On Friday I enjoyed a lovely afternoon with Jill, an old school friend, in Leominster. She still lives in my hometown of Shrewsbury and from time to time we arrange to meet at different towns. Although it’s only just over 20 miles away I didn’t really know Leominster, I think I have been there once many years ago. It is a lovely old town full of fascinating shops and a little open air market in the middle of a small square edged with black and white buildings. Jill told me she had been looking for some time for a shop where she could find rug wool, and I told her how I had been looking for a place where I could buy a long zip to replace the one in my kaftan style dressing gown, I have been wandering around unable to zip mine up, which is awkward if someone comes to the door. We were saying that what we needed was one of those old fashioned haberdashery shops where they sold everything from knitting needles and wool to buttons and zips. You used to see them everywhere but they all seem to have closed down. Then we saw one. We went inside and Jill found her wool and I found my long zip.
Later we discovered a museum, we both love history so we went in. Jill’s eye went immediately to an old fashioned till. She said she used to work on one of those when she had a holiday job in her teens. There was also a Victorian kitchen and scullery with an old fashioned dolly tub and a mangle. We both started reliving memories of putting the washing through the mangle as children. I remember doing it from as young as 7 or 8. Nowadays parents wouldn’t let a child near anything like that. The man looking after the museum joined in our conversation and said he used to charge his parents 6 pence to put the clothes through the mangle! There were also a number of other things familiar from our childhood and youth and it occurred to me that going to a museum and seeing things in it that you remember really does remind you how old you are!
Another rather upsetting reminder happened when I got home. I had a problem with my phone when I was out. It kept getting stuck and refused to ring Hubby to pick me up on my return to Hereford station. In the end I had to find a phone box. I was relieved to find that there still are a few around and they haven’t all been sent to museums like the one we visited. When I got home I asked Tony to look at the phone. I went to get it from my bag and couldn’t find it. I started to panic and emptied my handbag out onto the sofa, it definitely wasn’t in there. Hubby went to the car to check I hadn’t dropped it when I opened my bag but it wasn’t there either. I must have left it in the phone box. I was sure I had a memory of putting it back into my bag, but I can’t really trust my memory any more. We would have to phone the station and hope it had been handed in. I turned on the computer to find the number and it wouldn’t boot, we’ve been having trouble with that too. I raced upstairs to get the laptop and Tony followed me down to see what the matter was. I really didn’t want to tell him I had lost my phone as it was a birthday present from him, but I had to explain. He came into the living room, walked over to the coffee table, picked something up and said, ‘Isn’t this it?’ I couldn’t believe it. I had no memory at all of taking it out of my bag and putting it there and I had only been home about half an hour. I can be forgetful nowadays, but until now, if I found something in an unexpected place, I always then remembered putting it there. Not this time, I still have no memory of taking it out of my bag. It was a big relief to find it. A memory was haunting me of when I left a camera in a toilet in Tenby and remembered a few minutes later but it had gone. I never got that back even though I went to the police, the harbour master and put an ad in the paper offering a reward. It was Cat’s camera, she had lent it to me for the holiday. I have been so careful since. I never put anything down anywhere, not even for a minute, but I was beginning to believe I had today. I have never been so happy so see something.
Going round the museum on Friday with Jill reminded me of when we used to visit a museum in Shrewsbury after school. It was a lovely old black and white building next to the bus station. The ground floor was full of Roman relics from the nearby ruins of the Roman town of Uriconium. Each floor was from a different era and the very top floor was virtually an attic with low beams. We used to chase each other around them and hide. Now here we are still going around museums together 60 years later. A little less sprightly, but still having fun together.