Do you remember Sweater Shop sweaters? They were a big deal growing up in the late 80's and early 90's. Every cool person in my school had one and wore it with pride. I, on the other hand, had mine about two years after they went out of fashion. This was one of many occasions where I've been late to the party with fashion, technology, music and the like. Whilst my friends were listening to 90's Rap, I was playing on repeat a cassette of 50's and 60's Rock and Roll. And even later in life, I watched Breaking Bad after all the fuss about Jesse and Walt was over.
There are lots of reasons for this. I think one of them is that I enjoy nostalgia. There is comfort in what has been. I still love music from the 60's and 70's and desperately wish I'd kept my Sony Walkman. I love to write with an actual pen on real paper. And I'm glad I am no longer judged (or if I am, I am old enough now not to care) on the brand and style of my trainers.
Growing up, it is so important to feel you belong - belonging to your family, group of friends, peers at school. Whilst this is part of our ancestral DNA for survival and being accepted into a community that will care for and protect us, there seems to be an unfortunate drive to keep up with the Joneses from a very young age. Belonging can come in all sorts of shapes and sizes, both positive and negative. Clubs such as Scouts, youth groups and sports teams offer a place where camaraderie and team spirit can be fostered and encouraged. My experience of being part of a club was one of a level playing field - we may have come from different families and backgrounds, but we wore a uniform and joined together in common activities. These things create a togetherness and sense of "I belong here".
So, back to my late arrival at the culture party. After a busy week, this past weekend I decided to read some fiction. I love reading mostly non-fiction and biographies. I rarely curl up with chic-lit or a crime thriller, preferring to read about how our brains work, feats of human endurance or how Scandinavians have got it so right! The last fiction book I read left me a bit flat - a suicidal girl, a cat and a library just didn't do it for me (sorry Matt Haig!) But this weekend I needed to give my brain a rest and chill out. One of the things that helps me to de-stress is doing things I loved as a child. Reading was a huge part of my childhood, and so, I rummaged through my daughters bookshelf and found a collection of books I had never read growing up.
The Famous Five by Enid Blyton was not on my reading list as a child. I was more a Nancy Drew, Sweet Dreams and Sweet Valley High reader. I've always been intrigued by the appeal of four children and their dog going off on adventures, getting into scrapes and drinking lashings of ginger beer. So, I decided this weekend to give them a go and see what I made of Julian, Dick, Anne, George, and Timothy.
Oh boy! I am hooked! So far, I've read the first two books: Five on a Treasure Island and Five Go Adventuring Again and I'm half way through the third: Five Run Away Together. Where have these wholesome, plucky and daring children been all my life?! These books have transported me to wind swept beaches, islands and secret passages, picnics and afternoon tea, sunny walks on the bay and bathing in the sea. One of the best bits about them is that Enid Blyton set the stories in and around my favourite place - Dorset, and Lulworth Cove in particular.
So, I am very happy to be later to the party on this occasion. The books are full of childhood nostalgia, taking me back to a time where children played until dark, roamed free in jeans and a sweater and weren't attached to a screen or device. They were content with each other, appreciating the bonds of friendship and the simple things in life. These stories are exactly the antidote I need right now, they are a world away from scary media headlines, overwhelming busy-ness and stresses of modern living. Bring on the cake and ginger beer I say, let's all head off to Kirrin Bay and have a splendid time!
What do you love that takes you back to a simpler time? I'd love to know in the comments below or on my Insta page @iamsarahalexcarter Please share this with others who may love nostalgia too - I'm sure they'd love to reminisce.
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