I’ve starting talking about myself, an unforgivable sin, and now there’s no stopping me.
I mentioned a story about grape hyacinths (muscari – below). Well my father was an excellent and enthusiastic gardener, and I liked being in the garden with him messing about, or just sitting watching what he was doing.
To give you a teeny bit of background, the scene opens at a time when I was about 3 and we lived on the hospital campus. It was a TB hospital, a thing which no longer exists, but they were very important in the days before there was drug treatment for TB. My father was the Medical Superintendant at one of these hospitals and this entitled us to live in a small bungalow near the hospital’s main gates.
I really liked the grape hyacinths, and one day, when I assume my father was at work and my mother busy with something else, I went into the garden and picked every one of them.
Having created several nice little bunches, I then went outside the garden gate and sat down on the ground, waiting for passers by.
When someone came near I held out my carefully created bunches of (stolen) flowers to sell to them. Apparently I must have seen this done by gypsies, and was keen to give it a go myself.
Perhaps fortunately there weren’t many people passing, though I did raise a penny ha’penny for one bunch (a little less than 1p in ‘new’ money) before my mother found me. She was so embarrassed and angry with me, and looking back I realise that she must have been frantic with worry when she couldn’t find me!
Maybe this was my first try out of a business – not a great success as I had limited resources and no fall back plan! Perishable goods too! One thing I do recall though the penny I ‘earned’ from my little scam was a ‘Bun penny’ – rather black with dirt, but nonetheless definitely with the head of Queen Victoria on it.
Funnily enough when my Mum was about 88 years old and very ill, we were reminiscing about life, and I said this was my earliest memory, and that I remembered she called me a gypsy. She laughed and said, “Well you did become rather a traveller!”
I asked her what she remembered of her mother (whom I had never met as she had apparently died when my mother was young) and she positively snapped out the answer, “Nothing”! I was so surprised that I said nothing at all, and just waited… Eventually she added “Perhaps I don’t want to remember”. Intriguing? More on this subject later.
Chapter 3 might cover school again!