I am seven, the sun is shining and we are camping in the North of France, I am following my mum around a bustling French market as she lingers over the amazing array of fruit. It is my first time abroad and I ask my mum endlessly how people speak French without thinking in English first. I giggle as my parents fumble through phrase books and marvel at the funny words popping out of their mouths.
A stall holder, an old man in a straw hat, reaches over and speaks softly in French to me and offers me a cherry. Mum nods for me to take one.
It tastes of sunshine, holidays and like nothing I have tasted. I am hooked. Mum immediately buys some and we happily eat cherries all the way through the shady pine trees and back to the campsite.
When we are back in England, we always have to have cherries, mum teaches me the rhyme, Tinker, tailor, soldier, sailor, rich man, poor man, beggar man, thief. You count the stones as you say the rhyme and that is who you will marry. Always in my mind he must be either a tinker or a rich man.
I am 23, one of my first holidays with my boyfriend, now husband, we have a third hand sports car with a T bar roof, we fly though the Kent countryside with the roof off. We stop to buy cherries from a stand by the side of the road. We drive through the countryside to the sea, me eating cherries, he doesn’t like them but he is smiling at me eating just enough each time to reach rich man or tinker and both of us are laughing.
I am in my thirties, we have a daughter, as soon as she is old enough I feed her cherries and teach her the rhyme, tinker, tailor, soldier, sailor, rich man, poor man, beggar man, thief. Next we have a son, but like father, like son, he doesn’t like cherries, and he is a Tinker.
Last week, when I collect them from school, there are cherries for her and grapes for him. We walk home in the sunshine, eating fruit, sneakily hiding stones and stalks in the bushes. And once again I am seven, the sun is shining and we are camping in the North of France. I am following my mum around a bustling French market as she lingers over the amazing array of fruit.
I’ve often written about vortexes, we all have them in our minds, little things that suddenly take us to places in our memory. Joan Didion explains them beautifully in My Year of Magical Thinking.
Little legacy is a remembrance project, a positive and creative place, to celebrate small things handed down.