This is another excerpt from my aunt's memoirs describing her childhood in the back streets of Derby almost a century ago.
We prepared by walking the evening before to the field with
the pond in the centre and there picked red tipped daisies. Behind the churchyard
we’d find bluebells or birds eye and at home, made button holes to pin to our
frocks. I can’t recall a wet Empire Day. One year it was so hot that, singing
in the playground, one girl fainted from the heat. To the accompaniment of a
piano brought into the playground for the occasion, young voices sang with
gusto Flag of Britain, Land of Hope & Glory, Rule Britannia and many more.
We’d end with the National Anthem and then troop home for the rest of the day.
great number of small incidents come to mind, after all most of life consists
of trivial events which we either enjoy or if unpalatable, try to accept with
as much equanimity as possible. For obvious reasons I’m sticking pretty much to
the former. In any case, isn’t it better to bear in mind the happy times rather
than bemoan the sad?
friend Glad and I were about ten or eleven I suppose, we’d run errands, saved
the ha’pennies until we’d sixpence each. Just before Christmas we went to
Cohen’s Bazaar in St Peter’s Street, a forerunner of Woolworths.
can’t remember what Glad bought but my choice was an open fluted glass dish the
colour of dark topaz for my mother. I was thrilled with my purchase. It was of
course wrapped in newspaper, nothing so extravagant as brown paper at Cohen’s
and walking home (there was no money left for tram fare) I was terrified lest
my prize should slip through my fingers. Dripping wet but with the goods intact
we got back. I hid my present in the bedroom, managed to find a square of
reasonable paper to wrap it in. Mam kept that dish for years, long after I was
I went into town on an errand for Mam I sometimes was given enough to pay the
tram fare and if so, chose the open top deck when possible. The tram stopped at
Bloomfield Street. Sitting on the left hand side I could see over the wall and
into the garden of one of the big houses. Impolite it might have been but that
garden rapidly drew my eyes. Flagged path, old fashioned flower borders and
shrubs, trees, immaculate lawn. And to cap all this loveliness a statue of a
chubby boy. I fell in love with that grey still figure and always looked for
since, the ambition to own a statue has never diminished though my taste has
changed and I would if I could, choose something for my garden with a more
classical beauty. After my husband retired – he was seventy – he went to sales
galore to try and get me a statue but no success. Eventually, being a stone
mason, he said he would carve one for me himself. Alas he became ill and unable
but I can still see in my mind’s eye that little chubby boy amongst the roses