12 August 2014

THE MOLE ... and me

There are two definitions of the word precocious and as a young child I was neither, although if you knew me when I was aged two you might have wondered about that.  I was born chubby, in fact I was known as the Michelin baby, but I levelled out by the time I was two. Thank your lucky stars I can’t find that baby photograph … those rolls of fat would have you die laughing.

I was born with a mole in an embarrassing place, at the top of the inner thigh. Of course as a toddler I wasn’t embarrassed, simply fascinated. I showed it to everyone I met; I can almost hear me saying ‘I’m two in May and I’ve got a mole’ before lifting the skirts to show it off. I guess it was their smiles and laughter that made me do it all the more. Such encouragement was rare in those days!

The more my parents told me not to expose myself in such a fashion the more I did it. As soon as I met a new person I would lift the frock and adopt the particular stance that showed the mole to good advantage, then wait for the laughter-filled praise. It went on until I got to school age although not as frequently.

Before leaving the house on my first day at school I was given a lecture. Even to this day I remember walking up the road and worrying about what might happen if I showed off my mole. I think I cried a bit and wished I had someone to comfort me. Young kids were on their own in those days, parents didn’t escort them to school like they do now. Mother had said the teacher would cane my bare bum if I did it in class … and after one look at the teacher I believed it.

Her name was Miss Pinches, a woman with the sternest face I ever saw. Her name was appropriate for someone who thought nothing of pinching school kids or using a heavy ruler as a weapon.  She haunted my early schooldays, she moved up with me, and wherever I went she followed … the wooden ruler always within easy reach. One time she smashed it on my hand while I was writing, breaking the nib of a brand new fountain pen. That got me in trouble at home. ‘You shouldn’t have misbehaved,’ said Mother, giving me another slap for deserving it in the first place. Nowadays parents rush to the school to complain about such a thing. Not in my time, we were punished for no reason… twice. That’s when I learned not to tell Mother anything.

Remember fountain pens? Mine always leaked. Oh the hours I spent scrubbing ink from my fingers … and woe betide me if I got it on the dress. It’s a good job Mother never found out about the tar in the road! That happened during war years when I was evacuated to grandmother’s house. On my way to school I joined with others in a new game of bursting freshly laid tar bubbles. It was great fun seeing them burst and hear the squelching noise with each pop. I didn’t even realise the newly released tar landed on the white frock!

For such a quiet child, I got into all sorts of trouble, both at home and school, yet I was placid by nature, wouldn’t say boo to a goose, and never, ever answered back or cheeked an adult. Even now I am careful what I say to people, usually weighing up in my mind the best way to approach things.

I’ve wandered a bit from the subject of the mole, haven’t I? As I grew so the mole reduced in size and by teenage years was no more than a pinhead. By that time I was reluctant to show a leg let alone the mole, yet deep in the archives I found pictures that would make you believe otherwise. It seemed to me I did nothing else.


  1. Haha! This was a funny post, I laughed out loud when I read about your mole because I remember that feeling of showing off and also I had the feeling that they were only laughing because I was a little girl and it wouldn't be so funny when I was older. I don't know how I realised that. I suppose I noticed that people didn't laugh at older kids as indulgently as they laughed at me when I showed off!

  2. PS Isn't it dreadful how nasty teachers used to be. These days kids actually don't understand the old fashioned comics like BEANO when the characters hate school!

  3. i learned to tell mother nothing...that was a little heartbreaking right there....smiling though at you showing it to everyone...and our fascination at that age with those type things...only much later to see them as ugly or....

  4. I love all the pictures of your younger days. Miss Pinches, was a terrible teacher and certainly deserved her name. I am glad that I went to school when the worse you got was a stern warning or look. That was all I needed from a teacher or even my mom. I did not like to disappoint. Which could have its way with my confidence.

  5. LOVED this post, Valerie. You are such a good teller of stories!

  6. Valerie, I absolutely LOVED this post!

    "I showed it to everyone I met; I can almost hear me saying ‘I’m two in May and I’ve got a mole’ before lifting the skirts to show it off. I guess it was their smiles and laughter that made me do it all the more."

    OMG...that is both funny and adorable!

    As I was reading about your childhood, I couldn't help but see the many similarities. I too was a very quiet child but got into all sorts of trouble. I also went to Catholic school, in which our knuckles got cracked with a ruler on a weekly basis.

    GREAT photographs! Love the one of you in ice skates, holding the balloon.

    Delightful post, dear lady!

    X to you and Joe!

  7. Jenny, do you think it was normal to show off at a young age? I often think back and wonder if I was different or if everyone did the same.

    I would hate to grow up in that era again... thankfully modern children have no idea what it was like.

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  9. BC, the looks we got from Miss Pinches was enough to make us behave yet she didn't seem content with just looking. I think she enjoyed being a bit cruel.

  10. Ron, do you think it was because we were quiet that we got into trouble? Maybe adults didn't trust us, or something. I'm sorry you got whacked as well, I thought it was only CofE schools that handed out such punishment but have since learned that was not so.

  11. Brian, I guess I wasn't the only one who kept quiet about our daily lives. Look back, though, I think it's hilarious about the mole!

  12. Oh Valerie, that mole story did make me laugh and I loved all your photos, and I loved this post. Thank you for leaving your sweet comments on my father-in-law's Normandy post :)

  13. Lectures before school, leaky fountain pens, cruel teachers who used rulers as weapons. Yikes! You had some rough years in school. So glad you can look back with humor. Love the tale of the mole. You have a way with words, Valerie! Such an enjoyable read. And the photos, a wonderful bonus. Thanks for sharing.

  14. I like the tar story. Sounds like a fun thing to do as a youngster. After all isn't that what tar bubbles are for?!

    Your photos are both fun and interesting as they portray a progression in time. Take care.

  15. BC, I often wonder if the experiences as a youngster made me so uncertain in later life.

    Denise, I'm pleased that I made you laugh. I did hope people would see the funny side of the mole story.

    Pam, you'd think my grandmother would have known it was a fun thing to do. These days bubble wrap seems to have taken the place of tar bubbles... grins.

    Mary, thank you. Actually, the only way to cope with tales of the past is to put a bit of humour in them, otherwise.... wow, wouldn't folk get fed up reading... smiles.


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