Helen (heleninwales) wrote,

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An activity from the creative writing course which I thought was droll enough to post here

I had great difficulty with Activity 3.6. We were supposed to write about a memory of a character or place. Perhaps I wrongly assumed that it had to be from childhood (the example we were given referred back to the author's childhood). That's not a problem. I have lots of early memories, but they're just fragments, like a little shard from a mosaic. At first I couldn't think of anything that I could make a coherent narrative out of.

But eventually my brain gave me this...

I stare at my grandmother. She is putting on her hat and I'm fascinated by her look of concentration, the way her mouth purses into a tight line and the tentative way her hands guide the long hatpin through the thick felt of the hat and into her head. I wonder why she shows no sign of feeling any pain, why there is no blood. My mother can do this trick too, though she doesn't do it so often. She usually wears a soft beret and only occasionally wears a hat substantial enough to need anchoring with a long pin.

The thing that bothers me is that I know I will have to master this skill when I'm older and I'm a little scared. I'm sure it must hurt, yet somehow you have to learn not to show it. Like an African tribeswoman undergoing an initiation rite, you have to pretend to be perfectly oblivious to pain. It must be like corsets and tight shoes and having babies, all the things I can forget about now but will have to face when I grow up.

It was only years later that I realised that my Gran's look of concentration was because she was desperately trying not to stab herself in the head, that in fact the long pin merely speared the hair and not the scalp.

I never did learn the arcane skill of skewering a hat to my head with a hatpin. I never wore a corset either. The 60s happened and women abandoned restrictive underwear, wore miniskirts and tights and serious hats only appeared at weddings.

Tags: a215, creative writing, memories

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