My father died in 1971. He left school at the earliest possible age - when you realise that he was born in around 1890 only 20 odd years after the first Education Act bringing in Compulsory Education then I don't expect he had all that much education. If any amongst you care to look how much - feel free - but when I started looking it became too complicated.
He came from a very working class background but his saving grace was that although he was one of eight his father was a lay preacher Methodist and education was taken seriously and they were home schooled as much as it was possible when his parents were not educated either. But he valued it and one thing he did was to teach himself Latin in as much as was possible. He loved gardening (we had a big garden, he grew lots of veg and flowers) and he loved their names. He trotted them out at every opportunity throughout.( Latin is an easy language to learn on the surface because you say it as it reads). He 'rose through the ranks' to have a reasonably good job and made sure the three of us would not fare badly education wise. I was lucky being born last (1932) and passing the scholarship and 'staying on' at school a little longer.
And so we were away Dad and I - we searched for wild flowers and could trot out their Latin names and those of the garden plants in our garden. How he would have loved Chelsea.
I have always watched the offerings we are given on the television. And - one year - what excitement- a friend who was a member of the RHS couldn't go on members day and she gave me her membership entrance card!
I lived in Wolverhampton at the time. I caught the six o'clock train to London, changed to the tube and was more or less there at opening time. The tent with all the exhibits, the show gardens, the atmosphere, the famous faces. I was totally and completely overwhelmed. Be lunchtime, when I had intended to get lunch (bear in mind that by this time I had gone through University, gone through the ranks of teaching and travelled extensively abroad so was used to crowds)I just wanted to get home. I left Chelsea and made for the train like a frightened rabbit.
How I love it on television. I never miss a programme, I gobble it all up, I hear the latin names and remember my Dad, I jot down the names of plants I fancy adding to my garden. But invite me to go again??? No thanks - I looked at HM in her buggy seemingly interested in what she was being told and I marvelled at how she could keep up and how she could make polite conversation and (if I had been wearing one I would have taken my hat off to her).