This blanket is one of the things from mum’s flat that I couldn’t bear to part with, because I know it’s tale. Old things have stories attached to them, sometimes we acquire them unknown and speculate about their past. I am lucky enough to know the past of this blanket. It is a war time blanket, marked with the label Battle Rural District Council.
In the fifties, their offices were at “The Watch Oak”, named for the legend of Saxon Edith of the swan neck. It was here that my parents met; both employees of said council. One or other of them chose the blanket when they were finally offered out to staff by the district council; war surplus that had never been used. There was a tale attached about some petty office rivalry because one member of staff got (“Grabbed!!”) a better quality blanket than another, an act of deep treachery never to be forgiven! Mum had many tales like this, all told with delightful accents and mimicry that will forever echo in my head. She and Dad were married in 1957 and moved to Petersfield in Hampshire, where I was born.
After both Dad and Mum’s Dad died in 1968, we moved back to be with her mother – my Ganna. Mum needed to work to support us, and having kept in contact with past colleagues, was found a shorthand typists post in that same district council, returning to the same office that she had worked in when she met Dad. I have always wondered what the effects of this erasure of her married life must have been like for her. To become again a daughter, to work once more at the place where she had been so young, so full of hope, after such deep loss. She told me once, when I was old enough for that sort of conversation, that she had never really felt happy, since he had died. He was a treasured gap, an endless absence in our life.
I hope to use this blanket as the base for a lap quilt to keep me warm in my corner of the sitting room, which sits by a north facing wall. I’m not quite sure how, nor whether I have the skill, but to sit under it in winter, hearing it’s voice, could be a deep pleasure.