Memories Of Dad

The rain has been beating down hard against the house in such rage that I went to inspect: it was a hailstorm, on the 2nd of May. My Dad, Jack Rushton, was always in tune with nature, more so than he sometimes was with people. He’d have known if the hail was unusual at this time of year or par for the course. He would have been 90 today. He died too early by any standards: my sister and I never got the chance to relate to him with truly adult minds. Of course some of his messages stay with me.

Bluebells growing on a woodland bank

His love of plants, animals and nature placed the natural world at the centre of things. He knew that English bluebells were the delicate ones, with flowers that hung from just one side of the scape.

He helped make sure my sister and I had the kind of childhood where climbing trees, inspecting stones in streams, crossing moorland, hanging around other people’s allotments, collecting horse pooh for roses, growing plants from seeds, cramming the yard full of so many pots you could hardly wind your way through it, and dissecting owl pellets to see what they had eaten would always seem normal. Continue reading

Pattern

When I was a nipper, Mama and Papa (Mum’s parents) lived nearby in a stone-clad end of terrace house with high ceilings and an unusual, wrap-around layout. My little sister and I spent lots of time there. Mama and Papa patiently entertained us with family games such as marbles, “Ey up, milady!” and “Kings”; tended and groomed us to keep us presentable; fed us with pies and other homely dishes; and gave us small treats or chastisements as our conduct decreed.

Mama liked patterns. She knitted. She had patterned wallpaper, but then everyone did – it was well before the days when minimalist, Scandinavian style would throw a magnolia coloured spanner in the works of a thriving wallpaper industry by making neutrality the only safe way to go. Continue reading

Family words

I found myself assuming today that all families have family words. Words that they have made up that others don’t understand. Words that bond and are part of the family culture.

For example my Great Grandma, who was very hospitable, used FHB as a code to her children when too many people presented themselves at tea time for the amount of food available – it meant Family Hold Back. If she said FHB, the family had to pretend to be full or only ask for a very small portion.  Continue reading