Serially Lost – Part I

Today’s Writing 101 challenge is to write the first part of a trilogy of posts about losses ….

My starting point should be my endpoint in an ideal world, but it is not always so. This is about losing my way in a very literal sense. It happened many years ago on a cold November evening in my hometown of Croydon. I was about 11 years old and returning home on a coach after a school trip to see the play “Emil and the Detectives”.

As the coach entered the outer suburbs of the town I thought I recognized my local streets. I asked to be dropped off and the driver – and presumably staff from the school – duly obliged. It was only as the coach drove off that I realised I had made a terrible mistake. I did not know where I was and had no idea how to find my way home.

It is tempting to say the scene was redolent of Dickensian London; the yellow glow from the lamp-posts bravely trying to penetrate the early evening fog, the distant shouts of street traders, a feral dog scavenging among the overflowing dustbins, and someone with a well-concealed knife furtively looking for his next victim. This would be an exaggeration. The details are as lost as I was at the time and I do not remember how I found my way home. My parents did not have a telephone. These were days of primitive technology, when our cathode-ray televisions – still in black and white – had changed their screen resolution from 405 to 625 lines (how useful is it to remember such details?), hardly high definition.

But the feelings remain highly defined. Of being very small, afraid and alone. A constellation of feelings that formed a template for future losses. Which is of course another story…


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