We had a friend, an acquaintance really. I can’t remember her name or her nationality, how I knew her, or if I even knew her at all. But Emily used to say she was built like an Amazonian Princess and she tilled the soil in the allotment next ours.
She had a majestic coach build Silver Cross pram and two small boys. In all weathers her baby sat, propped up in the pram wearing a hand knitted hat and a grubby vest, her toddler filled his bucket with stones, whilst she hoed and planted and tended her lettuces and raspberry canes. It is true to say I wished I was more like her and I wished my children were more like hers: propped in the pram watching, occupied with pebbles in a pail. I told Anna and Emily how much I loved that pram. How I had never had a Silver Cross pram though I remember the one my mother had used for me and my sister. Bottle-green (I think) with a sun canopy and long fringe. In those day the baby was put out to sleep in the pram in the garden every day, whatever the weather; or that is how I remember it now.
We had everything we needed and we were ready for our fourth baby to be born.
One afternoon, early in June I was sitting in my sunny garden watching the world go by and enjoying the soporific tiredness that comes late pregnancy when I notice a figure walking up the orchard path pushing a pram.
We had bought an exceedingly plain house with a beautiful view. At the bottom of our garden we laid the hedge in the tradition way and made a gate onto the community orchard that had been planted there: plums, apple and pears. A whole brood of long-tailed tits roosted in the hawthorn and we listen to the curlew cry and watched the fox return from his daylight hunt each day.
The figure with the pram moved purposely along the path and I saw that it was Anna and she was pushing the majestic coach built Silver Cross, through the gate in the hedge and up the garden path. The acquaintance of ours was going abroad and was apparently glad to be rid of the pram. Anna had acquired it, just for me. I parked it in my garage and marvelled at its size and the kindness of a friend who remembered how much I liked a carriage built pram and brought it to me as a gift
Lucy was born on a Friday evening at home. My waters broke early, a whole day before, but the midwives had done everything they could to keep me at home. I spent the day in and out of the bath, watching my goldfish swimming in their bowl, listening to Bach’s Goldberg Variations. The midwife called in every few hours to see how I was getting on. We talked together about the plants in my garden: the miniature hostas with white striped leaves and the blue geranium called Thomas Hogg.
Just before Lucy was born the midwife had to run out to the car for more gas and air. The milkman called for his money just after she had been delivered and promised to tell my friends the good news as he finished his rounds.
On the Sunday evening the sun was shining and I wrapped Lucy up in a cardigan and a bonnet, tying the satin ribbon under her chin. I tucked her into that pram with a blanket and a quilt and marched down the orchard to visit a friend. My tiny new baby was quite lost in the great chassis of that immense vehicle and bounced around like a pea, as the beautifully engineered springs of the Silver Cross suspension negotiated the pot holes and high curbs along the way. Several times I had to stop to tuck her in tightly and stop her from bouncing out. I visited Emily who had bought me a raspberry pink Fat Face satchel and it was the first time in all those baby years that someone bought a present just for me.
I remember clearly parking the pram in the front yard, taking the baby, walking up the steps and ringing the bell. A surprise visit, cries of how I shouldn’t have come and Iris and Rose wanting a hold.
For the rest of the weekend I lay on the red sofa with my new baby watching Glastonbury: Cold Play, White Stripe, Isaac Hayes and Ash.
Happy Birthday Lucy. And to my friends – I miss those days, thank you xxx