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Early Memories

There was a parrot which used to sit on the gate. Whenever I asked the time it would always say "One o'clock".


I was born on the 12th October, 1915 and was the second of five children.  My earliest recollection was of being lost and finding myself at the Police Station.  The policeman was very nice to me and said “what big brown eyes I had”.  I was given some bread and jam and was duly collected by Mother.  At that time pinafores were a uniform, quite nice, white cotton with lace epaulets.  I remember mine always becoming soiled and, young as I was, I would turn it inside out.  It fastened with one button at the back of the neck.  I expect I was ashamed of being dirty.

In the street behind our home, there was a parrot which used to sit on the gate.  I used to ask it the time and always it would say: “One o’clock”.  Most mornings, I would go around to pay it a visit.  The next thing I vividly recall was being in hospital.  It seemed I had a lump on the right side of my chest which turned out to be an abscess caused by a boy stabbing me with a metal-ended cricket stump.  I quite enjoyed being in hospital.  The nurses were very nice and they put red ribbons in my hair.  I got quite worried about the ribbons not being there the next morning; looking back I expect they were found in the bed.  Only one nurse, she was fat, seemed to hurt my wound when she put what I thought was a roll of bandage in the cavity.  I remember a nurse coming round after dinner with a bowl of fruit, mainly halves of apples, oranges, bananas or small bunches of grapes and we were allowed to choose what we wished.  Mother was often late in arriving on visiting day but I didn’t think at the time that it must have been a great effort for her to get there at all, having younger children to take care of.

A great friend of Mother’s was always named Aunt Hannah by us all.  She was a darling and was married to a miner and lived at Seaham Colliery.  I remember her bringing me a book cut out like a policeman.  I really loved that book, it was the first I think I ever owned.  Coming home from the hospital I was made a great fuss of.  I recall feeling shaky on my feet and having to hold on to the seven piece suite which we had for many years.

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