Monday, December 21

First Memories And A Plant Pot Hurling Girl

Child's plastic flute

It's interesting how objects have stored memories.

I have a case full of bits and pieces from my childhood and, as Christmas is approaching, I had a look through the items: books, old scrapbooks, my cowboy toy gun and holster, badges from being a Cub and so on ... and then I saw this plastic flute or whistle, as in the photo above. This led to my earliest memory - ever.

I must have been three and it was Christmas. Mum, dad and me went to stay with someone called Alma. She had a husband and a little girl about my age. Sadly I don't know who they were, or where it was, as I don't recall ever seeing them again.

They lived in a cottage in the country, somewhere. I remember sitting on their floor, which had green patterned lino, in front of the Christmas tree which was in front of the window.

The cottage had a big kitchen and on one side was a large box-like seat, but it wasn't a seat. If the lid was opened, there was a bath inside! This was where the family bathed.

The kitchen door opened onto, what seemed to me, a huge garden with all sorts of things growing. The little girl and I played outside, but I don't think she liked me, as she broke a plant pot on my head - and I ran indoors crying!

Alma and her husband had something to do with a very big house nearby. Mum and her talked about whoever lived there, and said about how they left their wine, and didn't even finish their cigars. 

Now we come to the blue flute!

The man from this big house gave this to me as a Christmas present, it was affixed to cardboard at the time. Mum said to Alma how nice this was of him to give me a present, as he didn't know me. I opened the present sitting on the green lino, in front of the Christmas tree - which was also near a door.

On Boxing Day, 26th December, I was taken out to the front gate of the cottage to see the horses. This was where the local hunt met up, ready to chase the foxes. There was lots of noise, dogs barking and the riders mostly wore red jackets. Finally, with what sounded like a bugle, they raced off in search of a fox to chase, the dogs lusting for blood.

Fox Hunting
Traditional Fox Hunting
I've never liked fox hunting, ever since. Fortunately it is now banned in England, though drag hunting is allowed - so the tradition continues, but without a fox being torn to shreds by dogs.

And that's most of what I remember, other than for the novelty of an outside toilet at the bottom of the garden. Oh, and the little girl saying she wished she was a boy so she didn't have to sit down to wee.

Memories are so important, they are who we are. I like having objects from my past in the house as they remind me of days gone by - not that we should dwell on the past, life moves on - but it's good to know our roots and where we came from.

I would suggest that, if your parents are alive, you ask them lots of questions about their lives and your childhood. I only wish I had asked more. I'll never know who Alma was, or her plant pot hurling daughter.

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  1. Fascinating memory, Mike! Interesting, too, that you still have the flute!

    1. The flute is tucked away - good job Sammy hasn't seen it.

  2. Re:"The little girl and I played outside, but I don't think she liked me, as she broke a plant pot on my head - and I ran indoors crying!"
    I think she liked you.
    That sounds like a marriage to me, Mike:-)
    It's funny, because I wanted to learn music a few weeks ago and I was reading the best musical instrument to learn music on was a recorder (which brought back visions of music class in primary school...which I hated), so I bit the bullet and ordered a recorder over the internet.
    I was used to the old wooden ones, but now you can buy them in coloured plastic and I chose a blue plastic one similar to the coloured flute above in your post.
    The neighbours are probably praying for a silent night on my flute for this Christmas;-)
    Merry Christmas to you and your family Mike and it's good to see that you are still blogging away bringing joy and comfort to your readers. Cheers.

  3. Very good advice.

  4. Great post Mike and very sound advice!