Author Archives: Odette Elliott

About Odette Elliott

I write books for children. So far I have had six books published.

P.S. to Sam and Jah’s childhood. “Black British Style”, attending the Boys’ Brigade. Playing Football and Basketball.

I do not know anything about the numbers of children who attend organisations today, like the Brownies, Girl Guides, Woodcraft, Boys’ and Girls’ Brigades and Youth Clubs.

scouts

Image courtesy of AKARAKINGDOMS at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

I fear that many of these organisations are in decline, especially Youth Clubs. Probably the youth of today still have as great a need as before for role models and useful activities, but with cuts in funding and other considerations, I am sure that there are far fewer Youth Clubs around.

Maybe today many  girls and boys prefer to sit in their bedrooms with “virtual” friends via social media?

social media

 

 

 

 

 

 

Image courtesy of stockimages at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

I am sure that there are good things about social media. (I myself have kept in touch with many friends that way.) However there is also great benefit in a well-run Youth Club. Maybe the unfortunate rise of gangs shows that young people do feel the need to ‘belong’ to a group?

In the 1980s we took both our boys to Boys’ Brigade (BB) a church based youth organisation for boys. There is also a Girls’ Brigade for girls.

BB book

Sam began very young as a sort of ‘mascot’ to the BB in Gateshead. All the boys were friendly towards him and let him march alongside the band when he was quite small. Later he joined as a full member.

Jah joined the BB in Leicester as an Anchor Boy, the younger boys’ branch, prior to being in the real Company. They had many interesting activities, including marching, playing the drums and pipes and taking part in various sports. It made sense for Sam and Jah to carry on with the BB when we moved to London.

Black British Style?

When he was quite senior in the company, Sam took part in a mass BB rally at the Albert Hall. One problem was that he had an aversion to wearing black shoes. He was a pretty reasonable, teenager on other matters, but he could be obstinate about what clothes to wear. For the Parade, he was required to wear black shoes, but he said he HATED black shoes! The BB Captain offered to find him a pair that he could borrow. I suppose if considered vital, we could have bought him a pair, except that he would never have worn them after that one occasion. Eventually he took part in the whole smart event – a line up of hundreds of boys, and he was the only boy not wearing black shoes. He even reported back to us quite shamelessly that someone had complained. “Did you see that black kid in brown shoes”!

Many years later, in 2004 D and I attended an exhibition at the V&A entitled “Black British Style”. It featured black youngsters growing up in Britain. This exhibition emphasised how important their hairstyles and clothes were to their self-image. This is true for most teenagers, but I gather that it was especially important for the youngsters who wanted to project themselves as young black people in British society.

The BB Company was held in a church in Paddington. Reaching there involved a long bus ride. On the occasions when I took the boys, I remember sitting for hours waiting for them to bring them home. I would spend the two hours in a delightful café, surrounded by tempting cakes.

 tea+cakes

Image courtesy of digidreamgrafix at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

 

 

The other activities that Sam and Jah enjoyed were football and especially in Sam’s case BASKETBALL. He really loved that game and played for the school.

basketball player
Image courtesy of vectorolie at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

When Sam was in the Sixth Form he was chosen to coach the girls’ basketball team. Initially, when he was given this post he was disappointed, but he was popular with the girls and he quickly realised that this was a really responsible and enjoyable task, with many added benefits!

girls at play

Image courtesy of Salvatore Vuono at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

A diverse society. Girls, dolls, skin tone and self-image.

“Girls and self-image” may not appear to be relevant for the upbringing of two boys from a Caribbean background, but this is certainly relevant for their daughters – the next generation.

We have four granddaughters. So far, only one of them has shown much interest in dolls. On  29th January 2016, I read that Mattel,  the manufacturers and designers of Barbie dolls have announced that they are going to produce dolls of different body shapes. And I say “About Time Too!”

