Christchurch was lovely. I loved it. My dad went out to work and I had nobody but my mum for company. We'd go out for walks to the shops, get the bus to the seaside. I got a little brown body in the south coast sun and a Batman outfit in which I ran down Bournemouth High Street, oblivious to the crowds.
I went back to Christchurch a few years ago. Surprisingly I could kind of remember it. The waterside, the park, the castle, the high street. Most people in Christchurch are now retired. My parents' generation. In a different life we could have stayed there and I could have developed a regional burr.
My dad loved it there, too. He enjoyed working for Shand Kydd and was settled in the house and town.
But my mum hated it. She wasn't making friends. She missed her parents and sisters. As entertaining as I was, I was not adult company. I wasn't due to go to school for over a year so there were no young mothers for my mum to chat to. It was a pretty lonely existence in a very nice place.
Two memories that stick out for me from our year in Christchurch were both frightening. Once we were crossing a bridge over the railway just as a steam train whistled underneath us. And once my cousin was babysitting me and the silly girl got it into her head that there was a prowler in the house.
But with my mum in the house I was safe. Happy playing by myself in the living room, listening to food being prepared, rooms being hoovered and the quiet druggy sound of the radio.
As my mum was going mad with loneliness, I was loving my own little world.
As for my dad?
Was he in his own world, too?
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