Monday, November 26, 2012

Floating in my head...

I was pondering about blog topics. This is the fifth last day of NaBloThingie and the most exciting things I've done today are to make cheese scones for morning visitors (num num, as Grandson would say) and to go to the furniture store to enquire plaintively when the bed we ordered will actually arrive. (Next week, the chap claimed. It actually arrived last week but they sent it to the wrong people, who had also ordered a bed so received it enthusiastically and slept on it and are keeping it.) Anyway, I was thinking about of things with which I was very familiar as a child, but about which we probably didn't tell our children. And this is one of them: the book "Simple Heraldry" by Ian Moncrieffe of Easter Moncrieffe and Don Pottinger.

It belonged to my dad and I acquired it when we gave most of my parents' books to charity earlier in the year. So it wasn't in the house when our children were growing up.

I suppose it's rather an odd book for a child to read but I suspect many children of my generation just read what was around. Life wasn't so full of distractions in those days and a book was a book. It's actually quite informative and entertaining, with comical pictures of knights and ladies and explanations about differencing and quartering and devices.

Another book I remember well is "1066 and All That" by W C Sellar and R J Yeatman. I don't know what happened to that copy but again, I solemnly read it and will remember forever that some kings were Good Kings and others (mainly King John, as I recollect) were Bad Kings.

Then there were Grimm's and Hans Anderson's fairy tales, which we had in matching volumes and so they merge together in my mind. Some of them were very nasty, with plot devices involving violence and death liable to traumatise the unwary reader. Though I was a rather timid and oversensitive child, I don't feel that they upset me as much as I would (now) expect. On the other hand, maybe they're the reason for my nervousness... .

And there are other things that remain vivid to me but would mean nothing to the offspring, such as the liberty bodices with rubber buttons that went over our vests in winter; the smocks we wore over our uniforms in the first two years of school (a choice of blue, green or pink - mine was pink); ice forming on the inside of bedroom windows overnight on cold nights -  and the beauty of the patterns formed on the glass; Jimmy the van man who came round with vegetables; the horrible mottled brown tiles on my grandparents' dining room fireplace and the much nicer grey/pink ones in their sitting room; the caterpillars on our gooseberry bushes; the pen nibs that we dipped into the inkwells in our desks and tapped against the side of the well to remove the excess ink - and the scratchiness of writing with a slightly split nib.

There are so many things like that - taken for granted at the time and of no real importance but now so redolent to me of my childhood. So many things... and I could easily write another blog post about a few others... .

And you?


  1. Grimm's fairy tales....I had a book with a blue cover, and I'm sure the tales weren't sanitised!

  2. The Arthur Mee Children's Encyclopedia. I pored over that. There were ten volumes. I came across a set the other day and thought it indescribably dull compared to the non-fiction my children had, but it filled a need.

  3. Ah yes...Liberty bodices with rubber buttons. I remember being so pleased when the buttons changed to plasticky ones. I went to school just before I was 4, and we had a sleep every afternoon on a camp bed, under a little grey blanket with your own motif on it. Mine was 3 balloons and it was also the marker for my coat peg. Sadly my mother ( who died this year aged 98) must have thrown all my books out. I looked several times in the attic for a fairy tale book that had the most wonderful illustrations . My original " Muffin The Mule" puppet also went the same way...I loved that hard metal Muffin!

  4. I bought that self-same book this year! Second hand, of course - I do love a book with a history to it :) I also love the U3A which allows me to dabble in all sorts of subjects where I don't want to undertake a full course but would like to know a bit more than I currently do. Hence the book :)

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