Saturday, July 11, 2009

All That Dorset Has To Offer

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?


  1. Nowadays there are so many organised things that having kids is the easiest way to make new friends. Apart from having the kids of course.

  2. Living by the seaside for a kid must have been idyllic.
    I suppose you were too young to sense your mum's unhappiness.

  3. Didn't Princess Diana's mother run off with a Shand Kydd?

  4. hmmm...Christchurch was in Hampshire THAT long ago, wasn't it?? That was before Vicus was I think.

  5. Rog - I'm glad I was a kid at a time when I didn't have to socialise before school age. I've always got on best with non-sociable people.

    Kaz - When you're used to Dorset beaches, Kent doesn't have quite the same allure. Not that Dorset's that good but Kent is dire. I think Dino would have sensed my mum's unhappiness. Her decision to get rid of him and keep me was an awful mistake.

    Tim - She did. And Diana's last words were "For Gawd's sake get rid of that fucking wallpaper."

    Ziggi - It looks like you're right. It moved to Dorset in 1974. I wasn't in the habit of writing or receiving letters at the age of 4. Trust my life story to be a lie from the third page in! Vicus doesn't recognise boundaries. He is a child of the universe.

  6. As my mum was going mad with loneliness, I was loving my own little world.

    You’ve just summarized my childhood.

  7. "...the quiet druggy sound of the radio."

    Beautifully put, Geoff.

    I have rather fond memories of similar childhood holidays in Kent, actually. Long, arid walks along interminable country lanes, oasthoases, playing 'New Boots & Panties' for the first time in my parents' company and the shock of the opening of "Plaistow Patricia"...

    I take it's changed a lot since then...?


  8. MJ - We were selfish little buggers, weren't we?

    Morton - We no longer eat oast. Anthills, buzzards, flying crows and pigs.