walking so fast that I could only just keep up with him.
'What? Never wear clothes? Ever? Like not even have to wear clothes to school or to work or in the house?' Imagine not having to put on a scratchy school uniform, or having to get up so early to get dressed. I especially hated those grey and itchy tights we wore at school in the winter, and they took me forever to get on in the mornings.
I thought on this for a moment. What a good idea. Imagine that, not having to wear any clothes. No more stupid dresses and arguments with mum about shopping, no more itchy scratchy wooly jumpers, no more worrying about getting your clothes dirty. And just think of all that money you could use to buy sweets instead.
'Can I be a nudist?' I asked dad.
'Well, I, I don't think that's a very good idea Sarah'.
'Well, it can get very cold for a start' said dad.
'But these people don't look cold and they have got lovely sun tans too, maybe we can just ask them how you can become a nudist. Perhaps you have to join, like a club, with a membership badge you can wear so other people know you are a member'.
And with that dad walked even faster, so fast that it was hard to keep up with his very long legs. I was out of breath trying to keep up with him, and my questions would have to wait until we had reached the car and I got my breath back. I didn't know why, but mum was laughing hard now, and dad was giving her a serious look. Mum didn't laugh very often these days and it was nice to see her happy and smiling.
I asked dad if we might be able to come back to this beach again one day, for a picnic. The people all seemed to be very nice and friendly, and were playing games and swimming in the sea. It was a nice beach too, clean and tidy, with lovely warm sand. Dad normally loved going to the beach, but it didn't seem so keen on bringing us kids here for the day. I didn't get it. The sand was perfect for building sand castles as far as I could see. What was not to like.