The Blue Flower
It was close by my talking place that I later found an exquisite little blue flower which the teacher said was a speedwell, and whose name I remembered always, but didn’t see the flower again for many years. The other wall was the one at the front of the whole land, were I watched for Dad coming up the hill. There was a well-built, high wall round the big house along the lane, which had ivy in places, and a few little spider-holes and tiny bits of vegetation – walls were always interesting to loiter beside.
Until that time I contented myself playing my own games largely, I had several walls that were nice places to pretend. The front garden wall had a flat sandstone top, and if I rubbed my fingers or palms about on this, a slight powdery patch developed and my skin became wondrously soft and smooth – I never quite wore it away. If I wanted to produce a heap of sand instead of a thin skinned finger, I rubbed another piece of stone to and fro on the wall, and soon had al little pile to scoop up. Along the back lane there was an angle of the wall round a little field which had started to fall apart, and there was a sort of little cavern about my head height and a shelf like stone below the gap: there I used to go to try talking like the older people did. I ‘did things’ on the shelf, perhaps baking , writing, washing up, all the things so important to adult like, making talking noises to myself.
When I was four, there was the Silver Jubilee of George V and Queen May, which caused quite a stir in Greetland: there were various carnivals and flags were draped about, and everybody congregated up in the recreation ground for some kind of occasion – I didn’t understand much about it and couldn’t see anything very exciting, but at one point, some kindly high-up person flung sweets out into crowd for the children. I couldn’t get a single one, the bigger children were there first, and I wasn’t at all pushy. My Dad sorted something out for me, I don’t remember how; maybe a little humbug from his pocket, down among the fluff – it did the trick anyway. Maurice got a Jubilee mug but I wasn’t at school quite, so I missed that. I very much wanted to go to school; I liked the idea of a mug handout, not to mentions plasticene, the sand box and the little bottles of school milk every morning.
Clay House Park
Clay House Park had a few swings and two see saws, which I think we spent a few minutes playing with, before going on to the real pleasure, North Dean Wood. The Park in front of the Hall was a series of formal little gardens on about four levels, down to the river, joined by steep flights of steps: there were balustrades and paths, and in odd corners wonderful shelters built back into the rocky bank, making excellent pretending places. However, much I enjoyed such places, I was at the same time impatient to get away, through the wood, up into the light and wind on the moors.
Another infrequent walk was down the hill to Lindwell, then along a level pathway towards Clay House Park; this lane passed beside a large mill dam, not so black and frightening as the riverside one, and it was said to contain quite a lot of goldfish. I grew tired of say I could see them when in fact I never did, but everyone else seemed to – I began to say ‘yes, there’s one’ which seemed to please the grown-ups but I wondered if they were playing the same game.