Looking for Spot!

Zen’s post about Neil Armstrong is an ‘urban myth’.  Nonetheless, events in childhood can have a very strong influence.

There are two places I’ve always wanted to visit: China and Australia.

The urge to visit China started when I was about seven or eight and I read one of a series of books about twins by Lucy Fitch Perkins. I’d read most of her other ‘twin’ books, but the story of  the Chinese twins caught my imagination: round doors, a different form of writing and girls not being educated. At eight, I vowed I’d get there one day…

Even stranger is my reason for wanting to visit Australia.

Until I was six and a half, I lived in a flat just down the way from the Oval Cricket Ground. At that age, I moved to Merton Park – Wimbledon for those who don’t know London – into a house with a garden.  Almost immediately, my father bought me a dog – which was black and white and which I, with typical six-year-old inspiration, promptly named “Spot”.

It was many years later that I came to understand that not only did my mother not like my father, but that she liked cats, dogs and all other ‘critters’ even less.

I came home from school one day to find that Spot had gone, vanished without a trace…  When I asked what had happened to my dog, my mother told me that a very nice Australian couple had seen Spot and wanted to take him back with them to Australia. I vowed that one day I’d go to Australia to find him…

I sometimes wonder how many ‘dreams’ are created in childhood – from books, songs, or from comments by adults – or am I just the ‘odd’ one!

13 thoughts on “Looking for Spot!”

  1. I can’t get over that – coming home to find your dog had gone. How old were you? It’s so terrible – have you ever forgiven her?

  2. Peter

    Delighted to know that I’m not the only one. Eerm! but how does the desire ‘to go to sea’ translate to joining the RAF!


    I was probably about seven. Spot wasn’t around for very long! The problem was that I believed the story – why would I not? 🙂

  3. It was a time Boa when we followed our parent’s wishes! My dad was in the RAF, I was an RAF ‘brat’. It’s a complex story, which probably revolves around a father trying to placate a mother.

  4. Boadicea: I will follow in your foot steps in about two months when I set off for Hong Kong, Shanghai, and Zhejiang.

    When my pets died my parents always let me know what happened to them. Oft I would be asked to help bury it.

  5. I’m with pseu on this rather than being conned into wishes for travel I would have harboured a lifelong hatred for my mother and wished her dead or ‘transported’ to Australia herself!
    The poor thing was probably abandoned or dumped in a shelter.
    You know I wish I hadn’t read this I find it rather upsetting that anyone could stoop so low as to do it to their own daughter. There was no love lost between my mother and myself either.
    I sort of fail to understand why they do/did such things, it would never have occurred to me to do such to my child, (irritating superfluous husbands being quite a different matter! But NOT the dog/s!) Mine actually wrote to me via my solicitor using a second class stamp to tell me of my father’s death, quite deliberately so that I would miss the funeral. Unfortunately for her a clerk opened it by mistake and called me at my office, I made it with minutes to spare totally unsuitably dressed much to her chagrin. One of the more amusing memories. As for doing what parents WANTED?
    You must be bloody joking! I was out of there at 18 and rarely visited thereafter.

    I never wanted to go anywhere very much. I very soon realised in life that the grass was not greener the other side of the fence. It has always been a source of irritation to me that I have moved as much as I have. I envy friends who still live in the same house they were born in, I have quite a few like that. Nothing like looking over acres that have been in your family for a few hundred years.
    Sod the Great Wall, more likely rebuild Offa’s Dike!

  6. I lived in a bit of a dream world, as a child and as a teenager, and basically used to entertain myself a lot by reading. I became totally obsessed, for about a year, by A Tale of Two Cities, mainly because I thought it was such a cracking story, but also because of its portrayal of France and the horrors of revolution. Learning to speak French fluently wasn’t what most kids in Wigan aspired to, but I’m sure that novel had something to do with it, in my case.

  7. Thanks for the comments – and the sympathy! Like you, Christina, I was out of there at 18 and have endeavoured to use my experiences as a guide of what-not-to-do with my own daughters.

    I tend to think I would have had the travel bug whatever happened – but I do know that my desire to visit both China and Australia was born from the book and Spot.

    I was never tempted to take the £10 Pom option. I did learn some things from my mother – one useful tip was never to leave the house without sufficient money to get oneself home. There was no way I was going to be stuck anywhere for two years – so for many years I always had the ‘other half’ of a return ticket ‘home’!

    It’s odd, Christopher, but I wasn’t that fussed about going to Shanghai – until I got there. I keep promising myself a return trip to China and I’d definitely put Shanghai on the visit list.

    Claire – I’m sure you’re right! Many in Wigan must have thought you a little odd!

    Christina, while I agree about rebuilding Offa’s Dyke (and Hadrian’s Wall), standing on either of those edifices doesn’t have quite the same excitement that I felt on the Great Wall!

  8. Boadicea: I’m actually not fussed to go to China at all, it was something I was pressured into doing. Hong Kong and Macau are somewhat interesting, Taiwan is wonderful. China itself is just too big and it’s a right pain to go there. (I’m obliged to go as a US citizen and pay a steep visa fee on top of that)

  9. OMG – getting rid of your dog, Boa?!!! That’s not just mean, its evil!

    I have a thing about Yellowstone Park which all started with Yogi Bear but was emphasised by a set of Viewmaster (anyone remember that?) slides featuring the geysers and wildlife of Yellowstone. Still have to get there, but one day….

    And Corfu because of Gerald Durrell’s My Family and Other Animals and to search for geckos. 🙂

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