I was at a writing workshop this weekend and one exercise involved writing about our childhood homes. When the first few pieces were read out they involved anecdotes of family arguments and illness etc.
Some of the people involved grew up during the War, so it’s not surprising that there were some bad memories, but the tutor commented that her experience shows the vast majority of people will write something negative. I suppose this ties in with the fact that first memories are often of some traumatic experience.
What I wrote on Saturday was fairly positive or, at worst, objective: being literal minded, I wrote about the home itself, in a London suburb – starting with the red brick façade, then the different types of roses that grew in circular beds in the garden and how we’d empty the tea pot and bury banana skins under them to make them grow, the dark-leaved euonymous hedge that had a tendence to be thick with caterpillar silk, and the small pane of stained glass alongside the front door.
I was reminded of another workshop exercise some years ago with a different tutor where we were asked to think of an abstract noun. Among the despair, stress, anger, anxiety and fear, my own choice of happiness seemed sadly superficial.
As for the picture – taken Friday afternoon en route to the course – does it matter if the glass is half full or half empty? After all, there’s a little wine in it still, the sun is shining, and there is water with boats as a backdrop.