My Life – Part 4 – “Small spaces…”

So, this is where my own memories really begin. As an infant, I’d often be  found outside, in the same pram, which since my downhill escapade, I’d fitted with an escape pod! My first memory is actually a smell. A fence on the site was being painted, and the smell of the creosote has been an association I’ve made ever since. I’m not sure why I was placed so close to the fence…but maybe it was in the hope that I might be overcome with fumes!?

Now of course, for my mother, looking to escape the mental bonds of her parents, dating was the best option for a “way out”. I’d love to be able to relay stories of an endless “string of men” but I’m not sure there was. South Molton’s a small town in a relatively remote part of Devon, so it’s unlikely that there was a large availability of suitable gentlemen! Plus, the likelihood of many wanting to take on another man’s child was, as it still is, pretty small. And in any case, generally, if you’d met my mother, it was unlikely you’d have wanted to date her!

I would be sent to bed early anyway, even minus the visitors. I do remember one night,  waking up, going into the living room and asking for a glass of water. You’d think I’d made a declaration of war with the reaction from my mother! All I remember about the “guest” was his shiny black shoes…which looked as big as me! I was literally thrown back into my room!! The black shoes were a mystery…particularly the size. Looking to the bedside table…my eyes saw the book. Holy Cow! Was my mother dating the giant from Jack & The Beanstalk?? After that episode….I rarely ventured out again. If I got thirsty, I could just lick the condensation off the window anyway!

It’s around that time that I started having nightmares. There were two in particular that lived with me for a number of years…”each representing some fear of entrapment” as I’d discover years later.

The first was a dream about a room, similar to one of those you see in the illusions. I was at the large end….yet no matter how far I went…could never reach the door opposite before the ceiling had me pinned…so I’d stay, in the corner, curled up in the fetal position.

Optical Room Illusion

No, nothing funny about that at all really….!! So…moving on…! The second dream though, involved a post office van, like the one below:


Yes, it looks innocent enough, right? But this thing was the root of my fears for a long time!  It was one just like this that was in my dream. It was rolling through a field of straw, which caught fire around the van…with me in the back looking out of the windows. I couldn’t get out, and would be awakened each time as the flames reached the van itself. I’d actually see the paint bubbling on the inside as it got hot…or at least, I did in the dream!

Now of course, for a child in his first years, this is a sad thing. So, “where can he find humour in this?”, I hear you say! Well, imagine if you will, many years later. I’m about 22, quite amazingly attractive(!), and I’m out for a Sunday drive with an equally attractive young lady! Avoiding the kind of dates usually planned by men, I’d arranged a romantic afternoon, organising a picnic and a romantic walk around the grounds of Longleat House in Wiltshire. For those not familiar with it, it’s an amazing stately home surrounded by animals, a lake, river, mazes…like a huge open-plan zoo and amusement park!

We’d driven through the monkey enclosure, and I’d managed a hearty laugh as the baboons removed my wiper blades! Even when the camel spat in my face, I gave my best chuckle! We’d waltzed romantically through the maze too, and I cleverly hid my annoyance at the children throwing milkshake over the tall hedges. So far, the day had been wonderful…I was so cool, so calm….and so damned attractive…I could actually have dated myself! She was happy…stating constantly about this being the best date she’d ever had. My smug grin betrayed my immense satisfaction in myself. All that was needed now….was that first kiss!! And how could it not happen?!

So you get the idea? I’m on top of my game that day…nothing can spoil it now!!

But of course…I wasn’t thinking that in my wildest dreams that anything could go wrong. Even as  I saw all those signs pertaining to the vintage car show on the grounds by the mansion itself…I hadn’t suspected a thing! And so, sitting there, sharing a double-cone ice-cream (awwwww!), I didn’t realise that my cool, calm exterior was about to be so rattled.

As we strolled down toward the crowds, and she grabbed my hand…it seemed like the Gods were smiling only at me. She squeezed my hand as we walked, smiling at me…and me, so proud to be with her, smiled back!

As the parade started, we “hoorahed” the vintage Bisto van, we cheered the old police car, we gazed in awe at the steam-car as it clattered past. Just as we finished “ooohing” as the red double-decker bus passed…it came into view…and I froze…

What happened next can only be described as a man displaying “nothing that a woman wants to see”! Yes….it was one of the old post office vans…and I had turned into some kind of quivering lunatic who’d just run out of crack cocaine! Expletives left my lips, even  faster than the farts leaving my sphincter! There it was…the “Red Demon” of all those nightmares…and I hated it!! The “coolness” I’d displayed, unerringly, all day, left in an instant!

My shame in recalling this is matched only by the shame I felt when, realising I was no longer having my hand held, I turned to see this wonderful, fantastic young  woman… looking at me like I was insane!

For 23 miles on the road home, I attempted to plead my case. I explained the nightmares, the irrational fear…but to no avail. Strangely, the whole episode had actually resulted in my exorcism of that dream and the fear too, but alas, all too late.

For my glorious passenger, spent 23 miles in silence, plus the 28 steps up to her front door, before (not so silently) slamming it in my face!!






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