Wednesday, 30 March 2011

I'm from ...

I am from the home my dad built for us, brick by brick; from eiderdowns and coal fires, Quality Street and Typhoo tea.
I am from the smart bungalow my mum loved, the butterfly bush, the boiler in the kitchen, and the big picture window full of Norfolk sunsets.
I am from long summer twilights climbing trees on the common, lips and fingers stained with wild strawberry juice, and rosebay willow herb growing at the edges of the sugarbeet fields.
Grass snakes in my brother's hands, no front teeth, Chinese skipping at playtime, wellingtons and belted gabardine school macs.
I am from people with too-fresh memories of both world wars; from Grandad in Egypt and Gallipoli who never saw his baby daughter, from Nanna who buried tiny Margaret alone. From Patrick and Violet whose hometowns were bombed and whose childhoods were too short.
I am from unconditional love and being brave.
From family scandals and secrets, and a child given away.
I am from bell, book and candle; from ghost stories, hymns every day, tombstones and superstition; and never being told what to believe.
I'm from age-old Norwich, its castle, cobbles and cathedral ... and from the smooth steel towers and uncracked concrete of shiny-new Perth.
I'm from the immigrant's nostalgia and the settler's satisfaction; the here and there.

I've been missing the will to blog lately, but having read some of these formula-constructed little essays a few years ago, and a lovely one by Fairlie today, I thought I'd have a go. Very hard not to get too mawkish, but fun.


The Mof said...

I am sitting here in dry, dusty country Western Australia in a haze of nostalgia from reading your post.
Can taste the wild strawberries and smell the sweet scent of rosebay willow herb.

Can visualise the long summer nights and smell the fumes from the coal fire. Clothes warm from the airing cupboard above the boiler in the kitchen.

Remembering the ghost stories embroidered by naughty brothers and listening in to family secrets.

Thank you for the memories, Chapter III

Rattling On said...

Must be very difficult to choose just the right words to summon up the images. And maybe what I'd want to write i wouldn't necessarily want anyone else to read...

Fairlie said...

It's fun to do - isn't it?


Natalie said...

I love this. Vivid and engaging. Beautifully chosen words. Foreign places, familiar voices... These are not my memories, but you have given them enough life to make them alive in my mind, and I want to know more.
Could there be a better thing to say about someone's story? I want to hear more, I want to read this again...

Karen said...

Yes, Les, what Natalie said! Gorgeous. And I want to know more about the scandals, and about the child given away ... Where is that child now, and what would they say they were from?

Lesley said...

Cooee The Mof! What a lovely comment, thank you. Oh those wild strawberries! I wonder if they still grow in such a mass up on the common. What a taste! You don't hear people talk about it much, do you? Perhaps they have almost disappeared. The song of skylarks is also intertwined in my memories of summer nights up on the common. Gloriously happy childhood!

Rattling: Yes, it took me three or four attempts and then a complete re-write to get what I wanted. And you could have a go and just keep it to yourself ...

Fairlie: Thanks for the idea!

Natalie: Thank you for this lovely comment — I like to write non-news stories, and am wondering if I should fish out the corny old romance novel that i was writing (the one I was doing for NaNoWriMo) and serialise it here on the blog ... Might be a good laugh!

Karen: I wondered if you'd read it! Did you pick up on the "bell, book and candle"? Really want to read more?

Fairlie said...

Oh! Please DO serialise the romance novel!

The Mof said...

I had forgotten about the sweet song of the lark so high up in the sky. We used to see who would be the first to spot it.

And that reminded me about the cuckoo with a competition each year so see who was the first to hear one. When we were back in the Scottish Highlands in May a couple of years ago the cuckoos just about drove us crazy non stop from 5am!!

Anonymous said...

Loved it Lesley, It is amazing what we remember ... typhoo tea and wild strawberries, just perfect.