~ Delia Corbett’s Daffodils ~
My Granny Burke would never be described as a shrinking violet, she was a fire cracker stick of dynamite in a 4ft 11 slim frame. My mother would often laugh, and sometimes blush, at how unafraid her mother was to express herself. She was never unkind, but she didn’t mince her words and you’d never find her beatin’ around any variety of bush! She was a straight shooter and always hit the point between the eyes ~ bullseye!
I sometimes think that the apple may have fallen from the tree and wound up in my bathroom mirror staring out at me! I don’t loiter around too many bushes myself and have been known, on occasion, to shoot directly from the hip.
Now, I’m assuming it’s all the wandering down dusty memory lanes that revived my next story because I haven’t thought about Delia Corbett and her daffodils in close to four decades! Yet this morning, I woke up with a mental image so vivid that I could feel my cheeks burning as if I were back in Johnstown once again in her (beautiful) garden.
First things first, Delia was married to Jim, and Delia & John were my grandparents’ very close friends. John and my grandad Mick, would regularly meet in Canavan’s of Belclare for two obligatory pints of stout. Granny & Delia didn’t meet as often, but when they did, there wasn’t a stone left unturned or a world that they couldn’t right.
This particular day I had been playing in my granny’s room in Belclare. She had a big bedroom with a massive freestanding wardrobe, a chest of drawers and a trunk, all brimming with brooches and hats and style. A fashionista of vintage today would lose their mind going through her closets! She liked to dress well, she had expensive taste and she looked after her things. I loved looking through her treasures.
I was just wrestling with the clasp on a black velvet clutch when my mother informed me that we would be leaving to go visit Delia. My mind was caught in the headlights of wanting to go (because I knew Delia would have sweet cake) and not wanting to go because I was just getting into character and planning my costume changes! My mother, realising she had a short window to win me over, interrupted my thoughts by telling me that I could take the black velvet clutch along for the visit.
Delia’s house was so pretty, it was a square cottage with a short, but magnificent front garden. A perfectly straight concrete path ran from the front gate directly to the front door. The path was strikingly lined on either side with different varieties of daffodils, all the way to the front door. They were magnetic, I couldn’t help but run my fingers along them as we were being welcomed in to the cosy home like royal guests.
I remember having a big slice of lemon flavoured swiss roll as I tucked my clutch bag in under my armpit like the ‘Queen of Sheba’… My granny had announced for the tenth time that “we’d better be on our way”, but her body language told me that this announcement would turn out the same as the other nine! I had had enough of the adult conversation and decided to potter in the garden until they really were going.
I was from Shrule, on the Dalgan Road, where there were nine or ten houses filled with children my age. We all played together, we sometimes fought like cats and dogs, and the struggle for power, but usually we were on good terms and spent a lot of our time “playing house”, and “playing shop”! Well to be a good housekeeper, you had to have money to buy groceries to make the dinner to feed your family! Leaves and buttercups and daisies were money and we would exchange them for a twig of milk or a stone of bread! On the Dalgan road, I went shopping with pockets full of leaves, but here in the golden daffodil fields of Johnstown, I felt like a Queen… and I had a purse…
I accomplished great wealth in the garden of newly beheaded stems and was living the high life, excitedly planning my return to the Dalgan Road as their new Queen (I know they’d have been delighted for me 😂🤣😆) when my musings were abruptly interrupted by the shrieks and shrills of my grandmother demanding to know how the once colourful garden had become so barren…. I can still hear the thudding of my heart thumping as my crown slowly slid down my mortified cheeks…
“We can’t even put them in water because you separated them from their stem” my grandmother dismayed as she peered in her velvet clutch at my squished gold! It was a long ride home to Shrule that evening with my granny ringing in my ears and neither a pot of gold or a penny to show for my efforts…. I never could bring myself to disappoint the Dalgan-Roaders with the failed expedition story and their would-be-Queen!! 😂😆🤣
I’m thinking of my Granny Burke and Delia and my mother and I’m hoping that time has helped them see the funny side… 🤷♀️ 🌼