The Baby Years from the draft autobiography of Vince Poynter
When I first envisaged writing my autobiography I imagined enjoying recounting all the strange and amusing things that have happened to me during my life so far. However, moments in this chapter happened before my brain had actually developed.
So this first part, intriguingly entitled Oniscus Asellus, can only be a mish-mash of anecdote and fiction.
At least history has allowed me to set the scene. It was cold.
Allegedly, I was born around the witching hour on a Monday morning at the end of October 1961. I can’t verify this as I wasn’t wearing a watch at the time and my eyes were full of afterbirth so I couldn’t read the bedroom clock.
For those that care about these things that makes my star-sign Scorpio and my birthstone Topaz, a rather mucky orange hue. The Chinese would say I was born in the year of the skunk, or something like that and certain religious sects would swear I used to be a toad. I’ve checked between my toes and I don’t think they could be accurately described as webbed. I was certainly born Animalia, Chordata, Mamalia, Primates, Haplorhini, Simiiformes, Hominidae, Homo sapiens. Not newt.
The unreasonable o’clock in the morning home delivery meant that Mum could have a bit of a rest afterwards but I do not expect Dad had much rest himself. I had to be educated to ‘A’ level standard by breakfast after all. Just kidding. I doubt that it would have been even to ‘O’ level standard. Come to think of it I doubt it was to ‘O’ level standard when I passed my ‘O’ levels. But I might just be getting slightly ahead of myself here.
The location was in the South of England in a little known hamlet called Southampton, county of Hampshire within the United Kingdom, Europe, Northern Hemisphere, Earth, Solar System, Galaxy. Although you could leave out the last parts of that locale if you are terra-bound.
Southampton is a city with a long history and a struggling Premiership team, although when the town was first formed the sport was probably hog-back riding. Now it boasts a fine heritage of glistening shopping centres and poorly used docks. It rose to it’s prominence by virtue of having two tides, a phenomenon caused by the adjacent Isle-of-Wight apparently, although I’ve never seen the island shifting about myself.
Southampton in the early sixties wasn’t like the romanticised view of London during the period. For a start I wasn’t born in Carnaby Street. It was a modest lane in the Maybush area. Hardly the best start in life.
A modern estate agent may try to describe the building as a retro-style apartment block featuring balconies with views across the city. In truth it was and is a pretty grim ground floor flat featuring a tiny balcony with a view across the street.
Yes, a balcony on the ground floor with a drop all of three inches! But it’s still standing now and someone out there in the world of non-virtual actual reality may well be in that room today.
My parents were working class when the word was literal. My father had followed his own into the Post Office and I’m not talking about collecting a few stamps.
Grandad had started his career as a Post-boy at fourteen delivering telegrams by his company vehicle – the pushbike. My laziness at genealogy prevents me telling you what his father did although there was some sort of dock’s policeman in the family once.
My father joined the Post Office and was a Telecommunications Engineer. My mother, at the time, was flat on her back. She was far too busy, along with most of the other good women of Britain re-stocking the nation after the war years had depleted the number.
I was the second born, having been beaten to the post by my older brother, Mark. He was two years old at the time giving him a head-start I shall never regain.
Until my sister was born, I would be the cute baby of the family. The blond hair helped, along with the dumbfounded expression shared with so many other babies. And owls.
Many people claim to recall things from their childhood. Not me. I can hardly remember anything from before puberty and am, quite frankly, a bit hazy about things further back than last Wednesday.
However, a story has been told so many times that I now feel I remember it clearly. Nothing exciting or comparable to what was going on at the time such as the commencement of space travel and the onward trips to the moon or Twiggy or the first skirts named after a car.
Personally, I was discovered, I am reliably informed, chewing on a woodlouse.
If it happened today my mum would be in front of social services before you could even say “Can I have ketchup with that Oniscus asellus please?”
So that’s it. An entire childhood beginning summarised in a debatable woodlouse scoffing anecdote.
I guess if you want to know more you’ll have to ask my parents to write their stories.
For me I’m moving on to the next stage of my saga but you will have to wait until I write it. Ho hum.
Author: Vince Poynter
From the autobiography section of the vinceunlimited.co.uk website dated 29 Jan 2018
First Published: Version 1.03 in Feb 2005 and reproduced here with minor editing
The images all taken by the author’s family