GLIMPSES FROM THE PAST
This week I’ve been doing two writerly things: filling in a questionnaire for Ebury Books in connection with my forthcoming release in August of A MOTHER’S DUTY and also I’ve been working on the second draft of my latest book in progress LOVE LETTERS IN THE SAND. I enjoy this stage of writing because I’ve a good chunk of the story written and it is a matter of putting in more emotion, action and description but there are also gaps to fill in.
On Friday I was writing a new scene. Irene Miller, who has featured in some of my other books, is now a trainer nursery nurse in the late fifties. I’ve done some research on the subject but it’s not always easy setting up a scene when you don’t have that much information. But having read that part of the toddlers’ routine was having a ramble or walk in the morning online, I placed Irene with another nursery nurse and some children on a walk to the beach in Blundell Sands.
An idea struck me that I could have them chanting nursery rhymes on the way. This meant my scene would hopefully contain some realistic dialogue. Inexplicably the nursery rhyme that came into my head was Georgie Porgie, Pudding and Pies. The second line is kissed the girls and made them cry. Immediately I had a name for one of the little boys and the words to put in his mouth.
(There’s a lovely site on the internet that tells you where this nursery rhyme and others originated from.) http://www.rhymes.org.uk/
Thinking of nursery rhymes took me back, not to the days when I was learning them myself but when I bought this enormous book of Nursery Rhymes to read to my own children. It had amusing illustrations and more rhymes than I had ever heard of and can remember now but it’s surprising what does come to mind.
My mind seldom stops working and I was reminded last Sunday whilst watching “Country File” of several days I spent on retreat near Whitby in Yorkshire because that’s where part of the programme was set. Mention was made of jet which can only be found in that area. It is fossilised monkey puzzle tree and jet was made into jewellery and was extremely popular with widows in Victorian times. In my book IT’S NOW OR NEVER I have a character who never actually appears but gets a mention as does Whitby and jet jewellery. Then on “Flog It” the other day Fireweed was mentioned as growing on bombed sites in London. And I was reminded that was another name given to Rosebay willow herb which also grew on what we called bombed hollas in Liverpool after the war. One of those snippets of information I remembered from childhood and put in a couple of my books set in 40s Merseyside.
Earlier this morning whilst walking and thinking of my writing, Maggie Thatcher popped into my mind and the rhyme, Maggie Thatcher, milk snatcher. When was this? In 1971 when she was Education Secretary and wanted to pass an act through parliament which meant children over 7 would no longer get free milk at school.
Milk for secondary school children had been stopped in 1968 by Harold Wilson’s Labour government. It was the former Labour government leader, Clement Atlee who had introduced free milk for school children under 18 in 1946.
I well remember as a child drinking my third of a pint through a straw along with the other 51 children in my class. I’m sure many other war babies like me and post-war ones, too, do. Which mean I can have my nursery infants in the 1950s drinking their free milk on their return from their walk. A true glimpse from the past.