So I am about 3 and a half maybe, nearing 4 probably and I am in my grand Pa house and he is sitting on his rocking chair and the carpet is very blue and patterned, and he has very freckled dark skin hands, he is German and he smells of cigar and he picks me up and puts me on his laps and he sings the German song he always sang, the words of which I know some: “hopolop aleite Venice Welt sheite, Van tesi te fven, tatatatalata latututututa pampalam papa budebadibadum” that as much of the memory I have of the words. And I can remember his hands and his hands around my body and that’s probably my earliest memory.
The first memory that comes to mind is one, I think, when I was 11 years old, I’d gone to boarding school because my father was in the RAF and when I was about 11, I went on to a PGL holiday, there was a week away doing canoeing, pony-trekking and sailing. I have a strong image of the canoeing part, we had more days of that, I think 4 days of canoeing it was in Ross on Wye and I remember sailing up the river Wye and seeing the church of Ross on Wye, I remember being in a double canoe with a friend called Stuart Little. It was probably the first time away, well not the first time without the parents as I‘d just joined fucking boarding school but my first time away on anything like that.
I am about six years old, in fact I am six years old as it’s October half term 1985 and I am at home, Gorleston-on-Sea, and my mum has just left for university in a big red ford estate… I can’t remember what it is it’ll come to me… Granada, Ford Granada, maybe… Anyway this big ford estate it’ s in this red colour and the registration is PDWA33Y, and she reverses through the gates and her car is like a tank and she reverses through the gates then to the road and then I see her as she drives to the junction at the bottom of the road and then goes off to the right when the traffic is clear and she goes off to university. Now she’s got very big hair, she’s got … I think she’s got quiet a big skirt, she just wears big clothes, not like big like eighties, big like mum who is… mum who is making the whole family their own clothes. I think there is a particular period of time and I don’t know if these parents exist anymore, where they would knit their children’s jumpers and they would take their daughters’ pyjamas which were pink and dye them green and give them to the next son and then when they wore through they’d put patchers on them and give them to the next son and there was this kind of recycling of objects that it doesn’t happen anymore. Anyway, she ‘s gone off to university I go off to see if my brother Ben would play with me, he won’t he is lying in bed, arm in cast, reading a comic he’s got a grey jumper with a red triangle there so I walk away from that and I go to see my sister and she turns to me and she is wearing a big pink knitted batwings jumper and it’s one my mum knitted and she says: “sorry tom I’m busy”. Then I decide to walk downstairs and I go into the middle room, we have a front room, a middle room and a kitchen and in the middle room there’s my brother and he is playing I think it’s Fleur de Lys on the piano… tantantantantantantantantan, tatatata, tatatataaa, tantantantantantantantantan, tatatata, tatatataaa , tantantan tan tan tan tantaaantantantantantantan tantantantantantantantantan, tatatata, tatatataaa….Anyway, I decide to leave the house and take my bicycle from the plastic corrugated potting shed in the garden, it’s a black Bmx, I take it I walk across the garden, out the crossing roads at the front of the house and across the road my mum drove down earlier but I go left instead of right and I go down onto the old railways line. I ride the bike and I am wearing kind of grey chino trousers and a red check shirt, a red tank top and I’ve got a basin haircut ‘cause my mum cuts my hair and I go down to the old Bmx tracks, which is now the old Bmx track but I don’t know if it was old then but it was an old railway track and I ride around there until I get bored of riding so I leave my bike and climb to the top of the hill and I look out to sea and I can see the sea in front of me and the waves are crashing and on the sand down to my left ahead of the yacht pond there ‘s a boat and it’s just on the sand and there ‘s a big concrete thrust and it’s written danger keep off and I think that it was called danger keep off because you didn’t want to go and stand on it because you’d be swept off by the sea but the point is that it was just a sea break to stop the waves coming in and I went down onto the seafront and left towards the toilets at the end of the promenade and just after the toilets, after being in the toilets and come out, I spot a wallet on the floor, and I pick it up and open it and inside I find some money…
I believe the year to be 1989, I am 3 years old, it’s a winter evening. I am inside my house in Clonmel, county Tifferary, Ireland. It is a two storeys house, I remember it being very warm, I am wearing an all in one pink wonsie with quite padded feet, I am sitting on my brothers lap, I think he is 6 years old, in front of me there is a book, he is reading from the book, it’s a book about farming, there’s picture of tractors, cows and sheep. My mother and father are also in the room, my father is at a type writer and my mother is watching me and my brother and that’s my earliest memory.
