I loved Auntie Pam's house. It was way cooler than ours. They had shag pile carpet, a smoked glass coffee table with chrome legs, a galley kitchen with all the latest mod cons, a Draylon three piece suite, ruched nets at the window and a loft conversion. They went on holiday abroad. They had trailer tent. The wallpaper in her hallway was fabulously swirly. I thought that it was the coolest place ever. Full stop. Auntie Pam always had a different hairstyle. She was as thin as a rake, and smoked non-stop. She was always on trend - maxi skirt, Charlie's Angels jump suit, a shaggy perm...
There was a shell that sat on a side table in the hall. It was a huge conch shell. I was fascinated by it, and had to physically restrain myself from picking it up. You didn't pick up Auntie Pam's ornaments and nick nacks. Auntie Pam wouldn't like it. I imagined that it must have come from abroad, which may as well have been the moon for all I knew of holidaying in warmer climes. We didn't go on holiday until I was at least ten, and the furthest I'd been up until that point was probably a day trip to Weymouth. The shell was exotic. Like a prawn cocktail or vol au vents. I did pick it up once. I cradled it in my arms. I put it to my ear and listened for the far away sea. I accidentally snapped one of the spikes of the shell. It came away in my hand. A horrifying moment.
I haven't seen Auntie Pam since my late teens, and I was very sad to hear that she has become unwell. I wonder if the conch shell still has pride of place in the hallway? I have shells all over the house. It's probably a cliche, considering that I live by the sea. But they find their way into my pocket and into my home. They still fascinate me, even though the ones that get swept up onto the beach are no way near as fabulous as that beautiful conch shell.
I hadn't thought of it in years. Or the fun me and my sister used to have at Auntie Pam's. I had forgotten all about catching grass snakes, playing bumpety bump down the stairs and sipping Tizer from Tupperware beakers. There were Smiley Faces biscuits, scalextrix and Starskey and Hutch on the TV. My memory has been stirred by an idea that I had for a blog post. A post about my love of sea shells. Which has in turn become this post. A snap shot of my childhood. A bundle of memories.
I love that.