I promised Jaywalker over at Belgian Waffle that I would write a blog entry about my cousin, Tom. She has written a post here about the weird fixations that children have that are easy entertainment for their parents. Things like the fact that for two years of her life my eldest daughter would only answer to the name Daphne due to her fixation with Scooby Doo, or the fact that my brother insisted on wearing a pink party frock, wellington boots and a brown snorkel parka for about twelve months when he was three. That kind of thing.
You’d better read this speedily, memorise it and then eat the evidence, because although Tom is happy for me to blog about him in general, he claims not to remember any of the stuff that I am about to divulge, and in future months when he trips over this on his wanderings about the interweb he may well demand that I take it down on the grounds that he may eventually want to make some woman his wife and have children of his own and this might make her think twice.
I am utterly convinced that I have blogged about this before, but I am lazy and can’t be bothered to double check, so if this is old news to you feel free to wander off and have a cup of tea until the next blog entry that grabs your interest.
Tom is ten years younger than me and the son of my mother’s middle sister, Lizzie. Lizzie was always a kind of hippie and most definitely a proponent of radical, alternative lifestyles. She was bonkers, creative and really, really lovely indeed (she died when my eldest daughter was less than a week old. Leukaemia), so it was always going to be a given that Tom’s upbringing was never going to be orthodox.
He was always allowed full expression of his creativity and imagination, no matter how strange, and as the only child of a single parent there was never really anyone else to get in the way of the flowering of bizarre stuff that came forth from his agile mind. He was always (and remains) excellent company and his off the wall ideas and projects provided endless entertainment for years. Here are a few of the things that he embarked upon during his childhood:
- Pretending for months on end to be James Bond. This included a full set of outfits that he had assembled himself, weaponry he made himself out of cardboard (he made a gun that actually fired cardboard bullets. I kid you not). He also made a printing press and carried round a battered suitcase full of cash in case he had to buy his way out of tricky situations.
- Pretending to be a farmer called Derek who worked the ‘beast yard’ down the road from his house. He refused to talk to anyone for months unless they called him Derek. When he did speak to you it would only be about farming or the welfare of ‘the beasts’. It was quite a trying time. I put my entire knowledge of farming down to this period in his life.
- Becoming totally obsessed with Jesus to the point where he nailed an action man to two bits of 2 by 4 to make a crucified Christ which he carried about with him everywhere. Jesus had his own seat at the dining table. One of my fondest memories is visiting when Tom and Jesus were playing ludo. Naturally Jesus couldn’t roll the dice as his hands were otherwise engaged with two large six inch nails. Tom was very politely rolling for him, chatting away happily as if this was perfectly normal.
- Having his pet goldfish die and going through a phase of organising funerals. He would get my aunt and my gran (who lived with them at the time) on board as professional mourners, dress them up and run several funerals a day for weeks until he ran out of things to bury.
- After the dearth of pets he wanted new pets. My aunt refused, but one day when they were out shopping, relented and allowed him to have a dead mackerel from the fishmongers as a ‘pet’. He called it Sparky. They took it home and put it on a shallow dish which they then filled with water. They popped it in the freezer and thus Sparky had a home. You would quite often go round to find Tom with his head in the freezer having a little chat with Sparky. Sadly one day Sparky died. I think that was the last funeral he ever did.
- After having watched all the Star Trek movies he became obsessed with the idea of cryogenics and would spend hours trying to make his own cryogenic capsules and then secrete them in the freezer. A good starting point for a cryogenic capsule was one of those black plastic containers for old fashioned film. These were his prototypes, of which there were hundreds and when you went round he would give you lectures on cryogenics and show you his progress so far. He was only put off the cryogenics thing when he started watching Back to the Future and became obsessed with making a flux capacitor so that he could create his own time machine. If you ask him now about it it is the only thing he will still admit to. He is still working on a flux capacitor and is convinced that one day he will crack the secrets of the space time continuum. I have the first drawings somewhere. When he’s famous I’m going to sell them to the papers.
- He once made two full sized Daleks out of cardboard. They were excellent but quite hard to store. It was mother’s day and we went down to see my gran and give her presents and cakes. She was sitting in the front room flanked by two Daleks, rolling a fag and her eyes simultaneously! She said: ‘It’s not many mothers who get to share their special day with Dalek kind. I suppose I should be grateful.’ We all budged up and sat chatting amongst the Daleks.
- This was not as troubling as the time he made himself a Robo Cop suit out of cardboard and used four rolls of sellotape to tape himself into it only to find that he could not bend his arms or legs and in fact was trapped in it for several hours until someone came upstairs to see why he was being so quiet only to find him prone and busting for a wee.
And then there’s the months he spent in the shed recreating the Titanic including the correct number of life boats and quizzing everyone on key facts of the disaster. And the time he decided to be He-Man and that his mother was Teela. So I guess I should count myself lucky that Daphne and dancing repetitively to Abba wearing pants on their heads are the strangest things my children have come up with. This stuff is in their genes, I’m just hoping it doesn’t show itself until they are grown up and have moved away from home.