The fact that our granddaughters have not taken much interest in dolls only shows that all children are different and one cannot pontificate on what they will really like! Children will go their own way. For example, our granddaughter ‘Mia’ has been given quite a few black dolls through the years by her thoughtful aunties, but the dolls usually remain stuffed in a cupboard, whereas, the black and white tiger, the cuddly dog, and all the cuddly animals are highly favoured, played with and loved.

I am glad at least that Mia enjoys the film ‘The Princess and the Frog, which features Tiana a beautiful black girl.

Tiana (1)

However, to return to the matter of DOLLS, I am pleased to hear the news from Mattel. There has been too much pressure on thin body-shapes for far too long.

*****

I’ll quote from the Guardian (29th January 2016)

 “With her tiny waist, stick thin legs and petite frame, the Barbie doll has been accused of promoting an unhealthy body image for over five decades. But now, in her biggest update since 1959, it’s out with the skeletal frame and thigh gap, and in with the curvy hips and thighs as the company has revealed three new body types for the dolls to reflect a “broader view of beauty”.

 Mattel says it has ‘a responsibility to girls and parents to reflect a broader view of beauty’.

 Mattel, the creator of the toys, said the new range – which also boasts seven different skin tones – was designed to promote a healthy and realistic body image and would better reflect the diversity of those who play with the dolls.

 Evelyn Mazzocco, senior vice-president and Barbie’s global general manager, said: “We are excited to literally be changing the face of the brand – these new dolls represent a line that is more reflective of the world girls see around them – the variety in body type, skin tones and style allows girls to find a doll that speaks to them. We believe we have a responsibility to girls and parents to reflect a broader view of beauty.”

 The new dolls will also boast 24 new hairstyles, including an afro, curly red hair and even long blue hair, a long way from the bright blonde locks traditionally associated with Barbie.”

 *****

Our youngest granddaughter is only 18 months old. Time will tell whether she will eventually like dolls. At least she should be able to choose one that she likes the look of.

Aurora 006

For any readers who would like to read more about dolls for a multicultural society, here is a useful link.http://mixedracefamilies.blogspot.co.uk/ Search for post dated Sunday June 23rd 2013

 

The beloved “School Journeys” (Holidays). A boost for Jah’s self-esteem

I had a very dear friend who had three children at the same Primary school. She had a good sense of humour and told me that she worked out very carefully the timing of her visits at Parent’s nights. She was often cast down by reports about one of the children, so she made sure she began with his teacher. She always ended with the daughter who was doing extremely well, so that she could go home on a ‘high’.

By the time Jah moved up the comprehensive school, Sam had proceeded to University, so our Parents’ Night visit was solely to learn about Jah’s academic achievements. We cannot talk of ‘going home on a high’ here, but usually this was a bearable experience, except on one occasion when he had definitely not worked hard enough. This was when he was getting older and really needing to be more serious about study.

In my most recent blog post I mentioned a wonderful national scheme – an obligation to help “looked-after” children. A Designated – called ‘virtual’ Teacher is appointed to promote the educational achievement of all adopted and fostered children. Such a teacher will have a work-load of many children around the country and undertakes visits to see how the child is getting on at school. That is exactly what Jah could have benefitted from. Ah Well. At least I can say that I am delighted that such a scheme is now in operation for today’s “looked-after” children. I so wish it had existed in the 1980s. It could make a difference for the whole of a person’s life.

220px-Royal_Opera_House_and_ballerinaOne summer, on the same evening as Jah’s Parents’ Night. I had been given a free ticket to see the ballet at the Royal Opera House. It is the only time I have ever been there. I remember vividly, sitting there watching glorious dancing in an amazing setting, but going round and round in my head were the comments of the school teachers. “Could try harder”. I had to pinch myself to try and sit back and enjoy the ballet and the whole environment and atmosphere of the Royal Opera House. It was not easy.

HOWEVER, on a more positive note, the most significant school-related things to happen during Jah’s teenage years were three magnificent school holidays. These were lovingly referred to as ‘School Journeys’ and Jah’s commitment to these holidays showed that he could certainly apply himself when he wanted to. Of course we paid for the holidays, but he decided that he wanted extra money to spend while away, so he decided to do a paper round to save up extra money.

