Grandad used to draw pencil marks on the piano so that my dumpy little fingers would know which keys to press as he taught me – a budding Richard Clayderman I was not – more like a budding Les Dawson! Les Dawson was brilliant at playing the piano badly and that takes some skill – I was just bad, so actually found it really easy to play badly; I always knew I’d amount to something!
Alas, a veil of sadness and morbid solemnity enveloped me, and a great sense of loss was to be felt during our stay with gramps. A woeful tale which brings a lump to my throat and fills my eyes with salty tears. Drops of despair and of great melancholy run their staggered, jittery path down the pale cheeks of my face, while the great dull ache of separation fills the pit of my stomach. Not because my brother shot a homemade arrow through nana’s leg, or that Pepi, Gramp’s mongrel had fought and been deprived of one half of an ear. And not because a fire that started under the stairs could have been a lot worse.
One chilly, late Autumn evening, residing in my favourite spot behind the sofa in the living room, I was content to be playing with plastic farm animals that I’d been given for my birthday, or perhaps it was the previous Christmas…I can’t remember. I had a plastic barn building and pieces of fence too. I only just had enough to build a small farm, with sufficient materials to house my cows and pigs, hay bales and my tractor – the scale of which was pathetically out of sync in comparison to the animals or farm buildings! Playing happily in my own little agrarian World, tending my beasts, I knew there was one thing missing…
Of course I was far too old for a dummy (a pacifier, teet, call it what you will), however, I had one. I know I shouldn’t have been allowed and after all I was almost five. Disgraceful I know. I was told later in life that I made such a fuss and caused such a merry dance when I was without my dummy! Out from the fantasy of farming I was to come, to go in search of said dummy. It was nowhere to be found!
I remember crying. Crying a lot. I remember the sharp, rapid intakes of breath as I sobbed. The house was turned upside down in a frantic search for the only thing that would comfort me and make everything better… Still, it could not be found. The search extended to the outside of the house through the garden and out onto the green. We always played on that green so it was possible I’d dropped it out there. It still feels like we were out there an age, searching, while all the while I wore my frown and regularly changed the pitch of my sobbing. In reality it was just a few adults acting out a very quick play to satisfy me that my dummy was being hunted. The search was to be called off and grandad said that we’d been silly for looking because he had just remembered that the dummy had been sent off to Santa Claus, because that was the only way I could have presents from then on… I put two and two together and got three – probably – but figured that as being actually quite a decent deal.
Back in the house and as was usual, grandad would find me something to ease a tantrum. He brought me a small pencil and a catalogue – you know the type. At the back of the catalogue there was page upon page of toys – a dream world of pretend and distraction! I can still feel it now to this day, lying on my tummy, supported by two little elbows, catalogue spread out before me, pencil in hand, being chewed too while I surveyed all the treasure on thick, glossy pages! Back and forth the pages were turned and I’d stop occasionally and draw a circle around a particular product that I wanted for Christmas.
I’m not sure after that whether or not I made anymore fuss about the dummy, however, that day has stuck with me and I still felt that same sense of loss when I reminisced. One day, I’m going to stop off at the shop on my way home, purchase a dummy, and rid myself of it.
Just thought I’d share…