My Secret Friend
Out on the path, I wait for her
my friend who’s just for me.
We play and sing and laugh a lot,
though no-one else can see.
You call her imaginary,
but she’s real and best of all,
she’s made a solemn promise
to be here when I call.
My mum says she’s not really there,
though the truth is mum don’t know
the fun me and my friend have had
or the places that we go.
We get lost in the forest
and fly up to the stars,
then sit upon the rooftops
throwing jelly beans at cars.
We’ve dug up buried treasure
and stared Blackbeard in the face.
And we’ve ridden Pegasus
to see the earth from space.
If you think I may be fibbing,
I’ll tell you it’s no lie -
to say we’ve seen most everything,
my secret friend and I.
But now the time is ticking,
she’s never usually late.
But here I am still waiting
sitting by the gate.
I feel the world revolving
as seasons come and go.
I never thought she wouldn’t come,
but perhaps I finally know.
That secret friends are mortal
and don’t last forever,
but I’m quite sure I won’t forget
the times we spent together.
I think I hear the clock indoors
chiming half past four.
The day has almost passed without her,
I’m not so little anymore.
But, just as I turn to go inside,
I hear the squeaking gate
“I’m so sorry,” my friend cries
“I didn’t mean to be this late”!
The world turns again to greet the moon
and my friend and I shall roam,
weaving in and out of dreams
making memories our own.
So, grown-ups if you’re finding,
modern life hard to survive,
wait a while, by the gate
you never know who may arrive.
Though you may not have seen them
for about a hundred years,
secret friends remain with us
and help allay our fears
that we all grow old and crinkly
and forget how to dance and laugh
just have a little patience
and pause there on the path.
This is Daisy, the little girl who inspired the poem "My Secret Friend". She's a proper character who always seems to have a million and one very important things to attend to which grown ups just wouldn't understand. Daisy is one of those kids who, I can believe, won't be very much different at all when she's forty to the way she is right now: she's got very definite ideas about how things should be.
Her mum, Jo, is the kind of parent that every kid should be privileged to have: a true creative spirit, she encourages both of her children to strike out and try things for themselves, rather than swaddling them in cotton wool and being fearful of what the world may throw their way.
I love Jo's photographs, they evoke very definite moods - the one below makes me want to listen to Don Henley's "The Boys of Summer", dig my toes into Californian sand and comb lemon juice through my hair for that authentic beach babe look!
It's one of those images that really ties me to a certain place and time: my own version of California being Margate, circa 1993, bombing down the A2 in a friend's Mk II Escort Mexico for endless weekends of camping - slabs of Fosters lager, broken up and wedged into the nooks and crannies around the huge speaker which took up most of the boot space.
We did indeed have our hair slicked back and our Wayfarers on. Halcyon days of lazing on the beach listening to music until our skin burned (we'd no more spend our beer money on sun lotion than we'd swim in the sea and ruin our crispy gelled hairstyles!), then back to the campsite for a bonfire and rounds of ghost story-telling until our closest tented neighbours yelled at us to shut up and go to sleep.
Just as a particular scent can open a window to our past, a photograph can be equally evocative. For me, Jo's images vibrate with the resonance of my own memories, harking back to a romantic, idealised version of my formative years. Yes, I'm mixing truth with the kind of faded, curled-edged vintage lushness which probably never actually existed, but that just goes to prove the power of a really great definitive image.