I was dozing and listening to Radio 4’s 'Open Book' just now when I heard the word dislocation. From that word came a memory, from that memory came a smile, from that smile came a thought, from that thought came a question.
When I was about eight years old I played ‘mother’ in the school production of Hansel and Gretel. Steven Tear played ‘Father’; he was a boy I had probably paid no attention to until that moment. He came to my house and we rehearsed together. Even though I knew my performance in the above play was horrendous he never said so. When he was bullied by the other boys for being my friend, he never said so and the first I knew about it was when his mother came to my house to ask me to visit him in hospital because those horrid little boys had pushed him over and he had dislocated his hip.
I remember that summer holiday being made up of sunny days, blackberries and Steven. We spent every day together, running under the sprinklers and lying in the afternoon sun drying off. We explored the dark depths of the little wood in the park turning over the bottom of our white t-shirts and filling them with blackberries till finally my mother stopped screaming at the stains and sent us off to buy cooking apples and pastry mix. I remember playing on tricycles in his back garden, fighting back the tears because even though my ears hurt so much I was playing with him. And then that feeling of hatred as I was passed between nodding mothers, who prodded under my jaw and sighed and pursed their lips and finally condemned me to a week in my bedroom: “It’s mumps!” I remember that feeling of complete despair when I was told he was moving to
I never thought of it as love before, but I guess that’s what it was. I remember those boys trying to tease me that I was his girlfriend when they found out I was going to see him in hospital, but that soon stopped due the fact that I had the fiercest look on my face, I was bigger than all of them and I had already kicked the shit out of the ankles of one who had crossed me before. But yep, I guess it was love. It was easy and innocent and so all consuming.
So then I just wondered whatever happened to Steven Tear. We kept in touch for quite a while and then puberty happened and everything changed. I wondered if he ever did become an actor. I just wondered...
This morning I also wondered if your ears should feel like alien satellites parked on your head conducting tests and probing my tonsils. Having finished there, they have moved up to my sinuses. My ears feel dislocated to the rest of my head.