Irregular Records

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AGE TO AGE in Stories and Songs

A project by Roger Watson and Janet Dowling. Irregular Records are delighted to make this available to everyone on their web site, as a free resource.

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Sample Pages

Until the Cows Come Home.

“Tulip, Violet, Primrose!”

Imagine yourself at about age 5 years. You get up every morning, every single day at 6am. That’s every single day, Monday through to Sunday! You get dressed.

“Tulip, Violet, Primrose!”

You are there with you father, all of your elder brothers and sisters, and your little sister. She is 4. Today is the day you are going to show her how to do her job.

“Tulip, Violet, Primrose!”

Because the job that everyone in the family does, is bringing in the cows for the early morning milking. You go out in the yard, and find yourself a long stick. You use the stick to just tap the cow on the side if she goes in the wrong direction.

“Tulip, Violet, Primrose!”

Those are the names of the cows. Every cow is named after a flower, and there are 30 cows.

Your father milks the cows. You help wash the cows down, help wash out the stalls. Then the milk goes into churns, and are put on the back of a pony and cart and taken down to the station where they are put on a train.

And that’s when you go into school with the rest of the class, who have just woken up.

Eileen did this every day since she could remember until she was about 11. It was all she knew and never knew anything different. The only time she had off was on Sunday evenings, when they went visiting other relatives that were all farmers too.

Eileen and her sister would swing on the gate when they had a moment or two. It was the best time, swinging backwards and forwards, feeling the wind in her hair. But then someone would be calling her, and the two girls would be running onto their next job. Living on a farm, there wasn’t any time to be naughty!

Not unless - well don’t tell anyone. When it was haymaking time, Eileen would be out in the fields with her brothers and sisters, pitching the hay into haystacks. When all the grownups had gone, Eileen and her sister would climb up the ladder on the side. Then they would slide down the side of the haystack, and then faced with a drop of 6 feet they would just let go and fall to the ground. Eileen said - “it was very dangerous. At any time the haystack could collapse with us under it. We could have suffocated if that had happened. But we didn’t realise that - it was a chance to have some fun.” Working on the farm was very hard and difficult, and it taught Eileen to appreciate where things come from, like the milk on the table or the bread for your sandwich.

When she had children, one of her sons became a pilot, and he was able to fly around the world.  Calcutta. Hawaii. New York. She was able to get cheap tickets to see all of these. Wherever she flew to - she enjoyed the glamour and the excitement, but she always made sure that she went out to the places where people lived, to see what life was like for them.

One place she went to was Florida. There she watched the space shuttle blast off into space. It roared over her head, and the ground was shaking. She watched it and then gasped - the space shuttle had gone straight up in the air, and now it was falling down. Eileen couched down on the ground, fearing that there was going to be an explosion. An American asked if she was alright - and she pointed and said, “it’s falling!” The American laughed, and told her that as the space shuttle was going around the earth it was following the curve of the sky - the earth was round!

Eileen laughed. She was thrilled that here she was, that little girl from a farm who had worked so hard all her life, now travelling around the world, and seeing the mighty space shuttle take off into space. She wonders if she might go into space one day. She can dream can’t she?

Eileen (92), group member at Downside Resources Centre
As retold by Janet Dowling

 

Tulip! Violet! Primrose!
Every morning she’d call
Thirty flowers for thirty cows
Eileen remembers them all.
Lily! Buttercup! Foxglove!
All round the world she has flown
She’ll be recalling her childhood days
Until the cows come home.

Five years old on a Wiltshire farm
So much to do every day
Early morning and after school
Never much time to play
Slide down a haystack or swing on a gate
Feeling the wind in her hair
Just a few moments of pleasure to take
Before she was needed somewhere

Tulip! Violet! Primrose!
Every morning she’d call
Thirty flowers for thirty cows
Eileen remembers them all.
Lily! Buttercup! Foxglove!
All round the World she has flown
She’ll be recalling her childhood days
Until the cows come home.

Now Eileen looks back on a different life
Thanks to her high-flying son
She’s travelled the World: North, South, East and West
Seen how people’s living is done
She’s watched the Space Shuttle blast off from Earth
Terrified that it might fall
And she’d like to go into Space if she could …
There’s no harm in dreams, after all

Tulip! Violet! Primrose!
Every morning she’d call
Thirty flowers for thirty cows
Eileen remembers them all.
Lily! Buttercup! Foxglove!
All round the World she has flown
She’ll be recalling her childhood days
Until the cows come home.

Tune: Roger Watson
Lyrics: Yr. 5 pupils, Harmanswater Primary School, Bracknell

 

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