Sunday, 16 October 2011


I have been having flashes of a an image, rather like some cheesy 'whodunnit' where the heroine with repressed memories sees fragmented scenes of a faceless  man ...a tattooed  arm...a shoe crunching on broken glass, you get the picture. Usually it is the genre of film where she goes up into the attic of the very old unlit house during a violent thunderstorm and we know the assailant is there, waiting and playing very creepy music to ease her way up the stairs.

My flashbacks are thankfully totally benign. They are of me, on a bicycle aged 16 1/2 on a lovely summer's day in 1950 ; visions brought on, I have no doubt, by the book I am reading at the moment by Frank McCourt  'Tis, the sequel to his masterpiece Angela's Ashes. The time line is familiar and his story of the pale sore-eyed semi-literate fighting against all odds to study, his longing to belong, to be able to discuss Dostoevsky with other students,  to know how to talk to girls/anyone in authority shamed as he is by bad teeth and eyes like 'piss holes in the snow' -resonates with me.

So there I am riding the deserted Sunday lunchtime  streets of The Bay; I know where I have been and where I am going.

 I have just come from the house of a couple who are close to my current boyfriend Hugh. Hugh is an orphan and he is a fairground boxer. The Hudsons live in a fine detached house...a Grange or a Lodge with out- buildings, a gravel drive and a paddock behind the house.  Mr. Hudson has two artificial legs...Mrs Hudson is the image of Googie Withers.  They are superior beings.  They have a library in their house, a small room of crammed shelving, a dark wood table and two leather chairs.  He asks what would I like to drink and I catch Hugh's eye, he looks as non-plussed as I.  I ask for a Port and Lemon because it is the only drink I have heard of...I do not know what Port is but with the lemon in there it should be drinkable.  He serves it to me in a cocktail glass with a piece of fruit I do not recognise stuck to the rim.  I don't know if I must eat the fruit  before or after taking the drink. or must I not eat the fruit at all.  Hugh is drinking water and the Hudson's  something clear containing something on a stick but I watch them anyway. She takes the stick out of her drink and nibbles at the green berry, while he holds the stick out of the way while draining the drink, then he puts the berry into his mouth. No help to me.   I sip my drink, it is delicious and the smell of the fruit begs me to put it in my mouth.  It is pineapple though I do not know that, I just know that it is delicious and juicy and I want more. I drain my glass and eat the fruit. I am offered another and because I have no knowledge of how to behave I accept.

These are pre-lunch drinks; the Hudsons and Hugh are going on somewhere... sounds very exotic to me. I say goodbye and ride my bicycle very fast all the way home. I think that the Hudsons thought I was unsuitable for Hugh...He did have the most elegant manners for all that he was a Fairground boxer. Perhaps they adopted  him. The sun was warm on my legs and the drink had worn off by the time I reached home. I never said a word to mum.


  1. Oh, that was lovely. Port and lemon was the first drink I ever asked for in a pub - simply because I'd heard someone else ask for it and I didn't know any better. When I eventually moved on to gin and bitter lemon, I felt so sophisticated!
    I never learned to ride a bike though, so I'm quite envious of you riding home with the sun on your legs!

  2. Ah, sixteen. A boy. A bike. A drink. Adventure. A lovely, simple story. My first visit to your blog, and it will not be my last. As an American about 18 years younger, port and lemon is not a drink I'd ever heard of. It sounds SO much nicer than a beer...

  3. A lovely story. Such nice memory to have come visit. And I love "I never said a word to mum." I'm sure that made your drink all the more memorable.

  4. Ah the wonders of life and memories. I so love your stories. And now wonder what became of Hugh.

  5. Oh to have been born with an inner confidence! to not care about the dilemma with the fruit...I believe there are some people like that Moannie but then maybe their memories are bland ... unlike your lovely recollections. What did happen to Hugh?

  6. That was a lovely story and I could almost taste that fruit!
    Started thinking of my own cycling days after reading that beautifully written account.
    Maggie X

    Nuts in May

  7. Thoughts:

    * Never heard of a port and lemon, but now will have to research it and try one

    * Not sure why a drink called "port and lemon" would have a pineapple in it

    * Your Hudsons sound lovely - I always adored hanging out with eccentric adults, even as a child. Which is why I've become one. An eccentric adult, not a child. But then again...

    * Hugh sounds as interesting/yummy as the port and lemon!

    * I want a library room

  8. You never had pineapple before you were sixteen? You never had a banana split with pineapple on it, or a pineapple pie??? Oh, I cannot imagine my childhood without pineapple. My great-grandparents would make homemade ice cream in their hand crank freezer. It was always either banana or pineapple....and on a hot Texas Sunday, those were the best scoops of ice cream I had ever tasted!! I still love taking crushed pineapple and mixing it in with some vanilla ice cream....not quite the same, but it brings back those memories. Thanks for making me think of that tonight. And I am sorry that you never had pineapple as a child.

  9. I love stuff like this, an interesting sort of random memory filled with delicious detail. I am never disappointed when I come here. Thank you!

  10. Port and lemon is new to me but then I've never been much of a drinker. The pineapple sounds especially nice.

    You have a wonderful memory and a great way to telling the story. It felt like I was a fly on the wall watching your afternoon. Thanks, jj

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  12. i think it's wonderful we have this thing in us that remembers and nudges us to youth. a really lovely telling moannie. made me think of my own flashbacks