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From the Beginning - the first bit

From the Beginning

-          A story of one woman’s life, from beginning to end.


My story began seventy-something years ago in a little village in the north of England.  I was the second of four children; Thomas, the eldest, exceeded me by two years and never let me forget it.  Three years after me came Maggie and little David arrived four years after that.  Our parents weren’t well off, but neither was anyone else at the time.  We did what we could with what we had and didn’t know any different. 

School, from what I remember, was dull and not worth going into great detail about.  Physical Education was torture: huge knickers and hockey in December.  I never really got to grips with maths but did what I could.  French was difficult, Latin was worse.  I was told I had a “flair” for English and spent weekends writing cliché poems about birds, rivers and unrequited love.

My first kiss was with red-haired boy (whose name I forget) in a game of Spin the Bottle in the first year of secondary school.  The game got banned later that week, when one of the older children brought in a glass bottle which smashed in his bag, cutting his fingers something terrible.

Once, the whole class was kept after school for what felt like hours because one of us had dropped a water-balloon from an upstairs window which had landed on the headmaster’s head.  It turns out the culprit was my then-boyfriend, Charlie Jackson and his friends, but they were too scared to own-up. 

Fifth-year came and went, O-levels were over, and we felt the world was ours.  After years of begging I was allowed to get a perm, and instantly regretted it.  Dad’s job meant that we uprooted and moved to the city.  For a while I hated him for taking me away from my friends, but then Mam got ill and I didn’t have the energy to be angry and look after everyone.  Luckily she recovered in time for the start of term – my first year of college.

I fell in love with a handsome boy with sandy hair and freckles – Jamie, he was called - and he became my best friend too.  He took me to the cinema in town and we kissed in the double seats at the back.  He was always smiling and it was impossible not to hang on his every word.  I took him home to meet my parents and at dinner wee David said, very seriously, “You best look after our Eleanor right, or you’ll ‘ave me to answer to.”  And he did look after me well, and when Jamie went off to university the next year we broke apart mutually, although it wasn't easy.  We remained friends though and years later we were still sending each other Christmas cards and such; the last I heard he was doing well for himself as a lawyer.

At seventeen, I told my parents I was going to be a secretary, though I actually dreamed of being a successful writer.  I got A-levels in English literature, history and French and at eighteen I moved out to a flat of my own.  Mam sobbed and said she’d miss me something awful, although I would only be a twenty-minute bus journey away.  Maggie was looking forward to a room of her own –“finally” – and Dad and David stubbornly swallowed their tears.

~ by Effy x