Monday, 24 December 2007

My Grandmother’s Birthday Book – Part 1


It is Christmas Eve and I thought I would glance at Nana’s Birthday Book and see whose birthdays / marriages / deaths fell around this time. I shall write more about this birthday book in future blogs but what struck me today, in the absence of any written entry (apart from a crossed out mistaken entry for Aunty May Body’s birthday) was the little printed section on the opposite page. Every day has its little rhyme in this 1886 Little Folk’s Birthday Book which Nana maintained from her childhood to her nineties. Here is the one for December 24 –

Be a good child,
    Do what you are bid,
Shut the door after you,
     And you’ll never be chid.
Hold up your head,
     Turn out your toes,
Speak when you’re spoken to,
     Mend your own clothes.
          Merrie Heart

Good deportment disappeared a long time ago – as a child Nana had to walk about with books on her head and her back was still ramrod straight when she sat in her chair reading in her ninety fourth year! Pigeon toes seem no longer to be the problem they once were – perhaps decent footwear helps – even if a pair of Nikes does cost a lot more than my father’s first year’s salary.

The idea of children speaking only when spoken to died out with my Grandfather in the 1950s – sadly too late for us to exercise that freedom with any comfort outside of our own home.

The concept of mending clothes in this disposable society is almost unheard of and I was amused to see a sock darning egg picked up many times on our recent flea market stalls by people who hadn’t a clue what it was.

Central heating in most houses reduces the need for closing doors but I still go berserk when Richard lets all the heat disappear through the back door because he cannot be bothered to close it. Pity he doesn’t read my blog – I’ll just have to continue to chide him verbally! In the meantime I decided to try to compose a rhyme on conduct for ten year olds in the 21st century –

Be a good child,
     Do what you are bid,
Do all your homework,
     And you’ll never be chid.
Don’t hold up post offices,
     From smoking abstain,
Pocket all your litter,
     And don’t deal in cocaine.
         Grumpy Old Man

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