Tag: Nostalgia

When I look back at my 18-year-old self, with a penchant for clothes from Next and River Island, I think my style was more mature then than my years and more mature then than it is now. I’ve changed since then.

I definitely dress ‘younger’ (relative to years) than I did then. I’m quite happy with the style I have developed into. However, I’d be mortified if the people I see on the train or walking around Shrewsbury are thinking ‘Oh my god, she should dress her age and not act like she’s in her twenties again!’ I wonder if I’ve started dressing younger since becoming an art student. I was firmly in the Fat Face and White Stuff camp before I started my art degree. Now I have one foot in Top Shop and another in Severn Hospice / Oxfam / British Heart Foundation. Have I regressed because I’m spending more time with younger people? Is youth rubbing off on me? Am I trying to be younger than I really am? Am I rebelling against the grey hairs and wrinkles?

If I had to describe my style I’d say it was a charity-shop cum arty farty coffee shop Sex and the City eclectic mix. I like clothes more now than I did as an 18 year old. I didn’t have much money then, which hampered me somewhat in developing a personal style. I have more money now and the charity shops are much more accessible and varied in their stock than they were in 1990.

This is a picture of my current favourite trousers.

My best buy of 2015 so far

My best buy of 2015 so far

But at the age of 43 should I perhaps be wearing trousers more like these below? They are elasticated so comfortable around the three-baby belly. They are a nice, sober colour. And they are straight-legged and in them, I’d be more inconspicuous. They look very comfy.

Perhaps I should be wearing these

Perhaps I should be wearing these

I also live in DM boots. I used to think (when I was 18) that anyone over the age of 22 still wearing DMs was deeply disillusioned and stuck in a deep well of nostalgia for their youth. But now I can afford DMs (at 18 I had to save for weeks). Now I am that stuck-in-the-past person (although I don’t feel as if I am stuck in a nostalgic rut). I have purple velvet DMs. I adore them. Should a 43 year old be wearing these (with the patterned trousers above)?

My favourite boots

My favourite boots

Perhaps I should be wearing these nice court shoes?

These look very foot-friendly

These look very foot-friendly

In less than 20 years from now I will be 60. Surely, at that age, I won’t be gallivanting about town in purple DMs and Top Shop trousers? The thought of having to change my clothes sense because I’m granny-age depresses me. I’m sure it will change to some extent (after all, it has changed during the last twenty years) but I hope that it doesn’t veer too closely towards M&S and Edinburgh Woollen Mill. As I expressed in the blog entry about being a grown-up, equally, I would hate to be a subject of ridicule by the youngsters (the 43 year olds) and my contemporaries in their pleated skirts and tan tights.

Ughh

Ughh

Watch this space. Perhaps I’ll update this entry in 2033 and we’ll see what I am wearing then. Ten pence says I won’t yet be in slacks and court shoes.

 

When your child starts secondary school

My weird thought is this: when a parent’s eldest or only child starts secondary school, they are flooded with their own memories of starting secondary school and this is involuntary. At least, this is what happened to me just under three weeks ago when my son started Adams Grammar School as a little, squeaky clean Year 7.

My fresh Year 7 boy

My fresh Year 7 boy

His first week (which was only three days long as he started on a Wednesday) was somewhat fraught. He missed the bus home twice, he lost (and found) his coat, he lost (and found) his pencil case, and he lost (and eventually found a week later) his school jumper. He was very tired that week. I suspect that if I’d told him he didn’t have to go back (i.e. get up at 6.30am) on the Monday following Week One he would have accepted it (although possibly changed his mind by Tuesday). He had lots of new books given to him. He had homework. He talked of quirky teachers, break times, lunch, corridors, stairs, PE lessons, German words, French words, tutor group time, protractors, rulers, rubbers, pens, books, and future friends.

