England 40 Years Ago — November 22, 1981

At the beginning of the week the butcher, Mr. Luf, handed me an envelope that he said they’d had since the Saturday before, hoping Kate would come in. Her face lit up when she saw it after school; she opened it, and her mouth dropped open when she discovered a one pound note with a lovely birthday card. She flew out of the house to go over and thank the two men and a boy who had signed it. [The butcher shop was easy to reach using a footpath. Kate often went with me and occasionally ran over by herself to buy eggs.]

This nation is changing over to the metric system faster than the US. I was looking for shoe laces and found them marked in cm only. I know what 1 cm looks like, but I couldn’t visualize 60 of them end to end. Solution: I found a ruler in the stationery department, and the problem was solved.

I was invited to a coffee to meet two ladies who live in this area. Eileen B had the get-together in Reigate not far from Micklefield school. I don’t know how she got to know the other two, one of whom has a son at Micklefield, and the other with a son in school just down Breech Lane. All three of us visitors had a toddler in tow, so the visiting was at a minimum. Did find out that the husband of one is a builder, and the other a stunt man! At the moment he is working on the Pirates of Penzance.

On a rainy day John $ had his Wellingtons on, and I was able to lure him to town by going from one puddle to another. The rector replied to my martyred air, “You’re only young once. If you jump in puddles when older, they lock you up.”

$ loves to pull cereal out of the cabinet

The day the car was in the garage for servicing was the day the assistant matron of Dunottar called to say Lisa was ill. I don’t believe I’ve ever fetched her from school in the middle of the day. Luckily I was able to call the garage to find the car was finished and return the call to the school to confirm that I would be picking Lisa up in half an hour. Had to get John $ just as he was going to sleep for his nap, walk to town, get the car, and drive to Reigate. Brought Lisa home and helped her to bed before going back for Kate. Lisa felt better soon after getting home, so it wasn’t anything serious.

I’ve noticed that in speaking of kinfolk, English people refer to their “relations.” The friendly girl who pumps petrol in Reigate said, “When I went to visit my parents, my relations drove me down.” To me “relations” conjures up a bunch of people you have to struggle to get along with, as in “keeping up good relations with so and so.” I’d take relatives any day!

When we first moved in, Catherine and Philippa told us everyone in the village is nice except the grump who runs the post office. They told us to steer clear of him whenever possible. I found that he was, indeed, a sour person; and all I do is hand him my Braille work once a month. You can imagine my horror as I went in to buy these funny brown envelopes when Kate marched up to the window. She picked John $ up so he could peer through the grill and told the man it was the first time he’d walked in the post office. I was imagining he’d keep a sharp stick to poke at little people like I’d poke at spiders, but he smiled and asked how old $ is!!! What a shock!!! Kate seems to inspire some people to be friendly when I can’t.

Two in the toy box

7 thoughts on “England 40 Years Ago — November 22, 1981

  1. They went to the metric system in Canada after we left so I have never had to deal with it. I wonder how long before we go to the metric system over here. My father came from Germany and took his training to be a tool-and-diemaker over there. He bought all his tools during his apprenticeship and lugged them over on his boat passage to Canada, then was not able to use them in Canada. I like the rector’s comment about puddle jumping: “You’re only young once. If you jump in puddles when older, they lock you up.”

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