We didn’t really do family holidays very much, but we’d booked a fortnight in Jersey at the end of August and beginning of September. Weeza was 9 and Al was 7. We decided to fly from Norwich for the convenience. Sad to say, the Sage’s father, Pa, had become ill as a result of a respiratory condition brought on by the field of rape growing behind the house. He died in the middle of August. However, Ma insisted that we go away as planned and she had her daughter and Hilda (I’ll tell you about Hilda one day) to look after her.
While we were away, the Sage wanted to know what to buy me for my birthday. I’m rubbish at this sort of thing as I never know what to ask for, but I had the good idea of a gold chain. We looked at all the chains in the shop but none was exactly right until the man brought out a tray of second-hand jewellery. One was just right. It was slender enough to put a pendant on but wide enough to wear on its own and it was the right length and colour.
The other shop we loved was one selling stones and fossils. Weeza and Al were fascinated and we went back there several times. We did like Jersey – I’d always lived by the sea but East Anglia has sandy shores and I really like rock pools and caves. I spent happy hours watching the sea anemones and hermit crabs on Jersey.
From the rock shop, the Sage bought a huge piece of bluejohn. This is a stone mined only in Derbyshire. Therefore, as a re-import, no tax was due on its arrival in England. This had been arranged in advance but we had to go through the “something to declare” channel. The Sage and the customs men got on very well and chatted for ages. I was in a dilemma, knowing that my mother and stepfather were waiting for us, but unable to go until we’d actually been let go. So I joined in the conversation, laughing loudly so that my mother would hear and know that, at any rate, we hadn’t been arrested.
I liked being 30. I felt grown up at last. Back when I was at school, my lovely Latin teacher Mr Lamb mused once that he believed he had been born middle-aged and it gave me a shock of self-knowledge. I realised that I had not yet grown into the age I was meant to be and this was the reason I felt awkward.
Once we arrived home, Ma told us that she had decided to move from the house she’d spent nearly all her married life in and where her three surviving children had been born. The Sage told me this as we were sharing a plate of sandwiches at the Yacht Club in Lowestoft. It was one of the times I spoke and listened with interest to know what I was going to say. It was as a result of this that we moved to this house. And Ro was born, though that was the Sage’s suggestion, received very well by me.