My mother had a very eventful early childhood living with her grandmother in what was initially leafy upper class Hampstead in London. It was now the 1920’s and more moderate housing had been appearing since the late 1800’s. The coming of the underground to Hampstead in 1907 had made it easier for traders from other parts of London to move into the area. Hence, my mother went to ‘New End’ school with many cockney children and soon picked up the language. She was the first to admit that a lot of her troubles were of her own making. In the the story of her 7th birthday recounted in ‘a farthing cone’.Her Auntie had planned a picnic for her and invited her friend Vera. Now, Aunt was in a state of panic because Mum had boasted about the picnic and had somehow invited most of her class along. Vera took charge, “I knows wot ter do Pat’s Auntie.” She said. “Yer cuts the scones in ‘alf and butters ’em and I’ll send ’em packin’ wiv a bit each.”…..
Later, Mum was to go the private Dartford County High school for girls. At the time listed as one of the three top secondary schools for girls in Kent. (1926) Even there impulsiveness was sometimes still an issue. After she was married my father would sometimes remonstrate with her and if she knew he was right, she would grin and poke out her tongue. With great affectation he would say “Oh! so thats what we learned at Dartford County High School for young ‘liddies’ is it.” Mum was always her own person and I never ceased to admire her boundless energy. It is with a sense of pride that I remember her now.
When I was about ten years old she wrote a verse in my Autograph book. The book is long gone but the verse has stayed with me.
Whatever you are, be that. Whatever you say, be true. Straightforwardly act, in fact. Be nobody else but you.