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Teapot, Bakestone, Starlight

They belonged to my maternal grandmother, Alice James, who was born in 1909 and lived until she was 93. A teapot and its standing plate, a sugar bowl and two jugs, one for milk, the other for cream. Or perhaps the larger one for hot water and the smaller for milk? 'Yes,' my mother says, who remembers them in her childhood home, 'that would make sense.'

My paternal grandmother, Catherine Rees, died in 1959 when I was 8 months old. I have no memory of her but I have the bakestone, or planc as we say in Welsh, she would have cooked her welshcakes on.

My mother emails to say that Aunty Beryl-next door has died. We always called her that, not to mix her up with our ‘real’ Aunty Beryl, my father’s sister-in-law, who lived in Llanelli.

Aunty Beryl-next door hasn’t lived there for a while now. A widow, she moved a few years ago into sheltered accommodation then later, after breaking her hip, into more permanent care. But she was there before I was born. I never knew life without Aunty Beryl-next door, and Uncle Dennis, and their daughter, Ann.

Ann was born six weeks after me. We grew up together. We had mud tea parties. I tied her to the Chrome Avenue street sign once and left her there.

St David's Day, 1st March 1964. Left to right:
Lynne Rees, Shan Rees, Mandy Monks, Kathryn Monks, Ann Hartshorn

One overcast afternoon, when Aunty Beryl was out, we painted our nails with Shocking Pink nail varnish that we found in her kitchen drawer and, when we couldn't find any nail varnish remover, we used a potato peeler to scrape off the brightly coloured evidence of our guilt along with the top layers of our nails.

When we look at the night sky we are looking at the past, at light that has taken up to a thousand light years to reach us, from a star that might have already ceased to exist.

Teapots and bakestones. The memories we replay. They shine as brightly too.

Hungry Writing Prompts
  • Write about the neighbours you had as a child.
  • Write about a time when you felt guilty.
  • Write about a very faint memory. Write about what you don't remember. 

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