Radio Scotland - Days Like This

Theme: Family

8th Birthday

Claire Askew

Here it is: the day that sees you

old enough to ride a pony home

through the back field's tall, hot grass on your own. All of a sudden, too old for the rope-swing, the wendy house; whirring restless in the heat like a daddy-long-legs.

This is a celebration of sticky cokes with straws, shades, sophisticated on the swing-seat in your first high-heels. In the midst of this summer of parched harvests - lying awake in the dusk, the combines combing the fields outside, on and on into the cooling dark. This is the day of wearing your new, blue, birthday bathing suit, even to bed - excited about nothing, bursting to be grown.

You're eight now, and invincible, itching with an impatience that could end the world. You're suddenly into boys and lipstick, magazines and an aloofness that incenses your mother. Eight, in the summer of swallows in the eaves and your sister's scare with a beesting; the summer that ends as they all do - with blackberries and black button-down pinafores for school. This is the halfway summer, lethal and wild - warming your new, white wellies in the porch, willing winter on, wilting; waiting for rain.

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