Saturday, June 18, 2011

Look Hard

calls for summer memories.


I'm sure I'm in there, somewhere.
If I could weave my way between the bodies
I would find myself,
A skinny little girl
Playing with her cousins.
An English summer,
Brief and unreliable.
But, for us, long.
Because my family hired a tent from
May to September every year.
(All that 'hiring' meant
Was chalking one's name on the wall
Where the tent would go.)
We 'lived' on the sands.......
We never used the word 'beach'
In the nineteen thirties.
We would leave school at lunch time
To go down on the sands,
Where the mothers and aunties had prepared lunch.
Sandwiches on a little wooden table.
The mothers and aunties
Set aside their knitting.
They had been knitting our winter socks.
Sometimes the tide was high and we ate
With the water lapping round our feet.
That was oddly exciting.
At the weekends
We spent longer on the sands.
There were donkey-rides,
Maybe an icecream,
Maybe the excitement of being 'snapped'
By a beach photographer.
A swim was a test of endurance.
We would run into the water, squealing,
Then fling ourselves
Into bone-chilling iciness.
Once we were numb we could enjoy it.
Then there was the shivering as we dressed.
It was heaven.
There were always thousands of other people
Doing the same things.
Sometimes it was actually hot
And I would lie on a towel,
Letting the sun pierce my closed eyelids.
It was heaven.
I thought it would go on for ever.
But it was England.
It was 1939.
I know I'm in there.......



'My World' but such a different one
From the one I enjoy today.
A world that has gone forever,
'The Past' in every way.
In this church I was christened,
It is here my father preached;
And only stone's throw over the hill
The 'Dunkirk' boats were beached.
For this was Wartime Britain
And soon came evacuation
Which changed my life for evermore
Beyond all imagination.
When last in Britain I visited
Old haunts, to pay respect,
But 'Holy Trinity' was no more!
Well, what did I expect?
Demolished for high-rises,
That was its destiny,
But at least one person remembers.
It's still part of 'my world' for me.


Margaret Gosden said...

I looked hard but it was before we met! You were 8 and I was 7, living in Surrey when war broke out. I love
these reminiscences - the memories of English summers spent on the sands! Today, to spend a few
hours on the beach, we fill a cart on wheels and take our 'furniture' with us for the time! It is quite a hike
pulling wheels over the sand to get close to the sea.

Christine said...

I would love to have tea with you and hear your stories. This was wonderful to read.

The Old Parsonage said...

Beautifully written - I thought I was reading a lovely book!

Enjoy your weekend!

Darlene said...

Nostalgia can be bittersweet. My home was demolished to make way for a Safeway store. It made me sad to see it, but progress will out.

Anonymous said...

Rinkly, such vivid memories. Thank you for sharing them. We share some of that past - I was born in Surrey, in 1937, but I didn't see the sea until I was 8.

My memoir of those Surrey years is on my blog, written for my grandchildren.