Sunday, 16 January 2011

Are we nearly there yet

"You can see the future adult in the child". So agreed Camille and Anne Fontaine, writers of the 2009 film Coco Before Channel, starring Audrey Tautou.

I've been rummaging through the few photographs I have of myself as a child, and it brought back some vivid memories. Take the photo here of me with a horse riding hat on. On the face of it you would be forgiven for thinking I was some sort of child equestrian, but I'm afraid not. This was me coming in 2nd in the donkey derby at Butlins in Ayr in 1976, aged just 13.

Just to the side you can see my blog photograph and I suppose you can see the adult in this young face, albeit better looking in 1976.
Regular readers will notice that my main blog photograph has now been updated. The previous picture was 9 years out of date so I thought it was best to be honest.

Like all small children I had a sweet tooth and the highlight of my day would be morning break at school when we could visit the tuck shop. Highland toffee, in the form of penny chews, was a definite favourite. Then there were love hearts, refreshers, mojos, cola bottles and a miracle of sweet making, curly wurly.

But a very early memory stays with me to this day, and yes, it does involve food. I was in primary school and it was just before the change over to the decimal coin system we all have today in the late sixties. Every lunchtime a bakers van would arrive at the bottom of the playground selling what to me were the worlds greatest Scotch pies. I would only have a shilling for spending money for the week, equivalent now to a 5p (though the size of the current 10p). This was divided into 12 twelve pennies and divided again into halfpennies (pronounced hape-nies) and these were once more divided into farthings. Twenty four to one shilling. Imagine dividing the current 5p into 24 parts and being able to buy something with each! Another coin was the thrupeny bit, equal to three pennies, a quarter of my weeks pocket money, and this was the price of a Scotch pie. A fortune to a boy of 7, as I was at the time. So I would only indulge in this treat twice a week and the fact I can still remember that gastronomic delight just goes to show how wonderful that pie must have been.

The other thing I noticed from these old photographs was just how curly my hair was. Here I am in 1972 aged 9. I hated my curly hair, though my mother adored it of course. It's a constant puzzle why people with curly hair desire straight hair and vice versa. Now my hair is very short and mostly grey and receding. I'd settle for that mop of hair straight or curly now!

It is remarkable when looking at these photographs just how recent the events seem. Here's one of me aged just 4 playing on my first bicycle in Loch Lomond caravan sire just north of Tarbet, a site my step father ran. Now at 47 years old I can actually remember this photograph being taken, yet some days I can't remember what I did yesterday!

This is one of the first photographs of me after leaving school at 17 when I enlisted in the Royal Air Force. Sadly it was not to be and I decided to leave after just two months, but the experience was one I will never forget, especially the bond that grew quickly between everyone on the same flight, as teams of us were called.

Though I would hope that I am wiser now I am certainly older. When I look in the mirror some mornings I hardly recognise the person looking back. Looking at the photographs gives me a real sense of how fast time passes by, and makes me glad that I have taken the risks in life that have given me great memories of great adventures around the world.

I may not be any wealthier relatively now than that wee boy buying his Scotch pie, but I am most definitely richer for the experiences the intervening years have brought me and the great friends that I have shared those times with.

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