We lived in 108. A semi detached house at the top of the hill. Our road had houses on both sides, and was lined with cherry blossom trees. We were the last house on the hill. Across the road from us was an abandoned green area, of uncut grass, weeds and rapeseed. At the very back of this “field” was a large wall, behind which was an old country home and gardens.
We had what I thought was a huge back garden, one I could cycle my bike around, swing on a swing and play in for hours. Now when I return I am amazed that while it is not tiny, it is not anywhere as huge as I remember.
Out the front are two small lawns, one to the front and one to the side. The one to the front reminds me to this day, of the day my cousin had her first driving lesson. The instructor was new in every way. On her very first night driving, she made my cousin come in the narrow gates of the drive. As she tried to do so she revved and revved, without moving. Eventually, after much revving, she managed to let go of the clutch, flew in the gates and right across the lawn, managing to stop short just in front of the sitting room window. My brother and I thought it was the funniest thing we ever witnessed.
There is also a story behind the lawn to the side.
When my parents moved in first, there was just a small boundary fence at the side of the house. My father and the neighbour behind our house devised a cunning plan to claim more land. They moved the boundary fence quickly, and in no time we had gained an extra number of feet at the side of the house. In years to come when a group of surveyors came to check and map the estate, my father got huge delight watching them scratching their heads, measuring and remeasuring.
Our road was one with a lot of young families. Which meant we had plenty others to play with. I played with three girls in particular, only to be stalked regularly by my younger brother. I tried various methods to escape without him tagging along, either by sneaking out or else running, only to hear my mother shout as I ran, “Tric! M wants to go and play too”.
Even though he played with my friends and I often, on occasions I had no intention of letting him play with us. I had various ways of losing him. One was to bring him across to the overgrown field opposite the house. I knew he was too small to be spotted from home. I would then show him all the lovely yellow weeds and tell him “Mom would love some of those”. He would happily begin to pick them, and I would run off. He knew his way home.
Another tried and tested way to lose him was to play on our bike. I call it “our” bike, because we were supposed to share it. Like that was ever going to work!
M was too young to be allowed all the way to the bottom of the road, in fact he was not allowed to pass the lane which marked half way. I would jump on the bike and cycle all the way to the end of the road. Poor M would stand at the lane shouting at me to come back. I would sometimes cycle back. Only to stop close to the lane. I would “explain” it would be his turn for the bike in a minute. If he got mad and tried to come after me, I’d shout like any older, mean sister would, “Don’t pass the lane, mom will be so mad at you, and I’ll tell”. As predicted he wouldn’t and I’d have some time playing without him.
I know you think quite rightly I was the worst sister ever, however there was another side to our relationship.
We were a pair. In our house we were known as the “wanes” (the wee ones).
It is because of these memories and so many more, that when I drive up the road home, when I look at the now beautiful green space with tennis courts and a playground opposite our house, when I walk in my front door, my over riding memories are of the many many days of fun I had with my younger brother.
Because although we were the deadliest of enemies at times, the majority of the time, we were inseparable. Hour after hour we spent together, playing the most magical of games, made up by both of us. Simple fun. Such as strapping sleeping bags on our backs, crawling up the stairs, “camping” in the bedroom for 30 seconds, and then making our way back down. Or “languages” which was a game where we wandered around speaking gibberish and imagining we could speak a foreign language.
I never remember a time having no one to play with.
Earlier today my daughter had to write an essay for homework, about her friends. As she wrote I thought of all the friends I’ve had over the years. The girls from my childhood, my teenage friends, my nursing friends, my very special bridesmaid friend. The friends I’ve made since becoming a mother and of course my husband, my soul mate.
However the more I thought about my “friends” the more I thought about my younger brother. My childhood companion. The one who made my childhood a most magical experience. The one who is still in my corner today. My oldest friend.
So tonight I write a post remembering happy childhood days spent with my forever friend, my greatest pal.
My baby brother. xxxxx