Within Jean’s memoir, she is consistent in describing all the fun and festivities in which she and her family had and attended. It was lovely to read about such a close-knit family and happy childhood. ‘Mary and I had some peculiar pastimes lying in bed. We always had a candle on the table between the beds and we liked to drip the candle wax in spots all over our hands and then roll it into a ball and chew it.’ (p. 4) The simplicity of the fun they created themselves within this era is magnificent. It really is a shame how times have changed! Jean and Mary’s idea of fun is imaginative and simple which represents their class; the girls did not have many toys to play with or money to keep them entertained, this results in the best thing a child can have, imagination!
‘I was fascinated watching him as he leaned there on the gate drawing and eventually I asked him to teach me how to do it,’ (p. 4) Jean speaks of her young, male neighbour who had a talent of drawing famous faces. This portrays the close community in which Jean grew up in and the small lane in which she lived. ‘He started me off drawing profiles which even today I can still do well although I am hopeless at drawing anything else,’ (p. 4) this statement from Jean is one of my favourite sentences within the memoir. I think it is so lovely how her kind neighbour has taught her a quirky, lifetime skill that she still holds today. This small triumph that Jean achieved so many years ago is a little piece of the lane she will always have.
‘One of the rare treats for our family was a visit to the cinema.’ (p. 4) Jean does not mention any trips to the beach or family holidays. This shows the struggle her mother and grandpa must have faced when it came to providing luxuries for the two girls. This festivity, like the games Jean and Mary used to play, is simplicity at best, but I think it is wonderful. Jean reflects so lovingly onto her childhood and her dear mother, despite them having little money. This is another example that differentiates children of the 1920s to the children of today. It is truly astonishing and pleasing that Jean took so much pleasure in these small trips to the cinema.
Christmas is presented as a marvellous day for Jean. ‘I suppose everyone remembers their childhood Christmas’s as being so but we really had so little to get excited about compared to the modern child,’ (p. 5) despite this, Jean is still thankful and recalls upon these family orientated days with great pleasure. ‘Oh the joy we found in the little packets of balloons, crayons and chalks,’ (p. 5) these gifts differ from the gifts children receive today. Jean did not receive mobile phones or game consoles, but simple, everyday items. This is a clear representation of the family’s class as well as her idea of fun. Jean’s memoir and personality continued to surprise and please me throughout. She portrays herself as such a grateful child without even meaning to do so.
Jean, like any other child, was guilty of absconding from school. The way she chooses to spend her day is lovely and represents her idea of fun. ‘I was amazed at this but I accepted the sweets and made off down the hill to Magpie Park,’ (p. 8) Jean receives a whole ‘halfpenny worth’ (p. 8) of sweets from a soldier and makes her way down to her local park. Jean continuously reflects her simple ideas of fun which displays her delightful, appreciative personality.
The fun and festivities the Court family have during Jean’s childhood were my favourite part of the entire memoir. This specific part of the memoir reflects onto how childhood should be and how grateful it makes you as a person. Jean’s personality really shines through within these passages, without meaning to do so.
188 COURT, Jean, ‘Living in the Lane’, TS, pp.11 (c. 10,000 words). Brunel University Library.
Cinema in the 1920s England. [IMAGE] URL: