Just before Morpheus descends on me for the day i.e., before the urge to sleep overpowers me, I want to pass on a piece of good news. If you have read stories from my past (a page now in serious need of updating) you may have seen a tragic story about a school friend, Verdon Harrison, who reappeared in my awareness by an amazing coincidence and then disappeared again.
I ended that story by saying I never expected to be in contact with him in my lifetime.
A little while ago, I got a call from the UNE to say there was a person who wanted to contact me, whose name was Len Harrison, and gave me his phone number.
I knew it could be only one person; Verdon’s younger brother - so I phoned him, and he gave me Verdon’s email address. Well, it happened something like that – the precise details aren’t important, except that I did speak to Len.
Shortly after, I received a heart-warming letter from Verdon himself, mentioning many of the things I have already written about in my blog, plus a few others. Our first contact person-to-person in over half a century.
How ironical that this would never have happened if I hadn’t sat down to write these many stories from my childhood!
Apart from the few times that Verdon and his family who migrated from Sheffield got a mention in my tales, I wish I could tell many others. Maybe just two, briefly, here and now.
One night half the kids living close by where Verdon Snr. had built their house came over to the Harrisons and watched something very special. They had acquired a movie projector – one you would manually wind at the right speed to show little reel-to-reel black & white movies. They put up a sheet and on came one of the great Silent Classics of all times – Charlie Chaplin – Charlie on Ice, I think it was. He was certainly skating, everything happening to his wonderful comic timing.
We played it and one or two others – each one probably no more than 5 minutes – at least half a dozen times, Verdon varying the speed and making the brilliant gymnast master comic genius Chaplin do even more wondrous things than in real life.
The other was a little walking-home-from-school conversation between Verdon and me.
‘Mum let Johnny play in a huge mud puddle yesterday.’ (John, the youngest of all the Harrisons).
‘Yes.’ He grinned. ‘She let him play... in his birthday suit.’
‘Oh no!’ I gasped. ‘She let him play in the mud in his best clothes??’
Verdon roared laughing.
‘No! In his birthday suit. His birthday suit!!’
I still didn’t get it.
That’s Sheffield sophistication vs Calliope naivety for you. Or maybe just my total cluelessness. Even if he had said that it was what Johnny was wearing on the day he was born, it probably wouldn’t have helped me. I wasn’t on firm ground in those matters. For all I knew, he could have been wearing a tuxedo when they found him out in the cabbage patch or wherever babies came from in those days. That’s if I had known what a tuxedo was, and I didn’t anyway.
Yeah yeah. I think I get it now....
Oh how the little things of our childhood impacted on our imaginations! The manual projector you describe reminds me of how my family would thrill to the anticipation of Uncle Bill's impending visits. My maternal uncle was a traveller and would come at the end of his latest oh-so-exotic overseas trip, projector and slides in hand.ReplyDelete
Mum would make scones, boiled fruit cake and pikelets, the neighbours were invited, and we would compete to be the loudest calling out which country we wanted next. We'd watch enthralled, and listen to the stories and whinge loudly when my brother and sister and I were nodding off to sleep and told it was bed time. "Just one more country!" we would wail.
Austria was my favourite.
I would later marry my beloved, who's mother was Austrian, and walk up a mountain there (Mt Schneeberg)with him.
It was because of Uncle Bill and his slide projector that my lust for travel has been a life-long companion.