22 January 2009

Magic Moments ...

I've been waiting to take photos before posting, but somehow the camera and I haven't been in the same place at the same time. I've managed to scan a photo, but I fear this post will be more words than pictures!

I finally managed to take what I'm calling my week's holiday, which basically means that I didn't go to Dairy House yesterday or today. I'll be back there on Saturday though, wondering where the week's gone!

On Monday I spent most of the day under the spare bed! It was time to re-acquaint myself with what was lurking there. I vaguely knew, but it was a treat to go through the wooden box in which I keep various mementos - hence the title of this post.

First I found this poem, written by my Mum in 1958, just before my 8th birthday. It follows the first time I was going to stay overnight with my grandparents. It's self-explanatory ...

Susan's Lament

I really was so sorry
To feel I could not stay
It would have been a worry
Until the break of day.
I felt I would not sleep you know
It was so very trying
Of course, at home I slept and slept
And woke on Sunday crying!
I would have had a lovely time
And in my mind I knew it
But now alas it is too late
How annoying! Blow it!

It really was too bad of me
After all the work you'd done
But when I hopped into that bed
It seemed not quite such fun!
I truly was so full of fear
I wish I had been bolder
Oh! please forgive me Grandma Dear
I'll come when I am older!

I did not feed the lambs so wee
Nor watch Monty fetch the sheep
The reason why? Oh, silly me
I thought I would not sleep!
Up to the farm I'd planned to go
Grandpa said he'd take me
Come wind or rain, or hail or snow,
I'd no qualms for my safety.
I missed it all for, as you know,
I thought I would not sleep!

I found my autograph book, signed by many in 1961 when I left Barry Road Junior School and 1966 when I left Northampton School for Girls. Amid all the 'good luck for the future' messages were a few gems ...

"When up to the neck in hot water ... Be like a kettle and sing!"
"Lost! Somewhere between sunrise and sunset - sixty golden minutes, each set with sixty diamond seconds. No reward is offered, for they are lost and cannot be regained!"

"Make new friends, but keep the old - One is silver, the other gold!"

"True friends are like diamonds - rich and rare, False friends are like autumn leaves - found anywhere!"

"The pattern is before you, like a sheet of driven snow, Be careful how you tread it, for every step will show!"

"Happiness is a virtue that one cannot shed over another without a few drops falling on oneself!"

My 50th birthday cards came next, and a few little drawings from Hannah's best friend Emma. Those gave me an opportunity to relive some magic moments when Han and Em were growing up, and to remember the super party I had with family and friends in the very farmhouse I dare not sleep in when I was 7!!

Next came a photo of Pauley and me, probably in 1977. We were guests of my aunt and uncle at the Chamber of Trade Dinner & Dance (do they still hold such things?). Those were the days ... you'll note that neither of us has changed a bit!!!

This might be the time to mention I also came across a notebook dated July 1980 where I noted absolutely everything I ate for a month, during which time I lost a whole stone, and was restored to my, then, regular weight of 9 stone. Gosh, if I weighed 10 stone now I'd be over the moon, not limiting myself to 1000 calories a day. Mind you, it worked then, perhaps it would now. I see that one day I was still hungry after 1025 calories (Cornflakes, milk, sugar, peach, 4 crispbreads, paté, lamb chop, cabbage, mint sauce, peas and a glass of Croft Original sherry, that I had 2 fish fingers, measuring 100 calories after I'd totalled up my day's intake!!! I also see that a couple of weeks later I had left room for 2 sherries!!!! It's interesting to see what I ate then compared with today's meals. No wonder I haven't seen 10 stone for many years.

Also in the box were letters from this lovely lady from whom we bought our last house in Northampton in 1980. Vera Law was amazing. She was 80 years old when we met her, less than 5ft tall, had never married and was still travelling to London to carry out research for the V&A.
If you click on her link you'll see the number of records of her work held at the V&A. We didn't realise all this in the 5 years we knew her, although she told us that (at least) one of her illuminated manuscripts hung in Westminster. Both Hannah and I received many beautiful letters from her. She wrote in a minute copperplate hand and Han framed one tiny letter, no larger than 3cm x 5cm. On this small piece of paper she wrote 4 or 5 paragraphs, one of them asking Han if she had yet met the fairies who lived at the bottom of the garden. Vera came back to visit us many times to see the work we had done to the house where she, her brother and sister were born. She had moved away and her sister was in a nursing home. The house had become available for sale following the death of her Oxford Don brother.

Can you believe, I still have my GCE timetable AND all the examination papers. Taking a quick glance at them I'm not surprised I wasn't a particularly 'high achiever'. I obviously preferred to bide my time and wait until I was 'more mature'!!! (Some might question that comment of course!) What is even more amusing is the fact that I have a few pages taken from my Fractions exercise book, dated 30 January 1960, where the best teacher ever, Mr Brian Cooper, made the comment "Quite Good - you have no need to fear Fractionitis Susie Q". Judging by the rest of his comments I had problems remembering that a fraction is numerator divided by denominator. Forty-nine years later I sometimes wonder if I have yet grasped the concept!!!

Finally, after a few other important letters and notes, at the bottom of the box are 2 special cards - one is a birth congratulations and the other was for Hannah's Christening. We obviously received others, but these are the only ones in this particular box.

So, after those 'magic moments' I took Mum out on Tuesday - another birthday has crept up on her almost without us noticing - and then spent the whole of Wednesday fighting my way through towards the back of my studio. I managed to get down one side, found a mountain of linen and textiles which should have gone to that great textile mountain in the sky a long time ago (all the 'stuff' that you end up with when there's just one item in an auction lot that you are desperate for), and came across a box containing among other things, a pair of double linen sheets - I've been telling customers I only have singles for months!! I can't say there's more space in the studio as yet, but with luck I'll be able to get out there again soon to work my way down the other side. Not during this week's holiday though, as tomorrow I go to collect new specs and (totally unnecessarily) endeavour to add to the stock mountain by going to an auction!

If you managed to stay, despite the lack of photos, I hope you enjoyed those few magic moments. I'll try to do better next time, and flood you with piccies.

02 January 2009

Happy New Year ...

A Very Happy New Year to you all. Thank you for visiting Vintage to Victorian throughout 2008 and I look forward to your company in 2009