As you can imagine I didn't get much cleaning-out-of-the-wardrobe done once I found the diary but I had a brilliant morning remembering this amazing trip, the seed of my lifelong passion for travel, and thinking about that girl, was she really me? And wasn't I lucky, and did we really travel round the world on that ship: Ships brochure: "gay informality is the keynote in the ship's dining saloons", a mere 25,000 tons but considered large at the time. Cunard lists their current ship, The Queen Mary 2, as weighing 151,000 tons. As a footnote: My mother wrote a successful book about our family's travels called A Caravan Close Behind. It is now out of print.
What's this here? Oh my goodness, old school reports... interesting reading, indeed. I had entirely forgotten that I topped the fifth form in Mathematics and came 3rd in English I hadn't forgotten, but would have preferred to, that I came 26th out of 28 in History the same year. Oh well, we all have talents, is all I can say. Of course, there are the usual teachers' prescribed comments "she could do better if she tried" "she doesn't seem to be interested in this subject"...right on, teacher! We had so little choice that I remember sitting through endless boring lessons on subjects I had absolutely no interest in, the teacher ensconced behind her desk droning on and on reading notes in a monotone voice while I fought to stay awake, especially difficult on hot summer afternoons. Working at a high school, as I did for 22 years, I often envied today's students their wide and varied choice of subjects, together with their access to computers, videos and other exciting modern technologies. It wasn't until I went to University that I discovered the joy of selecting and studying subjects I was really interested in and I loved every moment of it.
But not everything hidden in this wardrobe is about me. I had kept my mother's diary of her last years as she battled with Parkinsons disease. It was moving to read and brought tears to my eyes when I thought of her bravery, patience and stoicism. Together with the diary was her lovingly preserved collection of postcards. She had kept every postcard she ever received and since a couple of my brothers are well travelled and made a habit of sending her a card everywhere they went the collection is large. In fact we all made it a point to send our mother postcards and it is interesting to see how places change over the years. I hope the fine old tradition of postcard sending does not die out but I fear it may. I also enjoyed looking at the photo album of the second long trip she made to Europe with my father not long before he died suddenly and far too young. They looked very happy on this trip, fortunately unaware of what was ahead.
Feeling peckish I looked at my watch, it was 5pm. I hadn't made a lot of progress in the job at hand but I had had a marvellous journey down memory lane. Looks like it will take another day!