Friday, 5 April 2013

Once Upon a Time in Iran …

I've been a bit busy but I'm back and currently working on a new story that I'm pretty much making up as I go along. Never fear, there'll be a ghost in it!  Meanwhile, I had a trip down memory lane today ...

There is a little known fact about myself that I don’t often share with people.  You all know about my love of the TV programme The Avengers, Cadbury’s giant chocolate buttons, taekwondo and my badly kept secret job.

I’m currently on my over-long holidays from the secret job and I've been wasting tax payers’ money/watching a film called Argo.  It’s based in Iran during the 1979 siege of the American Embassy in Tehran.  Six Americans escape into the Canadian ambassador’s residence and the CIA helped to create an outlandish plot to get them out of Iran by posing as a film crew.

What on earth has this got to do with my little known fact about myself?  I have been to Iran.  I often forget that fact but it’s true.  I went there when I was a child and just like in Argo, we had our own dash to the airport when the revolution really kicked off.  A lot of people don’t believe me when I say I've been there but you can ask my dad.  He’ll soon put you straight.

My father made big metal things – that’s about as much as I ever understood about his job.  He would often take contracts to work abroad where he would earn far more money than he would in the UK.  Germany, South Africa, Ghana, you name it; he’s been there, and of course, Iran.  He’s been caught up in at least a couple of military coups, a revolution and I do believe I was nearly sold in marriage to a gentleman in Africa for a number of goats.  My father got an awful lot of mileage out of that one when I was naughty.

I was six at the time, it was late 1978, and I can only remember flashes of our stay there.  My mother and I were due to be there for about six months but we only lasted about three on account of the revolution.  I remember my father carrying me around on his shoulders around the crowded streets of Ahwaz and people trying to touch my blond hair.  It was hot, and I don’t mean holiday in Spain hot, I mean f***ing hot.  I went to a school called Passaguard, where I much preferred the American kids to the British (they were friendlier).  I remember dressing up as a witch at Halloween, probably not the best pagan related costume to wear when in an Islamic country, and I remember the shop down the road that used to sell me sweets through a hole in the wall, which we nick-named Tescos.

I remember the young Iranian man, Abbas, whose parents owned ‘Tescos’ and who used to drive us kids to school.  According to my dad he could steal anything on demand and he gave me an orange and white striped ball and introduced me to pistachio nuts.  I wonder what happened to him.  I remember my mother going bonkers when I played with the scorpions outside the house and the guard who sat at the front of the small compound we lived in.  And I remember playing with the Iranian children who lived near our compound and picking up a working knowledge of Farsi (Persian).

I also remember having to chuck a few things into a bag, being bundled into a car and rushed onto an plane to Bahrain.  The Shah went into exile, the revolution had kicked off and being British in Iran wasn't very healthy.  When I got back I had to stand up in assembly at school and the teacher telling everyone where I’d been.  I doubt the kids understood where Iran was and to be honest, I don’t think I did either.  But there is one overall thing that I remember: the few Iranian people that I met were always very kind to a small and cheeky blond girl from Leicester.  We are all human beings, after all.

Remember, we are the sum total of our memories and it might be worth delving into those while we're writing.  Now how can I manufacture a visit to Iran by The Ghost Hunters' Club ...

L K Jay's novels and novellas can be downloaded from Amazon all over the world, and possibly even in Iran if they really wanted to.

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  1. Beats my childhood memories of being chased by geese hands down!

  2. Very interesting memories, LK, and I think you could get a short story out of them - at least! Sadly, there's nothing quite so interesting amongst my childhood memories, though I remember my mother telling me that at the time of the Iranian Revolution they were living in a rented house which actually belonged to a family who were working in Iran. When the Revolution kicked off the owners returned, and wanted their house back sharpish, which forced my family into a hasty move.

    Seriously, though, I think you should write a short story about it. It'd be interesting!

  3. wow, that is really interesting! Our childhood was spent in Pembrokeshire, north Wales or Cornwall. Usually somewhere cramped & cheap. What an amazing memory to have. That would definitely make a great short story. Or even a novel.