Growing up in small town England meant always doing what everyone else did. Even if it was not really your idea to follow the crowd, you did it so you didn’t feel “odd man out”.
As a child I was sent to children’s church, every Sunday morning and Sunday school on Sunday afternoons. Neither my grandma nor my mother went but I had to go. I liked the singing and loved to watch the sun come through the lovely coloured glass of the church windows, I also loved colouring and bible stories in Sunday school. However, I resented the fact that Sundays meant good clothes and not being allowed to play out.
None of my friends went to either of the services and there was a strict rule of not playing out on Sundays. I would get home from church in time for Sunday dinner then have to sit and read until time for Sunday school at 2.00pm. I was home around 3.00 and then had to play by myself till bedtime. In those days we had no t.v., so it was read or do a jigsaw. The good clothes were not allowed to be soiled so good behaviour was a must.
On summer afternoons we would go the family walk. This meant my mom’s brothers and sisters and all their kids would meet us at an assembly point and we would walk the three miles or so to our destination which was a Norman barn in the country where jugs of tea could be purchased. Here would be hundreds of other families who made the same Sunday pilgrimage, namely in the cause of having family fun.
I had a ton of cousins who were all younger than I, my brother who was seven years older than myself never came along as he simply refused to go. I was not given the choice so had to play with my boring younger cousins none of whom were able to catch a ball or play hide and seek. The adults didn’t want me hanging around them and I wasn’t allowed to go out of sight or seek company of my own age so I usually finished up sulking and getting told off.
Yes Sundays were a pain, but there was one exception! This was Sermons Sunday. All the churches had sermon Sunday once a year. I honestly didn’t know why they were called that but it was the day when the church congregation dressed up and paraded round the town. All the little girls wore a white dress and white shoes, I loved this as it was so nice to wear something pretty and not the usual “sensible” Sunday clothing.
“Good” clothes were always kept for best and changed once back home, by the time I was able to wear them for every day, I had almost grown out of them and they were handed down to one of my cousins. I thought this most unfair but I had very little say in the matter. However, sermons day clothes were really pretty, lacy and not in the least sensible, I loved my special dress. The day would usually be hot and there was no morning church that day, we would all assemble near the church, behind a brass band.
Brass bands were popular and every town had at least one, usually made up of members from the Legion or other such group. It was always such excitement when the big drum would call us all to order. First in line would be some of the men holding a huge banner depicting the name of the church, this would catch the wind and the guys had quite a time holding it upright. Sunday school children followed the banner and church adults would follow on. I remember feeling like a film star as we walked around town.
The march would last about an hour then back to church for the boring part of listening to the sermon, then into the church hall for special refreshments, it was a lovely day. Each church would have their special day and it was always fun to watch them go by.
I was only allowed to wear the lovely white dress for very special occasions, so I grew out of it and it was given to a cousin who would be allowed to wear it for school, not fair and I really resented it. This cousin was two years younger than me and was one of six children, brought up in a less than orderly house, where things didn’t have to be kept for best or even looked after.
Apart from my older brother I was the eldest grandchild, with five aunts and uncles plus grandma, I was given several dolls for birthdays or Christmas. I was not allowed to do much with my dolls only have tea parties. They were not to be undressed or bathed so they stayed in very good condition. My cousin always broke her own dolls and when she visited she would whine because my dolls were in good condition.
She went home with one of my treasures every time and no amount of crying on my part would prevent the loss of my dolls. It seemed that every time she came to the house she was given one of my things, which to me seemed most unfair. However my reluctance to give her my things would result in me being called selfish and childish by grandma. I quite often got put to bed early for making a fuss, here I would enjoy my misery by planning various punishments on those who were so mean to me. I would imagine my self dying of sadness and all my relatives weeping round my casket, regretting how badly they had treated me.
I seem to have spent a good deal of my childhood pouting and sulking, I must have been a real joy to be around. However, my resentment to that particular cousin still sits in the back of my mind. I have lost touch with her over the years but to me she is still the person who got all my good stuff and I honestly do not feel the need to make an effort to locate her. I guess I am still inwardly sulking and nobody can do a darn thing about it, I shall pout to my heart’s content.