Windows on Life
I remember gazing through the windows of the house where I was born as life passed by. It wasn’t ’passing me by’ ; the front door of our home opened on to a front step which was on the footpath. There was a token front “garden” which measured about 10 feet by 2 feet and it had a wall which had been built with railings but they had long gone as part of the war effort. As with most metals about the country they had been reclaimed and, as I was always told, they had been turned into ships and airplanes to defend our shores against the evil hordes of Nazis who would otherwise invade us. Three or four is possibly the youngest age I remember at which I poked my nose above the window sill and seeing out in to the wide and foreboding, exciting but somehow detached world. The kitchen window at the back of the house looked down a hill towards the River Mersey and it was a great view over one of the local parks and accompanied by the sounds of the river and a bustling port.
The home I was born into was a terraced 2 up 2 down with no bathroom and an outside toilet in a working class area in The Wirral. Wasn’t everything working class then? It certainly seemed that way for some time. I can’t recall exactly when I became aware of the class system but there is one recollection I have of a Royal visit to Camel Laird Shipyard in Birkenhead by Queen Elizabeth and The Duke of Edinburgh. Along with thousands upon thousands of other people we lined the dingy streets and I was hand in hand with my Mum, probably as high as her knees, so maybe 4 or 5 years of age.
Being in the middle of bustling crowds was not unusual then as the world seemed to consist of thronging crowds going here and there, whether it was shopping or going to work on a bus or by train or by ferry. There was the relative safety and security of home where I could look out of the window and straight onto the footpath and then there was the other world which I always seemed to view through some kind of window. It would be many years before I became aware of the expression ‘in the world but not of it’.
I recall clearly that in some way I was an observer of the world and that it was something that was happening not as a separate entity to me but as part of me. There was a detached feeling whilst at the same time I was a part of it, a little like my left foot which is a part of me but is prone to dance by itself on occasions. It so obviously belongs to me and I do not have feelings of dissociation more a feeling of detachment.
Throughout my years I have always found that the windows on life change frequently perhaps depending to a large extent on the material possessions that ebb and flow as a natural consequence of being in a complex environment with so many contributing factors. Account may also be taken of the emotional turmoil and troubles and highs and lows which will, despite feelings in the depths of despair or in the heights of passion, will always change over time.
I am sure that somewhere there is a psychiatrist with an opinion to offer on this matter which would involve very complex analysis but I am content with my take on the world and the view I have though the windows on life.
Undoubtedly the windows which I look through are a part of me are of my creation and the life beyond is the one I imagineer into existence.