Memoirs & Articles: Cornwall

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This is one of a series of short articles that I have written about my early life in Cornwall. They form the basis of what I hope will be a longer memoir.

The Flower Show

‘The annual St. Buryan Primary School flower show was a big event in the tiny village in West Cornwall. Not least because, as it lay exposed on a hilltop in the path of the prevailing south-westerlies coming in from the Atlantic, it was extremely difficult for anything to grow above ankle height without being burnt by the wind.

But I was lucky. I lived down in a nearby valley, warm and sheltered. Damp enough to feed the flowers and sunny enough to encourage exuberant growth. So, it came as no surprise to me that in my first year of being eligible to enter the Class One daffodil competition, my tall strong and perfectly proportioned trumpet was declared the winner.

It was a smug and complacent Bridget Langston who entered the following year. I had tended my daffodil as only the daughter of two excellent and accomplished gardeners could – with diligence and intuitive insight into the needs of my plant.

Come the day, I proudly carried my entry to the minibus stop, but whilst clambering up the steps the head of my daffodil caught on something and the stem snapped. Fear welled up in me. I was choked. ‘I won’t win’, was my first thought. My second was how disappointed my parents would be at my failure. I had to think quickly. Upon arriving at school and after taking off my coat, I went and found some Sellotape. I put the tape around the stem and my daffodil held its head high once again. I placed my entry on the table for judging and hoped that no one would notice.

Of course they did. And of course I was disappointed; my parents were a little puzzled as to why the magnificent bloom hadn’t done better.

I’ve broken many things since then, but have got much better at mending them.’

Unpublished. Copyright Bridget Atkinson

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