I Remember: Leicester – Opening pages

I Remember: Leicester (the colon is important) was published on Monday evening with a beautiful reading by members of the group at Attenborough Arts.  I’ll write a longer post when I have a little more distance from the evening.

In the meantime,  here are the opening lines of the book to give you a flavour of its particular character. Copies are available from Writing East Midlands for £5, and a free PDF version will be available shortly.

I Remember: Leicester

I remember a green Ford Popular, dark night against my mother’s breast. I am four or five. She is singing, ‘Golden slumbers, fill your eyes.’

I remember living in an extended family: father, mother, brother, younger sister, grandad, grandma, aunties and uncles and cousins. It was so much fun, We lived in Rajpipla, in India.

I remember when we used to sit together as a family in the evening after dinner. We’d munch monkey nuts, share stories and play cards; there was no TV.

I remember we never, ever went to a pub or a restaurant for a meal. Mum always cooked, except on Saturday mornings when Dad would fry tomato bread on the stove.

I remember the exception was Friday night. As Catholics, we didn’t eat meat on Fridays, and one of us, or two, went running to the fish and chip shop.

I remember going to the temple as a child and cupping my hands at the end of prayer for prasad, a sweet dough that you can eat with your hands.

I remember walking back from the beach to our house in Famagusta with bare sandy feet.

I remember the sand being so hot you could hardly walk on it with bare feet.

I remember listening to classical music on a big wooden radio.

I remember the Home Service.

I remember listening to Forces Radio and hearing Mum’s request played for us.

I remember my brother having glasses with one lens covered to correct a lazy eye.

I remember my mum was a lovely lady. She loved gardening and had a greenhouse full of flowers.

I remember when I visited my mum in hospital she didn’t know who I was. Her ankles were all swollen up.

I remember the first steps I took on a tennis court. I was two and I held my dad’s hand as I tottered onto the court.

I remember my little sister being born in Changi Hospital. We weren’t allowed into the hospital, so my mum showed us the baby from a balcony and threw down tubes of Smarties for us.

I remember we used to sleep on the terrace in summer. We would count stars and learn about astronomy from family members.

I remember sitting in bed when I was a little girl. I could see houses and gardens from my bedroom window.

I remember my dad’s humorous nature made us laugh. It is unforgettable. He was a unique character and a pure soul.

I remember my dad’s MG 1100 going at 85mph on the A5.

I remember going on the autobahn with my dad in his Riley. There were no bridges over the motorway.

I remember my dad making display cabinets for London museums. He was so clever and wonderful.

I remember my dad trying to be an artist. He had a slide projector with a scenic photo, which he projected onto the canvas while he tried to paint over the image.

I remember I learnt hand embroidery and sewing from my mum. She is so clever. She made handbags, dolls and little purses using small material. She taught me and my sister to sew dresses. These skills helped me find work in Leicester, teaching art and sewing with the elders group.

I remember my mum’s homemade stew.

I remember eating my younger siblings’ Farley’s Rusks.

I remember the work my mum went to making tomato and lentil soup, putting it through a sieve again and again.

I remember Bonfire Night with soup and baked potatoes, the warmth of the fire that we crowded around.

I remember all the neighbours having their own little bonfires and little firework displays. We never crossed fences.

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