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Family Of Four: 9 - Honey Pots

...Mummy was dainty, trim, and very pretty and always gay. She would gather us round her to read to us in a musical voice, chiefly from Anderson's and Grimms' Fairy Stories, or Aesop's Fables, or from Black Beauty, Uncle Tom's Cabin, The Water Babies, or the delightful Peter Rabbit series. Perhaps we would choose Treasure Island, Rhymes from Mother Goose, or Lucy Mary, and there were many other books we knew and loved.

Sometimes Mummy would sing in a sweet, tuneful voice, one song being our favourite. I cannot think the words had any meaning for us at all, and in any case we only knew the first verse, but it was a lilting tune which Mummy herself enjoyed enormously and played with great eclat. It went...

Ah, to find out how it went you really must read this chapter of Mrs Vivien Hirst's delightful memories of childhood.

Mrs Hirst's memories were athered into a book by her nephew, Raymond Prior. To read earlier chapters of that book please click on Family Of Four in the menu on this page.

When I was only three Mummy became so ill that the doctor insisted on her having a trained nurse. For a few days she tossed, and turned, and fretted, running a very high temperature. Her nurse was troubled until she had an inspiration.

"Do you know, Mrs. Hirst, I believe you have measles and you are feeling like this because the rash will not come out. I am going to pad you with hot water bottles and nearly smother you with blankets and eiderdowns, and we will see if it is so. If not the heat may lower your temperature and cannot harm you."

At once kettles were set a-hissing, and the covers piled on until poor Mummy looked small as a waif, lobster-coloured, protesting that she could not bear it. But, lo and behold! it worked, and soon the tell-tale rash was much in evidence, and in no time at all Mummy began to feel very different. The trouble was that, everyone being ignorant that it was measles and no precautions having been taken, it spread to all the children, Doreen and I having it together.

Poor Mummy was very crestfallen that it was she who had infected her off-spring. I remember going into Doreen's bed for games, our favourite being pastry making with our own outfit.

I always enjoyed these illnesses which were of a mild nature, and we had most of them at one time or another, the worst being when we all four had whooping cough, together, and at the very same time. I liked the extra fussing and relaxation of discipline, the visits of the doctor who tickled and teased until we were nearly beside ourselves with laughter.

But the most loved part of the day was just before falling off to sleep, when Nurse or Mummy would place hot cinders on a large coal shovel, pour over Jeyes Fluid, and with the shovel at arm's length move around the room, wafting a delicious odour which lingered on the air; then the gradual dying down of the glowing fire with its restless movements and falls, little hisses and pops, until sleepy eyes closed in blessed comfort and well-being.

For many years the nursery really was our home for when we were little we only went downstairs to play with Mummy and Daddy for an hour after tea, an hour to be looked forward to all the day, a precious hour.

Mummy was dainty, trim, and very pretty and always gay. She would gather us round her to read to us in a musical voice, chiefly from Anderson's and Grimms' Fairy Stories, or Aesop's Fables, or from Black Beauty, Uncle Tom's Cabin, The Water Babies, or the delightful Peter Rabbit series. Perhaps we would choose Treasure Island, Rhymes from Mother Goose, or Lucy Mary, and there were many other books we knew and loved.

Sometimes Mummy would sing in a sweet, tuneful voice, one song being our favourite. I cannot think the words had any meaning for us at all, and in any case we only knew the first verse, but it was a lilting tune which Mummy herself enjoyed enormously and played with great eclat. It went:-

"I'm a poor bachelor, isn't it sad?
All the girls hate me, ain't it too bad?
There are lots of pretty girls daily I see
But there's not - one of them - will love me!"

The expression put into the last line was terrific. It was too absurd but we trilled this about the house for many a month, indeed for years.

When Daddy was at home, for he was often travelling during the week, he would let us climb up and sit on his head, and he invented a game called "Honey-pots" which we adored. We all sat with our legs crossed and knees drawn up, our arms passing under them in a hug, and he would swing us up by the arms to the other end of the room calling "Honey, fresh honey, who will buy my fresh honey?" Daddy was small and dark, with a bristly moustache, very blue eyes and greying hair. He was a dynamo of energy, seldom still, though he had the wonderful gift of being able to sleep suddenly and deeply, just when he wanted to.

The hour always flew far too quickly and then it was away for a bath, and bed - lovely undressing by the nursery fire, tucking one's toes into sleeping suits, cosy, warm, sleepy.

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