Wednesday, March 14, 2007
The more shinier moments in an otherwise dull and unpolished childhood were spent, for me, on Turbary Common, Bournemouth.
The 1980s was a decade concerned with law and order, interference and stark, straight lines. The common, opposite my boyhood home, contained fenced off areas, swings, slides, tarmac bicycle tracks and a non-descript brick building. A tractor would come twice a year and mow the large field on which my brother and I would play. Oh, and at Easter, the fun fair entertained us for a week.
As time went by and more to the point, after we'd lost our dog to cancer, my brother played with me less and less. When we were on the common together, he took me there to lose me, to bury me in a hole or leave me in a tree, unable to get down. But there were happier times when we would enjoy the common together, free, away from our Father, able to forget the physical violence and emotional torture.
A lad with Down Syndrome lived next door to us. We'd love to spend hours on the common pretending to be smugglers on our way to Kinson with our loot. Click here for some background on this. One day, while mucking about in a wooded area with a spade, we found a ship in a bottle buried quite shallow in the soil. We thought we'd found buried treasure or an antique and were going to be rich! Mum said it was plastic rubbish and threw it in the bin.
I can relate to The Goonies. Wow. How many other boys of the 80s can say that?
As time went on, a boy like me did other things in the privacy of the common. I remember going back to the wooded area and snogging my boyfriend, Nerrad Maison.* I felt a blossom bloom within me that day. I'd changed and would never feel like a boy again.
And the years passed. Summer. I took to the common with a book, a packet of cigarettes and a lighter. Sometimes, with a bottle of pop, I could stay there all day long, laying in the long sun-scorched grass. Like a straw mattress. Heaven.
The 1980s are long gone, as are the swings, the slide, the tarmac bicycle tracks and the brick building. The 1990s and beyond are years more concerned with nature, being natural and right on. The fences are gone. The fair's not welcome. The tractor's been replaced by Exmoor Ponies and Shetland Cattle. But nothing can replace my memories.
*That's not really his name.