I wish my older self could go back and speak to me as a kid. Don’t we all? What to say though? I suppose some people would think about what wisdom and advice they could pass on. How many would be able to tell about specific people or situations to avoid? This would all make their younger self happier and more comfortable. A warming hug from a ‘Drop Dead Fred’ scene.
After considering this I don’t believe that I could say anything that would have made my childhood any more sufferable. As an adult I can look back and see what a basket case I was. As a child I knew this but had no way of doing anything about it. You see I was diagnosed as being of a nervous disposition. Now we are not talking about a few butterflies here. We are talking about the shits, sickness, shaking, sweating, worrying about absolutely everything and the worse thing ever, bursting into tears. Looking at everything that I have listed you may think that spontaneous eye leakage was the least of my worries but it wasn’t. I lived in one of the more colourful neighbourhoods and as children we were ridiculed and beat up for everything from getting a haircut to winning a raffle. The beatings weren’t even the problem, oh no, thinking about the beatings was more of an issue. Worrying about things that we have no control over is pointless but destructive.
In fact thinking about things fucked me right up. I remember hearing ‘Terry Jacks’ singing ‘Seasons In The Sun’ around about 1974. I was only seven but I began worrying about death. I don’t think that should be a thought in a happy-go-lucky child’s repertoire. And yet there was me contemplating my own demise. I wondered if they would play that damn record as they either burned or buried me. Songs affected me in 1974. The only two that spoke to me, Christ knows what they were saying, were ‘The Night Chicago Died’ and ‘Tweedle Dee, Tweedle Dum’. I had been listening intently to ‘Middle Of The Road’ for the past three years and when ‘Paper Lace’ came along, I thought my musical life was complete.
Thinking about going back to school after the holidays really done me in. School certainly wasn’t out for ever! (I know that may have been a couple of years earlier also but it’s Alice Cooper!! He deserves to be played every year!!) I enjoyed the first two weeks off but then couldn’t sleep for the remaining four worrying about going back. Another record that taunted me with a new term was ‘I Wont Let The Show Go On’. Thinking back, it was either that or ‘Charlie Rich’ with his dulcet tones warbling ‘The Most Beautiful Girl In The World’ that seemed to be playing when I was getting dressed in itchy bloody trousers and a hard as a hoors heart shirt. To this day I especially hate Leo Sayer.
Baths made me worry because again they emphasised school. It took me until I was well into my thirties to realise that the sick feeling I suffered every time I had a bath was a throw back to those bloody bath nights on a Sunday…School followed the next morning.
Thinking about any change what-so-ever goosed me. Thinking about things staying the same also caused me to ponder, consider and then be sick. Even being more than a few minutes late out of school made me come out in a cold sweat. I couldn’t even work out why that upset me and I worried about that as well.
Trying to lighten up I listened to ‘The Streak’ by Ray Steven’s but that only made me worry about swimming lessons. That was even worse as I wasn’t sick but had the scoots. You really don’t want to have that affliction if you are going near a pool.
To emphasise what a basket case I had become I was put on Librium before my ninth birthday. They were sugar coated and were supposed to help me sleep. They didn’t. I was even more tired in the mornings and became stressed out when the teacher commented on how white I was. I began to worry that I would end up in hospital and die from paleness.
Apart from one school mate who told me to ‘Fuck Them All!’ when I was getting up-tight about having my school photograph taken, the rest of them were of no help at all. I was worrying that I would look weird and be ridiculed. I did. I was. They couldn’t understand this ghost like child who would cry at the drop of a hat. Looking back I don’t blame them. It was the law of the jungle and if they were picking on someone for being a pussy-freak, then everyone else was leaving them alone. Now I say I don’t blame but I do still hate them for having no tolerance or understanding due to their naivety and general childishness. This being a common trait with seven year olds. I did learn tolerance. I learnt not to shy away from the unpleasantly aromatic kids. I would stand beside them when everyone else went to the back of the line. I never flinched when I got a mouthful of lice ridden hair when someone else threw a punch at a poor soul who was always been taken to the Nit-Nurse. I never once called these two people either ‘Stink-Bomb’ or ‘Bugsy’. I suppose I could look myself in the mirror and only worry that I needed another haircut due to me being infested or that I was becoming bandy with rickets. John Denver singing ‘Sunshine On My Shoulder’ emphasised my happy disposition.
