DAZED AND CONFUSED : Tim Davey: Beware of sisters bearing gifts
MY sister arrived at our house for a weekend stay recently bearing gifts. She's always a generous soul but one jumbo-sized, extra-strong, carrier bag was, she explained, solely for me.
Thinking it to be a consignment of my favourite vino or the childish sweeties I like to munch until I feel my personal sugar rush is off the Richter scale, I grabbed it with both hands.
It wasn't quite what I had expected. Inside were dozens of exercise books, some hardbacks and a few stray photos.
"I was up in the loft and found these. They are yours. So you can have them," she explained.
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Bemused, I squirrelled them off to our back bedroom for closer examination at a later date. In fact, it was some time later that I actually began delving deep into that carrier bag. It was like rolling back the years.
All the exercise books came from various stages of my days at grammar school.
I was intrigued to see what we were asked to do back then and as I turned the pages of my juvenile outpourings on chemistry, biology, geography and history, a couple of things stood out. All the maps and diagrams were hand-drawn and coloured. Every piece of work was written in proper ink. I had forgotten that, back then, ballpoint pens were banned.
Also included in this personalised education treasure trove which had ended up in sister's loft when we cleared my mother's house nearby was a GCE Oxford local examination physics paper from 1964 which demanded an explanation of Ohm's Law, plus descriptions of a gold leaf electroscope and a moving coil galvanometer, explaining the latter's physical principles, as well as those of a liquid manometer. I must have known something about all or some of them at one time but, to be frank, haven't a clue any more.
There was also a geography essay explaining the minerals of Peru and Bolivia along with a map of the same continent listing its main forms of transport which, in the early Sixties, were, according to me, "steamer, llama, ox, canoe and mule " in that order.
And, right at the bottom, was something I almost overlooked as it was tucked into the folds of the bag.
It was a slightly faded colour photo of a bloke with shoulder-length brown hair, a sun tan, hipster jeans and a skimpy T-shirt. It was me. I remembered the T-shirt.
It was taken circa 1970 when I actually knew where my waistline started and my stomach stopped.
Re-reading my old schoolbooks was bad enough but this was like staring down the barrel of a highly personalised time tunnel.
Enough was enough. There's only so much nostalgic emotion one can take in any given day.
So I put all the books back neatly inside the bag. Then placed them in a wardrobe, making a mental note to always beware of sisters bearing gifts.