Das wohnzimmer ist woller scherben scherben uberall, uber den ganzen boden verteiet. Es sind viele menschen in wohnzimmer, all redden aufgeregt. Aly dem sofa sitzt mein kleiner bruder er hat lange wimper. Und ancle auf den wimpern sind kleine sclerben. Das ist was icle am meis ten erinnere die laugen wimpern mit den kleinen scherben.
Waking up before my grandma early in the morning downstairs with my sister we pushed the footstool from the living room all the way to the front door. Wedged against the door my sister stand on it and helps me up to reach the top latch of the tall front door. We managed to open the front door and left the house, off down the street.
My first ever memory is from 1982 when I was one year old and me and my big sister, there’s only 362 days between us, so she was also very young, probably about 2. It was a very sunny day and I remember because we were both wearing shorts, those kind of flanellette shorts that were fashionable in the 80’s and on the door step of the front door there was this concrete step, which I am sure wasn’t very big but felt very big at the time, and we both sat there with scrambled eggs on toasts. I had a light brown plate and my sister Laurie she had a pink plate, we both had scrambled eggs on toast on that, I have no idea what happened if anything happened for me to remember it so clearly but I remember the taste of the scrambled eggs the heat of the sun, the coldness of the concrete step, just sitting there and having dinner, maybe it was special because it was just her and me as well and not my parents.
I think my first memory is from the beach and I don’t know if it’s because I am looking at the beach footage but I think it is on the beach and I remember sweating a lot, we weren’t in the water, we had a little bucket on the sand, not in the sea… bucket on the sand…and I was sitting in the bucket and I was with a lot of people I remember like a lot of I guess family and lot of family friends and I was there with my sister and I think we kept going back to the water because it was really, really hot so we were always sweating a lot and I remember that we were sitting in the bucket and having a barbecue. I was with my mum and my dad, my dad’s friends, Claudine, Alfredo, Jackie, Fernando…en la playa, I think that’s it, it must have been like 19?
I am sitting on a stainless steel high chair with a red top, I am in the eating room of our house, I think I am about 2, 2 and a half years old so it’s about 1958 and it’s hot because it’s summer in Australia and my father is beneath me and you know what, I’ve just realised, its not hot, its hot because the heating is on inside because its cold outside, and I know its cold outside because there is a wood burning stove on the right hand side and its during the day so it only burns at night and during the day my father cleans it out so he takes out the tray at the bottom that’s got all the ashes from the wood and he reaches up and puts it on the table top of my high chair and I remember he goes back down to the wood burner and my sister, who’s maybe a year old, crawls pass my high chair and I can remember very clearly, that as she is just beneath me I push the tray which has got all the ash so it falls down and spills onto her back and her face and her hands and that’s when the memory stops really. I should imagine there was some sort of chaos after that but I think I’ve blocked that bit off.
My earliest memory is being in a quarry near my parents’ house, I was about 5 at the time, they were draining the quarry to build a road through it and there was an enormous amount of fish being drawn out there, I‘ve got a terrible fear of fish. It ‘s a phobia so absolutely irrational. It ‘s a place we used to play all the time so it is like a beach, it has a lot of rocks but it’s silent water, but there ‘s all sorts of carnage going on as they try to fish out all these fish, tench mania, they supposedly got 45 thousand tench, in the meantime they also pulled out congreels, bloody great eels, I remember a man in high waist waders hoisting a bloody great eel out of a big net, the eel, biting him, flying out of his hand, flying through the air and hitting me on the head and it landed at my feet. The eel was absolutely berserk and my visual memory is this horrifying animal, sorry fish, raving around my feet. And it is still quite a profound moment for me now.