I wrote about hula-hooping yesterday – I’ve just got a hula-hoop but I’m not making much progress with it. I wrote about my history with hula-hoops, and I was trying to find a photo I knew I had of me aged nine as I later discovered, but the album I knew it was in had hidden itself. Maybe the boggart had it and was looking through the family history. I used another picture instead, and of course today I found the one I was looking for… and now the scanner doesn’t work so I still can’t share it.
I remembered the picture so well, and it overlays the actual memory of me hula-hooping in the garden with my friend Richard from next door. I remember standing there swinging the hoop around my rather chunky middle, knowing that Richard would always do more ‘hoops’ or whatever the swings are called, but I was trying my hardest to beat him. I’ve never had a great desire to win, it’s always been the taking part, which was why I ultimately failed as a competitive swimmer. I never minded that Richard could do it better than me, he was a very sporty boy, but I just thought it would be great to say ‘Yay I did 1,023, and you only managed 1,022,’ but of course it never happened. I was too good a loser, always ready to congratulate whoever had just beaten me at whatever it was, ‘oh, well, done! That was brilliant! You deserved to win!’
Back to the photo. I will copy it and post it, but seeing it made me think about me as a child. I was always very self-conscious – not as people are now with all the gazillions of photos taken every day, and people always aware of how they look and how to tilt their chin, or glance, or have their mouth just so, or angle their face – I always (it seems now) had a wary look. Today I think I worked out the reason for it. It’s all because I was a great reader. I was told stories and later I was able to read them, and listened to them on the radio. My imagination would transport me into the tale, so I was the narrator or main character, and could see all they could see, and hear and smell and feel. In fact when I read now, it’s just the same – and that has leached over into my writing, from whenever it was I first started creating my own stories.
Going back to the photos – I was always super-aware of how I imagined I looked, so maybe I was trying to look friendly, or happy, or confident. When I was dressed up, I was that character, that cowboy/convict/squaw/sultan whatever it was for playing with friends or a fancy-dress competition. As a result, I had some very odd expressions! There were the other photos of me, family photos, when my sister would be pulling a silly face, or laughing, I would look, awkward or watchful, wary or unsure of myself.
My featured image is of me and my sister, she’s just smiling – slightly enigmatically, whereas I’m there, in my party frock and red bolero, trying to look… well, trying to look something as I cradle my balloon.