Memories

I wrote the piece below at a creative writing class at the local community college way back in 1999.  It was written just a few months after my mother's death but for some reason I wrote about losing my father when I was 5 years old.

Memories of a Childhood in Leicester

My most vivid childhood memories are of the house in Leicester where I lived with my parents, it was a Victorian mid terrace house in a long street amongst many other streets all looking the same.  At the top of the street was a Methodist chapel and at the bottom lived my friend Sally whose wooden farmyard and animals were always a great incentive for a visit.  I remember the door to the house was a mustard - yellow wood with a big, gold – coloured, doorknob in its centre.   This door opened into the hallway of the house which led past the doors to the front room and living room with the staircase in between, straight through to the kitchen and out to the garden at the back.  Very tall walls surrounded this garden, or so they seemed to me at the time. Over the wall on any of the three sides were other people’s gardens so there was no way out at the back

My earliest memory of living in the house is of me sitting up in my cot, which was placed in the middle of a small room, the door ajar and a light on the landing in which I could see, through the bars on the cot, my mother rushing towards me.   Later I remember hiding under the table in the living room and when my father came home from work, this was the same ritual each night, he would ask where I was and mother would say “I don’t know” and then I would jump out from under the table shouting “Boo”.  He would put a record on the gramophone, usually The Cuckoo Waltz, and round and round we would go with me standing on his feet   I remember sitting on his shoulders at the football ground on Filbert Street and playing shop with little jars of sweets and pretend packages of tea and sugar.  I also remember being taken into the city centre just near the square where Mum and I would stand and wait and pretty soon my father would appear at a window and wave down to us.  He worked as a pattiserie chef for the city council so I expect we waited near their offices.

I don’t remember when he got ill, spending lots of time with mother’s friend Ivy, who lived across the road, didn’t seem unusual but I do remember the day when a man came to the door with a ring of flowers and my mother crying and me, all of 4 years old, saying  “Don’t worry, mummy, I’ll look after you”.  I remember returning to the house after being taken, by Ivy’s children, to see the giraffe in the New Walk Museum and finding all my relatives there, hands reaching out to draw me into the room and mother sitting in the corner with a large knitted blanket around her shoulders.  We left the house a year later.

A few years ago I returned but the house had gone, as had all the others in the area, two or three streets of people’s homes, lives and memories, buried under the hospital car park.  I don’t think I will go back again.

              © Rosie Pursglove, September 1999