February

It’s a funny old thing, remembering. People I knew forty or fifty years ago appear in my recall just because the wind’s blowing a certain way, or I see a grey knitted jumper, or an umbrella blown inside out, or a striped milk jug filled with daffodils, or painted iron railings, or a (now “vintage”) radio like my mother’s – the daily bringer of warm banter and blarney to our lunchtime ears from Jimmy Young and his pal Terry Wogan.

Today I “saw” Lilian again. Old as the hills, toothless, smiling, tousled white hair, a knitted shawl fastened by brooch on her shoulders, and dead these past forty years.¬†Once my mother’s knuckle-rapping piano teacher, I regularly visited her in extreme old age at home – and was thereby introduced to bottled Camp Coffee with Chicory and an indescribably cold Victorian house with still-working gas lamps (until the “North Sea Gas Man” couldn’t execute a conversion from Coal Gas to the new-fangled stuff), a black-leaded range with lace covered mantel in the “Morning Room”, and no other form of heating.¬†Milk froze in the bottle on the sideboard and I froze in the rocking chair. And all these years later, most every year, in fact, in still-wintry early February, I hear her delighted

I like February dear. You only need half the coals in the fire!