Right, are you ready – here goes?
1. I suspect I have one of those faces because people always assume I’m far more badly behaved than I actually am. I’ve lost count of the number of times a new friend has given me one of those knowing looks, whilst imagining I had a wild childhood full of mischief and rebellion. In fact, this assumption couldn’t be further from the truth. I was a very well-behaved child and can probably count on one hand the number of times I fell afoul of the school rules. The cherry stone incident being a case in point, illustrating just how far away from rebellion I actually was. I remember the incident as if it was yesterday, even though I must have only been about twelve or thirteen. It was a glorious summer’s day, a Monday in fact, and I had double home economics in the afternoon. I can’t quite remember whose idea it actually was but, I like to think it was my friend’s and I just tagged along. We had spent our lunch time at the local shops, you see, indulging ourselves with a massive bag of cherries. The idea itself was born out of the home economics teacher’s obsession with cleanliness and tidy working areas. Each pair of students had their own ‘area’, which was essentially a mini kitchen complete with a cutlery drawer. Now the idea, whoever’s it was, involved sneaking into the home economics’ room and placing a cherry stone on every dessert spoon. Don’t even ask me what the point was but I just remember the giddy sense of glee as, one by one girls opened their cutlery drawer and found an offending cherry stone. If only that had been the end of the matter. Instead, the teacher, a ferocious woman with the rather apt name of Mrs Woolf, demanded to know who had done such a disgusting thing. All cooking was cancelled and other teachers called in to assist Mrs Woolf in her investigation to find the culprit. By this point, I should point out; I was almost beside myself with fear. When it was announced the police were to be called if a confession wasn’t immediately forthcoming, my friend and I sang like canaries. We were consequently hated by the entire class of girls, who had been keenly looking forward to baking their Victoria sponges, and banned from home economics for the rest of the term. I often think about this incident for several reasons, not least as proof that I have no backbone and buckled at the first whiff of ‘authority’. More than that though, pathetic as our silly prank was, it was hardly the crime of the century. Obviously, Mrs Woolf had no intention of notifying the police but, she knew that to threaten to do so, would terrorise a pair of dozy girls into confessing. How times have changed. These days, most young people have no fear of authority, rather they have an extensive knowledge of their own rights which, often backed up by parents, they are more than willing to trot out. Which is better then - children who are terrified of the very suggestion of authority or children so empowered they’ll stare down authority with nary a blink.
2. As should be completely apparent from my first confession, I am not what anyone could describe as a woman of valour. I don’t think I’ve ever done anything particularly brave in my life but that doesn’t stop me from fantasising about being bestowed with awards for outstanding bravery. I have two favourite fantasies, the first being one where I save a plane full of people either by taking over the controls or wrestling a shoe bomber to the ground. The fact is, I have a profound fear of flying so, in reality, I’m usually pinned in my seat, paralysed by terror plus I can’t even drive a car let alone a plane. My other fantasy involves my discovering a bomb that is primed to go off in a ridiculously short amount of time. So short in fact, the only hope for survival anyone in the surrounding area has is if I can disable it - obviously with some instruction via the phone from a bomb disposal expert. To get the full flavour of this particular fantasy you need to understand that I have no technical know-how whatsoever and can’t follow instructions verbally - I need them written down. So bad is my inability to ‘hear’ instructions, I recently sent a poor Sky technician into meltdown as he tried to talk me through connecting my digi box to my TV. He was reduced to a ranting madman and had to call me back about ten minutes later, presumably after he’d visited his ‘calm’ place, to apologise.
3. I’m not a violent person at all but I quite enjoy violence in films and on TV. I love Quentin Tarantino-esque films and shows like Boardwalk Empire and Sons of Anarchy, where violence is the backdrop to the story. I don’t believe that violent imagery causes people to go out and commit heinous crimes. I think mental illness is what causes that and it’s kind of irrelevant what any potential sociopath becomes obsessed with. Alienated, social misfits will always find some reason to justify their actions be that they watched Reservoir Dogs too many times or an ex-girlfriend was mean to them.
4. I’m really bad at maths - shamefully so. I must have been reasonably okay once upon a time given that I passed my maths O-level in 1978 but, whatever ability I once had is long gone. I’m numerate in that I can add up but anything more than that, forget it. I recently spent the better part of an hour trying to remember how to do a percentage and don’t even get me started on all that X = Y malarkey.
5. I love travelling by train and one day I’d like to see the world from a train track. The problem with train travel is it’s so expensive which makes flying the easier but far less appealing option. After all, flying may get you there quicker and cheaper but think of all those sights you’re missing. There’s something exciting about trains in my opinion and, when I come into some money, I plan to embark on my first class train travel adventure.
6. Talking about money, I think I should have been born rich. I have the spendthrift habits of a lottery winner and the bank balance of a pauper. I sometimes wonder if my financial delusion is genetic. You see, both my grandmothers came from money but ended up with nothing. My paternal grandma grew up as part of a wealthy family, I love looking at the studio portraits of her as a young woman in furs and pearls. By the time she was twenty eight, however, she was still single and I can only assume desperation kicked in because she met and married my grandfather. He was an Irish immigrant with a love of alcohol and an aversion to work. He spent his time in pubs playing the concertina for whatever people would give him, usually in the shape of a drink. My dad was born within a year of the marriage and nine more children followed. Grandma’s family were so appalled by her love match they offered her a choice - him or them. They were as good as their word and, when she chose him, they cut her off, effectively condemning her to a life of hardship and misery. My maternal grandmother‘s story is no less bleak. She was born the eldest of four sisters and her father owned a factory and several properties in Harrogate. She enjoyed a privileged childhood but sadly, when she was fourteen, her mother died. Bizarrely her father then married her mother’s sister who, even more bizarrely, didn’t want her sister’s children. They were farmed out to other relatives and my grandma had to get a job as a chambermaid in a hotel. Her father and aunt had two daughters of their own and, when her father died a few years later, my grandma and her three sisters inherited nothing.
7. I used to be quite a good baker. I perhaps should point out here that it was under the tutelage of my grandmother and, I haven’t baked anything for the better part of thirty years, so I’m not likely to be entering The Great British Bake Off any time soon. I used to make a mean batch of scones, custard tart to die for and don’t even get me started on my ginger parkin and teacakes. My grandma used to say I was a natural baker because I have very cold hands. It doesn’t matter how hot it is, my hands are always freezing. My mother puts it down to poor circulation but I prefer my grandma’s baking theory.
Well there you have it – my seven innermost secrets, laid bare for your entertainment. If you’re a blogger and want to give it a go then I nominate you to do the same.