James and the Giant Peach

It’s the 14th July 1983. I’m eight years old and I’m walking through the gates of Brookmead School on the last day of term. In my school bag are tickets to James and the Giant Peach, the school play which is being put on that evening and which I am desperate to see.

On the other side of the school gates stands my aunt Carol. It should be my mum picking me up from school but when I see that she isn’t there I immediately know why. She was pregnant with my little brother and not being there meant she was giving birth to him. As Carol told me that I would be spending the night with her my young brain panickedly searched for a scenario where I could still come back to school this evening to watch James and the Giant Peach. But nothing I said would change the fact that I wasn’t.

I don’t know why seeing James and the Giant Peach was so important to me. Maybe it was a last ditch attempt to still have some time with my mum before my baby brother came along. Maybe it was an attempt to be more independent and do what I wanted to do regardless of the adults. Maybe it was just something I wanted and it only became significant because it was taken away. Who knows what goes on in the mind of an eight year old.