August 2006 – The Bulldog Bash and Barrie

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Aged 18, just before I became pregnant

Aged 18, just before I became pregnant

I wrote my list on a sunny day in August at the 25th Bulldog Bash, a Hell’s Angels-run biker festival. I’d gone with my (at the time) boyfriend of a year, Barrie, along with several of our friends and a few of his family, who went every year. This was the first time I’d been and I was having a great time. Later that day I would be going to see a line-up of bands that included Skindred, Hundred Reasons, Breed 77 and Pitchshifter, but for now, I was lazing in the sunshine. A warm breeze drifted gently over my skin. As I lay on the grass gazing up at the sky, Barrie’s face entered my field of view.
“Come on,” he said, “Let’s go and see the custom bike tent.” Having no objection, I followed him to a large marquee filled with customised motorbikes of impressive skill and varying taste. My interest piqued, I wandered around enthusiastically until we got to a shiny chrome number and something sparkled in my mind. I turned to Barrie excitedly.
“I should totally make a custom bike; I want to make one just like the bike from Ghostrider!”
Barrie laughed. “Wiggle, you never do any of the stuff you say you’re going to do.”
“Oh.” I said, momentarily deflated. I thought for a few seconds. “Well, that’s mainly because I don’t remember that I want to do things until I think of something else I want to do. I should make a list of all the things I want to do, then I won’t forget and I’ll actually do some of it.”
“That could work.” said Barrie “Might as well try it.”
So I found a place to sit down and wrote out as much as I could remember wanting to do. I was quite surprised by how long the list was. When I showed it to them my friends unanimously agreed the list was a good idea but many of them thought I had over-reached.
“Go to space or the moon on holiday” one of them quoted, as the rest howled with laughter. (This was before commercial space flights were available, so I can see why people may have had their doubts; however I was pretty confident it would be commonplace by the time I hit 80. I still am confident; it’s just a matter of waiting for the cost to drop.)
“You seriously think you can do everything on this list?” someone asked.
“I don’t have to do all of it,” I explained. “That’s the point. It’s a list of things I want to do with my life, not things I have to do with it. If I think of something new I can add it and if I change my mind about something I can remove it. I’ll be more than happy if I can cross off less than half of it.”
***
Four weeks after we returned from the Bulldog Bash, I realised there was something that hadn’t returned. I was five days late for my period. It had happened before, being one or two days late and had always been nothing, so I wasn’t really worried as I picked up a precautionary pregnancy test. As you can imagine, I was pretty surprised to discover the pregnancy test was positive. I went straight out and bought another one, taking it in the shopping centre’s bathrooms. Also positive. The third one too. For a while, I sat there in shock. Then I called Barrie, asking him to meet me in town. When he arrived, I didn’t beat around the bush.
“I’m pregnant.” I announced. Barrie’s response was not particularly satisfying but to be fair, the poor bloke was in shock as well. Suffice it to say that half an hour later I had broken up with him. I’d been thinking about it for a week or so already anyway. Some weeks of discussion followed, the outcome of which was that we would remain friends and bring up our child between us, but separately.
It can’t be said that my family took the news well either; I was 18, unemployed and (worse, for my Irish Catholic Father), unwed. I was also, for the sake of honesty, on medication for a mental health condition. Several people advised me to have an abortion; I never even considered it. I always wanted to be a Mum and an abortion or adoption were never options for me. So, I was going to be crossing ‘No.14: Have Children’ off of my list a lot sooner than I had intended.

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