Monday, January 15, 2007

My life begins

I left my narrative with my parents in July 1925, when they went out to a tennis match and got married instead, much to the surprise of their families. My father had wanted to emigrate to New Zealand and farm sheep, but his family opposed the idea, and in fact with hindsight I doubt if it would have suited my mother. My father therefore had to find himself some work to do. He had no formal training for anything, having lost the years from 19 to 23 interned as a civil prisoner in Germany, during the first world war.

So they took over a garage business in Henley-in-Arden, near Stratford-on-Avon in Warwickshire. There was a corner shop selling spare parts and accessories, with the house over it - known at The Corner House. There were petrol pumps out front, and then across the lane running down the back of the house was a big yard and motor repair shed. My dad loved cars, though he was not much of a business man, sad to say. However, he did show himself in the succeeding years to be an excellent mechanic and handyman, with skills which I believe he developed during his years in prison camp. And as he was happiest when working with his hands, this suited him well.

By early 1927 they were expecting their first child, and I recently came across a beautiful love letter which my mother wrote to my father one night, when she was already in bed, and he was still in the bathroom. What she was writing about was their joyful anticipation of my arrival, though of course they did not know it was ME at that stage. On 29th November I was born, in a nursing home in Birmingham. When she returned home, my mother had what was known as a “monthly nurse” : a live-in nurse to look after the baby, allowing the mother a nice long rest and recuperation period in bed! I believe it was the nurse who imposed the rather rigid babycare discipline of the renowned specialist Dr Truby King, but despite its rigours I seem to have grown up healthy and conscious of being loved.

My memories do not go back to a very early age. Probably my first one is the arrival of my brother when I was three and a half. I remember my father taking me to visit him and my mother in the nursing home, and I decided that the proper thing to take to a new brother was some of my farm animals. My father said he thought we should take some flowers as well and bought a bunch of daffodils

I remember sleeping with my brother in the very large nursery we enjoyed in our first house, and even when I had a room of my own, I used to move back into the nursery with him over Christmas. This had obvious advantages for Father Christmas! Of course we used to wake up much too early, and our parents would come in and take our stockings away from us and tell us to go back to sleep for a while.

I also remember occasions in the nursery when our parents would creep in late at night to check on us, after they had been at some party. How wonderful they looked in their evening dress! They were such a handsome couple, and I think even small children know and appreciate when their parents are looking good. Sometimes – oh delight of delights - they would bring us back balloons and other party favours!

The nursery was the scene of my first lessons too, and you can read about my early learning experience here and here.

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1 comment:

Lillie said...

oh! I remember some of the gorgeous dresses my mother wore to parties, and the great pleasure of watching her dress for the evening! It was magical!