Saturday, 13 March 2010

The Big Book of Proper

I've always had a strong sense of what feels right - nothing moralistic or judgemental, just a sense of wellbeing, brought about by doing something in the right way at the right time. I suppose it's a mixture of family ritual, sense of duty, happy memories and rites of passage.

Hard to describe, and when it happens I might either smile or cry, but I will always feel a bit better about the world. In our house, these events are known as entries in The Big Book of Proper - nothing written down, just a virtual, constantly growing list of good things.

So what goes in the book? Examples might include Sunday morning walks, always stopping to kiss the person behind you as you go through a kissing-gate; eating boiled egg sandwiches with a bit of salt and a lot of sand at the seaside; collecting the first fallen conkers of the season and keeping one in your coat pocket until it starts to shrivel; or watching a father sitting with his sons at a football match, knowing they're all as excited as each other.

One constant entry in the book, and probably worth a whole chapter to itself, is the film The Railway Children. I've watched it more than 20 times now, but it never fails to delight. Over the years I've felt less comfortable with the idea of the middle-class family playing at being poor, but I'd still love to be the mother writing stories so we can have buns for tea; and my heart is always in my mouth as the train stops inches away from a fainting Bobby. At the end, when the steam and smoke clear for Bobby to see her beloved and greatly missed father stepping down from the train, the words 'Daddy, oh my Daddy' are still enough to reduce me to a quivering wreck. Very definitely Proper.


Liz said...

You write wonderfully, Sharon. Putting your thoughts out there for all the world to see is a little strange at first but it's also great fun. Enjoy!

Sharon Longworth said...

Thanks Liz - it does indeed feel strange, so your supportive comments are much appreciated.