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First Memories of Childhood

I have no memory of it of course but I was born in Storer’s Nursing Home in Carpenter’s Road, Edgbaston, Birmingham UK.‎ Apparently I arrived at 4 am in the morning. A little early for breakfast; but the following years to the present I am essentially a ‘morning person’; but not that early.

Later I do recall having my tonsils and adenoids removed following a bout of almost choking and having serious difficulty breathing. Even a traditional ‘cure’ of hot milk, toast, and butter…….and a scotch whiskey……. did not solve the problem.‎ Not even  Scotch whiskey! Perhaps a Jack Daniels would have worked…..on ice. I recall moments prior to the general anaesthetic;  remembering sitting up in bed glancing through windows offering a view of green English gardens of the iconic, exceedingly old Calthorpe Estate, of stately origin. Following a period of unconsciousness; a timeless vacuum and awakening after the operation, much to my surprise I was presented with delicious minced chicken and afterwards, jelly!! Nice nursing home/hospital.‎ Even to this day the sight and taste of those dishes live on in my mind.

The earliest memory of childhood is when living in my parents’ house, which at the time was next to an old former farmhouse with grass meadows.‎ Hard to imagine that this was within reasonable walking distance from the city centre. The farm, long since gone and replaced by a school. I still possess the visual reality of a run down thatched farmhouse surrounded by overgrown grass and straw.  Rather sad, gone fauna so green, gone the long grass taken over by a modern soulless structure.

Prior to this house, we lived on the same road, in a rather large Victorian residence. My Dad liked it but Mom did not, so he was persuaded to buy the other house I remember so fondly. I recall being pushed in a child’s pushchair and enjoying gentle slopes of house driveways along the road. Smooth tarmac and most enjoyable; almost like flying. That memory visits me often.

Flowing next to the former farmhouse and fields, a little stream ran nearby and apparently under the house itself; rather deep down.  It was a time of excitement when a walk was planned. The manager of a traditional English pub just across the road and a friend of the family was the guide.

Walking literally along the stream, Wellington boots keeping feet dry, branches of trees hovering overhead, the sound of water gently rippling over glistening stones. A child’s magical delight. ‎A calming sound as though leading to a Universe far beyond a child’s imagination. Where sun blessed the stream, the water sparkled as if there were diamonds glistening on the surface; flowing,  seemingly never-ending, disappearing into a faraway distance, tempting further exploration but potentially unknown elements prompting caution.

One memorable sight was that of a kingfisher (beautiful colours), not only observing but supervising human invaders trespassing upon its territory.

We walked a long way and ultimately the river banks were becoming higher and higher and tree branches lower and lower; time to turn around for home and enjoy some cake and hot chocolate.  ‎Not until many years later was it revealed that the stream meandered for miles and miles.

I must have been around five years old and can look back and remember those first years with a degree of glee and awe. Around a year later, I do remember being given a pedal car; a metal one, which looked like an old racing car with real blow-up tyres (the car’s ‘racing number was on the side ‘1’). A hand-down from a family member.

One day on finding a tyre had gone flat I literally pedaled it across the main road to a garage my Dad used and requested that the puncture be repaired! Whether I had waived at vehicles so they stopped, allowing this imperious (though exceedingly polite) five year old to ‘drive’ across a busy main road, is beyond recollection.

Describing it now (and the memory is as vivid as if it had occurred yesterday), I may have been given the impression to the garage mechanics of being an overly self-assured, bordering on pompous, but certainly not impolite; politeness and good manners had been part of my upbringing from ‘day one’. Including when to recognize when someone is going to shake your hand. One keeps one’s arm straight until there is the slightest signal; body language than the individual is going to and wishes to shake hands!

I was indeed reprimanded by my parents for being foolhardy, but I seem to have a vague memory of amusement on their faces.

Mom and Dad loved gardens and the front driveway was transformed where an ‘island’ was created in the centre with a tall lamp to light up the area. I can still visualise; smell the almost hypnotic scent of mutli-coloured wallflowers. Almost the equivalent of English bluebells blessing the woodland just before leaves reveal themselves reducing sunlight. Spring enlivens an awaiting landscape.

At one time Dad drove an Armstrong Siddeley which was parked outside the garage doors. Later he had a Humber Super Snipe. Perhaps being a petrol head could be a genetic phenomenon; my son most certainly inherited the same, or even more dedicated and enthusiastic love of autos; American autos!

In those very early days, I had of course no idea of religion. As I later found out, Mom was a devout Christian; Church of England. I later recalled my Uncle Charles, on my Mom’s side being an integral part of the Church and famous for playing the piano in church. My experiencing two religions ultimately provided open-mindedness‎ and indeed curiosity towards other cultures. Indeed I am exceedingly happy engaging with people the world over.

CHURCH OF ENGLAND SCHOOLS
My Church of England schooling ultimately generated an attitude and feeling of comfort when visiting a church. Sometimes ancient Saxon or Norman. Saxon being the originator of Anglo-Saxon culture and language (Germanic, but also a good degree of Latin and a touch of Danish!). Norman being from the Norman conquest in 1066 by William the Conqueror of Normandy.

