Definition of my childhood:
“a lack of order or predictability; gradual decline into disorder”
And then something weird happened, we stayed in one house long enough for me to change from primary school to secondary along with everyone else. I started to make friends, in fact, I made “a friend”. I was doing okay in school, hoping for a racing bike for Christmas, I was starting to become … normal.
Thankfully, my parents spotted the trend and decided that no such fate would befall my brother or me.
Homelife transitioned from normal to unstable, it flashed passed chaotic to seriously dysfunctional in about three years. Mum decided this was the exact time to start drinking, and my dad was in a revolving door of leaving, coming home or being kicked out. To make up for the family soap opera my mum thought buying a puppy might make up for our missing dad … and she was absolutely right, it did.
If the downside of constantly moving house is the ability to jettison the memory of past friendships, the upside is a heightened aptitude to dealing with change. To quote from a terrible Clint Eastwood film, I learned to “Improvise, Adapt and Overcome!” The other trick I learned was to not hang too tightly to “things”, you know personal possessions, things always got lost in moving.
For a little while, life had been agreeably normal and I made the mistake of accruing possessions. In no particular order, I had my bike, a Gunn & Moore GM CANNON treble sprung willow cricket bat, a stamp collection, with a large section of stamps from Poland (for some reason), and a dog. The dog “Brandy” was an interesting cross between something small and muscular with something big and bruising but he had an adorable face framed with two velvet ears which folded in triangles down to either side of his eyes. A canine version of a Leonardo Di Caprio face on top of the Terminator.
Life looked like it was going to crash but it somehow levelled off at dysfunctional farce. The impact on my psyche was as predictable as my outward behaviour. I became the stereotypical youth, a "rebel without a pause" someone who wanted to be “good” at school, and one match away from burning it down.
Dad was back, and my parents decided the best thing to do was to start afresh. They didn’t tell me or my brother, they just started planning. My bike was given to the son of a workmate, my cricket bat went to whoever, I have no idea what happened to my stamp collection. Almost everything was lost in the move.
My dad decided that Brandy was untrained and uncontrollable. So, one day I had to take my dog to the vets to “get advice on how to look after him”. My dad and the vet had a whispered conversation and the vet turned to me and said “sorry lad but it’s for the best”.
I was 14 years old, I handed my dog over, I had learned not to hang on to possessions too tightly.