Elizabethd came up with the idea of writing about five special childhood memories. This was supposed to be on purplecoo but I got so carried away that I thought I had better move it here.
Being picked up from school by my grandmother on a Monday. In winter she would wear her fur coat which I thought was the most beautiful thing I had ever felt. I used to sit next to her on the bus and rub my cheek against the sleeve. Sometimes we would go into town to the toy shop. It was unutterably exciting to know that she would buy me something, unlike the occasions when we passed by with my mother who was always saying "We'll see". I used to hug the excitment to me as we walked up the street. I never asked for anything because it was best to just look longingly and wait for the glorious moment when she would say "Do you like that, love? Shall I buy it for you for a treat?" Looking back they would be little things. I don't imagine a lot of money was ever spent because there wasn't a lot but it was the precious sense of knowing that I would walk away with a tiny doll, a little wooden horse or best of all a kaleidoscope that made me all warm and glowy with excitement. And all without asking.
Making a den under the scrubby bush on the common land opposite our house with my brother and my friend Carol. We would gather long grass to make a bed and stones to define the doorway. We would make a pretend fire with sticks and crumpled cigarette packets and sit inside the bush convinced no one could see us. For days we would bring out sandwiches and watery orange cordial and eat every meal we could hidden under the leaves. When I first saw the place again having been away between the ages of eleven and nineteen I was astonished at how close the bush was to the road and at how small it was, even ten years on. I have a scar on my knee from falling out of it but it was hard to see how I could have got high enough up to fall for more than about two feet.
Tending my little plot of garden at my Nana's house, decorating the edge with shells brought back from a cold and windy holiday in Scarborough. She planted some lily of the valley for me and let me have marigolds and love in a mist to put in a neat row behind the shells. She loved to garden. When I remember her I see her on her knees on her foam kneeler, pushing her hair back from her eyes. "How do you know which are weeds Nana?" I asked her once. "I don't know" she said, "I have just learnt from watching I suppose. Shall I teach you?" And she taught me to identify chickweed and dandelions and many that I still don't know the names of, after twenty years of gardening my own garden. I think my love of gardening started there wielding my own little trowel.
The utter excitement of going along to join the library by myself after school. I must have been about nine or ten. The library was a grand stone building and I had carefully brought along with me everything I needed to join. I spent ages ecstatic at the shelves, taking out books, making a pile, putting something back and adding to it and then carefully balanced the four books which the sign said you could take out at a time and carried them to the desk. The librarian slowly filled in my details and looked over her glasses at me. "You will have to come back for your cards." I couldn't understand. "You can't take any books out now," she said sharply. "You will have to come back next week to pick up your cards." I managed to get out of the big heavy wooden door before the tears came.
Poached eggs, perfectly cooked, on buttery toast, my favourite tea at Nana's, surpassed only by being allowed to stay up and watch The Black and White Minstrels.