Within a few moments, I gleaned from Claire that her teacher had asked of her class to select a topic from the decade in question – and then for each pupil to compose a 500 word essay on a subject of their choosing – given the fact that I was not twenty-one anymore, (in Claire’s considered opinion) she suspected I might be better placed to assist in this quest.
“Mum is only thirty-seven and dad is just two years older” she innocently remarked, adding further, “They have heard of the Beatles, The Beach Boys and Elvis, but really know “nuffin” about any of them!”
I must stress at this juncture, if I was feeling mildly antiquated before I opened my door that particular evening – I felt a damn sight older after exchanging a few words with this somewhat ruthless if not charming child.
We soon established Claire’s concerns regarding the size of her task – subsequently, I invited her into the kitchen and then put the kettle on to make us both a hot drink – this before cracking-on with my recollections of days gone by.
Some three hours later, I received another knock on the door, at this juncture, I was confronted with a concerned mum, enquiring as to where her missing eldest daughter may possibly be – time had just flown by and I had erred in not paying sufficient notice to the clock – similar to my cookie jar I might add, Claire had certainly made good use of her visit to me that night – and had surreptitiously, gone on to consume the entire contents of my biscuit barrel during our intriguing tête-à-tête!
Nevertheless, it was a little disappointing to see her depart, I loved every moment of her company that particular evening – and remained astonished with the scope of her enquiring mind; it was just like being ‘Dad’ all over again.
Sleep did not come easy that night as I was enthralled by the fact that a twelve year old girl, one not of my kin, had became so enraptured with what I had to say.
As we chatted during that dank winter night, Claire and I occasionally branched off in the direction of the social aspects of the early 1960s, that special time when kids still walked to school, played ball games in city parks with little or no threat to their well-being and when children sat on Santa’s knee at Christmas time.
In addition we also chatted about an American President who craved equal rights for all – and wanted to send a man to the moon by the end of the decade, not because it was easy, but because it was hard.
We then discussed the loss of a brave African/American leader, one who held dear a dream that his little black children would one day be able to play with little white children – but was not granted the right to see his vision realized.
We laughed together about the fact that nearly all male singers in the early sixties were called Bobby and female vocalists were either Sandra or Sandie or even Sandy – each crooning the same melancholic theme about failed puppy love.
It was so refreshing to escape back into a world from a child’s perspective, to a time where things were just a little simpler, a world that to the children of my generation, never saw politics and war rear their ugly heads – and the worst thing that could happen to you was that you didn’t become a school monitor or that your girlfriend/boyfriend opted to fall for another.
Even that wasn’t much of a worry because there was always another interesting extracurricular activity and another equally interesting potential girlfriend/boyfriend waiting in the wings.