Family wise, well I think they were as helpless as I was. They tried enrolling me in drama classes to bring me out of my shell. That’s all you fucking want…Put up on a stage!! Let the world see you implode as you try to be Oz’s Lion as you shit yourself listening to David Essex murder ‘Gonna Make You A Star’. I suppose shitting yourself as a lion could be construed as method acting. As I have said, there was nothing that anyone could do. Each morning I was given very hot, sweet tea and told to drink it before I went to school. All this did was make me panic about being late as it was taking me too long to drink. I eventually made it myself. Half hot water, half cold and then I would just gulp it down. I then worried that I was going to be sick. You see I had already tried persuading my folks that I was ill. (I think there is a lesson somewhere in that statement.) I had managed to get a few days off but this only caused me to worry about going back and I was ten times worse. Once I drank cold water with a load of salt in it. I had heard that it made you sick. It didn’t work. I just ended up very thirsty. I worried about asking the teacher if I could go out for a drink so I continued my lessons with cotton-mouth and feeling nauseous with worry. I finally realised what irony was.
This all changed the day I went to Secondary School. Change terrified me and moving onto another school was as scary as it got. I woke up. I puked. I had the shits. I was just about to cry when something happened. I decided there and then that I wasn’t going to live like this. I didn’t walk to my new school with any of my old classmates. I walked alone. I found my class myself and sat by myself. It was a new start. No-one knew the disaster that was me so I could let myself evolve. Not into someone else but someone I could handle. This I did. If you ask about my nerves, I still had them in abundance but I channelled them in different ways. Sarcasm became my defence. I embraced indifference. My stomach was still churning and I am glad puberty was kicking in because that is what got blamed for my intensive sweating. I could handle those. I got the reputation of someone who didn’t give a fuck. Not in a bad way I might add. I was just thought of as someone that nothing bothered. (Something I still find hysterical to this day!) I am also thought of as confident. (Another inner voice snigger) And I have been mentioned as being a ‘Black Hearted Bastard’. Now this I am not sure about. I don’t know if I am. If this is true, I am what my childhood made me. There may be something else at play here. The number one single when I went to Secondary School was The Rats singing ‘I Don’t Like Mondays’. How appropriate! I thought to myself, ‘Let the arseholes worry about me. I could if I put my mind to it!!’
I wonder why I have written this and it is nothing to do with self-help. I exorcised those demons many decades ago. Don’t get me wrong it did take years before I could even mention this to anyone. I do know if I ever go back down that road, I won’t be able to get myself out. I’ll end up making baskets and drooling. The reason that I have written this is to try and explain to any adult who has a nervous child that you will never help them. Don’t beat yourself up about this. It has to come from them. That switch to ‘Fuck it’ only comes from within. I don’t think that the wreck is even aware if it will actually happen. Support the kid. Let them talk or be quiet, whatever they want. Don’t intervene too much as it will only give them something else to worry about. You are not dealing with rational thoughts. But in the name of God…No matter what…Don’t give them sweet tea or let them listen to 1970s popular music.
Now as I was saying, I wish my older self could go back to me and speak to me as a kid, I would possibly tell me not to listen to the ‘Fuck it’ switch. Maybe that would have made things different. Maybe I wouldn’t have buried so many bodies. I may not even be going out tonight on the hunt.
I don’t care if I’m caught. If I am, I have got a whole lot to say. No way am I going to be one of the quiet ones. You won’t shut me up. I’ll tell them everything.
The funny thing is, they don’t need to analyse my childhood, I’ve already done that. But I have given them something to think about and that is why I super-glue the right ear to the left nipple. They can ask or analyse all they want, I have no answers! I mean, what would life be without some form of mystery!!
…We had joy we had fun, we had seasons in the sun, like the wine and the song, the seasons have all gone.