Category Archives: Bite Size Memoir
A shared record of memories shared by writers and anyone else who’d like to take part, organized by Lisa Reiter at her Blog Sharing the Story https://sharingthestoryblog.wordpress.com/2014/04/27/introducing-the-bite-size-memoir-challenge/
Over the years, I’ve accompanied students on many eventful trips all over the world; some got lost, one travelled sans passport, another landed in the pilot’s cabin, lots got drunk, others saw ghosts… Honestly, I could write a book!
The most memorable trip was to Italy with eighty mischievous adolescents who had made a pledge not to sleep while away from home. Our final stop was Venice. We arrived late at night to El Lido, and planned to take the ‘vaporetto’ and visit Venice that very night. Swollen legged, sick, fed up, and furious, I demanded my sleep, but they refused to leave me behind.
Suddenly, it happened. As we were approaching the pier, I saw Venice for the first time, and as if I’d been abducted by a Venetian spirit, I sighed and thought, ‘I’ve seen it. This is the most beautiful place in the world.’
If you’d like to join in or read the other memoirs, they’re here!
Far too difficult to condense into 150 words! So I’ve just mentioned what I would have considered ‘lighter’ reading at the time, because it was not mandatory for school, college, or work.
Here’s my memoir:
When I was at school, we had a very good school library, and during the summer holidays, I was an assiduous visitor to my local library. I remember Victoria Holt’s historical fiction and biographies enwrapped me for a few summers, together with Daphne du Maurier.
At University I read mostly French and Spanish literature, and a great deal of English theatre, which was my passion, at the time. During the summer, I was probably having fun, and as far as I can remember, not reading too much.
When my three children were little, I was a working mum. I remember buying books throughout the year and storing them on a bookshelf (I do the same now, except I store them mostly on my kindle instead!), in no particular order, to read during the summer holidays. I loved detective and crime fiction, Ruth Rendell and Minnette Walters were my favourites for years.
Now, my summers are no longer holidays, I write!
The fictionalised autobiography of Marie Antoinette was one of my favourites, as a teenager.
The mysterious Jamaica Inn, was a favourite, too.
I moved on to crime fiction as a young mother, don’t ask me why! The Keys to the Street was one of my favourite.
Acid Row was the last of her novels which I’ve read (I read all her previous novels), and another favourite.
Would you like to read some of the other entries?
Il y en a dix!
I was an insecure and awkward child. Too tall, too shy, too quiet, and too many spots (I did so sympathise with Adrian Mole). The ensuing lack of self-esteem slowly decreased as I started to excel in small things. The first of these memorable moments was my French class, in the final year at Primary school.
My classmates were nervous, as a new teacher started using strange, incomprehensible sounds. We were taught the numbers and some words, and asked: ‘Combien de stylos y a-t-il sur la table?’, and we had to reply: ‘Il y en a dix.’ Everyone was amazed that Lucy, of all people, was the only pupil to understand and reply to all the questions with correct pronunciation.
My family used to visit relatives in Paris every summer, on the overland journey, on our way to Spain. I had picked up some French over the years, which I had never imagined would come in so useful!
This is a (very) old photo. I can’t remember where I am, but it’s obviously Paris, because you can see the Eiffel Tower in the background, on the right. I’m about fourteen.
I have fond memories of these long journeys, which started on the Golden Arrow, from Victoria Station to Dover, then a boat across to Calais, and a train again to Paris, where we’d stay for a few days, with my mother’s cousins, who had fled from Spain, after the Spanish Civil War. Then we’d continue on to Bilbao, by train, and from Bilbao to Santander, by coach. It took forever, but that’s how people travelled in the 1970s.
Being already bilingual, and a lover of languages, it was easy for me to pick up a third one. I was always ten out of ten at French. I went on to study Spanish and French (subsid.) at London University. Well, it was on the cards, wasn’t it? Pity that it’s quite rusty now, through lack of use…
Parlez vous francais?
