You’ll remember last week I discovered a new word - triskaidekaphobia, the fear of Friday 13th.
Now, I have no problems with Friday 13th. My bête noire is a fear of cows.
Many years ago some friends and I were taking a short cut over a field. The cows who were some distance away took an interest in us and began heading in our direction. Leaving my friends behind, I started to run but so did the cows! Managing to keep ahead of them, I reached the stone dyke wall, leapt over, and went down, down, down!
Of course I wasn’t expecting the field on the other side to be six feet lower than the one from which I was escaping!
That incident (and my injured ankle) was brought back to mind this past week, when Jean and I were staying at the home of our eldest daughter Margaret in Gloucestershire.
One afternoon Margaret took me walking on the hill behind her house. We sat for a short time on a seat admiring the view, and it was when we continued our walk that we saw a group of cows obviously interested in us. Knowing my feelings about cattle, Margaret pointed out an escape route over a stile. When we reached it however, I decided that it would be impossible for me to get over, so we began to re-trace our steps.
But, no! The cows were getting nearer, and the only solution was to get over that stile pronto!!! And I did! It’s surprising what you can do when you have to!
And that reminds me of a little poem that Jean used to recite at concerts.
I don’t suppose there’s ever been
A boy as brave as me,
I’m not afraid of burglars
Or of pirates on the sea,
I’m not afraid of guinea pigs
Nor tigers in the zoo,
I’m not afraid of nothing
‘Cepting great big cows that moo!
I s’pose it’s ‘cause I’ve got red hair
That cows all pick on me,
And when they see me coming
They get angry as can be,
They roll their great big awful eyes
And grind their teeth and chew,
And say “Here’s that red-headed boy,
So let’s all start to moo.”
But when I’m grown up really tall
And awful big and strong
I’m going to simply eat and eat
And eat the whole day long,
And everything I eat will be just meat
Because I guess
That every plateful that I eat
Will be one cow the less.
I wish cows would be friends with me
And not give nasty stares,
I always think of them at night
Just when I say my prayers,
I say, “Bless Daddy, Mummy
And all my pals and toys,
And please God, stop your nasty cows
From frightening little boys!!!
Most folk will know that acrophobia means fear of heights. It’s certainly true that I’m usually a bit worried looking down from a height. When Jean and I were on holiday on the Cote d’Azur we spent an afternoon at Nice and I took those photographs of the harbour area. Despite being so high up, I felt no concerns, for there was no danger of me (or Jean) disappearing over the wall.
You may have read that a recent investigation by researchers at Hull University suggests that incidents people recall from their infancy may not have occurred. In many cases evidence was found which convinced those folk that their memories were false.
I’ve been wondering if things that I remember may not have taken place.
The following are very early memories. The earliest is of my mother breast-feeding my sister, which means I was about two and a half then.
I remember my trousers being taken down and being spanked by my mother because I called Rita a bitch.
There was the occasion when my aunts were visiting us and I pulled away a chair just as one of them was about to sit down. She tumbled back on the floor, fortunately without hurting herself. Another spanking!
I remember showing my displeasure one night when an aunt turned up, but I was expecting my favourite one. I told her, “I don’t want you”. Horrible child!
My favourite aunt was Cissie who later was to become my very first school teacher. In her old age she was always bright and alert. On one occasion I mentioned to her that in primary school I had to repeat a year because I had lost a lot of time due to illness. She immediately said that was nonsense and reminded me that she had been teaching in that school all the time I was there.
Well, am I wrong? To support my case, I have two school photos, one is the Primary One class, the other taken a good few years later. In each photo there’s a different lot of children.
I rest my case!!!
On 19th January this year I included a slide show of Old Kirkintilloch on EIGHTY PLUS. Here’s another one. The photographs were probably taken in the 1920s or earlier, but most of the streets shown were just like that when a I was a young boy. (I don’t know why it’s accompanied by the Waltons tune.)