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When I'm Big...
by Gwen Boswell

I was a deep child, note deep and not strange please. I remember developing firm opinions and strategies for my future from a very early age. I knew that when I was big, measuring if I had really made it in life would depend on two things, being able to afford to drink Ribena and having a swinging chair in the garden. How I moped when I asked mum to buy some Ribena, but she never would, far too dear. Swinging chairs smacked of summer, relaxation and a garden big enough for the chair to actually swing, not like our threadbare, faded deckchair that I could never quite work out how to get up anyway.

I must confess to getting a bit mixed up on the job front though. I thought that when you were big, someone – who, I was not sure – the government, the Queen, actually chose your job for you. I remember being really worried in case that special job selector person determined I should be a mountain climber (OK, OK, I was a bit strange). I hated heights, so I prayed that the job chosen for me would be at the ground level of an office block, or anything really that just meant getting the bus to work at the start of the day rather than the alpine ski lift.

I had very specific ideas on fashion and I envied the teenagers all the control they had over their appearance. My mum insisted that for mass I should wear a little white blouse, pink checked suit and straw hat, but oh, how I ached to be able to wear really lovely black fishnet tights, white patent stilettos with a mini-skirt and pointy bra. I knew just how I would do my make up too. I’d have my eyes exactly like Dusty Springfield’s and the same shiny lips as Kathy Kirby. My mum wouldn’t let me though, she said I was too young. But that’s not really fair is it, to be penalised for developing a remarkable sense of fashion at six. Mum should have recognised my free spirit and encouraged my early development of style, if she had I bet I wouldn’t have ended up working for local government; a lot to answer for does my mum.

But now I am big and there are lots of signs that I have made it in life. For one, I drink Ribena all the time now, so I feel this makes me pretty important. I know my times tables too, I was always certain that when I was big, I’d actually remember them and I do – even the 9’s. If a grumpy old dinner lady insisted that I eat half a dozen soggy sprouts, I’d tell her to nick off. I would not force them down me, heaving my heart up minutes later.

I promised myself when I was big I’d stay up all night if I wanted to, I would never go to bed at 7.00pm never, ever, never again. Word of warning here, be careful what you wish for, as one insomniac later said...

But it’s good that some things never change from when we are little and as for me, I still want to dress like a teenager.