My first year science book

My first year science book

So far (it is now Week Three) he has arrived home every day at about 5.20pm bringing with him a wave of fresh autumn air. Every day he has flumped on the sofa next to me, rosy cheeked and full of stories of his lessons and anecdotes. He has brought a rush of cold air but it is refreshing. It is the highlight of my day to spend five minutes before he removes his coat and shoes and puts his bag down talking with him about stuff. He insists on spending this time with me.  I love it. I hope it lasts.

There are many events, conversations, colours and objects that a long time ago I had put into the ‘remembered but no longer needed’ box. These are things about my first few weeks of secondary school (which happened in September 1983). These things have now resurfaced with a boom. Not all of my ‘first’ memories correspond with his ‘first’ experiences (as we have / are going through this 32 years apart).

These memories include: covering books with wallpaper; new stationery; new potential friends from other primary schools (many far more clever and street-wise than me); good, bad and very bad teachers; queuing up for dinners; daddy long legs on the outside walls; home economics (my Little Red Riding Hood basket of ingredients); maths on the top floor; stairs, bags; PE with showers; and homework. When I think of those first weeks I also think of Danger Mouse, He-Man, tiredness, smelly socks, huddling by the gas fire, conkers, the wonders of the art department, doodling, hunger, independence, friends, nasty words, pushing (to get to the vending machine), lockers, wet towels, hockey socks, banging boots against the PE block wall, avoiding, hiding, and being silly (very silly).

Why was I so interested in Claire Bailes's love life at the age of 12?

Why was I so interested in Claire Bailes’s love life at the age of 12?

I hope that my son’s memories stay with him, perhaps they will become dormant as new experiences replace existing ones. But I am sure they will resurface when his eldest child starts school. This sort of nostalgia is very touching and precious I think. This experience has reminded me that I went through what he is going through and it is helping me to help him. Perhaps that is why the mind plays this trick. It has been fun reliving those days again.

And I also hope that my son isn’t as silly as I was at that age. I was very good at detention.

 

Fear of future nostalgia

This is a weird thought I’ve had during this week while in Borth.

We visit Borth every year, thanks to the generosity of my dad and step mum who own a caravan there. I love Borth. I love Borth because I went there for two, or maybe three, years running as a child and teenager in the 1980s. I went with my mum and grandparents and we stayed in a tiny cottage on the main road called Myfanwy. That cottage is still there. I would love to see inside it again. I have such lovely memories of those holidays: spending hours in the sea; sitting in the window reading library books; foreseeing a future of me and a handsome young man walking hand in hand along the beach; browsing the old, dusty seaside shops. I also remember the smell of bacon in the morning, my grandma sitting on the stones in her deckchair sipping tea and the Laura Ashely decor in the cottage which we all admired so much.

Borth - a small Welsh seaside town that many love

Borth – a small Welsh seaside town that many love

The last time I’d been in Borth before I returned as an adult I was 14 years old. I didn’t return for 21 years. I’ve now been with my two then three children every summer for the last eight years. Borth is currently firmly in my children’s childhood memory bank, in fact it is more firmly in theirs than it ever was in mine.

The cottage where we stayed, as it looks now

The cottage where we stayed, as it looks now

Nostalgia is a strange emotion: warm and melancholy at the same time. My strange thought is about future nostalgia not current nostalgia. I can deal with the nostalgia I feel for my time in Borth as a child. But if I imagine myself in years to come, an elderly lady, revisiting Borth I feel deep sadness. I don’t like the image. Because in that future my children have grown up and they no longer live with me. So I see myself in Borth alone and remembering bringing them. For all the complaining and sighing I do at the moment about how tiring parenthood is, I can’t envisage the end of it without feeling deeply sad. I don’t like the idea of sitting on the sea front with the echo of their voices.

I don’t want to be an old lady sitting on the beach in Borth with tears in her eyes remembering carrying her middle son over the stones while six months pregnant because he didn’t like them or watching her three sons skimming stones very badly on the shore line. I need someone to reassure me that if I become that person in 30 years time that I won’t have that moment, or if  I do, it won’t be sad.

