Sunday, December 18, 2022

Polly Sings: "What Is Love...?'

 Once upon a time there lived a little girl who lived on the wrong side of the tracks. Although this was undoubtedly the case she still lived at the top end of the road which was a better place to live than at the bottom end where the rough kids lived, or so she was told. Bizarrely that was the end of the road where the fish and chip shop was and while such food was an irregular treat it is with much fondness that it's remembered some fifty years on...

Behind the fish and chip shop, where they only sold the very best fish and chips fried in lard and using nothing but the freshest of ingredients lay the river and beyond that lay a road which ran along side it. Each was bordered by stone walls and in those days agricultural land on the far side. At the age of five life was such a simple adventure confined by the will of the grown ups in her life which involved being a good girl and not straying from home. Within short memory & perhaps more importantly distance were the infamous Hindley & Brady Moors Murders and so it was with good reason that care was taken and even the innocent pleasantries of strangers regarded with suspicion; it was a sad state of affairs really, especially considering the numerous atrocities since...

If you followed the road on the far side of the river there stood ancient woodlands, which in the little girls memories grew bluebells in spring and fairy rings in autumn. Her mind's eye told her that the rings she had discovered were painted with the red and white of fly agaric but in truth a faint memory reveals the shocking truth. They were in fact a pale dun in colour; something which is largely irrelevant given the particular fondness for this recollection & the harmless joy in its remembrance. Of course the book she'd found had only added to this as it underlined her belief in all that was good. The Flower Fairies who had once lived in those woods represent a largely forgotten age of innocence.

As she couldn't live with them, because they were real and she was not, the girl had to contend with all that was required of a human child, and everything that entailed...

It is said that smell is one of the most powerful stimulants of memory. Just a hint of a forced Christmas hyacinth, of Penhaligon's Bluebell scent will evoke decades old memories and a warmth of heart not often felt by grown ups. Hundreds of wild bluebell bulbs supplied by Mr Middleton are planted in the woodland garden, on the forest floor under the fallen leaves but there is no joy experienced in the late Spring. Just like memories they will flourish only where they want to; be it in the unkempt roadside verge or amongst the wild garlic blooms in woodlands far away.

In stark contrast adult memories of children and their misbehaviour evoke less hearty thoughts images of boys barely past toddlerhood racing unbidden, screeching like the less than friendly Banshee of Irish folk legend, creating absolute mayhem wherever they went resulted in a singular guilty thought, of corporal punishment for the crime of self expression. What happened to those innocent Flower Faeries & their sweet joy? When or how did she become so cynical? Why? 

"Spare the rod & spoil the child..." Sage & biblical advice on child rearing that does not entreat you to beat your child rather to parent them.Why is it necessary to steal childhood from a child when it is the responsibility of the parent to help a child learn what and when it's acceptable to behave as the feral being within us. It's so easy, it's so hard, it's challenging, it's rewarding, it's all of those things. Stick to your guns, be kind but firm, remain consistent & most of all be fair. Don't be afraid to apologize. You're not always right. You will make mistakes. You will learn together & grow together, with your child. That is LOVE.

Memories of fairy rings evoke warm feelings. That is love.