Act 2 Scene 2 – Attic Pastimes
TIME PERIOD: Peter 14 – 20 years; Paul 8-14 years.
During this period I was at my closest to Peter. I recall endless hours together in his attic at the top of the house. We would finish family tea at 6.30 pm, and I would wait in my room to hear the attic door being flung open, at which point I would go upstairs and do what was then currently in vogue for us.
Attic Pastimes (always evening)
Cards. From about eight onwards I would play cards with Peter most nights. These games included rummy and trumps. Here I would say the competitive rumblings between us started because, notwithstanding the age difference, if you have the best cards, you will usually win. And there is absolutely no doubt, that I had far greater luck with the cards in my hands than Peter ever had at that time. Luck in cards I have inherited from my mother. So I would actually win more times than not, certainly more as I reached ten and beyond. With me, Peter never used bad language, but many a time he threw his cards down muttering how I had the luck of the Gods.
Hand-ball. The attic was a wide room that went across several rooms below.
Using at one end of the pitch Peter’s bed and at the other a sitting area, we played on our knees hand ball with a tennis ball. There was also a half way line that you could not cross. This lasted three years or so from around ten. Matches were hugely competitive and I wonder how much noise they made. Matches ended in frequent disagreements. Indeed, even today I would still argue that Peter had a huge reach advantage, and that our goals should not have been the same size. Often I would storm downstairs after a defeat as, in the perspective of a ten year old, the result was simply not fair. Of our early games, this was the only one that resulted in a storm out. With cards I would be sent away if I was winning too easily.
Darts. This started from about twelve. Normally we would start playing around October ready for the Family Darts Competition….male v female…at Christmas. An enormously serious event in the family calendar. Peter and my darts contests, in the early years, were actually fairly subdued affairs, relative to the others. Possibly because we were both fairly hopeless. However, darts was a catalyst for future battles. As Peter was away at Uni much of the time, I started to practice. A half an hour or so every night. Maybe an hour a day. Simply to beat Peter. Consequently, I got on a par with him…remember he had a huge reach advantage which I would regularly point out. Peter was not amused with my practising…cheating he called it.
Music. This was non-competitive. Peter was very hip at the time in his musical tastes. Accordingly, through spending some many hours in the attic with his music blaring away, I learnt, and still remember, the lyrics to all Beatles, Rolling Stones, Bob Marley, Joni Mitchell, James Taylor, Joan Baez, along with numerous others, including, the musical love of Fred’s life, and of mine now as an adult, Bob Dylan. Peter didn’t really do nuts, but if he did, he was totally nuts about Bob Dylan. Even for a time he wore Bob Dylan hats in the house during the entire day. Possibly, music is my fondest memory of Peter…the hours spent just listening to songs, him explaining to me what various songs meant. Indeed, in Peter’s style, he would play me a song a couple of times and then ask me to tell him what I thought it meant. This was very much his style of educating and coaching.
Paul, Peter’s younger brother.
Peter Batting at Millfield 1st XI Pitch, Glastonbury Tor in the background