Have a look at some of the other entries for this week’s Bite Size Memoir
Princess for One Day
I will never forget the white shoes. They were too tight, but they didn’t have a larger size, so I pretended they fit, of course I had painful blisters the next day, but I didn’t mind. It was a small price to pay for feeling like a princess. I wore a long white wedding-style dress with veil that my mother made. I had so many photos taken at home and at church that I felt like a star. I was a very excited seven-year-old princess, for one day. After the ceremony we had a party in the Church Hall, at St. Joseph’s, Harrow Weald. I was at Primary School then, and I’ve lost touch with all the other girls in the picture, which saddens me. I have met many people along the way, but few have remained as part of my life. Perhaps if we had had Facebook, and Blogs, and smart phones, we’d still be in touch…?
Can you guess who I am?
Would you like to have a look at some of the other entries?
How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time…
“Bite Size Memoir” is an invitation by Lisa Reiter for anyone to spend 5 minutes here or there (perhaps with a gorgeous little notebook), recording some snippets about their life. Each week, she provides a prompt for inspiration, so you don’t have to think where to begin. The challenge here is to keep it short with either 150 words of prose or poetry, OR 10 x “I remember ..” statements.
Here’s my contribution to this week’s challenge.
My childhood illnesses were not serious, and they were mainly related to winter. I was a stoic and recurrent sufferer of colds, flues, tonsillitis, and chilblains, which were not severe, but they were very unpleasant!
I’ve decided to use the ten-sentence format, this time. I’ve stretched my imagination and linguistic skills (!?) to come up with this almost nonsensical, and slightly silly acrostic poem:
Woolen gloves tied to my coat sleeves with rubber bands,
Itchy swollen fingers trying to play the piano with two hands.
Never-ending runny noses in class,
Thermometers ancient, mercury, and glass.
Ear aches galore in spite of beanie hats,
Running out of hankies and sniffing like bobcats.
Inventing fake tummy aches to stay home from school,
Lowering voices, mother’s migraine rules.
Lozengers for sore throats and pains,
Sneezing and coughing through the night, once again…
If you’d like to take part in Lisa Reiter’s Bite-Size Memoir, have a look here
If you’d like to see other posts on this subject, have a look here
When I was at school we all had Saturday jobs. My mother wasn’t too keen at first, because she wanted me to do well at school, but I convinced her that my marks wouldn’t suffer. I had always loved big department stores, so I decided to apply for my first job at Debenhams, the biggest department store in neighbouring Harrow, which was a thirty-minute walk from my house in Wealdstone. I was about fifteen at the time. I remember filling forms, and being interviewed, and feeling quite in awe of the managers. I imagined I’d be selling designer clothes, or make up, but my first job was at the bakery department. I had to wear a uniform and a cap, which wasn’t very glamorous at all! The first day was nauseous, I was sick that evening, although I proudly took a box of leftover cakes home for my mother and my sister.
https://sharingthestoryblog.wordpress.com/2014/06/06/bite-size-memoir-no-6-first-jobs/ Have a look at some other posts!
I was never too keen on sports when I was at school. I was more academically inclined, and at the time, both activities didn’t seem to be compatible! I was a defender in the netball team, because I was tall, however I was never very enthusiastic about it! But I did enjoy Sports Day at the end of the school year. Various coaches took us to a sports ground, somewhere in north London, where we competed with other schools. My participation was limited to cheering my school and friends, eating ice-creams, and rolling on the grass in my stiff school uniform, while the sun was burning my cheeks; it was always sunny on sports day!
Although I’m currently more attuned to the importance of sport in my life, it’s still not a priority, which means, alas, I still find it difficult to make time to practice it regularly…
https://sharingthestoryblog.wordpress.com/2014/05/23/bite-size-memoir-no-4-sports-day/ Drop by and read some other memories! Thanks Lisa for organising and prompting!