Mom hankers for luxury...
Mom's Wish List
Mom never fully made the transition from Southern Belle to Brummy. More beautiful than Scarlet O’Hara, more genteel than Blanche Dubois, Mom had been raised to expect the finer things in life. This extended to eating with good silver (she once told me when I was newly married that I should always remember to rotate my cutlery), always buying the very best that one could afford regardless of whether one could afford it or not, to be well read and able to hold one’s own in any society (preferably in cultured society) and be well versed in the feminine arts of coquetry, music, painting and securing a rich husband. Mom thought she was marrying into great wealth when she married Dad — my grandfather was indeed a self-made wealthy man — but as an Historian, Dad was destined to have ‘Jack’. However, Mother never let pride stand in the way of seeking hard cash: she maintained expensive taste on a tight budget hankering after beautiful, expensive clothes, shoes, hats, rugs, chandeliers and cars. This was a throw back to her youth growing up in Tennessee, where ‘old money’ was seen but never heard and men paid for everything.
Necessity being the mother of invention, she got around many of these hurdles by being creative, sewing her own clothes – even making her own hats. The rugs had to be bartered for and traded off against other objects in her possession (this was long before eBay) and the chandeliers came from haunting antique sales for years.
Mom made a little extra money by dabbling in selling vintage clothes and bric-a-brac at the Birmingham Rag Market. I used to help her occasionally at weekends when she might go to an ‘upmarket market’, such as the one in the old Warwickshire town of Pershore. Mom was keen to sell to the ‘right’ sort of people; i.e. rich ones. She usually spent more than she earned at these events on good coffee and a slice of quiche from the trendy health food stall. The small amount of money she made enabled Mom to maybe buy herself a yard or two of quality fabric from Rackhams, or perhaps a new pair of shoes. But the car... she never did get the car of her dreams.
“I’ve always had a desire for a big, black Vulva,” Mom would sigh from time to time. “They’re so big and strowng and you can get so much in them! I just luv their black leather interiors.”
Lost in translation, of course she really meant a Volvo estate car, so that she could easily transport all her paraphernalia back and forth to the markets. She had no idea how funny she was and I wasn't about to tell her!
Mom never did get her wish. She drove a red Deux Chevaux: like a pram it lurched around corners on two wheels and bounced and swayed violently over every bump in the road, which was hardly conducive to transporting bric-a-brac safely. Sadly, it had a very small red interior. Every time I see a black Volvo I think of Mom.