2. I have a mother who is quite big on the old wives' tales, I think she knows them all and employs a couple that have been proven true. Injuries were treated with honey, but going out with damp hair was not a big deal (we didn't do it because it is unseemly but mother knows it won't give you a cold), however we never put new shoes on the table (because we all know what happened in Blood Brothers). My Dad teased us more, or my sister more because I was addled by ear infections so I was a bit deaf, couldn't talk and a terrible temper until I was too old to fall for such things (uh, apart from the time as a teen my Dad told me white wax from my ears was my brain shedding). I think often somehow things would get lost in translation – which is how, when my Dad explained that the Queen had 2 birthdays and one was 'false' my sister came to understand the Queen celebrated the day she got her 'false leg' and we were reigned over by a sentimental amputee. Squeamish Kate
3. My mum was never big on old wives' tales, my grandmother was a font of useful folk wisdom - honey is an antiseptic! Use cobwebs in lieu of a bandage if you have a minor cut and no plasters! - and my dad used to like torturing me intellectually by making up false etymology when I asked him to define words for me. When it came to cracked-out theories, I used to come up with those all on my own. Back when my knowledge of human reproduction was basic at best, I thought that women gave birth to girls and men to boys. I still think that's the way it should be done. F1 Kate
4. I have always been a massive sceptic so if I was told something as a child that sounded unlikely I’d go down the library (kids – this was a kind of paper-based version of the internet. No seriously.) and do some research to see if adults were lying to me. As a result I can’t recall anything too mortifying (although I did spend far too long scouring book shops looking for the real, unabridged version of The Princess Bride).
I do, however, remember that when I was about 7 or 8 years old I lost a tooth and left a multiple-paged questionnaire for the Tooth Fairy to complete as I couldn’t work out what their business model was. I wanted to know why they bothered paying money for teeth when there were hundreds of animal skulls littering the countryside which they could scavenge for free or why they didn’t just set up a business partnership with dentists and centralise their collections. Gareth
5. Most kids are familiar with the Tooth Fairy, Easter bunny and Santa, but how many can boast their own pirate? When I was about 8 and my brother about 6, we were playing a game of make believe that somehow involved us writing letter to an imaginary sailor. We left it lying out on the dining room table. And when we went to get it the next day, there was a reply underneath! A pirate captain had found our note and written back to tell us about his life on the waves. This started a correspondence – we would write a letter at night and leave it on a windowsill and eagerly read the reply the next morning. (By the way, I feel I should point out this isn’t quite as ludicrous as it sounds – our house was practically on the edge of a cliff. We must have assumed he was climbing up every night to continue this no doubt fascinating exchange.) We exchanged several letters, and the captain regaled us with tales of life on the ocean waves, calling us “landlubbers” much to our chagrin (“no we are not! I wrote back indignantly, “we’ve been on a boat before”). Eventually, alas, the captain and his ship had to depart to “sail the seven seas”, although he assured us that he would be back one day, and perhaps we could even see his ship.
I clung onto belief in the captain for much longer than Santa or any of the others. Probably aided by the fact my parents denied all knowledge of the letters – every so often for the better part of 2 years I’d leave a letter on my windowsill to no reply. I did eventually realise he never existed. But a little part of me likes to think he’s still out there somewhere, shouting ‘avast me hearties!’ and swigging rum. Squeamish Louise