Now that my mother has moved into a nursing home, I have had to start sorting through her papers. She wrote this piece perhaps 20 or more years ago, and I thought I'd reproduce it here because it follows on from my last post and conkers. It is an entirely true story.
A funny thing happened on my way to my crossword this afternoon. Three small boys came to my door to ask permission to collect conkers in my garden. I brought them round to the back of the house and told them to help themselves. They thanked me and we parted company.
Half an hour later the door bell went again. Could they have a bag please, pockets filled to overflowing were not big enough. I found one ... well, perhaps three bags would be better ... I found two more. They were bigger than they hoped for. Pity not to fill them a bit more. Back they went to the tree.
Ten minutes later the door bell yet again. This time not three but seven little boys were assembled. Fourteen eyes solemnly scanned my dead-pan face, anxiously assessing the barometric pressure of the adult mood, while the spokesman said his piece.He explained that they had seen their friends' conkers and could they have some too, please? I released the teasing and the tension with a smile and the necessary assent and they all hurtled round the corner in the direction of the chestnut tree, which, when I looked out of the window a moment later, was trembling (excitedly I 'd swear) under the unaccustomed assault.
Another five minutes, another ring at the door. There stood a Botticelli angel. I wasn't fooled by the disguise of sweater and jeans. He looked very anxious and was obviously the reluctant emissary for yet another bag. We considered this request together for a moment or two, and thought two bags perhaps, "just to be sure". I returned to my paper.
The doorbell again! This, I thought, was a little too much. The barometer was approaching "Stormy". I opened the door and there, half-way down the path stood the seven children in crescent formation, like a carol-singing party. "We just wanted to say thank you very much for letting us have the conkers," they said in ragged unison, but what a lovely chorus of unprompted courtesy. Their parents would have been very proud of them, I thought, as I waved them goodbye.
My crossword wasn't yet started, but my day had been made.