01 November 2009

letters, liberty and smoke in the lanes


I've spent some time looking back this week, for various reasons. My oldest friend came round with a packet of letters she had found in her loft, written by me to her, and spanning some 35 years of our friendship. Some of the letters went back to my first year at university (one made me cry), others covered the time when I was traveling the land a truant girl chasing smoke in the lanes. Here I am with the truant boy a few months after we set off, me in my Liberty print dress.


Those letters tell the story of the animals we had, the kindness of strangers, selling cabbages and holly wreaths from our horse drawn cart, cooking on an open fire and how snug it was inside with the oil lamps lit and the Queen stove burning, how we made and sold clothes pegs for 20p a dozen, how useless I was at calling at houses for scrap metal and rags, buying my rooster shaped tea pot and new china bowl. The letters documented adventures as well as anxieties about making our way up country again through unknown places. I'd remembered the happy times more than the worries.

Only a few material things remain - the letters, some photos, the tea pot and bowl, this Liberty print dress and another one I sewed by hand. If you are quick you can hear me talking about it, very briefly, on last Thursday's Woman's Hour (about 10 minutes into the programme, just after Justine Picardie talking about Coco Chanel.) My 15 seconds of fame.


12 comments:

Joanna said...

What a lovely post. Good to look back sometimes, even though the stimulus is often something sad. And then get back to living in the moment

And I have to confess to ignorance of the Arnold poem, which I'm looking forward to reading properly in the next couple of days

Thanks for sharing
Joanna

knit nurse said...

Wow, what an experience! I have some letters that can still conjure strong emotions, opening them up is always difficult and yet cathartic.

Liz said...

What an amazing find and what a great post. Makes me wish I'd kept some of the letters I've received over the years. And lived in a horse drawn cart. (Best I could manage was a Morris 1000 van!). Oh yes, in the 70's I lived in a flat just round the corner from your friend in Leamington Spa. Small world.

Kate said...

love this post, the lovely picture of the lovely dress, and particularly hearing you talk about it on woman's hour. (I'd already downloaded and listened to that episode without realising it was you!)

j said...

LOVE this post, so wonderful, for so many reasons... not the least of which is that charming picture of a beautiful girl in a long ago time, that was really only yesterday...

Well now, have we seen the rooster teapot? I think we have, somewhere here...

colleen said...

So glad you all liked this.

J - I don't think I have posted the rooster teapot. Will do it sometime. He does not come out of the cupboard very often.

knit nurse said...

I'm with j. What do we want? The rooster teapot! When do we want it? Now!

kristina said...

How amazing and what an adventure. I so wish I could have heard you on Women's Hour. Picked just the wrong time to be away! K x

purejuice said...

this is one of themost mind boggling posts i've read in a long time. i hope you will use the letters to write about this time. the picture just kills me.

purejuice said...

and the poem. ohhh grrrl.

60 Going On 16 said...

Curses - have only just arrived back in the land of internet access and discover that I'm too late to listen again. I recall you telling me about those years, when we had lunch back in the summer - absolutely fascinating and such a wonderful picture. You must post more recollections!

Felix said...

I love this post so much; it is so very evocative and the photo reminds me of Vashti Bunyan's beautiful songs.

I love the material way that you have written here about your travels and the things you used and made and worked with, and it puts your current rus-in-urbis existence into context beautifully.

I am afraid that I missed the iplayer link within the one-week timeframe, but I wish I had heard it as you have wonderful things to say about the resonant qualities of fabrics and materials.