Friday, 13 October 2017

What was lost is found .....

Now a little bit of my childhood has just come to light.

I say mine but it is actually a collective bit of the history of me and my sisters, and it is all the more exciting because I had thought the manuscripts that mum wrote during the 1950's and 60's had been lost.

During that period she wrote a series of one act plays which were specifically aimed at women’s groups and given the nature of such groups had more parts for women than men.

This I suspect added to the skill she brought to the task.

I never read them which, was more to do with that simple fact that at 11, plays, reading and books were for other people.

But now as I engage in writing myself I have often wanted to read mum’s work.  We have a few short pieces she wrote in the 1940's and an unfinished novel of life in south east London.  But that is it.

I have on occasion searched the British Library but was never sure which name she used and as I had none of the titles the quest never got anywhere.

But now our Theresa has found one of the published plays and our Gillian has another and what was lost is found.

Later in the month we will all meet up here in Manchester and Theresa has promised to bring the play.

The discovery of course prompts many memories.  I vividly remember the Olivetti typewriter she used which was metallic light blue in colour and was slim and stylish, and nothing like those giant office models which were all black and gold and took over the table.

And the table she used had been bought specially for the job, and sat in the front room of the old house in Lausanne Road with draws filled with paper; typewrite ribbons, boxes of carbon sheets and those special erasers.

We thought nothing of what mum did and just took it for granted as the thing that all mums do between the washing, cooking and the myriad of other household chores.

And yet now I am in awe of someone who looked after the five of us which was made all the more onerous as dad was away for great chunks of the year.

Reading the fragments that have survived I can hear mum in those manuscripts from over half a century ago.

There is a light wit to much of it, underscored with a darker more melancholy side and both of these were mum.

All of which just leaves me with that simple observation that all of us have stories to tell and deserve the opportunity to share them.

In the past that was difficult, requiring the time and confidence and then the perseverance to slog out approaching publishers who of course would take a cut of whatever money was to be made.

But now social media offers an audience for not only stories but photographs, many of which are as good as those in the galleries, and offers people a chance to showcase their work in a way never before possible.

Knowing mum I rather think she would have embraced those new forms of communication and perhaps once we have all read the lost plays we will offer them up.

We shall see.

Location; London

Picture; cover of In the Mood, date unknown, from the collection of Theresa Simpson Hall and mum and the girls, 1959 from  the collection of Andrew Simpson

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