Friday, 6 March 2015

Call Me Valentine 1930 - 1932

Title: Call Me Valentine
Book Genre: Biography / History
Author: Derek Rosser

I made my first appearance on this planet on St Valentine’s Day of the year 1930. The event was apparently heard by all of the staff and patients in the hospital where I was born. The nurses, according to my mum, suggested that, in view of the date, I should be named ‘Valentine’. It was only the common sense displayed by my father that saved me from that ignominious fate. It is almost half a century since he departed this mortal coil but I shall remain grateful to him until my dying day, My mother spent the next ten years explaining to anyone that would listen that she had ‘Gone through Hell’ and did not intend to repeat the experience. Thus it was that I was doomed to be an ‘only child’. Do not let anyone tell you that an ‘only child’ is spoiled. Nothing could be further from the truth. My father, in his determination to ensure that I was NOT spoiled, showed a severe side. Not, you understand, that he was cruel. He simply wanted me to know that ‘nonsense’ would not be tolerated.

No one will believe me when I tell you about my very earliest memory. I have revealed it before and been laughed out of the bar. My age at the time I am unable to state with any degree of certainty. I was in my pram and we were crossing a road. I lost my temper with my teddy bear and threw him with some force into the gutter. Why I did it I don’t remember because we were really the best of friends. My mother sighed, retrieved Teddy and continued on her way across the road.
I am unable to expand on the above story since what I have reported is it, all of it, the limit of my memory. All I can do is swear that it is true. I could not have been more than one year old because my mother was always bragging that I could walk before my first birthday.

Being of such tender years at the time, I have to admit that I have little recollection of any major events which occurred during this period. My parents were living in rooms in Bath Road, convenient because my father could walk to the locomotive sheds at Temple Meads where he kept his engine. Being a fireman (on God’s Wonderful Railway) at the time, he told me later that he was responsible for oiling the moving parts before it started its daily travels.
One thing I do remember is that he came home from work at any time of the day or night and that, when he went to bed during the day, my mother spent much of her time shushing me so that we did not disturb his sleep. The rooms were on the third floor of a large Victorian house and I was later informed that, at less than two years old, I had fallen down the stairs and almost torn off my left ear. The resulting noise had, of course, awakened my dad who took me to the infirmary to have it reattached. It seems that the din I created whilst being stitched up could be heard half a mile away. My dad was a man of somewhat dry wit and he once informed me that when my mouth was open, the rest of my face could not be seen.
He carried me home from the infirmary very tenderly and even put me to bed and read me a story. In my recollection it was the only time he ever did it which is probably why it is so ingrained on my memory.
To this day my left ear can be bent in the middle like a piece of cardboard but it still serves its design intention remarkably well.