Friday, 5 August 2011
Once upon a time, sixty years ago to be precise, I was asked what I would like if I passed the Eleven-Plus Exam, this being the test that sorted out the Grammar School entrants from the Secondary Modern, the potential learners of Latin from those doing Domestic Science.
Savage, life-changing stuff.
Archaic stuff that formed one's destiny at eleven years of age.
One's parents were naturally anxious and prepared to bribe.
I said I wanted a Scottie dog.
For years I had wanted a Scottie dog.
I had a stuffed toy one that I used to haul out for walks on a real lead and who was distinctly the worse for wear as a result.
Of course I wanted a Scottie dog.
This was not what I was supposed to say, and it was suggested that I would like a new bike, or even more ballet lessons, or a toy theatre with real curtains and lots of glove puppets.
Tempting, but no.
Only a Scottie would do. He would be a boy called Mac, and he would have a red collar and lead.
So it was (reluctantly) agreed.
I would practise the intelligence tests, be sensible about vocabulary (sharp is to knife as sour is to honey/lemon/bread 'Yes, I know you can say lemon is sharp, but stop trying to be smart!'), learn, really learn all the tables including the nine and the seven, brush up on long-division of furlongs, write proper essays about A Day in the Life of a Sixpence, pass the Eleven Plus.....and have a Scottie! Oh, yes, and go to the Grammar School.
I passed, but I did not have a Scottie. My parents put up a raft of excuses about incovenience and not being able to find the right dog, and the upshot was that I ranted about their failure to keep a promise, and thoughout the next sixty years I have obviously told and retold this tale of cruel injustice, childhood disillusionment and parental infidelity.
I must have told it more often than I realised, because this morning a Scottie arrived, and you can see him above, clearly on guard in his red collar.
He is beautifully made, in classic Scottie pose, by Jane whose wonderfully crafty and artistic blog is here: 'Jeeandme'
And just to drive home how often I have told this tale, here below is another Scottie, minutely cross-stitched into a tiny cushion in my dolls' house (which is another story to be told).
So thank you so much, Jane and Beth, for using your skills and humour to make a sixty year old promise come true!