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You must remember this…

One thing that surprises me as I write about what some people call the olden days and I think of as when I was young is how much I don’t remember, and how partisan so many of the books are. They’re written about their life experiences, without seeming to realise that when you went outside of certain areas the sixties weren’t swinging. What’s more, relatively few people spent the seventies and early eighties jumping in and out of bed with a bewildering variety of partners.

And then you see a photograph, and I love books of old photographs with a passion and you think ‘ohhhh, I remember that.’ Or ‘Mum or Dad used to look like that.’ Or that was the car we had when I was little. And, goodness me, weren’t they small compared to today’s cars?’ If you get a chance to go to a vintage car rally, or, if, like me, you live near where a lovely gentleman restores them, have a look, and remember how many people crammed into them!

The Repair Shop TV series, which is one of my favourite comfort blankets on days when the world hasn’t been kind gives me the same feeling. I look at what’s been brought in and hear the stories, and I love, love, love social history of this sort and then marvel at the skill of the craftsmen and women who bring things back to life.

This weekend, I was busy having my own Repair Shop moment, following the instructions in an excellent book the team has written about how to repair things by rejuvenating my daughter’s beloved ginger cuddly toy cat. It, along with its black and white pal, went everywhere with her, and the amazing thing is that she is now in her twenties and having a massive sort out of her room and finally discovering that there were three of each cat! What can I say,? She was prone to gastric reflux, so a messy but adorable baby and even more prone to leaving things behind at Grandma’s or getting them muddy, so it seemed to make sense to be able to say. “Oh, I’ll have a look. No, it’s all right love, ginger and blackie are both here so you can go to bed now. (And please, please, please go to sleep because I’m shattered even if you’re not, I thought but didn’t say.)

Anyway, Ginger One, as he was known, is a little saggy after years of love. As, indeed, I am. Thankfully, no one carefully, carefully unpicked my seams and then, using an old crochet hook, pushed new stuffing into me. But I did it to him so he’s plump and sits nicely again. After that, I brushed up all his fur after washing him, and restitched his whiskers and now three black and white toy cats and three ginger and white toy cats have pride of place along the shelf. Some days they’re joined by a fourth, much bigger black and white cat, who delights in knocking them all on the floor, but that’s another story…

And so too are the books that are on special offer this week at 99p in the UK and 99c in the US.

In the Amy Hammond series there are A Prayer for Peace’ and ‘To Have and to Hold’ and ‘Let the dead.’ These are early in the series, when Amy and Peter are moving from being friends who live next door to each other to realising and then admitting how they feel about each other, and ‘A Prayer for Peace’ starts to explain why Amy has suddenly started finding trouble…

Then, writing as Eleanor Neville, there are a trio of books that owe a lot to my love of the summer tournaments at Lulworth Castle, which sadly are no longer run. The gallant knights of Horses Impossible fought and cheated and danced with my daughter in a castle one wet day. They threw towels at her and treated her like a squire when she was a scared little girl that life had knocked the stuffing out of and taught her to sword fight. Dewi the falconer taught her that owls don’t eat lettuce and muesli, which basically is that life is how it is and not fluffy Disney and over those three summers she got her confidence back. She and her brother had owls and hawks fly to their hand and fought with Vikings and are qualified Civil War pikesmen, and knights apprentices should you ever need two of them.

Obviously, they didn’t have the problems to handle that my fictional knights do in Knights Move, Knight to Pawn and Pawn to Queen, but if you ever get a chance to go and see a reconstruction then please, please grab it with both hands. Lovely people, lovely times, and a chance to cheer and boo and yell your head off. Some day I may tell you about the time I managed to go to sleep during a demonstration of cannon firing, much to the reconstructors amusement…

But till then, here’s a picture of a cormorant. You may say, so what? But count yourself lucky that you haven’t got to see my collection of pictures of sea where a cormorant was. Or half a cormorant. Or a cormorant’s backside swimming out of view. I swear they do it deliberately… Take care and see you soon!


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