This is the start of my 4th re-write of my autobiography. It may be re-written again as I'm not happy with this version which was written on my writing access course in 2014. There is a lot more, but I don't want to make that public yet. I also have a dilemma in not wanting to put certain issues/people in the public domain. I have written a few stories in the autobiographical style also, which maybe the best format, undecided. Several people have shown interest in my life story, I have led an unusual life for sure.
1970-1975 The Whittlesey Years
I was born on Sunday March the 8th 1970 at 4 in the morning. It has just occurred to me as I write that, though I am a 1970’s child, I was conceived in the 60’s. Therefore I was a 60’s foetus. I know this birth date, and even how heavy I was, due to one thing. A blue and white plate: Delftware. On it is a stork bringing a baby to its cot, the clock on the wall says the time, and the inscription is my name and the date. Apart from my body, the plate is my oldest possession, given by my Dutch granddad to celebrate the birth of a boy.
My very first memory was not long after. Most people remember events from three years old, I had to be different. As memories go it is fairly boring: the back of a door. Ok there is a little more. The door had a half arch window above, typical of a terrace house, behind it there was a wire basket to catch the post. And here is the first memory: the door was opened by my mum and a man stood there, grey hair, balding, shortish, stoutish. He talked to me, or about me, to my mum. And, as men did then, winked to the little baby. And there was little me, peering at him from my pram, a big dark blue comfy one with a proper foldy roof, big wheels and springy legs. An “old school” pram.
This memory knocked about in my head for 40 years or so until one day I told my mum about it, describing the door only. “That was our house in Nottingham, I used to put you behind the door in the pram when we came back and let you sleep.”
We left Nottingham when I was less than 1 year old. Which means that my first memory puts me at less than 1 year old. As a scene it is average, as an achievement it is quite surprising. I’ve been obsessed with half arch windows all my life.
I have always been pleased to be born on a zero. My maths has constantly been bad, so being born on a ten has made things easy for me. I’ve also rated being born in 1970, a good year, looks pretty, nicer than 1969 or 1971 for sure. Also March has obsessed me as a month, both for its place in the year (windy in England) and for a good distance from Christmas, so one gets more gifts, but not too long to wait after xmas.
As I kid I passed through the town of March quite a lot, and there was a Formula 1 racing team back then called March. I used to play with the word March as marching, especially when passing though the town. I like the idea of being born on a Sunday and love the number 8. All wins. If just the time of year makes one a fit a star sign then I have just listed a few things that affected me as a kid and still as an adult.
Earliest memories 2, 3 & 4
Then I arrive at the second memory, which for a long time I thought was my first. I was three, or even two, nearly three. I think it was Christmas, though I am not sure. Perhaps I think that because I woke up in my cot to find a present. The cot was in my Nan and Grandad Gunn’s spare bedroom and my mum was sleeping alone in the double bed. In the semi gloom I opened my gift and found it to be a toy car, and a pretty swanky one at that, with real rubber wheels. A rather sporty number. Not a matchbox job, this was the next size up. When my mum awoke she told me it was from my dad. I am pretty sure I did not know where he was, even if I was told it would have made no sense.
Which brings me to the third memory, which could easily have been the second memory. Though it could actually have been the forth. Who knows what order they were in but for the fact that it was all around one particular event.
I remember being in a car with my mum and we were going to hospital in Peterborough. There were a neat row of trees outside and inside was my dad, in a communal TV room, wearing pyjama’s. I wasn’t quite sure why he was wearing pyjamas. There were a few other men in the room in pyjamas. This is clearly a fourth memory as I now know we had been to see him before, but that time I was not allowed to see him as he had a wire frame on his face which was holding it together.
That third memory was with my Nan and Grandad as well as mum. I always thought it had been a dream, as I had a lucid memory of the lifts in the hospital. I think this became dream like as I probably had dreams (or nightmares) about it for years afterwards. My Grandad was with me as we watched the lift doors open and people were inside. This must have turned into a dream as suddenly all the walls were glass and I could see the people going up and down inside the glass elevators.
My nan has always been keen to tell the story of when I ran down the corridor to dad’s room, but stopped before I got to the door. He was inside with his wire framed face and I’d have probably been scarred for life. As indeed he was, having to wear glasses from then.
He was 28. I know that because when I was 28 something very similar happened to me. My dad had been in a car accident.
I can summarise my early memories then in chronological order:
1. A door in Nottingham
2. A car in my cot
3. Me in hospital looking at lifts
4. Dad in hospital in his pyjamas