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.


Sal said...

Do you know I think I also have my GCE (that shows my age eh?) timetable,somewhere!
Lovely photo of you and Pauley!

Gingham and Flowers said...

It doesn't matter about the lack of photos,(although I do love that one you included!)your posts are always so interesting. So good to look back through old things. I think my Mum and Dad have most of my old School certificates etc. I never ever got fractions at School!

OhSoVintage said...

Thoroughly enjoyed reading this Sue with your trip down memory lane. Whatever happened to autpograph books? Shouldn't think children bother with them now. I know you'll be envious but I actually have Helen Shapiro's autograph!! I also remember a teacher writing in mine something about a child should 'never sulk for anything'. Could she have meant me? Love the photo and the diet details. When I was about 17 I had a diet booklet from the doctor. My starting weight was 8 st. ll lbs and he had written 'too heavy!'
Ruth x

Country Cottage Chic said...

Oh I also have boxes of memories - they can be very distracting (and amusing too!)

The White Bench said...

Thank you!!! You know I looove pics!
As for the memory box, how beautiful treasures you found inside! I especially like the poem... so sweet.
I have 'memory boxes' too, I'd have to spend some time looking back...
Monica x.

Anonymous said...

What a lovely post on some of your history. Your mom's poem was especially sweet.:)
Wanted to thank you for joining in on my giveaway. Alas, you did not win but maybe next time huh?;)
You have a great day now,

Shammickite said...

I think I also have some GCE papers tucked away somewhere. I know I still have the post card which listed my GCE results! I still have my old autograph book too.... sadly 90% of the signees have passed away now. All my memories are scattered about all over the house, I shall have to find a nice box and consolidate!

Nostalgia at the Stone House said...

Hi Sue,
Lovely to read some of your magic moments and how wonderful that you kept all of these memories...I left a lot of things in our loft when we moved from Hertfordshire (accidentally) and often think about things that were there and how I shall never see them again.
Loved the photo of you and Pauley and of course you haven't changed a bit!

Glad to hear that you made some headway with your early spring clean - good luck back at work today!
Niki x

Elegancemaison said...

Oh Sue - how lovely to have so many reminders of your lovely magic moments. As a child of military parents we had to shed so much each time we moved every two years or less, that I never was able to gather much in the way of keepsakes bar a few photos. Sadly that has resulted in me NEVER throwing anything away since I got married in 19filthylie). My husband and children think that my body will one day be found underneath piles of old birthday cards, part read magazines and other ephemera which I really am going to sort out one day.
And Sue, don't you look stunning in that photo. It's funny but these days I find that my photos don't come out so well. There always seems to be this grey haired stranger who got in the way of the camera...

Cowboys and Custard said...

Oh clever you Sue.. for holding on to these treasures from the past. These records of your life are by far the most precious and how I wish I had kept more of my own..

Hope you had a good break..


Vintage Tea said...

Isn't it wonderful finding old treasures and reading through them.

Victoria xx

BusyLizzie said...

Brilliant post.. great photo & lovely poem....
great to see you today.
Liz xxx

Anonymous said...

I was fine with just that one photo Sue. What a wonderful one it is too. Dont you look like a sweet young thing!I reaqlly did enjoy reading that post, some wonderful memories. I would love to have known Miss Vera Law, what a fascinating lady.

Melissa said...

Just glad to see your posts again! I always enjoy a walk down memory lane - no matter who's memories!

Redwoodhouse said...

It is so good to go down memory lane from time to time, the poem is beautiful and the autograph messages are brilliant.
A great post which was lovely to read...

Amanda said...

I loved reading about your magic moments so much! My favourite was the poem - so wonderful!

Amanda said...

Morning Sue, just letting you know I have left you a little surprise on my blog if you want to take a look?!