They need skimming lessons

They need skimming lessons

I would like to think that I will return and that Borth won’t have changed much as it hasn’t since the 1980s. Perhaps even my children will return as old men and remember how badly they skimmed stones.

 

Nobody can escape nostalgia, however hard they try

This weird thought actually occurred to me three weeks ago but I haven’t had a moment spare since then in which to share my weird thought, that is until now.

Three weeks ago I joined my sister and niece on a trip to Exeter University for the open day for prospective students.

This is what Exeter University campus looks like now

This is what Exeter University campus looks like now

My niece is considering Exeter. She is in the upper sixth (Year 13 in new money). I am a former student of that University so she was happy for me to join her and my sister on the open day. As I had been there 1990-1994 I was eager to go with her and visit the city I had lived in for three years of my life.  Living quite a long way from Exeter now, I don’t get many chances to visit.

Before going, I hadn’t quite expected to feel as much emotion as I did at seeing the University grounds. I had made some visits to parts of the University since leaving but only for short periods, usually en route from the seaside resorts of Devon to back home. This was the first time in twenty years I’d had the chance to walk all over campus, mingle with people of student age, visit the shop, smell the library (yes, it really does smell the same), wander around halls of residence dwellings and walk up the hill to the gym.

Me in 1990 (Can you spot Radio 5's Russell Fuller in the background?)

Me in 1990 (Can you spot Radio 5’s Russell Fuller in the background?)

When I was young, as most people when they are young, I thought nostalgia was a little bit sad in the pathetic sense. To me back then, nostalgia meant parents and friends’ parents putting on records from the 1960s and looking wistfully into each other’s eyes, perhaps doing a little bit of embarrassing dancing around the sitting room. It was eye-rollingly cringey. Somehow, I, along with my contemporaries, thought I’d be immune to nostalgia. Then a few years passed. I got a proper job, got married, had children and sprouted a few grey hairs. The 1990s turned into the new century, and time didn’t stop there. It kept going. Suddenly, I found myself in the year 2014.

This is what nostalgia makes me think of: parents dancing

This is what nostalgia makes me think of: parents dancing

Nostalgia has finally caught up with me now at the age of forty-two. Perhaps at a certain age this is inevitable. I am starting to think that this is true.

Walking around the main campus at Exeter evoked strong memories of my time as a student there: Friday Night Lemmy, cider in plastic pint cups, coffee in DH, withdrawing £5 from the Midland Bank machine, walking up cardiac hill and mutant baked beans in Hope Hall. Visiting the accommodation block I stayed in during my final year, I turned into gibbering sad old almost-middle-aged wreck. Meandering from the main campus to the house I lived in for my first year brought forth the strongest memories of all. As I did that walk, as a forty-something year old with three children, I saw the eighteen-year-old me walking with dread, clutching my folder, to the weekly mathematics for economists lecture, hoping that there might be a letter from my best friend in the pigeon hole in the main dining hall waiting for me.

Me and three handsome young men eating huge pizzas

Me and three handsome young men eating huge pizzas

I told almost everyone we came across at that open day: ‘I came to Exeter in the early 1990s!’ I would have thought me very sad twenty years ago. I knew I was being sad yet I couldn’t stop myself, I couldn’t contain my excitement. I saw myself through my niece’s seventeen-year-old eyes and I cringed.

Just before we left, I bought an Exeter University lanyard, an Exeter University mug and an Exeter University bag. I am sad and I don’t care. I like nostalgia.

My Exeter souvenirs

My Exeter souvenirs

Now time to put on some Stone Roses, an old pair of DMs and dance around the sitting room. Perhaps my three children will be suitably embarrassed, thinking that they are immune to nostalgia too.

These guys were very present during my university days

These guys were very present during my university days

 

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