Friday, 1 June 2012

60 Years Ago Today

Sixty years ago I was a little Brownie, a proud possessor of two new front teeth, living in Mombasa, Kenya. The island was abuzz with excitement as Princess Elizabeth and Prince Philip were passing through the town on their way from Tree Tops, a game park lodge where they had been staying, to board their vessel and return to England.

Clad in my carefully laundered and newly starched Brownie uniform and clutching a small Union Jack I joined the line of other small Brownies to wave and cheer as the big limousine passed. It was a hot day, 90F , the air shimmering with humidity. We waited and waited. The Princess never came. Unbeknown to the Brownies the Princess had received the news that her father, King George V1, had died whilst she was at Tree Tops. Theirs was a sad, private journey to join the ship.

For the first and only time in my life I got sun stroke and must have passed out as I remember voices saying “Get her into the shade. Cool her down” I was put into my father’s car which had also been standing all day in the sun. It was black - as all cars were then – and it was like being put into an oven. The red leather upholstery burned my skin.

The next thing I remember was being immersed in a bath of cold water and my mother pouring water over my head and telling me  “Don’t be so stupid” when I complained that I couldn’t breathe if she poured water for too long.

Days before I had cleaned and polished my little brass Brownie badge again and again; offering it for inspection to my mother. Mother was a stern task master, reared by a stern Victorian mother whose standards and work ethic she still followed. Again and again I had to polish until no further fault could be found. During the process I pricked my finger with the brass pin and developed blood poisoning.

I remember once again feeling woozy and watching in fascination as the little purple blisters spread slowly up my arm. Then a doctor with a scalpel appeared and lanced them all and spoilt the fun.

So this time, this joyous celebration of Queen Elizabeth’s Diamond Jubilee, I am going to celebrate, in the shade, waving my little Union Jack and feeling just as excited and happy as I did 60 years ago.

The founder of Fairy Tale Children's Furniture, Zandra Johnson is a passionate advocate of imaginative play for children. Studies reveal free time spent playing make-believe helps children develop critical cognitive skills. Fairytale Furniture helps build those skills through imaginative play. Download your free guide to Imaginative Play at FAIRYTALECHILDRENSFURNITURE.CO.UK