Friday, 6 April 2018
Ear-wigging on the Grown-ups.
World War ll had ended and Dad was de-mobilized from the navy. He'd spent five dangerous years at sea and was eager to start a new life with Mum. But they'd lost everything in the Blitz. The East End was devastated by the bombing. Their house, furniture, belongings and possessions, all those precious photographs and letters, all gone up in a puff of smoke. Still, my parents were alive and together - and expecting me! So they left London for fresh pastures and wherever they travelled Mum somehow managed to recreate the "Island World" she loved so much.
Many Londoners spent memorable holidays hop-picking in Kent. But I was lucky enough to have an aunt and uncle who owned a small hotel and after a brief spell here we were off join Mum's evacuated family in Oxfordshire. My aunts and uncles were a musical bunch with fine singing voices and threw lots of parties. My cousins and I loved listening to the grown ups getting merry as we huddled in our den beneath the table watching various sets of feet trip past accompanied by howls of laughter. Dad and Mum developed itchy feet once more, but this time we headed south. I was sent to a small convent on the coast where the nuns were kind and softly spoken, quite a contrast to my lively family background. One of the nuns, Sister Patricia, inspired me to write. She sat at a fabulous oak desk and daily placed a thick, creamy candle to burn on its leather surface. As she called the register the liquid wax bubbled down the sides and the bright blue Parker ink oozed from her gold tipped fountain pen. Her longhand flowed effortlessly across the page and I was hooked! I can still smell the candle, hear the rustle of the register page and see her beautiful slim fingers clasped around the pen. Now I often burn a scented candle as I write and I still arrange my desk, books to the left, pens and pencils to the right.
And that was where writing began for me; scribbling, diaries, doodles, little stories and big ones, recording all those tales that drifted down under the table when I was a child and ear-wigging on the grown-ups.