I’m a bit rattled this morning, having had not very much sleep. My daughter had gone into meltdown when she realised that non-school uniform day was tomorrow, not today. So I was awoken from my dream-filled slumber by my phone buzzing urgently, the familiar buzz ascribed to one person alone in my contacts list, and the impending dread of wondering what I did this time?
Could I drop her uniform off at the school pronto?
Not any time soon, I said. And that was that.
I’m not good with urgent awakenings. It often sends my heart into an irregular rhythm and I get a tension headache that tells me the universe is a cruel master at times, and should stop making me perform like a little dancing puppet.
I’m sitting in my work chair (one of those bent plywood, flat pack Swedish affairs that bounces slightly when pressure is applied) trying to calm my tired head and placate my Fred and Ginger heart.
The image of the marionette is strong in my mind for some reason. I remember as a young child having fallen in love with the old wooden marionettes that had been on display at Hamley’s toy store on Regents Street in London, back in the digital-calculator-watch filled day when toys were still cool and home computers were an innovative abomination.
I’d bugged my then not yet absent father for months it felt like, about this particular marionette of a traditional Bavarian mountain farm girl that I’d seen on my first visit to Hamley’s. He told me I would have to save up for it, which at the time seemed an impossible task as he only gave me an allowance of 50p a week. The marionette was £34, more than a week’s wage at that point. Eventually my Dad caved and I visited the toy shop again, probably with my Nan, with the sole intent of purchasing this marionette. Except I remember I was so dazzled by the enormous range of toys which then spanned the store’s four floors, that distraction got the better of me and I changed my mind and bought something else with the hard-earned cash my Dad had given me, hard-earned for him that is. He was so disappointed in me. How things have changed.
Somehow I had ended up with the marionette anyway, although I can’t quite recall how that transpired exactly. But when I think of it, my Nan springs to mind.
My daughter reminds me of me in some ways. She is impulsive and highly sensitive, and changes her mind on the flip of a coin, leaving any preparation or important task to the last minute. I can imagine she was devastated when she turned up at school the only one of her classmates dressed in civvies. She has had a bit of a bad week so far. Poor girl.
I on the other hand have been up to my eyeballs most mornings researching and writing about visual semiotics for the purposes of mine and Bill’s series on The Art of Street Photography over on the other channel. Finishing my next post was my intention for this morning, but my head feels like a gumball machine, that if I shook would rattle and spew forth its planetary wealth. I’m imagining a small blue sphere popping out of my mouth, a little Pluto, and again I am transported back to the same period of the 80s when my brother was up to his own little planetary orbs in computers and things astronomical. I’m filled with a sense of unease as I am dragged back to that time of my life. It was one long disappointment that I longed to be over and done with already by the time I was 6 years old. I was 9 maybe 10 when Marionette-Gate occurred, a little younger than my daughter is now. Such a sad time filled with so much anxiety, and longing for a bomb to drop on the house, and obliterate what was then my life. The 80s with its nuclear threats, Aids, riots, Nostradamian Armageddons, and bad pop music. I look back and it’s like an eclectic cocktail that had been spiked with arsenic. Me, a member of Generation X having grown up with a sense of impending doom as the world shifted up a gear and left the dying analogue for the promise of digital wonders. My life has been replete with dramatic changes and shifts, and my own analogue heart is struggling to keep up with all this fibre-optic speed that insists on making it tap its little Bavarian clogs to a long forgotten rhythm.
Change is inevitable I suppose. My daughter might look back at this time of her life with a similar dread too, I dare say. Wondering why Mummy seemed so intent on tracing Grandad’s footsteps, not understanding that her own strings are being pulled by a hand familiar with the contours of her own beliefs and experiences. The accumulated treasury of life, that is nothing more than a gumball machine full of rubberised coloured sugar balls.
It’s almost 11 O’Clock. It’ll soon be time for the day to shift up a gear again as I go and perform my parental duties. Heaviness pulls at my eyelids and my chest, and I could so easily drift away again on whatever adventure I was on before I awoke this morning. I can still make out the images of the dream playing out on the canvas of my shuttered eyelids. Oh well, things to do, brain cells to kill…
*Images courtesy of the internet. Unknown sources.