As you can imagine growing up with a mother who goes by the name ‘The Red Queen’ was never going to be a walk in the park, however my adventures would make Alice herself blush.
As I head rapidly to my 40th birthday I can finally understand when daughters say “My mother is my best friend” I now enjoy holidays with my parents, long conversations on a weekly basis and discussions that end with “We can agree to disagree” rather than “I hate you, you don’t understand!”
I was not by any stretch of the imagination an easy child, at the age of two I had decided to leave home. I could not be dissuaded and certainly wasn’t going to back down so my parent sat me in the front of the car with my toy dog and my trundle pusher (a rather large pram) and let me pretend to drive the 200 plus miles to Hartlepool to visit my grandparents.
As I got older, my temper got worse, my parents did their best to cope, and to be frank how they didn’t give me away is a miracle.
The main problem with myself and ‘Queenie’ was not that one said black the other said white it was that we both said different shades of grey. We could spend hours arguing ‘til we were blue in the face only to find once we had stepped away we were both saying the same thing,
The Queen had her own unique way of parenting for example, I completely agree that the queue for the changing room in M&S was far too long, however did I really need to be pushed into the clothes rails having my top whip off and when I tried to complain was told don’t worry no one wants to look at a little girl in her underwear, apparently paedophiles don’t shop in M&S!
Or on car trips when we drove past a cemetery (always the dead centre of town) we were encouraged to wave to see if anyone would wave back! Or driving along the M3 in Hanworth where you can spot the Unigate building with the statues of cows on top “Oh look at the suicidal cows, I hope they don’t jump until we are past, we’ve just cleaned the car!”
As my sister and I reached out teens it was Queenie who used to colour our hair and our friends hair various shades of red, blue and green – her philosophy was ‘they are young, they could be dabbling in something dangerous, it is only hair, it will grow out’. It was Queenie who spent hours making the most beautiful boned purple silk short evening dress for my sisters graduation and then bought her the Doc Martens to wear with it!
I was taken to Greenpeace rallies in my pushchair and now still protest against animal testing, the war and anything else I strongly believe in. The best bit of advice she gave me in this area was if you believe that strongly in something, fight for it. I will bail you out if it’s for a good cause. She also told me to always believe in myself, live life to the full, follow my dreams but never be afraid to accept that along the way we all make mistakes — everyone is capable of mistakes and it’s never too late to say sorry.
She has accepted who I am tattooed, pierced and independent. In return I believe I have taught her a level of acceptance she may not have realised she had. I hope my daughter now 14 and I can have a relationship like the one I have with Queenie.
But let me tell you, life through the looking glass was certainly a trip!!
This article is from my beautiful, often wayward daughter Kate a little girl who grew up to be a friend.