I am sure like me, there have been times when you have wondered what difference might have been made to your life, if your younger self had been gifted with the experience and knowledge you have accumulated over the years.
I invited several friends from the writing community to share their thoughts on this subject which I am sure you will enjoy as much as I did.
Today author Alex Craigie shares some of her childhood escapades and encounters with nature, and how a regret still remains with her 47 years later.
Alex/Trish with her brother on her wedding day
If I knew then what I know now by Alex Craigie
There are countless things that I know now that I didn’t know then. With hindsight, most of them were trivial and inconsequential.
As a very young child there were more mysteries in life than answers. Clouds, beards, mirrors –all were beyond the comprehension of someone so unfamiliar with the world.
When I became a toddler, my knowledge came through human responses. Playing in the sink with my rubber duck was fine; playing with it in the toilet bowl wasn’t. Running around the garden in the altogether was perfectly acceptable; removing my clothes in the street, less so. The pictures I drew with my wax crayons were crooned over, but no one appreciated the colourful mural in the sitting room. When I sat in a field with my faithful collie companion to share some sheep poo, the response was as rapid as it was unexpected.
In my primary school years, mystification with mirrors and sheep poo gave way to a bewilderment about adult behaviour. Adults could do what they wanted, so why did they choose a cup of horrid tea when they could sip something fizzy through a straw? Why watch the news in preference to cartoons? In one of my Noddy books he was allowed to order whatever he wanted from the café; he chose four ice creams. Who would voluntarily opt for Brussels sprouts?
I once went horse riding with a friend and when I pleaded with my mother for a pony of my own, she flatly refused. Apparently, living in a basement flat with a tiny shared garden was an obstacle to horse ownership. She could be so unreasonable.
When I was twelve, it was the issue of socks that took on a massive, unfathomable importance. The school uniform requirements specified brown, woollen socks. They then changed, mid-year, to allow white, trendy knee-highs. One by one, everyone at school swapped their brown socks for the new ones. I pleaded with my mother, who’d bought several years’ worth of the frumpy horrors, to buy me some of the pretty white ones. She responded with that infuriating line, ‘If all your friends jumped off a cliff, would you follow them?’ Yes. When it came to white socks, I would.
Another peer pressure issue concerned my wavy, unruly hair. Hair in the sixties was sleek and straight. I tried everything, including ironing it, but never achieved the fab, groovy look I yearned for. I did sport white lipstick, though, and shiny blue eye shadow…
In my hippy college years, I wore long cotton dresses and padded around bare foot. Work was frequently left until the last minute and involved all-night sessions to meet deadlines. I saw Pink Floyd live in a smoky student gig and took part in sit-ins about student grants. It was also a time when I experienced love in all its glory and heartbreak.
In 1975, the love of my life and I finished our degrees and were married in the college chapel. There were a few niggles on the day. My anti-pony mother doted on my younger brother and stopped outside an angling shop on the way and sent me in to get him two pints of maggots. I sat with them in the car at my feet, worried at the lateness of the hour.
The college had allocated a room where I could get ready and, clock ticking, I dressed hastily, jabbing my veil on squint. In a box on the table was the bouquet backed by trailing ivy and fern that I’d ordered. No trailing anything. It was a simple posy. On arriving at the chapel, I discovered that the groom had been persuaded to have his long hair done at a salon. It had been blow-dried so that he resembled a standard lamp. None of these mattered. If I’d known about them, I could have made the changes but they were cosmetic and unimportant in the bigger scheme of things.
There were other issues that cut deeper. Painfully deep. I’d gone home the week before the wedding. My parents’ divorce hadn’t been one of those amicable ones you sometimes read about. I was running a high fever when my father phoned to say that my grandmother had died. I adored her. Struggling with this information, I went to bed, dosed with paracetamol. Later the next day, I discovered that my mother had told him that, in the circumstances, it would be inappropriate for him to come to the wedding. Her delight at finding an obstacle to my father’s attendance had made her upbeat and insensitively happy.
I phoned him. I phoned him repeatedly. But there was no response. I wanted my father at my side, not my younger brother. I was still phoning him on the day itself and for all the days afterwards until I got through to him. He’d gone to Scotland to lick his wounds. His quiet understanding of the situation, and his generosity of spirit despite the nightmare he’d been put through, did nothing to ease a guilt and shame that remains to this day.
Knowing about mirrors, eating sheep poo and the prerequisites of horse maintenance would have made no difference to me at the time because I lacked the capacity to cope with that knowledge. Neither would an understanding of peer pressure have done anything to ease the very real suffering I went through. As for my student days, they were an experience I wouldn’t change – it was a learning curve, a rite of passage. And when did the heart ever listen to reason?
However, if I’d known about my mother’s decision to block my father from the wedding, I’d have done everything in my power to prevent a shameful incident that’s haunted me since and been the one lasting regret of my life.
©Alex Craigie 2022
My thanks to Alex for sharing her childhood adventures and a poignant event that she would have given anything to have changed.
About Alex Craigie
Alex Craigie is the pen name of Trish Power.
Trish was ten when her first play was performed at school. It was in rhyming couplets and written in pencil in a book with imperial weights and measures printed on the back.
When her children were young, she wrote short stories for magazines before returning to the teaching job that she loved.
Trish has had three books published under the pen name of Alex Craigie. Both books cross genre boundaries and feature elements of romance, thriller and suspense against a backdrop of social issues. Someone Close to Home highlights the problems affecting care homes while Acts of Convenience has issues concerning the NHS at its heart.
Someone Close to Home has won a Chill with a Book award and a Chill with the Book of the Month award. In 2019 it was one of the top ten bestsellers in its category on Amazon.
Books By Alex Craigie
My review for Means to Deceive May 14th 2022
You know you are in the hands of a master storyteller when you are so engaged by the story that you want to reach in and offer hugs to the main character and some swift justice to others!
Alex Craigie writes very good books and this is no exception.
Gwen Meredith is between a rock and a hard place at work and at home where intimidation, misunderstandings, secrets and childhood memories cloud judgment. It is even worse when it is played out on social media in a town where everybody feels they have a right to voice their opinions on the situation.
With a grandmother’s dementia developing rapidly, there is little time to sit and work through the evolving mystery and at times the interference of others, though kindly meant, creates more havoc.
This is probably not the best time to fall in love especially if you don’t know who to trust but it does offer a glimmer of hope in the dark place Gwen now finds herself in.
Clues are dropped in, and events point in a number of directions, but the puzzle is missing a lot of pieces until the final chapter. This is a clever mystery which will have you on the edge of your seat and wondering if you are perhaps not going a little crazy too.
The climax is dramatic and comes with surprising revelations. A fabulous ending to this highly recommended book.
Thanks for dropping in today and it would be great if you could share Alex’s post.. thanks Sally.