My challenge for this month is to write 500 words per day towards my book.
I bumped into a friend the other day who suggested that a good way of doing this would be to just pick a subject at random, whatever is on my mind for that day, and write 500 words about it. The idea is that at the end of this month I will have a bulk of writing upon which to build into some sort of memoir.
Throughout the month I will share some of my writing on this blog.
This first piece is about my ninth birthday, my last birthday before my parents divorced:
June 2nd, 1990. A Saturday. My ninth birthday. My dad didn’t go to work, which I think was unusual; I think he usually worked Saturdays; the mornings, at least. I remember it being a bit of a big deal he was home. My sister needed new shoes, and her feet were exceptionally narrow; none of the shops in town stocked shoes in her size. So we went on a little day trip to Andover, to a shoe shop that had a fancy, electronic foot measuring device, to buy her new shoes. I don’t remember the shop; I don’t remember buying her shoes. Pretty much all I remember from that day, is buying my first ever bottle of nail varnish. It was irridescent and pale and hardly worth the effort; it came from one of those pound shops that seemed to spring up everywhere in the late ‘80s. It had a gold lid, and I felt terribly grown up. I seem to recall buying something else too, but I couldn’t tell you what it was; just that I had two things in my hands as we all piled into the car to come home. We had an old, bronze Citroen ZX estate car; my parents sat in the front, my brothers in the middle, my older sister and I in the back.
My mum prided herself on our elaborate birthday cakes; we would choose the design weeks, sometimes months in advance and she would always produce these amazing creations, decorated perfectly with butter icing. Roland Rat, a cat, a ballerina, a dragon. One year I remember there was an ice cream cake; another, a “cake” made entirely of home made meringues and whipped cream. For my ninth birthday though, I have no recollection of what cake I had. I don’t remember the family singing to me as I blew out the candles, though I know they must have. I don’t recall my nan being there, though I know she was living with us at the time.
All that I remember is, later that evening before bed time, I went out into the garden. My parents smoked in the garden, because I was prone to coughing and they thought their smoking made it worse. It was a nice evening, and my dad was pulling up weeds from the patio. I remember crying; I didn’t want to go to bed, because then it wouldn’t be my birthday any longer. I had the nail varnish in my hand. My parents hugged me, and sent me to bed telling me not to be so silly; you’re not supposed to cry on your birthday, and we only get one a year.
That was my last birthday with my dad at home. He left a few months before my tenth birthday. I think perhaps this is why I remember that birthday so much. I barely remember anything of any of my previous birthdays. That one sticks in my mind though. Even though we had a day out in order to buy my sister shoes, it was still my birthday, and it was still a big deal to be going out shopping somewhere other than Salisbury. And my dad was home, which rarely happened.