1. The bed that I was born in.
Before his marriage my father wooed his future bride with an ancient half-tester bed, bought at auction.He sent a photo of his purchase to my mother in Scotland where it must have been well received, for some years later both my brother and then I were born between it's curtains in considerable style. My brother's birth was quick and easy, but my own, at the height of the Second World War was a painful, long drawn out affair, threatening the free-standing wooden figures and the corner posts.
My parents represented the attraction of opposites and at this time the practical, organised, animal loving, decision making half of the partnership had been recruited into the army, leaving his totally impractical young wife and three year old son to cope as best they might.
My mother's morning routine was to milk the goat and feed the rabbits and hens on whom she relied for meat and eggs.
Meehawl MacMurrahu, the family cat, was keeping my mother company by wandering around with a very inflated belly, threatening imminent birth. A bed had been made for her in the garden store, but MacMurrahu was planning a canopied bed for her own offspring and had taken up her position beneath the kitchen table. No matter how many times she was carried outside she always managed to return.
Our neighbour, peering over the hedge, took one look at my mother and sent her maid, Cissy, round to insist that the doctor be sent for. So my mother sat wearily at the kitchen table waiting for the doctor, while my brother announced one 'plop' after another as the kittens arrived beneath their feet.
During the war my father was an army sergeant and around the time of my birth was stationed not too far away from home. He arranged three days compassionate leave, organised all forty of his men to pick rosehips and borrowed a bicycle to make the journey home. He arrived to a level of chaos unknown to a practical man.
Dr Pratt was the doctor who attended my birth. He was immediately enthralled by the marital bed. "Far more interested in it than in me!" said my mother. However, he was astute enough to liken her figure in the great, dark bed to Mary, Queen of Scots, quite the best thing to say to a homesick Celt, frightened by many hours of labour.
When my father arrived home he will have rolled up his sleeves in customary fashion and set to work on whatever needed doing. By the time I was born, too weary to yell, he had to get on the bicycle and peddle back to camp. He never found the time to process the rosehips and after a few days my mother stood by the jam pan and bottled endless supplies of scarlet syrup.
I was called 'Rose' and 'mary' and entered into a chaotic and happy family life.
The bed and its sideboard were said to have been made from material taken from Wakefield Cathedral at the time of the Dissolution of the Monastries. I still have the sideboard but sadly the bed is no longer in the family. I would love to know where it is and who now has the pleasure of sleeping in it.