Big brother Sam had done a paper round for many years. Now Jah had a round of his own. They were both delivering newspapers in a big tower block – not an easy task, especially when the lifts to the top floor were out of action. It amazed us that Jah persisted with the round, that he set his alarm, got out of the house on cold dark mornings and faced the daily challenge. He could clearly do something when he wanted to.

Newspaper delivery

 

 

 

Image courtesy of vectorolie at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

 

The first School Journey was to Greece. He came home more tanned than usual and radiant. That holiday was followed by one the following year to Italy and the third was to Teneriffe.

The holidays were led by a dedicated teacher and some other enthusiastic leaders. Every year the teacher presented each youngster with a postcard at the end of the holiday and on Jah’s he always wrote “Mr Perfect” This is what he wrote on one of his cards:

“Dear Jah

Thanks for coming along. Like last year your behaviour was impeccable. You have shown true consideration and respect for others. You seemed to have enjoyed yourself, singing, dancing, playing games, swimming, partying and going to the disco. I hope all these memories will live with you always. I know these experiences have helped to mould you into the very pleasant, kind, generous person you are. It’s been a pleasure to have you with me. You can come along anytime a trip is planned. Best wishes. G”

A “report” like that did wonders for Jah’s self-esteem. It also lifted our spirits.

1987 Jah reaches secondary school age

I suppose I risk of running out of historical events in writing about the upbringing of Jah and all the family. However, I don’t think I shall run out of reflections and fortunately this blog is entitled “Adoption ReflectionsBringing up a multiracial family”. Our society in 2016 is even more multiracial than in the 1980s so the situation of a multiracial family is still relevant. Therefore let us carry on. Today I am continuing with our story.

We are now in 1987. Strangely not a single child from Jah’s Primary school went on to the school we selected for Sam. However, since Sam was so happy and learning well at his Secondary school, we took it for granted that it would be a good place to send Jah. It had fulfilled its promise of being a good environment for a multiracial society, quite in advance of its time. We did also do the requisite visit to show Jah. He was already motivated to follow his big brother and happily agreed to attend that school.

A few months ago I heard that every school in England has extra money per school year allotted to help “looked-after children” – the current pleasant terminology for adopted or fostered children. (In the year 2014/14 the sum of money was £900 per child) If ONLY Jah had had this help! Sam might not have needed it, but Jah would have benefitted I am quite sure. He had some learning block that we could not understand. It was easier for Sam, as he had come to us more or less a ‘brand new’ baby.

For any reader who has not followed this story, Jah came to us a few weeks before his fourth birthday. So many vital things are learned and absorbed during the very early days of a child’s life. More is known about this today. Jah had obviously missed out on some things, as is the case with many children who move from family to family in their early days.

However, let’s not dwell on the above. We are now just a few weeks before Jah was due to start at the secondary school and a school-related crisis had erupted. Asbestos was discovered in the building. The new entrants had to have lessons in prefabs that were set up on one of the playgrounds. The builders were very busy everywhere. It must have been a nightmare for the staff. I think the children were quite interested, but it must have been a slightly unsettling beginning to their secondary school experience.

construction workImage courtesy of xedos4 at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

After several weeks working in these prefabs, the building works became more intense and the lower school was evacuated to an old school building in the Kings Cross area. It was deemed to be “rough”, so the children could not go out at lunchtime. The gates were shut. The children were very impressed and apprehensive. To them it sounded like being in a prison. In those days, school entrances were not usually guarded.

Today, in 2016 Sam and Jah’s secondary school has electronic passes to enter and exit, but things were more relaxed in the 1980s. (They were so shockingly relaxed, that local residents used to walk their dogs in the school grounds – with the attendant mess. Nowadays the entire site is surrounded by a metal fence – and a good thing too. This avoids dogs’ mess and unwelcome intruders.)person walking dog

 

 

 

 

Image courtesy of Vlado at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

I am not sure how much I shall write about Jah’s secondary school experience. As far as I remember, the aspect he enjoyed the most was an out of school activity arranged by a very gifted teacher with one or two other teachers involved –

– namely the beloved “School Journeys”

of which more another day.

Happy New Year! LEISURE ACTIVITIES with the family in the 1980s +1980s Racism.

Resuming the story of our multiracial family. . .When we moved to London in 1983, we joined a church in Camden Town. The congregation was very small and very friendly. There was one family of two children from a dual-heritage background. The mother was from Northern Ireland. The father was Asian but he died when the children were young, so the mother was bringing them up alone..

There were adults from the Caribbean, from Trinidad and Tobago, but no children.

 

There were also adults from Guyana and a delightful family from Ghana

The Ghanaian family had two tiny children and a baby, but every time their youngest could be separated from the parents, he or she was sent back to Ghana to be looked after by relatives until the young parents had finished their studies and could return to Ghana to join their children.

So we were in a multiracial setting in London, but at church there were no black children for our children to play with. Sam was already 11 years old and we hoped that he could meet other secondary age children as well as his school friends, so we looked around for another multiracial congregation. Fortunately we found one in Tottenham.

Travel to Tottenham was fairly easy by car or public transport and we attended there for many years. The children had plenty of black children and young teenagers to be with and to share ideas with.

The Minister and his wife took the children on holidays. They were very adventurous and took the children as far as Cornwall. This proved to be a learning experience for the London kids. They encountered some hostility from the Cornish children on one occasion, but I imagine that the minister dealt with the situation successfully. We only heard about this later on. The Minister and his wife took children back to Cornwall the following year. Each time many adventurous activities were available for all the children, including abseiling and caving. These holidays were excellent occasions for all.

I don’t have very clear memories about the Sunday school or the activities there, but I feel that we did as much as we could to ensure that the boys would meet other black children. We knew perfectly well the pressures that young black people had to endure in those days. Our son Sam was a well-motivated, polite and lovely young teenager, but he was frequently “picked on” by the police for absolutely nothing. On one occasion he was simply walking home from school and a policeman stopped him

London policeman

Image courtesy of vectorolie at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Policeman: “What’you doing round here son?”

Sam: “I’m, walking home.”

Policeman “Oh. YES??” Sneer: “ I bet you don’t belong round here. . .”

This kind of statement was stupid from every conceivable point of view. Yes. Our house was in Primrose Hill, but if the policeman felt that black children could not live in the private houses, there was also a huge Council block of flats in our road, so obviously he could have ‘belonged’ in one kind of property along that road. (It was a very mixed community in every sense. Long may London remain like that.)

I am talking about the 1980s and I don’t want to recount the other occasions when Sam had to endure unfriendly reaction from the police. (Sadly there were a few.) However, I will say, that when I observed young black adults chatting to each other on the Underground, I sometimes noticed that they were discussing their own encounters with the police and that they were always extremely humorous about these encounters. I was quietly eavesdropping on their humorous comments. Of course I kept quiet. Their conversations were nothing to do with me, but inside me I saluted their reaction to this kind of harassment and humiliation. Clearly humour can help in many occasions. As parents when we tried to help Sam, humour was not an appropriate reaction, but among the young people themselves, it probably gave them an upper hand on the situation that they constantly found themselves in. Sharing these experiences with their friends and putting their own gloss onto the encounters would help them to deal with the injustice.

Nowadays, in 2015 I am in the grandparent generation and not involved in bringing up teenagers and I like to think that open racist comments are not so prevalent. I do not know, but let’s hope not!

Follow-on from a blog post about Children’s books, including some books about different countries around the world.

As I said in the last blog post, Lucy pointed out that I had mis-remembered some of the books our children read when they were young.

However, Anna agreed that I had remembered correctly that she hardly read any stories until the summer after her GCSEs. The first book she read then was “Catcher in the Rye”, by J. D. Salinger and after that there was no turning back for Anna. Today she reads mostly non-fiction, such as biography, History of World War 2 etc. but also a lot of fiction.

FICTION/NON-FICTION?

