MY LIFE, MY LOVE, IN A PHOTOGRAPH
One of my very first memories, is feeling like I didn’t fit. And that feeling as stayed with me my entire life. My name is Elizabeth Cope, and I was born in 1961 to a very surprised, and somewhat horrified parents, to whom bringing up another child at that time in their lives was a very daunting prospect. You see, my parents were already in their middle forties when I was born, and had already brought up three children, so to be fair, I wasn’t that Christmas present my mother always wanted! And being pregnant and in her forties, was frowned upon at that time. I would go as far to say, my mother was embarrassed, to the point where she considered terminating the pregnancy. I suppose if I was to try and paint a picture of what it was like for me in those early years, it would have to be when my friend took me with her to visit her grandparents. I will never forget walking into her grandparents’ house, because it was just like walking into my own home, that’s when I knew I was slightly out of sync with my friends home life. The memories I should have had growing up as a young girl, was never afforded to me, I was born into a mindset where children were supposed to be seen but not heard. That all-encompassing, being wrapped up in cotton wool, and feeling completely secure in love, was something I never had in my upbringing, and without those values in my life, I never acquired the confidence I needed, which left me very withdrawn.
The year is 1966, England as just won the world cup, and my life changes forever, when I attend my first day at school.
That first day was terrifying for me. To be taken from a relatively reclusive home life, and be put into a classroom full of children, who it seemed to me at that time, that they all knew each other in some way or form, really did give me a feeling of not belonging. So, with my head down, and a corner to hide in, I began my eleven year journey through our unforgiving educational system.
After surviving that first day, things did settle down for me. The school had a strict regime, girls in one line, the boys in another. We used to stop what we were doing mid-morning for our milk break, and then we would all be told to take our morning nap, yes, it was thought at that time, young children needed to rest! How things have changed since those days. At break-times, we used to have what we called a tuck shop, it was where the kids could go to and buy sweets, it was heaven. My mum used to give me a sixpence, or a tanner, is how we used to refer to it, that would be, two and a half pence in new money, it was the first time in my life I had ever had money in my pocket, and I felt rich! There was one day in the week we all looked forward to, and that was story time. We all used to sit on the floor around a big wooden radio, the teacher would turn it on, and all the kids would wait with baited breath, because at first nothing would happen. These old radio’s had a light filament inside of them that had to warm up before you could hear anything, but then, gradually as the light grew brighter, you could hear the unmistakable music which introduced us to that much anticipated, story.
How far away from the adult world we were back then. We were cocooned in an environment totally set up for the needs of the five year old’s we were, no mobile phones, laptops, or computer games, just the fairy tale world of daisy chains, and enchanted stories. How blissfully unaware of the worlds horrors we were. And as I look back on those memories from my childhood now, I can honestly say with hand on heart, how blessed we were.