Confused? You won’t be after this week’s episode of Soap…
After sixty-two circuits around the sun, when I look back at the hopes and aspirations that I once had, not many of them have come to pass and although that may sound sad, it’s not, after all, what serious hopes and aspirations can a young child have that are easily translated into adulthood?
Yes, yes; I wanted to be a train driver of course but even as I was growing up, the types of train that I wanted to drive were being phased out. I wanted to be Tarzan, I wanted to be a Red Indian – and right there is a controversy; Red Indians, that’s what we called them and as a child I thought nothing of it, that was simply what they were called. Now of course we know better and the term ‘Red Indian’ is seen as a racial slur. So yes, I wanted to be a Native American.
I wanted to be an astronaut, an astronomer, I wanted to be Superman, I wanted to be the captain of an ocean liner. I wanted to have a bedroom all to myself, I’d shared a bedroom since my earliest memories, at one point I shared a bedroom with my brother, Michael and two sisters, Elizabeth and Alison – such different times.
We lived at the time in a two-up, two-down, end terrace house with an outside loo. My parents had bought the house for the sum of £500, in 1963 I think it was. Just for devilment I looked the place up on Rightmove recently, it’s had a small extension built on the ground floor, no doubt hosting the bathroom seen in the Estate Agent’s photos but it’s still two-up because there was a photo of the bedroom that I shared with my siblings, taken with one of those tricksy Estate Agent cameras with the ultra-wide-angle lens so beloved of Estate Agents and reading this back through, I don’t know why I’m doing them the service of capitalising them. But, yes, there was the bedroom; photo reproduced below.
On the left-hand wall, you can make out a cupboard door halfway up the wall, that cupboard goes out over the stairwell, my bed was against that left hand wall, stretching out towards the photographer. To the right of the photographer was a set of bunk beds where Michael and Elizabeth slept and Alison, who arrived in 1967, had a cot on the right-hand wall. Apparently, the house was last sold for £385,000 in 2015 and now (2021) has an estimated value of £472,000. Well, that’s estate agents for you, all value and no worth…
I wanted to have more than 2/6d a week pocket money, I wanted a Johnny Seven O.M.A. gun, oh man how I wanted one of those, for a summer, one year in the 1960s. Probably, nay, definitely but it’s not very PC these days to want to play with guns.
In truth, as a child, I had no idea of what I wanted to do, to be and to have as an adult; maybe a bigger yacht, a bigger yacht than the one I already had, that being a Star Yachts (Made in Birkenhead) Endeavour IV, and how I loved that yacht. Rather than sail her on the Grand Union Canal which ran through the town of Berkhamsted where we lived, I’d wait for the weekends and badger dad to take us (brother Michael and any sisters that wanted to come) to the model boating lake in St. Albans where not only could you sail your boat but also see lots of other model boats too.
My Endeavour IV had a varied career, I changed the, as supplied, single jib for twin headsails, I even tried a type of sail called a genoa but it wasn’t very successful as I recall…
In her latter days I fitted a Gaff rig in place of the original Bermudian rig, and the Gaff rig did work quite well; I remember a man complimented me on her appearance once.
When I was ‘older’ I’d have a bigger and better yacht, I even hatched plans to build from scratch a larger, dare I say ‘improved’ Endeavour; I think I still have my hand drawn hull plans somewhere, maybe… Then work and pubs and all that stuff took their toll, and Endeavour IV was left to her own devices.
My maternal grandmother ran a tight ship, housekeeping-wise; by the side of the kitchen sink there was a soap dish which always had various pieces of multicoloured soap in it. Yes, multicoloured; green, pink, buff. She’d combine all the little pieces of soap that had become too small to use easily, into larger pieces. For some reason those pieces of multicoloured soap always attracted my attention, I won’t say ‘fascinated me’ but I’d always look to see how many pieces and of what configuration there were in the soap dish.
When I was older, I’d do that, I’d make my own pieces of multi-coloured soap.
Well, that aspiration nearly came true; I do indulge myself and combine the smaller piece into the bigger piece when a new bar of soap is called for. Childhood dreams fulfilled, almost, I just need more colourful soaps.