A Woman of Note

Wild Flowers
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After my mother, the “Woman of Note” in my life was my schoolteacher, Mrs Ives. She was a formidable woman, of stout build, with strong, straight grey hair, cropped short from ear to ear. Her voice was loud and booming, the kind you might hear shouting “Tally Ho” at a foxhunt. She was a woman of strong principles, who brooked no nonsense. She was handy with the cane, and I remember being in receipt of two smart slaps, for being late for school. My sister was in the same room, and told my mother when I got home!

Heated Discussions

Next morning, much to my shame, Mam arrived outside our classroom door, which was half glassed and had a heated discussion with the teacher. It transpired that she demanded that Mrs Ives bring out her cane and use it on her, since she was the one who caused be to be late – I’d had to walk down about a mile, with my two younger sisters, one in a pram, whom I had to deliver to nursery school, then bring my other sister to infant class, before finally arriving hot and bothered at my own class. Mrs Ives called me out, and in front of my mother, apologised profusely to me and accepted that she had been totally in the wrong. I was so impressed by her apology, and always had the greatest respect for her.

A Love of Reading & Writing

It was from her that I developed my lifelong love of reading and writing, as she devoted the last half hour of each afternoon to reading some of the most loved classics like “Heidi”, “Anne of Green Gables”, Black Beauty”. “The Snowqueen” and numerous others. To me, it was the opening up of a treasure trove of books, and my mother would read them too, when we were all in bed, as she tried to re-adjust her life to widowhood and the single parenting of four children.

Love of Wildflowers

Also from her, came my discovery of wildflowers, amongst the bombed-out ruins of vast areas of wasteland where we lived. Mrs Ives started a huge scrap-book, into which we were allowed to write about the wildflowers which we discovered. She showed us how to press these wildflowers, and when they were perfectly dried, enter them into the book. I loved this work, and would honestly say that two thirds of the entries in the book were mine. What I wouldn’t give to own it now! She was a no-nonsense woman, but left a deep impression on me, and gave me a great gift of knowing that I could do lots of things if I had the courage to try.

To her encouragement I owe a great deal and I’m only sorry I never got an opportunity as an adult, to thank her.

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