A Day On Loan From Summers Past

Today, late April, but a strong sun burning our eyes. It is a seaside light, which is sharp in spring and early summer before the haze builds to soften the skies and the sun rises above the brim of your finest straw boater. Today I was playing at single parent, with only the wee man there. We were up late so that Aust Agder light I know well now, was sharper and more insolent in its wakening demand. Star Wars I to III, three nights in a row included some minor tardyness on my account, and those films are always longer than I remember.                           The day meant the arrival of the wee man’s pal who lives on a rather idyllic kind of small holding on a lakeside, up a single track road long superceded by the two way trunk road you can heat when the wind blows from the north down that flooded valley.         12 o’clock came shamefully fast upon us, but time to play it was. Being alone parent this weekend, I could also decide the extent of just how many kids could trampoline, and if nosey, uninvited kids could cross the threshold. My other half being more kind of 70s about that, and a little too liberal leading to outstayed welcomes and presumptiousness about me casa su casa, while I like a bit of privacy and to be able to get to know kids before they are hipping on my bed and scubaing in my bathroom.                              There was a fun fair in town,. ironically snow and slushed off on Frdiay, while today we virtually basked in a day on loan from mid summer it seemed. Visiting friend is not B list but does not quite mix with A list so the latter had been joined in fun at the Tivoli yesterday, and I was prepared to be fleeced for a a hefty 400kr for 6 rides each for the two lads today, in the interest of fairness and appropriate groups of birds and their peronality feathers.                   Play commenced before I could say that perhaps the “shows” may well be packing up mid after’ and the sledge-hammer, dragon and mad hatter  would miss their patronage from our fine young princes. Play though stopped for no adult conception of timetable, and in fact visiting bairn was a bit ‘feert’ of the higher G force rides, perhaps finding the tea cups type more passiing to their tastes and workings of their inner ear. Third party , freind to B lister, turned up and decided to stay, making tivoli more complex and as Play with thirdy party, B and Child A was going so swimmngly, one rather hoped Tivoli was rained off with joy of simpler pleasures.                     As it rurned out, a lack of brash pop music wafting over the rooftops from the winter skating rink belied the fact that Mr Romani Mercedes had cut their losses and buggered off early to a more populus township, having had a mediocre thursday eve, a washed out friday but a very good Saturday.                                        Maybe it was somethign about the light, or maybe it was because I was getting on with my Dad type things while being on hand as diplomatic envoy one minute and squash baring waitor the next, but this really started to feel like summers gone of my own childhood.  I wore my boiler suit all day and all evening having changed to summer tyres and done various checks on the car and scrubbed the barbecue grill ….   I felt I was myself an in my element, dad on hand doing dad things with out incurring dad critique and dad penalties………   It reminded me most of being with a wee pal I was so endeared to, Charles Goddard, or was it Gozzard, anyway, a lad of the Naval Officer persuasion, destined to be moved on as they all were, but a really good pal for me he was a couple of years at primary school. We enjoyed long and warm summers in the mid 70s when I was the same age as Junior is now. It doesnt just seem that rose tinted memory, we really did have a run of warm and quite dry summers, with the odd raining off on his cricket lawn. Yes, he had a cricket lawn. Or rather they rented a ground floor appartment in what had been a millionaires country pile, made in a kind of neo gothic style, with a very english front garden which seemed several football pitches in size to us. This little empire also boasted an orchard and a walled garden, and not only the single drive way but two, a tradesmans and the welcomed visitors one which was rather short for a mansion of Lordship proportions, but was cunningly curved such that it was hard for prying eyes to gaze  upon the wealthy at rest. . It was rather magical a place and a view for us all of how the other half, or rather top 1% of society lived. His father was kind and wise, and could come easily to our level but being away on patrol often for months, it was his lovely and rather care free mother who made our summers and other holidays so much fun. I seem to remember being taken by them far more often that we took them, aged 7 to 9 way back when. Maybe that was true, maybe just the impression. We would listen to hans christian andersen stories on tapes in their top of the range renault 16 with sun roof, electric front windows and green sunscreen.     Oour favourite game of all with his wee brother james, was based on an ‘its a knock out’ challenge with glasses of water on a tray, to fill up a recpetical. the Lawn had a grand embankment dividing it from the driveway and house, making th ehouse look all the more grandoise once on the lawn. There was what I suppose was a childs wicket run or maybe I embellesh. But anyway there was than 3 meter embankment and a slide had been installed or laid out sans stationaire, and how we would slide down with those plastic cups on a tray and try to fill a bucket or squash jug at the bottom, and how his mum would laugh. Later on he moved to the very humdrum married quarters, but they were nearer me and I was allowed often to wander up the road alone to visit them and vice versa.    I saw charles once years later when were both perhaps 13 or 14. His father seemed to have extensive burn scars on his face and charles seemed proper and  a little stiff, quite possibly at prep school by then. Part of me wanted to gush and rekindle, but their aire seemed austere and stand off so our passing gaze went just as that. I found Charles on the internet not long ago and he has had an interesting life, I deduce, but I feel guilty for that passing by and in any case, so many facebook style reconnections run to a ‘stump’ after initial excitement and much writing of life stories. Both parties drawing a little blank as to whether they have much in common now, would like to reminiss more, or is the one escaping the past, or is really cyberspace the place to meet ? Mostly we just dont have the time or see the motivation. Old Flames are just that too, they are mere embers which will eventually fade to ash no matter how carefully you try blowing on them.                    Today though I decieded an impromptu taco picnic on the trampoline was in order. Taco is a favourtie amongst kids here, bloody salty crap, but at least it is far from over priced, the salads being now the most expensive component. The trampoline was perfect because with kid B, there is always mess like a pack of hounds eating on assorted offal and biscuits. Outside I could hose it all off later and they loved their al fresco dining. I think now very much and very often that some things in life actually only occur once, or are remembered only once. That people come into your life as you do theirs, yet all this is finite and subject to the vagiaries of life. Charles was a wonderful pal to have, not just because he was kind, interested and a bit wise and funny, but also because his whole family liked me being there too, and enjoyed him sharing his young days with new pals. In fact we became besties for a while I am sure, and hope that was mutual. Between exploring the woods and burns to playing with Action Man, we had a togetherness and Charles would often come with some profoundness of the innane which kind of captured me and stopped me stone dead such that I had to think. He was a child philosopher of the ordinaire, a boy who glorified his own experiences and impressions as being something where in there must lie more meaning……………. I hope the kids remember today, with sqause, taco, trampolining and their hybrid Jedi Ninja battles as I remember those now fleeting glimpses of happy summers in the mid seventies with Charles and other bairns of the wooded and shingle beach lined world I grew up in.