My earliest memory: a sister on summer holiday

The Bloganuary prompt is “What is your earliest memory?”

Memory is a strange thing. It can play tricks on you. Trying to catch a distant memory is almost as hard as grabbing onto the threads of a dream – wispy images and impressions that almost slip through your fingers, or rather, disappear somewhere in your mind. I write down my dreams if I remember them clearly enough – and then wonder if I was making them up.

So, one has to be careful with memories. Nevertheless, I have two very clear ones (both corroborated by my mother, who remembered them vividly). Both involve my younger sister, and summer holidays. They are not things that happened to me; nothing much happened to me at that tender age. My sister, however, was what they call a “drama queen.” When I reached my teens, I too had my dramatic moments.

The first, definitely earlier memory was at a grand old Victorian hotel on the south coast of England (was it Bournemouth?) We were sitting at a table with our parents and grandparents. I remember tall glass mirrors and a long table with a white tablecloth. My dear sister picked up her glass, and calmly bit a great chunk out of it. I don’t think she swallowed any, but inevitably, panic ensued. It spoiled the special occasion, but my sister was happily unharmed.

A few years later, we were again on the south coast for the summer – staying in a small row of old cottages by the sea. There were a lot of steps, including a small flight down the side of a wall and onto a road. The creek (delightfully muddy when the tide went out) was on the other side of the road. When the tide was high, the sea would lap at the windowsill of the cottage. Anyway, I was doing very little on a lazy afternoon in the garden, when the calm was shattered by an unearthly scream.

It was my sister, again. I rushed into the cottage, to see her with blood pouring from her forehead, and my poor mother (I remember so clearly) desperately trying to wrap a white towel round her head. She had taken a tumble, but there was an astonishing amount of blood. The neighbours whisked them off to the hospital, where my sister had stitches. I was very impressed, and she seemed rather proud of them.

Our summers were always eventful. Now, when I think of them, they seem like a dream; little snatches of life.

I have some old photos somewhere; but I did find this online, which is very close to where we were staying when the second drama happened. The tide is coming in, perhaps.

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