OK have had a funny day and it got me reminiscing about days of yore, well at least of days gone by in my youth. When I was 17 I ran away from home with the boy next door, all the way to Guildford. From Sandhurst, so not that far. I learned how to pick the cheap padlock with a hair grip on the electricity metre and yes, learned how to turn the clock back. If the landlady is still alive and wants to sue, come find me and I’ll send you the 20 or 30 pounds that you were overcharging us anyway. Not to mention the huge amount of rent paid for one damp room sharing a bathroom with about 30 other people. So now I have admitted online and in public that I am a criminal.

After that I moved to the Isle of Wight. Several reasons. 1: my cousin had sent me the fare to get there. 2: my uncle and auntie had offered the free loan of a 3-legged caravan (trailer type thingie – yes folks I was trailer trash 🙂 ) in a field to live in and 3: there was a really fab rock show happening in the summer that was in its early days back then. Jonathan wasn’t born ‘at’ the rock show but it was close.

Just after we moved there I had another crazy night. Went out for the evening, about 7 or 8 of us piled into a car with my cousin’s friend driving. Saw a cop car and he took a side turn into a field and turned off the car and lights etc. We all held our breath and the cop car kept going. I asked why and the driver of our car mentioned that he had been banned from driving for 2 years. I asked why. He replied that he’d been caught driving without a licence or insurance the previous year and was told that he could not drive again until age 17 – the legal minimum for driving in the UK. I said ‘Well how old are you now!?’ He replied: ’15.’

I was 18 years old and pregnant with Jonathan and while he was a bump on my front he spent a lot of his time riding on a Suzuki 50 motorbike. Chris driving, me sitting on a PanAm bag on the luggage rack on the back and ‘the bump’ on the passenger seat. No wonder Jonathan still loves to ride bikes.

After a while in the caravan/trailer we moved into a room in the town where Chris was working, rented out by guy who had the most fabulous outside toilet, Delft blue inlay in the china, it’s probably worth more than the house by now. I have forgotten our landlord’s name now but he had been a teacher but was retired. His friend was a headmaster at some private school who visited from time to time. One evening we were talking about me being pregnant and our landlord said he did not understand how I could be pregnant and his friend explained it to him, and explained that his mother must have had done that (had sex – yes folks Jonathan was not the result of immaculate conception) in order to have him, her son. Our landlord, remembered now, I think his name was Humphrey Something was horrified. Never believed it. Said his mother would never have done such a thing.

One time when I was walking back from a trip to the doctors, I tend to walk looking down, it’s what near-sighted people do, trying to figure out where the next step should go, I was wearing a mini dress and ‘the bump’ was all at the front so from the back I didn’t look pregnant, there were some workmen digging a hole in the road, like they do, wolf whistling and yelling at me ‘Cheer up darling, it might never happen!’ I turned around, pointed to ‘the bump’ and replied ‘Really?’ It was funny, we all had a good laugh…

Jonathan was due on August 5th and because I was so naive I assumed that was when he would show up. At just past noon, on August 5th he arrived. So naive or not, I was right! It was the Saturday of Cowes week on the Isle of Wight and I couldn’t get a taxi or ambulance for love or money, so I was considering going to hospital in labour on the back of the motor bike when some neighbours offered to drive me. Wonderful people, very kind, Christian Scientists. Kept telling me the pain was not there. I kept thinking “You’re not sitting where I am obviously…….”

But anyway after a few hours Jonathan arrived, in spite of me being left alone and a cleaning lady almost delivering him but in the nick of time doctor and a Swiss nurse came in and helped him into the world, tiny but lovely. I remember the nurse showing me the bruises on her hand that I had made holding her hand so hard. The maternity ward of that hospital overlooked/overlooks(?) the UK’s most high security prison. The prisoners were upset about conditions and were up on the prison roof. They used to wave to us new mothers and we would wave back.

Jonathan: You are very, very, very lucky that you were born male and named Jonathan Andrew. I had been reading a book when pregnant and was just enthralled by the heroine/main character and wanted to name my baby after her. Had you been born a girl you would have been called Rizpah http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rizpah

We decided to leave the island when Jonathan was a week old though I had been offered a roof over my head by a gay (male) couple if I wanted to stay there. Wealthy and they just adored the baby, what might have life have turned out like if I had said yes? We will never know. As we were on the ferry going back to the mainland a couple asked to see Jonathan and put a coin in his tiny hand to wish him luck and wealth.

I was reminded of all this because the other day in Toronto we saw a very new baby and I did the same thing. Felt good to pass on a tradition.