Writing yesterday about memories and how times have changed set me off thinking during the evening. I also remembered a very unhappy memory that John (Going Gently) had written about the other week concerning his childhood.
Did I have any unhappy memories I asked myself? Well I do remember a walloping I got for running round next door when I was about four and reporting something my mother had remarked about them to my father. Luckily the lady concerned was quite amused by it; but she did tell my mother, who was most embarrassed and gave me a real walloping for doing it (I never did such a thing again and I can't say it hurt my feelings all that much).
Some years later, when I was about nine or ten, a really terrible thing happened - and with hindsight I was so grateful that my mother shielded me from the worst of it.
Our neighbour (yes, the same one) was by this time a widow and lived with her sister, who was blind. Both were approaching ninety. One day when my mother and I were both upstairs for some reason we heard the sister calling us. She had felt her way round, being unable to see and she asked us to come quickly as 'Lizzie had had an accident'. My mother ran down the path with me in hot pursuit. As my mother rounded the corner she turned and shouted to me to go back home, go indoors and shut the door and not to come out for any reason whatsoever. Her command was so stern that I did as I was told immediately.
What had happened was that Lizzie had over-pumped the Primus stove and it had blown up in her face. Her hair caught fire and she ran outside into a breezy day. Within second her clothes were well alight. My mother, seeing this as she rounded the corner, obviously wanted to shield me from the worst sight you could imagine. Although mother wrapped Lizzie in a rug and smothered the flames, she died later in the day.
My mother was a strong woman and a wonderful mother to me - my father also adored me and spent hours playing pencil and paper games with me, or walking in the countryside looking for birds' nests or finding wild flowers.
But there was one occasion which, after all these years, still hurts when I think about it. When I was around nine, and a terrible chatterbox, always being told to talk less, the 'craze' of the moment was Autograph Albums. You got all your friends to write little verses in them and took them to school to pass around.
I wanted one for my birthday - and I was thrilled to get one - a dark green one with gold-edged pages. That evening, when my brother and his wife and my sister and her husband were there for my party cake, I asked everyone to write in it. It was such an exciting moment until I saw what they had all written. I can't remember all the poems/rhymes/sayings - but I remember two, which cut me to the quick. Somebody had written 'Give thy thoughts no tongue' and somebody else had written, 'Silence is golden, speech is silvern'. There were more, all along the same lines. I never took that book to school; I hid it at the back of the drawer - and it still hurts a little.