There is no “rule” that says that a child has to enjoy FICTION. They should be free to read what they enjoy. When we discovered that Anna loved funny poems, riddles and non-fiction, we were able to share our love of words with her in the way that suited her best. (She wasn’t keen on sitting still long enough to hear long stories.)

Currently, Nicola Morgan a very respected author, is what she might call ‘banging the drum’ that non-fiction also has a place alongside imaginative fiction and that it is equally valid. Nicola is a respected author.  She serves on the Children’s Writers’ Committee of the Society of Authors and she speaks with authority.

I know this is not meant to be a literary blog and anyway, many people may not ever have known that there has been prejudice against children concentrating on non-fiction. However, here I hope I can point to some books that might be of interest to people who wish to share with children some information and interest in other countries.

Children's Atlas           Big Book of the World

I believe I have mentioned before Mary Hoffman and Ros Asquith’s “The Great Big Book of Families”. I wish that book had been available when we were bringing up our multiracial family. Fortunately we now have grandchildren to buy books for. These are lovely books to share with

them.the-great-big-book-of-familiesfamily reading

 

 

 

 

 

NOW Here is a touch of self-indulgence. A few days ago a friend said that she found one of my long-ago-published stories in a doctor’s waiting room. She was there with her granddaughter. Of course I was both surprised and delighted.

Here below is the cover of another story I wrote long ago. I believe that it still gets borrowed from libraries. Hooray!

Sammy's Xmas

Three cheers for libraries, books, writers and artists.

I end with a few Christmassy illustrations.

Santa             Imagescourtesy of digitalart at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
globe

Image courtesy of xedos4 at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

 

 

 

 

 

 In the New Year I shall carry on with the story of Jah – moving towards the teenage years. . .In the mean time “Happy Christmas” to readers of this blog wherever you are in the world!

Thinking about children’s books around Christmas time (continued). Some Mistaken Memories. Some well-remembered memories.

I thought that I had an excellent recall of our children’s activities (those that I ever heard about!), their likes etc. However, Lucy tells me that I got it wrong about the children’s stories I mentioned in my last blog post.

I thought that they did not like reading books such as “Ballet Shoes”, “Swallows and Amazons” etc, but Lucy tells me that SHE did. She thinks I have got mixed up with the likes and dislikes of her other siblings. Sorry Lucy!

Maybe, when I think of books liked by an earlier generation, I’m on safer ground if I try and remember more books that I was encouraged to read by my mother and grandmother. My mother loved the E. Nesbitt stories, like “Five Children and It” etc. However, even though this may not please many writers and lovers of these books, I did NOT like them. I took exception to the fact that the big brothers always seemed to lord it over the sisters. I was NOT into male superiority. Maybe because I have a younger brother. . .

I really loved the many stories in the “Dimsie” series. Probably nobody today has heard of them. They were basically boarding-school stories, written in the 1920s. Dimsie was a really kind, interesting girl, whose mother died when she was young.

Dimsie  1920!

My mother absorbed a strange notion of the day, that Enid Blyton books were not “well-written” and she would not let me read them. However, naturally I was intrigued and borrowed them from friends whenever I could and I LOVED them. I had to stay in a cold lavatory to read them and then hide them under the mattress in case they were discovered! I think it is excellent that Enid Blyton stories are still popular today in 2015. Children can graduate from them to “better-written” stories and the enjoyment they derive from her stories is excellent. I have seen children totally engrossed in Enid Blyton stories on the underground, so engrossed that they are almost still reading them as they step off the train.

Our family was partly French and I was encouraged to read French from an early age There was a wonderful picture book about the life of a duck entitled “Plouf le Canard”. This enabled me as I enjoyed the pictures and simple story, to learn about the life story of a duck. It was very vivid and a good lesson in nature study. Then there was a story about a town in France that was flooded – maybe in order to make a dam. I can’t remember the actual details. The book was entitled “La Catherale Engloutie”. It was very dramatic. (Debussy wrote music inspired by this true story.)

