It’s June 1977 and I wake up feeling full of expectation and dread. It’s my sixth birthday and my wishes haven’t come true again. I’m still here in the little terraced house. My real family haven’t discovered me yet and taken me off to live with them in their castle. I’m certain I was adopted and no one has been brave enough to tell me yet and I’m also certain I’ll be rescued soon. It’s a fairly logical conclusion. My brother and my parents all have brown hair, mine is white. They all love to eat. I hate eating. I must be adopted.
There have been programs on TV recently about baby snatchers. My mum let me watch them. She lets me watch most things as long as I’m quiet. These are deranged women who steal children from outside of supermarkets, a bit like the child catcher from Chitty Chitty Bang Bang only sporting shaggy perms and wearing maxi dresses. I love that film, by the way. I have the soundtrack which I play on my mum’s old reel to reel player which she’s given me along with Cilla Black, Shirley Bassey and The Sound of Music. I’ve invented dances too.
I’m quite worried about the child thieves and have stopped going to the park with my brother so often in case one catches me. The peculiar cat on the Charlie Says commercial says never get in a stranger’s car. I asked my dad what would happen if you did and he told me it’s very dangerous because they chop you up and bury you in a shallow grave. It’s safer to stay at home and read my books.
I also wished for a white cat with blue eyes. I’d like it to be a deaf cat. I have a book about cats which tells me that blue eyed white cats are often deaf. I don’t mind a deaf cat as long as it’s pure white. My own cat is grouchy and is black and white and scratches me a lot when I hug him. He’s called Whiskey and looks a lot like Adolf Hitler.
I get some birthday presents and we have a fried breakfast because it’s Sunday. They eat huge platefuls of food which makes me feel sick just to look at it. I have an egg yolk (the white makes me puke) and half a sausage which I eat as fast as I can so I can pretend I’m not eating. I help to wash up and make coffee for my parents. I love coffee with lots of sugar and drink cups of it all days long.
My presents are mostly disappointing. I wanted a Tiny Tears doll which cries and wees, a Girl’s World styling head to put make-up on and some new clothes. I get yet more Meccano and an Action Man with eyes which swivel in his head. The Action Man is nice looking though and I think about stories I can make about him befriending the pixies and fairies or doing good deeds for people in the forest.
I go upstairs to read a bit and to choose my clothes. Clothes are very important. I like to look my best. I brush my hair and choose a pair of Navy Oxford Bags and a purple and white flowered shirt with an integral cravat which I’m old enough to tie myself now. I’ll wear this with my tweed jacket which will be very warm indoors but most importantly will look very dashing. It has very big lapels.
I go downstairs to help my mum. I like helping her just like Jane does in the Peter and Jane books. I have my rabbit with me. She’s not a real rabbit. She’s yellow and wears a long nylon dress. If you flip the dress up she has another face and the dress is a different colour. How cool is that? I’d like flip up clothes too so I could change. I’m not allowed to wear more than one set of clothes per day but I’d like to get changed a lot.
My mum is taking a special tablet called Valium which she likes a lot, as preparation for the party. I’d like one too but I have to pretend. I like to play families. In this game I’m the parents and Rabbit, Snowdrop and Timothy are my children. I take my Valium (Midget gems), drink my sherry or beer (Dandelion and Burdock) and smoke my candy cigarette. I can’t wait to be grown up and have the real thing. I fetch the Consulates for my mum. They’re smooth and white and smell minty. She likes them a lot.
My mum is making a salad and because it’s a special day she’s making it really posh by cutting the tomatoes into little crowns with jagged edges. I think my dad has taken the dog out to the allotments. I don’t think he likes children’s parties very much. Whiskey the cat has gone out too. He doesn’t like children much either, only me. My mum has made cakes too and is hiding sweets around the house, behind mirrors and under cushions. She’s hidden a whole back of Blackjacks and Fruit Salads.
I’ve never had a party before and am not so sure about this one either. I don’t really like other children. Adults are more interesting. I like listening to what they say. I especially dislike little boys. They’re kind of weird. I’ve had to invite three little boys called Paul, Simon and David to my party. Paul likes to talk about planes. He knows the names of all the fighter planes and likes to talk about war. David likes cars a lot. When we go out with our mums he names all the makes of cars as they pass us and looks at me like I’m stupid because I think cars are boring. Simon likes football. I’ve played it once and hated it. I don’t like running and kicking at all. I prefer being inside. I also hate getting dirty. Old men often speak to me when I’m in shops and ask me what football team I like and I clam up and blush. I don’t know why people think I’m strange but I wish they didn’t.
Luckily three girls are coming too. Girls are more fun. I have lots of friends who are girls and we play proper games like “Murder” where we hide and jump out. This makes me a bit nervous. I jump easily. I have to carry a torch in my jacket pocket for when I’m walking in houses to shine the dark places away.
My mum gets ready for the party and combs her afro hair. She has to put special stuff on to make it all curly. The party starts and surprisingly I quite like it. I want attention and this is good attention. Because it’s my birthday and I’m 6 no one calls me bad names or disapproves. Maybe life will be like this now I’m 6.
We play games and they eat food. I eat as little as I can and for a change, no one seems to notice. I don’t have to pretend to eat and then give my food to the dog. I get presents too and the most exciting one is a game called Pop-Up Pirate. It looks really good. I still don’t have a Mr Frosty though, my mum says it’s a rubbish toy and I can’t have one.
We finally get to play Pop-Up Pirate after some boring running round games. The mean pirate sits in a big brown barrel and you have to stab him with swords. I’m very excited about this and lean in very close. The winner is the one who makes the pirate pop out, I think.
I put in my sword and crane forwards and a tragedy occurs. The pirate pops out so fast that he hits me square between the eyes and the other children start to laugh. I go upstairs to compose myself and check for marks. My skin is very good and I hate marks.
I come back down and stand at the bottom of the bottom and clap my hands to gather everyone’s attention.
“Right, children, the party is now over. Please get your coats. Bye. Thank you for coming. ”
I get told off for saying this. I don’t think I’ll have another party again till I’m really old, like 40. I hope my mum remembers to retrieve those sticky sweets too. It would be a nightmare if on moving house years later she finds sticky sweets gluing things together. Now, where did I put Snowdrop’s Family Allowance booklet? I made that last week and she needs it to draw her benefits.