Paula K.

The first piece of clothing I remember:

I don’t have a good memory. Certainly not about my childhood. I just don’t remember much about it. It’s not that I had an unpleasant childhood either! My brother’s memory is so much better than mine on that front – he remembers so many things that I don’t even recall happening. It’s a constant surprise when he talks about events and what we got up to.

The first piece of clothing I really remember is a mustard-coloured Beatle suit that my Mum made me. It was a two-piece, collarless jacket with a skirt. I loved it. I’ve a picture in my mind, possibly a photo somewhere too, of me wearing it with long hair, no fringe, smiling. At a relative’s wedding? I think I was about seven or eight. The skirt was full-ish, probably knee length and I would have worn socks I guess with mary-jane sandals or similar. I do remember wearing the suit out one afternoon to a family friend’s farm for afternoon tea. In the way of small girls I got bored and, loving animals, asked if I could go for a wander around the farm. I did and ended up being knocked down by a cow (don’t ask). A beautiful, delicately boned, big-eyed Jersey. I was filthy and smelly but, suffering from nothing more than wounded pride and a bit of bruising, we travelled home by bus. An event I do remember!

At that time we were living in a house overlooking the harbour. When the tide was high we’d walk across the road and swim in the harbour, leaving our clothes on one of the granite bollards. A family story, but one I don’t remember, is that we left a pair of my shoes behind once and my Dad saw them and picked them up on his way home, waving his fist up at the window as he did so.  He didn’t have a sense of humour. I guess they were expensive. (I don’t remember why again but I had to wear special shoes for a while when I was small.) I remember clear water and seeing the bottom when I think of swimming there, but my brother remembers brushing away the rainbow film of oil from the boats moored nearby.

Mum made a lot of clothes for me until I was about 12 or 13 I think. I wasn’t particularly grateful either. I remember her making me some pink denim jeans. I wore those out for a bike ride on a large bike I borrowed from a friend and ended up coming off and holing both knees – I think it was the first time I’d borrowed the bike and the first time I’d worn the jeans! I also remember her making me a beautiful smock. I’d eyed the pattern for months and badgered her into making it for me. She did and I hated it! I’ve been wary about making clothes for myself ever since.