I was also encouraged to read longer stories in French. One was “Les Malheures de Sophie”. Sophie was a naughty girl, who went to stay with her too-good-to-be-true- cousins. I liked Sophie!

Also there was an interesting story called “Memoirs d’Un Elephant Blanc”. This story took me to a fascinating country where my uncle lived for over 20 years – India. (Finally we get to something from another culture.)

cover Elephant Blanc  1923    Illustration Elephant Blanc

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I felt sorry for my father when I discovered a pile of his children’s books. They were all ‘morality’ tales of the “Good Dan”, “Bad Jack” variety. On the other hand, I believe he was young when many archaeological discoveries were made in Egypt and he had some comics describing all these incredible artefacts. I pored over those comics, as I am sure he did. Those discoveries about a long-hidden culture must have excited people enormously.

A non-book related memory: I remember visiting my great-grandfather when I was a child and being introduced to his grey parrot. Then, some 50 years later I saw the same parrot in a cousin’s house. Obviously he had inherited this interesting bird. There ought to be a story in there somewhere. “What the parrot saw”. . . However I don’t think I’ll be writing that.

grey parrot

Stories about Adoption and Looked-after children. Random Musings. Long live Stories and Art!

I love it when I get feedback from people about the blog. Recently one reader asked whether I have seen the recent list published in The Guardian of 10 best books about adoption? Yes. I have, but as with most people, I can come up with my own favourite books.

My best friend at school was adopted and maybe that is why I was always attracted to stories about children who were looked after by adoptive or foster families.

One thing so amazing about life today in the internet age, is that one can discover so many things and learn so many things. If ONLY we had had this resource long ago, I think we could have found more books on adoption, or indeed more help of any other kind when we were bringing up our children. Today I entered “10 best books on Adoption” into the search engine and several lists came up – very informative.

I am just casting my mind back to some of the stories dealing with looked-after children (adopted/ fostered) that I loved as a child. Here are some:

“Ballet Shoes” by Noel Streatfeild – all 3 ‘Fossil’ children were adopted.

Ballet Shoes         The 3 Fossils

“The Secret Garden” by Frances Hodgson Burnett – Mary’s parents both died

My grandmother used to read me the old story “Little Lord Fauntleroy” and we enjoyed reading it together.   I felt so sorry for little Cedric, as he was not allowed to see his beloved mother.

I enjoyed the stories about the spirited adopted girl “Anne of Green Gables” by Lee Montgomery

 “Heidi” by Johanna Spyri. I felt so sad for her when she had to leave the mountain, her kind grandfather and go and stay in the strange big city.

Heidi

Not all stories interest the next generation. None of the above stories interested our children particularly, although I am sure they would have enjoyed watching some of the modern day films made of the stories e.g. The Secret Garden and Heidi. I have loved watching those with our grandchildren.

The Secret Garden dvd

 

 

 

 

 

Fortunately for this small blog entry, I do remember reading one story about an adopted child to Sam, our older son. He really liked “Thursday’s Child” by Noel Streatfeild. The heroine was another feisty, brave adopted child.

“Nothing is going to stop Margaret Thursday from making her own way in the world – not a horrible orphanage, a cruel matron, or even the fact she was named after the day she was found!” quotation from Amazon.

Dear blog-reader – if you are still reading. Here is a further reflection on stories/books. During my own childhood I so loved a story entitled “Jam Tomorrow” by Monica Redlich. It was published by Thomas Nelson and Sons   and later published in paperback. Two young Canadian cousins had to come over and live in a vicarage with their English cousins because their parents had died. I have never met anyone who read this book. I suppose it must have been reasonably successful to be published in paperback as well as hardback, but I am simply musing over the fact that a work of art can have great value even if it does not hit “the big time”. And certainly it is quite irrelevant whether it “hits big money”.  It is very likely that it will strike a chord with  somebody somewhere.

An author or an artist never really knows all the people who have been touched by their book or their work of art.

