Saturday, August 13, 2005

From the chocolate box - a song for my imaginary friends - Gail Kavanagh

"You'll have to stop this talking to yourself," my mother said.
"People are saying there's something wrong with you."
My immediate reaction was embarrassment and shame. It never occurred
to me to say that I wasn't talking to myself. If I'd said I was
talking to imaginary friends my parents would have been convinced I
was crazy - or doo lally tap, as they used to say.

Doo Lally Tap
Doo Lally Tap
People who talk to people who aren't there are
Doo Lally Tap

So I told my friends they'd have to lay low for a while, at least
until my mother's friends stopped spying on me. I was the classic
candidate for imaginary friends, although I didn't realise it at
that age - I was an only child, my parents had few friends with
children of their own, I had never made any close friends my own age.
But in my imagination, I was never alone.

Doo Lally Tap
Doo Lally Tap
People who let their imagination run away with them are
Doo Lally Tap

My imaginary friends didn't have to be human. For a long time I had
an imaginary dog, until my parents relented and bought me a real
one. I was never without an imaginary horse, which looked a lot like
the one Tamzin rode in Monica Edward's books. When I discovered the
Moomin books of Tove Jannsen, I happily followed Moomintroll and the
Snork Maiden into their enchanted world.

Doo Lally Tap
Doo Lally Tap
People who have their noses stuck in a book are
Doo Lally Tap

If my parents had visions of me ending up in a padded cell having in
depth conversations with people and creatures no one else could see,
they needn't have worried. The world is well adapted to making sure
no one grows up hanging on to the innocence of their childhood. My
imaginary friends politely took to staying out of sight when their
presence might prove embarrassing, eventually settling into
my subconscious as all well behaved imaginary friends do. But they
refused to disappear completely.

Doo Lally Tap
Doo Lally Tap
People who stare dreamily off into the distance are
Doo Lally Tap

Through my teens and young womanhood I was repeatedly accused of
`day dreaming'. The only way I could be alone with my imaginary
friends was to run or bike for miles, giving them a free rein in my head.
I learned that slipping into a daydream any other time earned
me the title of `Typical Moony Eyed Teenager." I mooned around
painting, writing stories and doing other pointless things that
would clearly never help me earn a living in the real world.

Doo Lally Tap
Doo Lally Tap
People who can't get with the program are
Doo Lally Tap

Eventually I married, which seemed to be the only honorable thing to
do when my parents realised I would never make a proper career, and
started having children. Suddenly my lonely life was full of the
most enchanting little friends. And they had imaginary friends and
they weren't lonely onlies, so that knocked that theory on the head.
And they kept my imagination alive, making up Dungeons and Dragons
games for them and playing in our family orchestra.

Doo Lally Tap
Doo Lally Tap
People with no imaginary friends will soon go
Doo Lally Tap

Oh but so many years went by, and life got more and more serious and
my imagination retreated in horror at the reality pouring into my
mind day after day. I became everything my elders had entreated me
to be when I was young and moony eyed and now I feared for my own

Doo Lally Tap
Doo Lally Tap
Dancing in the moonlight is a sure sign you are
Doo Lally Tap

I thought they'd all gone, my imaginary friends, my imaginary
worlds, my beautiful horse that carried me deep into the realms of
dreams. Then one day he nudged me in the middle of the back, and I
heard giggles, and I smelt the Moomins' pine forest. I know I can find
my way back there, if I can just let go of the baggage I've
been carrying.

Doo Lally Tap
Doo Lally Tap
I will dance to the rhythm of
Doo Lally Tap.


At 8:34 PM, Blogger Lois said...

Such a beautiful story.You know Gail I never had any imaginary friends as I lived in a street full of children born in the 1930's there seemed to be hundreds of them ,families with 4.5. or 6 children was the norm .My Mother Jess being in her 30's only had my Brother John and I but I never remember being lonely ..lots of relatives living just around the corner made this possible...I loved children in my adult life and did spend lots of time in fairy land games and stretching their imagination with them..I was considered a bit weird in the street I lived in when I was married..Like the time I allowed the children to watch the birth of baby guinea pigs my Daughter had brought home to live with us.....I was I am afraid ostracised by the parents of children who visited my home ,it was alright to play in the sandpit,the cubby house,smim in the pool but to witness the birth of babies of guinea pigs.....was not imagination in the 1960's in my neighbourhood.....I have moved on and am so blessed to mix in another wonderful world of imagination through writing and wonderful friendships made in later life......Love Lois.x.


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