Thursday, February 17, 2022

Things I found in my in tray

A couple of weeks ago I threw out old manuscripts from my filing cabinet and - with much pleasure - a clutch of rejection letters. And yesterday I actually got round to clearing my in tray. This has been on my to-do list for months.

There were some interesting finds in there: my mother's record of her 1939 stay at Bramham Park along with 25 nursery school children who had been evacuated from Leeds. The children were between two and a half and five years old, and my mother, a nursery school teacher, and the other scant staff, had to spend every hour of the day with them - asleep or awake, seven days a week. 

To begin with they were in charge of the cooking too and she includes weekly menus, and the quantities needed to make them. My poor mother! She hated cooking. Eventually a general cook came from Leeds to help out, but even so, my mother comments "Things never got beyond reproach."

I also found my social researcher's information/advertising leaflet from the late 1990s:

When you open it up this is a sample of what you see (though in dark green print)

I also found these newspaper clippings:

When I got round to binning stuff and filing the rest, I made room in the filing cabinet by throwing out the detailed plans for a novel entitled "The Pippin Family Nit-Comb"  and notes and plans for a brand new novel featuring Sally Howe, heroine of Plotting for Beginners and Plotting for Grown-ups. For some reason I couldn't bear to throw away my screenplay adaptation of But I Told You Last Year That I Loved You.

Then last night in bed, as I was writing my to-do list for today and emailing it to myself (a nightly habit) I felt sad about the unwritten Sally Howe novel, and added to the list "retrieve Sally Howe plans."

Don't hold your breath, though. I am a painter now, not a writer. 

Acrylics on canvas board. 42 x 59cms

It's odd, isn't it, what we can, and cannot bear to throw away?  I still have my mother's navy blue P.E. knickers from the 1920s and the 1950s Willis family nitcomb (labelled by her).

I wonder what my children will keep of things I leave behind.


Anonymous said...

My mother kept everything related to her children and grandchildren. Every letter, postcard, birthday card Every reference in a local newspaper Looking through this collection now she has died is an amazing experience, I feel grateful, delighted, tearful in equal measure

Sue Hepworth said...

Yes, that's wonderful, Ana.

My mother kept the letters her mother had saved that we wrote when we were children, and I love to read them.

Anonymous said...

It’s such a precious connection,Sue and one which is probably most keenly appreciated by us and also at this moment in our lives