This reflection tunes in with something I am reading at present – a collection of letters written by an excellent artist Jan Daum. The letters are dated 1952 – 1957. He thought he had ‘failed’ as he never made much money from his art. However, he was a good friend of my great-aunt and many branches of our family have some of his paintings and they continue to bring great delight to all who look at them.

Jan Daum was born in Indonesia in 1892 and studied in Haarlem and the Royal College of Art in London. I found information about him via Google. He was born well before the Facebook and self-promotion age, but someone somewhere has taken the time to put out information about him on the world wide web. I have always loved his picture below.

Jan Daum's drawing

Long live stories! Long live art!

Multiracial Family. Childhood artefacts remembered – D.

I realised recently that I have not asked D. for his quick memories of the children’s childhood. For this exercise nobody has been allowed a long period of cogitation.

(Before I mention his memories, I should say that since I indulged in a few from my own childhood, I should here mention some that he remembered from his own childhood – namely digging a network of drains in his back garden staying on a family farm and working out bus timetables for a fictional bus company.)

He came up with the musical toy we had for Lucy, our first baby. It came from Switzerland and is still in use with the latest grandchild!

musical box

Next he chose the Mr Men books that we read to all the children.

I don’t know when the “Little Miss” books arrived. They were written later and were probably not in time for our girls.

Sam’s bike of course came up as a significant part of his boyhood.

bike

 

 

 

 

 

 

. . . . . . . . . . . .as did the tank of tropical fish. I don’t know why I did not come up with the fish tank.

fish

Image courtesy of africa at FreeDigitalPhotos.net  tropical fish

 

 

 

 

 

 

Image courtesy of digitalart at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Since D. often travelled abroad, I was the one who usually had to clean it out (not to mention who had to remove the poor little fish that died.)

As we talked about bringing up the children, we both remembered the intercom system that we had to use for our first babies. We lived in such an enormous manse and could not heat our bedroom enough to have the babies in, so we had to put them in a small bedroom and rely on the intercom.

One day I swear that a foreign language came through loud and clear. It must have been a quirk of the soundwaves. Sometimes one remembers the strangest things.

Multiracial Family. Childhood Memories (continued) – artefacts varied. .

The thing that spurred me on to ask our children for memories of their childhood, was something our third granddaughter said. She and her brother had been living abroad for over two years. When they were last in our house, she was four years old. When the children next visited us, she ran round the house saying “I remember that… I missed it. Oh. And I remember that… I missed it.”

She even “missed” the stool I used to have for her to reach the sink in the bathroom. Children can melt your heart sometimes!

It was she who plays with one item I remember from my childhood. It is a beautifully knitted woollen dress. It was probably made nearly 70 years ago.

 Doll's dress

Our other grandchildren have not been interested in dolls, but this little one loves playing with them at our house. She loves dressing up – herself – and dressing all the dolls. She always puts this particular dress on any doll that it can fit. In the picture below, the doll is a bit small for the dress, but I think the photo shows the dress off to advantage. The colour has not faded. It almost looks as good as new!

In my own childhood I did not have a Chinese doll. We bought this one in Malaysia for Lucy and Anna.

Interestingly enough I did have a black doll. Here is the proof.

O and doll

Something I remember from my own childhood is an artefact from Poland. My father visited there before World War 2. He brought back an oval piece of wood. It was stained very dark brown and the outline of a cathedral had been etched, thus shown in a light colour. Underneath were the words Krakow. As Poland was behind the Iron Curtain during my childhood, the name Krakow seemed very exotic to me. I no longer have the artefact, so cannot show the actual artwork.

Krakow - Cathedral 2

Krakow Cathedral

 

 

 

 

 

 

Anna mentioned as a memory one item that I would quote – not of my own childhood, but something that has been with me all through our children’s childhood and is with me every day today. The artist was called Mabel, Lucy Atwell. It is something that must have ‘saved’ the planet of many many pieces of paper. It is a shopping list that one can wipe clean every time the article has been bought.

Recycled shopping list

Instead of paper lists, I use it about twice a week, rub out what has been bought and start again. It has been in use for about 53 years so far. . . . It was this shopping list that started me off on the Memory project.