For the last two years I’ve joined in the #atozchallenge, namely to post every weekday in April using each letter of the alphabet in turn. In 2015 it was places I’d been to, in 2016 it was London themed. This year it is a dictionary of my family, recounting incidents small and large that have taught me lessons down the years, caused me consternation or generally seared themselves into my memory. I hope you enjoy them. To find other bloggers doing the challenge and maybe be inspired yourself, check out the A to Z Blogging Challenge Blog, here.
I wasn’t a brave child, nervy even and left it to the Archaeologist to do the big boy stuff. Not that he was especially brave, more experimental. Once we climbed this oak tree into which dad had hung a rope ladder. Sadly to get higher the ladder had been moved to a less substantial branch (no guessing who did that – you know you’re guilty, brother) and we decided to show off our climbing prowess by both swinging on it (me lower than him of course – pecking orders are v important). The result was the branch broke, we can clattering down and his arse squeezed my head onto the path below. Mum had kniptchens. I survived though mum remembered being given the third degree by the doctor who suspected I’d been hit. I suppose we should be grateful social workers weren’t so involved in the early 1960s or it might have been tricky times.
There was one very specific test of male courage in our house devised as ever by the 8 year old Torquemada to whom I was related. This was the leaping challenge and involved the staircase up to the bedrooms. The way our house was laid out the stairs were fully enclosed on both sides. While the lack of a bannister eradicated any sliding (unlike at our gran’s who had the best sliding bannister bar none that involved 5 or 6 flights of stairs) it did mean you could press your hands against the walls and lean right forward before jumping.
The challenge was off which step you jumped.
He had a height advantage at this point as well as a significant need to be better than me at all things (not really very hard). But I so wanted to be able to jump as far as him. I have a vague memory of achieving that once but the idea I was even on a par spurred him to just jump form the next step up. And he says he’s not competitive. I suppose it was more a case of keeping me in my place than competition per se.
By the time we reached the top of the stairs he no longer saw it as a game worth playing. Which was a lesson in and of itself – if in danger of losing and you can change the rules then do.
Other tests came and went such as the trapeze swing we had in our bedroom. He was the first to touch the ceiling with his feet but equally he was the first to damage the plaster so there was some justice in the fact he suffered the consequences of that damage. That test ended when a friend swung it back in my face breaking a tooth. Mum took it down after that.
I think I began to learn to accept physical challenges about the same time as he began to see them as passé and not worth his time.
Meanwhile I’ve not stopped accepting them, including a recent bungee jump about which I can’t imagine the Archaeologist seeing the point. He’s probably right and I should stop fighting battles that lost their purpose over 50 years ago….