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.