I like to rummage around in my memory, it's always so wonderfully elusive. Today whilst I trundled through memories flora, I stumbled upon the earliest memory I have of forming words. I was 4 and the evening was dark, suggesting a winter in full anti-bloom. The living room consisted of just my mother and myself sitting by an open fire. Before me was an old tobacco tin filled with white cardboard squares, each with an individual letter stamped upon it. Next to that was my homework book, about the size of a pocket diary, it had a simple blue card cover with 4 printed black lines, on which I my teacher had written my name and class details. The aim of the homework was simple, using the tin of many letters, all we had to do is create short sentences, then write them into the book. A task, that from the look of the tins letters, many generations had done before me.
I did my best to make words out of the letters, then I arranged them in what I thought could pass as a sentence - I'm not sure what the sentence was, but I'm pretty sure a cat was involved - I looked up at Mum to see if was doing alright and saw she was looking down at my simple construction with sadness in her eyes. Being a loving boy of mischief, I was familiar with Mums angry or disproving frowns, and I knew her sadness was not aimed at me. Not understanding the situation I asked what was wrong, and as if the sadness was never there, her eyes smiled again as she suggested we put the homework away and watch tv on the sofa. Homework could wait until Dad was home, I wasn't going to argue with that!
What I never found out until many years later, was that she was not a very confident speller and didn't want my teachers to think she was a bad Mother, by sending me in with poor homework. She knows now that she is not as bad as she always thought she was, and I really didn't mind at all, because what she lacked in literary confidence, she more than made up for in love and encouragement.
As it turned out, Dad was rarely home early enough to help me with my homework so a tv addiction was nurtured into fruition, and with so many cool cartoons and Carry On films now running around my skull, I'm very grateful indeed. Even if I do still make the occasional seplling error :)