I am proud and honored to have been asked to become a volunteer welcoming steward, greeting visitors from the world over, different nationalities, and religions.

Winchester Cathedral, however majestic this 1000-year-old icon, commissioned by William the Conqueror, is peaceful when full of people or almost empty.  Unusually it has a stained glass window with an inscription in Hebrew, with the Star of David as a backdrop. I am proud and honored to have been asked to become a volunteer welcoming steward, greeting visitors from the world over, different nationalities, and religions. It is the history that really gains much interest from visitors. Also, I am a voluntary steward at the award-winning Kings and Scribes Exhibition; also at the cathedral.


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Simon Lever
Simon Lever
Prior to his retirement, Simon engaged in software and services sector search and recruitment for American companies around Europe. He has retained the enjoyment of engaging with people from other countries and cultures. His energies are now directed towards voluntary community activities, journaling, and exhibition stewardship. He is a Featured Contributor for BizCatalyst 360°. As an Exhibition Steward, at the 1000-year-old Winchester Cathedral, he is responsible for guiding visitors from the world over, around the award-winning 'Kings and Scribes Exhibition', which includes the 900-year-old Winchester Bible. The exhibition introduces visitors to Winchester's historical significance as a former capital of England. Simon's journaling activities are published on BizCatalyst 360° and accompanying posts on LinkedIn, He acknowledges the inspiration afforded him by Carol Campos of Massachusetts: Life Strategist, Writer, and Intuitive Business Leader who introduced him to writing with feeling; from the heart. Simon's forté is creative writing; the accent on the natural environment, transforming feelings, emotions, sights, sounds, and scents of Mother Nature's landscape; hills and rivers and woodland into words, transporting the reader to the locations. Essays include accounts of his life in former days. Instinctively writing in such a spontaneous manner, descriptions become life-like. His often emotionally charged writing, whether describing a surreal 'Son et Lumière' at the Grand Place in Brussels to experiences acquired during European business travel. Journaling and Exhibition Steward activities are his key sources of inspiration and creativity. Kindness is ever more important, where he is a promoter of Shelly Elsliger PPCC's 'Decide to be Kind' Campaign. Simon champions Positivity, Empathy, and Kindness and has been described as a 'Beacon of Positivity'.

12 CONVERSATIONS

  1. Great piece. I wish I would have had more time with my mom and dad. Mom passed at 42, Dad at 59. Unfortunately, no good memories, but that never stopped me from wanting to care for them and love them as they tried their best. I always keep them in prayer. Thank you again.

    • Thank you for your moving comment, Lynne,
      My Dad passed away when he was in his eighties and my Mom, (nobody ever knew her age!) The reason I have such vivid memories that tend to visit me more and more, is that only during the last few years have I come to realize that they invested in my future and I guess I either took it for granted or did not realize it at the time. You followed a very natural instinct in wanting to care for them and love them as they tried their best for you. They were both very young. Prayer is more meaningful than many realize. When prayers are answered, there is no such thing as coincidence.
      Thank you again, Lynn. God Bless.

    • Paula, Thank you so much for your comment. Sometimes I think the past visits the present. As for being written with ink; when I actually put ‘real pen to paper’ it is an actual ‘fountain pen’, with real ink! During the early days’ at school we had to learn to write with a ‘nib pen’ which one had to dip into an inkwell which was regularly filled. I bit like ‘illuminated writing’! The as the years progressed, a fountain pen was the order of the day. There is more contact, more intimacy a rapport with the subject matter when writing with a ‘real pen’. Thank you again Paula, for taking the time to comment.

      • Simon,
        I practiced calligraphy at the age of 11/12. I had ink, pen and a notebook…soon found different paper was also something to consider in the presentation of words….
        I do like a good fountain pen too. There’s an exquisite feeling in the art writing with authentic tools.
        Thank you my friend!

  2. Simon, it was truly excellent!
    I really had a blast walking with you trough your memory lane.
    It really feels like a long evening walk with you, while you shared your memories with beautiful pictures.
    I also had some good laughs with the women running away to be with their sultans, or the battle between your dad’s shotgun and the rats haha, and the so cute primary school sweethearts, wonderful. You where/are a true Gentleman, with great manners, I just love that stuff.
    Your last paragraph was just hearttouching and so very true, loved it.
    Thank you for this Simon, you are very blessed having such great parents.
    Always stay Blessed!

    • Goodness me, Ineke, you have really reflected back to be the genuine feelings, emotions, challenging times (the little mouse) and the good times, which override the everything. I have no idea why childhood memories are still with me; the sights, the sounds, the atmosphere; so vivid, so real. I am so pleased you enjoyed your walk with me; indeed I am honored and delighted.

      I have sent you an Linkedin invitation which you have kindly accepted. Now we have two platform where we can exchange all manner of subjects and spread positivity and kindness and a great deal of empathy.

      Thank you again, Ineke.

      Simon

    • Lesley,
      Looking back, times were simple based on the limits of a child’s understanding and experience of real life. Looking back, certain experiences certainly project themselves as truly wonderful; hence the vivid memories. Thank you again, my friend.

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