Memoir of a Teacher: Chapter 2, Nothing to be Frightened of

Memoir of a Teacher: Chapter 2, Nothing to be Frightened of

Continuing on with my inspired memoir from yesterday in honour of #NaNoWriMo and my dear friend Pete. I’d say enjoy but how could you not?


Memoir of a Teacher: Nothing to be Frightened of

I don’t believe in frogs, but I miss them. That’s what I say when the question is put. I asked my brother, who has waxed philosophical whilst drunk in pubs in Wollongong and Newcastle, what he thought of such a statement, without revealing that it was my own. He replied with a few words: “What a load of Wank.”

The person to begin the second chapter of my illustrious memoir with is my maternal grandmother, Grandma Cindy, although neither her first nor last name is Cindy, that was her dog’s name. She was a secretary in Edinburgh until she married my grandfather, Arthur James. He may have had a snazzy nickname like Arty, King or Jimmy Jim Jim Jaroo but as he died when my mother was fourteen I never met him so can’t really comment. He was an architect with a certain Scottish dash to him: a man without a tartan, which my grandmother often lorded over him, but born and raised there no less. By the time I knew them, my grandfather was ashes under a rose bush and my grandmother was living in Wollongong an hour away from her nearest child. Grandma was an avid church goer; she was in the choir, on the board and working in the op shop. She was petite, outwardly very opinionated, and had the paper thin skin of old age that made me live in constant fear that she might burst open at any given moment. Her wardrobe was full of kilts, not necessarily in her tartan, and beige petticoats of every length. She had regular appointments with God and being Godly and had bern advised she was a top notch sheila. Mainly by me, I thought she was the cat’s pajamas.


My brother remembers that once, when he was very small, he went into Grandpa’s garden and pulled up all the flowers. Grandma yelled at him until he howled, then turned uncharacteristically white, confessed everything to our mother, and swore she would never again yell at the children. Actually, my brother doesn’t remember any of this — neither the flowers nor the yelling. He was just told the story repeatedly by our mother. And indeed, were he to remember it, he might well be wary. As a soccer player who has suffered from severe concussion, he believes that memories are often false, “so much so that, on the Cartesian principle of the rotten apple, none is to be trusted unless it has some external support.” I am more trusting, or self-deluding, so shall continue as if all my memories are true. Yet also acknowledge that my siblings’ memories are probably nothing more than rotten apples.

Our mother was christened Anne Margaret although my father often spelt it Anne Magarat. She hated the Rat, and complained about it to anybody who would listen, whose explanation were genereall that Dad was a bit of a turd at times. She has followed in her mother’s footsteps and goes to church and tries to run as much as possible.


In my childhood, the three unmentionable subjects were the traditional ones: periods, politics, and sex. When I got my first period I thought I was dying of cancer, my father still refuses to mention who he votes for and sex I worked out. I’ve got three kids to prove it.


As for religion, this was discussed at length my father would tell me if I didn’t follow his church exactly I’d not only go to hell but get a belting and my mother would yell us how much better and cooler her church was and put equal amounts of pressure, through guilt rather than fear, to tow the line. Consequently I developed huge social anxieties around going out for public rituals like picnics, dinners and dances.

As my parents are still very much alive I think I’ll leave the “appropriation” there and start thinking of the third chapter of my highly anticipated memoir.

This was of course taken from Nothing to be Frightened of by the brilliant Julian Barnes.  Read the real thing here

Read the first chapter of my “memoir” here

One response »

  1. Pingback: Memoir of a Teacher: A Red Hot Tip for NaNoWriMo | Write or Wrong

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