Sunday, 7 February 2010

tagged - part 2: a memory


This entry is actually about lack of memory, when you know something took place but can't recall how that was. And I don't quite mean those evenings involving a bit too much wine!

When I recall my early childhood what comes to mind are small snatches of sights and sounds: sitting on the stairs with my father whilst he taught me it was not a good idea to light matches; certain toys like the space hopper or television programmes like the Clangers; being convinced that a girl at the playschool was a real eskimo because she had a fur trimmed hood (I probably had seen a copy of Lucy Fitch Perkins The Eskimo Twins). Otherwise it is all overlayed with stories told by others or photographs.

That was my British childhood. When I was about 4 and half, we moved to Spain, and then I also remember very little until I reach about the age of 6 or 7. My childhood became a Spanish one: sugar mice were replaced with Mentolines (Eucalypts sweets, for smokers really but one coin bought a lot of these small sweets), Cuba Libres (cola flavoured, and, despite the cocktail inspired name, no rum - I think!) or Conguitos (chocolate covered peanuts, with a mascot as innapropriate as Robinson's Golliwog, as it displayed a colonial caricature: see this advert on youtube); cinemas became open air in the Summer, a social experience not a reverential one given the cacophony of children playing, women eating sunflower seeds and chatting, and men smoking; we ceebrated an additional feast day at Christmas, given that at that point Epiphany or the day of the Three Magi was when Spanish children received their presents (so we got an extra something!); and, during the Feria week, the chance to wear flamenco dresses - my hair was striped blonde and brunette then:
But what I do not remember is learning Spanish. My sister and I were sent to a Convent school with no Spanish language skills at all, although aparently we had been taught how to ask permission to go to the loo (which seems very sensible), but we obviously just got on with it and became bilingual. My sister and I still speak Spanish between ourselves, as if it were a secret but shared language, and often feel formal or odd speaking in English together. I dream in both languages and use them everyday with my work, and, according to my partner, my bilingualism extends to my sneezing - apparently I have a Spanish sneeze (atchis) and an English sneeze (atchoo). Is this failure to recall the process of learning Spanish indicative of it being a good experience or a bad one? Who knows, but I am very glad I had to.

As part of this meme, we are supposed to tag 5 more: but please, dear reader, feel yourself tagged if you wish. Will it be a good memory or a bad memory that you reveal?


Marcheline said...

I never knew Spanish sneezes were pronounced differently!

SmitoniusAndSonata said...

You look so sweet , so caught up in the whole moment . I can still see you , sitting in the back of the car , " singing like on the television ". This tiny figure clappping her hands and wailing "Ayee , Mi ma're ..... Ayee .... ".

Anonymous said...

I'm all done with tags just now, but - does anyone else remember Hiram Holiday on the tv? I did like him a lot. I love reading about other peoples memories and lives, and yours are some of the most interesting, thank you.

Tattie Weasle said...

This is a wonderful memory or not - how I envy you the ease with which you became bilingal. says a lot for living elswrher when one is a child! And you do look cute!

Tania said...

I am just so impressed at the bilingual sneeze. I'm going to go and brush up on my Dutch - and damn it! will not stop until I'm sneezing with a plegmy-ish throat and a rolling 'r'.

Liz said...

Spanish and English sneezes?!!

Love your outfit.