Tag: memories

A Backwards Look

If I’ve taken my eye off blogging in recent months, it’s because of my single-minded sorting through old stories and memories with a view to writing a first-person narration which uses actual experiences in a lightly-fictionalised form. I expect some of this to surface here in due course, but just for now let me share a little of my stimulus material.

If this nudges any nostalgic feelings in you, I’d love to hear about them!

Top 50 most common childhood memories

  1. Christmas dinner
  2. Going to the beach
  3. Going to your grandparent’s house
  4. Hearing the ice-cream van music
  5. Playing in the park
  6. Getting pocket money
  7. Buying penny sweets from the village shop
  8. Learning to ride a bike
  9. Playing playground games
  10. Getting a pet
  11. Pick n mix sweets
  12. Buying your first album/single
  13. Building sandcastles
  14. Counting down the days until the summer holidays
  15. Playing conkers
  16. Climbing a tree
  17. School dinners
  18. School sports days
  19. Your first crush
  20. Fish and chips on the beach
  21. Listening to your favourite song on repeat till you get bored
  22. Caravan family holidays
  23. Blowing out the candles on a birthday cake
  24. Skimming stones
  25. Swimming lessons
  26. Singing hymns
  27. Searching through rock pools
  28. Sitting cross-legged in assemblies
  29. Learning to read
  30. Going out with your friends for the first time without your parents
  31. Sleepovers at a friend’s house
  32. Being in the school play
  33. Catching frogs, newts, tadpoles in a pond
  34. First day of secondary school
  35. Family holidays abroad
  36. Spelling tests
  37. Flying a kite
  38. Watching films which were above your age rating
  39. Being read a bedtime story
  40. Winning an award
  41. Your first time on an aeroplane
  42. Painting / arts and crafts
  43. Bath time
  44. Jumping in puddles
  45. Finding a rope swing in the woods
  46. Buying a school uniform
  47. Going to theme parks
  48. Playing with leaves
  49. Going to church
  50. Handwriting lessons

Tree Story

After an enjoyable school-reunion lunch the other day, I was making my way back to the mainline station on a London Underground train. It suddenly struck me there was plenty of time before the mainline train was due to depart and, on a whim, I got off the tube-train near a large park where I used to play as a young child.

I hadn’t been back in 60 years and the wild, overgrown place I remembered was no more. Streams we used to dam were culverted or piped underground, rough meadows had become manicured sports pitches, sheep or cattle paths turned into tarmacked walkways and the wonderful trees we loved to climb – yes, you guessed it – all long gone!

Back home and continuing my rummage through old papers, I unearthed a draft poem that seems to fit my faint feeling of hollow disappointment. I present it here unedited. The form involves repeating end-of-line words in every verse and adding an envoi – perhaps someone reading will know if this has a name.

 

Last Refuge

When you were younger every tree
Was yours to climb right to the top
Where all alone you’d view the world
As if she was a brand-new place –
Her secrets open to your sight
With nothing there for you to fear

But as you climbed so grew your fear
That you began to hate the tree
You really couldn’t bear the sight
That lay below so watched the top
As if there was no other place
You’d rather be in all the world

You told yourself the whole wide world
Was greater far than any fear
For up above there was a place
A gift to all who climbed the tree
And dared to reach the very top
Which opened up its secret sight

It made you gasp that sudden sight
So deep and far into the world
A bird’s-eye vision from the top
For now you’d flown beyond your fear
As if you had become the tree
And found you somehow owned the place

You never since have left that place
Nor lost one detail of the sight
If foresters have felled the tree
It still lives on within your world
And death for you is not a fear
While you are still there at the top

So still – still at the very top –
That time runs backwards to the place
Where there was not a gust of fear
So far and wide and deep your sight
For you had there become the world
And all because you climbed a tree

Envoi

Your new world more than just a place
Where each new sight gives rise to fear
When down you came from the tall tree top

 

Dave Kingsbury (2013)

 

Image result for phantom trees

 

Image: The Crichton Street Gallery

To A Granddaughter, Aged Four

Here’s another stab at a poem I posted a while ago. I think it’s sufficiently different to warrant a fresh outing. Click this link to see the original version – Beached

 

So you – sights set upon horizons – ask
For tales of bygone days when I was young
And just set sail myself. What spring to mind
Are moments when, for me, an unknown world
Emerged in truth from sugar-coated sham –
Awakenings in sudden storms, high seas.

The shore you leave with newly-opened eyes
Is where I ended up once time and tide
Grew tired of play and cast me skin and bone
Above the last-gasp breaker. Don’t confuse
These stray salt-streaks upon my face for tears
Nor think me thoughtless when I let fine sand
Fall soft through slackened fingers, so to speak,
For childhood’s visions are as hard to grasp
As specks of gold to sift from sediment
Or meanings to distil from mists of time.

And who can truly claim that he recalls?
So much is lost in transit – fire burned down
To faintly-glowing embers – vivid frames,
From floors of cutting-rooms, rough-spliced at random.

Take your pick. I’d sooner sit before
The fire and dream aloud than watch some movie
Made of smoke and mirrors. Photographs,
Those barefaced little fibbers, capture skin
But hardly give a hint of what’s within.

I’d show you glossy albums packed with stills
Or reels and reels of camera-conscious motion
Should any trace remain of who I was
And what it felt like out upon on the ocean.

No slideshow, then – nor sideshow, come to that,
When all you want is just the Main Event!
So ask me, as you do, what it was like
When I was five – or six or seven – or eight.

I’ll close my eyes and wait for anecdotes
To wander into view – old vinyl plucked
From deep within my whirring jukebox brain –
Epiphanies that sing again, their joys
Released and any sadness alchemised
By healing time and telling into mirth.

So at the death we journey towards birth.

 

Image result for boat on tropical beach

 

Image: Pinterest

Beached!

What follows was inspired by questions from my little granddaughter who, like millions of other children, is a big fan of Moana.

So you – sights set on far horizons – ask
for tales of years gone by when I was young
and just set sail myself. This shore you’ll leave
me standing on, it’s easy to forget,
is where I ended up when time and tide
grew tired of play and cast me like a doll.

Please don’t confuse salt streaks upon my cheeks
for tears, nor think me mindless when I let
fine sand fall soft and free between my fingers.
The voyage was long that brought me here and full
of stories, some you may not care to hear
and others I’m not ready yet to tell.

That fog far out at sea is what’s to come
for you, uncertain here. For me, it shrouds
the past – makes dim and distant days I’d love
to lay before you clear as here-and-now.

Just wait awhile. Let sunshine burn through haze
and scents upon the breeze bring memories
so sharp they entertain and teach by turns.
Let nature take her course and nothing’s hid
which hidden ebb and flow cannot reveal.
So ask once more and what was lost I’ll find –
foresee a future from a past restored to mind.

 

 

Image result for moana sets sail

 

Image: Everything Film РWordPress.com