Opposite the level, flowery patch of tip was a small shop which sold sweets and groceries – probably other things that didn’t register with me. When I had reached the age of four I was allowed to go there on errands and one time I was side-tracked on to the flowery tip before going to the shop, and lost my money. My errand was usually for a family bag of sweets, and a quarter pound of blackcurrant bon-bons which were blackcurrant ‘fussels’, I know not why. I hunted all over for the money, then went home and brought my Dad, it being a Saturday afternoon, but we failed to find the coin. I don’t remember whether we bought sweets after that, or sadly went home without, as money was really short and maybe there wasn’t another shilling.
The living room seemed light enough for all my needs; I only noticed the gaslights when a mantle conked out and had to be replaced. The bedroom was hideously dark however and my Dad would carry me upstairs in one arm, with candlestick in the other hand, and there were some very strange shadows always. Of course when we were in bed, the candle went back downstairs. Maurice and I went to bed at the same time in those days, and no wonder we used to talk quite a while, making up pretend games, imagining we were heroes of some sort- I was never a girl.
Me in the Garden 1932- a black and white print which I later hand coloured-(this was my job for a while)
I was told that I fell down the cellar steps once when the door had been left open, I’m sure most children did ‘ I burnt the backs of my legs when a toddler, tottering on to the fire front that had been moved off the hearth to give access to the ashes – ‘blisters as big as eggs’ I was told, that prevented me from enjoying a particularly heavy snowfall, as I had to keep my legs dry.
Families like mine with hardly ever a penny to spare ever, were reluctant to use the doctor, and my Dad was pretty good at first aid; infectious diseases were always treated by doctors but we gave any problems a chance to put themselves right, or perhaps accepted things that didn’t cause too much distress, without indulging in outside help. One year I was poorly for a while with what was said to be ‘flu’ but could easily have been typhoid because of my liking for playing tea parties with tiny tin tea cups and saucers, ladling dubious liquid form a neighbor’s rain tub, beside his hen hut. There is the memory of feeling bad, just the knowledge that I was kept downstairs in the warmth day and night, with anxious parents nearby.
Maurice and me on the steps 1932