Sunday, 6 October 2013

Mugged by a memory

Ever since I woke up this morning, I've been revisiting a memory from early childhood.  Why today, and why so vividly, I have no idea.

I was with my father in a market in London.  Right now I can feel his hand wrapped tightly around mine, warm and comforting, as we crossed a busy main road.  I was so little, and he seemed so big to me, his youngest daughter - dark, with almost jet-black hair.  We walked into the market and he became engrossed in a stall selling electrical gizmos.  I didn't wander, but was far enough away for a blond, tall man in a yellow sheepskin coat to approach me and hand me a leaflet, saying "give this to your dad".  He was friendly and smiled, and called me pretty so I took it. 

When I handed it over as instructed, Dad did something that, on reflection, was just amazing.  He glanced at it, asked me gently who had given it to me; I pointed at the man who hadn't walked far away.  Dad strode up to him (bearing in mind this guy was considerably taller than Dad's 5'6) and engaged him in chat before yelling in his face that he was a coward to use children to spread his poison.  "If you've got anything to say, you say it to me, not my little girl".  The leaflet went in the bin, I asked but wasn't told what it said, and I got a stern lecture about talking to strangers - even nice, smiley, friendly strangers.  I can still remember the look of frozen surprise on the man's face as my fair, terribly English father grabbed the hand of the little, dark girl he'd encountered earlier.

It was many years later that we were in another (or the same?) market, and another (or the same?) man in a yellow sheepskin coat was handing out flyers.  This time, he sneaked one into my hand.  This time, I read it and stuck it in the next bin without having any understanding of what the National Front stood for.

1 comment:

  1. TYour dad was quite right, wasn't he? It didn't matter what the message was, kind, helpful, advert, political or whatever, that man should never have used a child in that way.
    J x
    A lovely memory of a caring, protective father.