Secret #1: I stole my best friend’s My Little Pony ribbons

Posted on August 31, 2013


When I was a kid, I was loved. I was wanted. I came from a good home by people who were trying to do things the right way, bring up their kids well, give them everything they need. I never had all the latest toys and gadgets like some of my friends did, and we certainly didn’t live a comfortable existence, but my parents worked hard – my mum held down several different jobs, including working night shifts once my dad had got back from his job in London – and they gave us everything they could. We’d go camping in the holidays, to places like Cornwall or Devon and when we lived in Germany, we’d travel into Holland, France or Italy on various road trips, bikes attached to the roof rack and the car stocked full to the brim with outdoors gear.

I suppose you could say we were a typical lower middle class family in the 80s, we started out in those 70s new build starter homes in the suburbs, tiny box rooms, paper thin walls… and over the years progressed into a Victorian semi that by the time it got sold a decade and a half later had turned a tidy profit. Those profits then bought my parent’s new house outright, and they were able to invest in a three bed apartment in St Julians, a popular area in my mother’s home country of Malta.

When my parents were the age I am now, my dad was unmarried, single and depressed – wondering if he’d ever meet the one for him. He’d go to the same village in Italy every summer, eat the same food, drink the same beer and hang out with the same people. Never learning a word of Italian once. A working class boy from South London who’d joined a government department when was 15 at the lowest rank you could – postroom boy – my dad was born to a set of parents from one of the most notoriously working class neighbourhoods in London. Walworth. Elephant & Castle. My granddad was a carpet fitter, and my grandma an usherette in the cinema, selling Lambert and Butlers and icecream.

My mother, at 33, had been married six or seven years, and I was five or thereabouts. My dad had gotten a transfer to an RAF base in Germany, and the day before we were due to move I got German Measles. I left without saying goodbye to any of my friends, bar Gianna my best friend whom I loved dearly – as much as a kid can at that age. I’d been a shit friend to Gianna, and stolen her My Little Pony Ribbons one time (because I wanted them, okay?) but I couldn’t bear leaving without saying goodbye. She came to our Victorian semi and tried not to get too close as I was contagious. I ended up in the same school as Gianna when was back in the UK, age 12 – but we never really got close again.

In Germany, my mother really struggled with army-wife life. She wasn’t the wife of a military man, a civil servant. But the wives dinners, ladies wot lunches and general gossip culture of the women on base were a culture too far away from the straight talking Maltese lady that was my mum. She found the bullshit too much, and became isolated, moody, detached. Well, this is my impression anyway. We’ve never talked about it. Both her and my dad had other couple friends though – sometimes we’d stay at their houses when my parents needed alone time. I remember them going to one or two Oktoberfest’s, with us not understanding at the time why we had to stay elsewhere. My parents don’t really drink now, they’ve never been massive boozers. So I guess this must have been a time when they would have some fun on the odd occasion that they could.

When I was six I only cared about three things – my piggy bank, my collection of ornaments, and my soft toys. I had one of those piggy banks from Halifax, that you could collect. I only had a poor man’s version, I rarely had the real thing unless it was a mini cheaper version – I had a tiny plastic troll once, the palm sized ones. I may have had a my little pony. I agree with my parents decision to get me the cheaper version of things, so this isn’t me being spoiled and complaining. In the 80s, a toy that cost £15 was a very expensive toy! Why pay three times the price of an Angela doll for a Barbie, when you can get an Angela doll?

So I guess my lack of interest in brands, comes from my mum. I won’t wear clothes with brand labels plastered all over them. I loathe designer bags. I’ll always get the cheapest version of everything so long as its decent enough quality. After all, why pay more? Paying more for a certain brand, just because you like that brand, makes you a sucker in my eyes. I don’t think my mum massively cared about that, she just couldn’t afford the brand that everyone else had. But still, I can thank her for instilling in me these values.

But was this the cause of my shoplifting when I was older?

I’d like to think not, but who knows…

If you’d like to hear more secrets from my childhood, please leave a comment.

Posted in: History