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Tuesday, June 30, 2015

What Do You Remember From When You Were Eight?

When I was in grade two at school there was a spiteful, old crone, Mrs Sharp, who’d come in to the classroom for ‘hanky inspections’. 

She gave all the kids in our year level a ranting, venomous lecture regarding the different varieties of hankies available; checked, floral, striped, bordered… whatever the fudge you can think of. If you didn’t have a presentable hanky on inspection day pinned to your uniform, you were smacked, with stinging hostility, on the hand with a ruler.

I never had a hanky because my forward-thinking parents didn’t believe in them so all I had to present was a severely crinkled white tissue I’d stuck up the side of my knickers. 

“Dirty, filthy things tissues are,” she’d scowl at me as she whacked my pink palm with glee. Meanwhile, the other kids would all have their snot-smeared cotton hankies safety pinned on the front of their tiny, bacteria infused bodies and she’d smile at them ingratiatingly. “You’re a good clean girl,” she’d say, glaring back at disgraceful Pinky in contempt.

Teachers were arseholes back then weren’t they?

Anyway the reason I’m writing about this is because I’ve just done a reading from a module from a course I’m doing with the Australian Writer's Centre on Creative Writing.

Yes, yes, yes I know... I just finished writing the first draft of an entire novel, but I like to do things backwards. You know… when all else fails- read the instructions!

One of the readings, talked about doing a type of stream of consciousness from when you were only eight years old. It’s not that easy!

This is what I came up with…

Monkey bars and kids breaking arms once a week (mainly boys), Miss Callaghan’s short, bristly brown hair and bitchy, holier than thou attitude, playing out of bounds in the park next door, squishing tamarinds underfoot, skidding on tamarinds and eating tamarinds with my mouth and gums peeling back at the sourness. Playing ‘tinker, tailor, soldier, sailor, rich man, poor man, beggar man, thief’ and being laughed at because I was going to marry a beggarman (I married a Weaver so take that!), white bread cut in triangles, camp pie, boys scaring the girls with a grasshopper carcass, sitting on my front lawn in a Virginia Woolf type of reverie and my crush Stephen McDowall driving past in his father’s ute after soccer training and telling everyone the next day how he saw Pinky, sitting like a dork on her front lawn, Mum’s dressmaker, two identical gingham dresses in pink and purple, the hairband I insisted on wearing and sneaking to school against my mother’s wishes, vampire movies (Count Yorga) at the drive in. Even at eight, sucking my thumb and squishing a singlet to my nose for comfort, constant earaches, tonsillitis at Taronga zoo, the neighbour’s kid having hepatitis which made me scared I’d catch it, being on a local TV show with a clown and getting into big trouble for being a show off, watching Daktari on Saturday afternoon with Clarence the cross-eyed lion and Judy the chimp, running all around the house with tinsel in my hair because I wanted long hair because my Mum made me wear it like a boy, packing up Cuisenaire rods and my teacher cracking up at me for getting confused.

It was an interesting exercise, I’m sure there’s plenty more. 

What do you specifically remember from when you were eight? Anything?