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…