Wednesday, 1 September 2010

Soldiers - Dancing in the Rain (2) and beaks under wings

“Look at the soldiers dancing in the rain”:  that’s a memory of my mother’s words, when she and I looked out of the front room window at the splattering of raindrops on Devon Road in Bristol, U.K.

That memory triggered others from my youngest brother Martyn.

Martyn remembers when our Dad decided that it was bedtime for the younger ones.  Dad would say “up the wooden hill to Bedfordshire”.  Then as they got into bed (often four to a bed) Dad would pronounce “beaks under wings and heads under blankets”. 

I smile as I read Martyn’s memories.  I love the imagery of sleep as “beaks under wings”!

I cannot remember ever hearing those words such as those.  What I remember is that Dad or Mum would say “time for Sleep Street” before ushering me off to bed.

I merge the two sayings into “Sleep Street in Bedfordshire”, and that sounds like a very desirable address!

Martyn and I surely remember another parental saying: “down the little red lane”.  Mum or Dad would say this when we were reluctant to eat some food.

But not just about food. When we were little and feeling under the weather, Mum would take us to see our fabulous family Doctor Purcell, (and when he retired, to his nephew and successor Dr. O’Brien). In those circumstances both would prescribe a “tonic”.

A “tonic” was to be feared.  It was an iron based medicine, with a foul taste. “Down the little red lane” was uttered by Dad or Mum as we were forced/encouraged to swallow a teaspoonful of this noxious liquid.

My memories of Doctors Purcell and O’Brien lead me to be very proud of my parents. Both Doctors were Irish but Mum and Dad eschewed the normal anti-Irish sentiments of English folks.

They adored Dr. Purcell despite his whisky loaded breath.  (His wife had to drive him to his home visits - for he had been banned from driving after an alcohol fuelled motoring accident).

And we all were grateful for Dr. O’Brien’s superb care as our Dad moved towards death in 1974.

Neither Martyn nor I believe in the “good old days”.    But we share many good old memories.



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