Monday, July 4, 2011

As the clock ticks over...

Once upon a time, there was a little girl who lived in a house with three brothers, a sister and her mum and dad.
Now this little girl was an ordinary run-of-the-mill little girl. She went to school with her friends, she tried her best at school work and usually ended up in the middle of the class when it came to achievements, and like so many others, got into trouble from time to time.
Deep down though, she tried awfully hard to be a good little girl, like the ones you read about in books. Like the ones that solve mysteries and went to boarding school, and like the ones who went to ballerina school and were top of the class with their point shoes.
Being number four out of five though meant there was a bit of competing to do to be seen and heard and so, occasionally this little girl forgot about the goodness and as was mentioned earlier was a little bit naughty.
She tried to take the family cat to school one day for some show and tell and forgot to tell her mum. The cat got sick of being carried halfway to school and escaped only to find himself disorientated and didn't come home for four days.
Another time she jumped on someones lunchbox at school and broke it as a dare. As a consequence she was given the strap to both hands and was locked up in the store cupboard in her classroom for an hour or so.
She would write notes to her friends and often got told to "stop talking Jennifer" when her teachers had had enough.
Once, with a group of friends,and bear in mind she was only 10 at the time, she tried to buy a bottle of beer from the local hotel, only to have HER mother walk past at the very same time. Needless to say, she got into trouble for that too, but was never able to work out why:
a) her friends didn't get into trouble and
b) that select group of friends never came back to her home again.

Most of the time she did try her hardest to behave, even if she did throw her cauliflower on the floor during meal times and act all innocent when her mother asked the children around the table who had not eaten their vegetables.

The little girl did have some redeeming points though. It was her job to polish the brass step at the front door once a week and she did this using every ounce of elbow grease she could muster. Once finished she would see her face in the step and know the job was done to her mother's satisfaction.

She would polish the silverware once a month too and was very careful not to leave any brasso on the knife blades for it would make the food taste funny if she did.

She got to set the table for meal times and got to sort the socks for everyone when the washing had been done. She also was the briquette fetcher when the basket was empty, often going outside to the bag of briquettes on a cold winter's night and realised at an early age that the most effective way to carry the most briquettes was to place them neatly and in order in the basket before returning them to the fireside in the lounge room.

The little girl would read a lot also. She loved to read almost anything she could lay her hands on. She would read about little girls of a similar age, described as bronzed berries in Cornwall Britain. She would read about Enid Blyton's Secret Seven, and the Famous Five. She loved to read about The Magic Faraway Tree as well and often fantasised about travelling to other worlds with exploding toffee in her mouth.
She was often told to get her head out the books, especially when visitors came to visit but so much reading served a big purpose for it made her aware of the world and that things happened to other people, not just herself. The little girl often told herself how lucky she was to be in the country she was, and not a starving child in Africa, with great intent and seriousness.

The little girl won the Spelling Bee Championship in Grade 6, and although to others it was not a great achievement, she was proud all the same for it demonstrated to her that reading was worthwhile after all.
Once, during that year in Grade 6, the little girl wrote a story about a boy and a girl, a man and a gun, suitably titled "Bang".
Her story won a competition and for that she was proud also.

The little girl was not very often sick, but one time had a high temperature. For a long time afterwards, she carried the nightmare she experienced with her hallucinations that time and developed a fear of different shapes merging and melting as a result.

The strangest things happened though at the oddest of times. There was a story told to the child from her mother about an old man who had died at the turn of the century inside that very same house, and sometimes the kitchen door would open of its own accord. "There goes Old Man Johnson" her mother would exclaim as she closed the door.
Once the little girl woke to hear her name being called out. When she got out of bed and walked up the her parents in the next room, she found her parents fast asleep. It was the very next day the little girl found out her grandmother had died around the same time that she had awoken.
The little girl slept in the same room as her big sister. There was seven years difference between the two and so they both lived very separate lives and experienced very different experiences. The little girl sometimes went to bed and fell fast asleep very quickly. She would occasionally wake up to a pressure on her legs like there was someone sitting on them and was unable to move her legs even though there was no-one there. She would think to herself..."There goes Old Man Johnson again" and after a while drift off to sleep once more. It was not until many years later when both she and her older sister shared their childhood stories that they both realised they had experienced that very same pressure on their legs at different times. Perhaps their room was haunted. Perhaps Old Man Johnson had died in their room.

As a child, the little girl would become very excited like most children do, when it was her birthday. It was her special day and even if it was a school day it was still a day of presents and birthday cake and sweets in the lunchbox for a change.
On her seventh and eighth birthdays, the little girl was so caught up in the moment she vomited when she arose on both those mornings. She was so unwell she was allowed to stay home from school because even in those days it was not much fun going to school if you were going to vomit again, so it was her day to stay in bed, to drink lemonade and eat dry biscuits and vegemite.
Come dinner time though she was well again and able to partake in the special cake her mother had created just for her day.

The little girl had numerous pets during her life as a child. She had Puss the cat who was a ginger tom. He was quite wary of her for a time once he returned to the home following the school adventure but still managed to corner her in the walkway down the side of the house from time to time with a hiss or two. The little girl would cry until her mother came to see what the fuss was about and rescue her. There was also Buster the dog who disappeared one day from the home. The little girl was told by her parents that Buster had run away and it was not until many years later, she determined that like all good faithful dogs, there comes a time when they go to the Great Tree in the sky and this had been her beloved Buster's time. She also had a pet galah who would bob up and down when she sang her secret song to him and for that she loved him dearly. When she came home from school he was often heard to be screeching "Jennifer" which mortified her mother who worried about what the neighbours must have thought.

There was a duck named Dora and two geese who remained nameless and all three disappeared around Christmas time one year. Christmas dinner soon after proved a very bountiful fare indeed even if her mother did tell her for a long time afterwards that Dora Duck could still be seen swimming in the local pond at a nearby park.

This story is written as I am about to advance to the ripe 'old' age of 57 tomorrow.
Life is full of adventures and surprises and good books and great stories. Life is full of the people we encounter as we grow up and as we learn.
May we always continue to learn and reminisce. May we always continue to smile about our youth and realise the fragility of our childhood.
May we all share in the birthday cake and take pride in what we do in our lives.
Cheers to each and everyone of you!


  1. Oh I love your story. Little Jennifer had lots of similar things in her life to me...mostly getting into trouble. A very happy bithday to you.

  2. That is the most wonderful story that I have read in a long time. Always cherish your memories and have a fantastic birthday Jen. Love Cheryl S.


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