As I was to live with Mama and Bumps for a while, and the nearest school too far for us to drive on a daily basis – Mama became my teacher. She set up a small desk, bought me a variety of pens, pencils, colouring in pens, notepads and a nice little alarm clock to keep track of the time.
It started off quite well. I managed to convince mama that we had a 20 minute break each hour and that school really did end at 12h00. After breakfast we would settle down for a lesson in mathematics where it was expected that I know up to my 13 times tables and to be able to shout the numbers out just like that! Mama quickly realised that the maths lessons needed to be shortened and that I should concentrate on what I was good at... things like reading and drawing.
We did have an official curriculum to follow and I had to write weekly tests which would be posted to the education department for a progress report. Poor Mama struggled to get me to concentrate and pay attention. She soon moved the desk away from the window into a corner so that I would not be distracted. She would give me a worksheet and give me a time slot to finish. She would come back only to find I had decorated the worksheet with images of flowers and cats and other such doodles. She really did her best, and I took horrendous advantage of her lack of school discipline knowledge.
There was one thing however, that I was really good at and that was reading. In the passage way there was a long wooden shelf full of picture books like National Geographic, books on the World Wars, Books on artists and musicians and of course a wealth of cookery books. I could spend hours looking through these books and pouring over the wording and explanations of shark frenzy eating or the affects of mustard gas on soldiers or the step by step guide on how to make a Croquembouche!
I also received my sex education in this way. Mama’s goddaughter, my darling Aunty Fran had a library too. But her library was full of exciting and grown up novels. I spent nonstop days reading The Thorn Birds and The Carpetbaggers. We would visit Aunt Fran every time we went in Salisbury for groceries or to deliver Mama’s preserves. Aunt Fran was and still is an exciting, loud and hysterically funny lady! Every trip would see me take novels back to the farm and I would sit either on the white slatted garden swing out by the Massa tree or on my favourite boulder (shaped like an elephants bum) under the Jacaranda tree and read and read and read.
My beautiful Mama, resigned to the fact that a maths genius I would never be - would bring me jugs of homemade lemon juice and thick slices of cherry cake...and leave me to get an education.
Mama’s cherry tea cake
What you need:
- Measure the weight of 5 eggs (in their shells)
- Measure out the same weight in cake flour, caster sugar and butter.
- Add 2 t-spoons baking powder
- 1 cup chopped glace cherries
- Zest of 1 lemon
- 3 table spoons brandy
How to make:
- Separate eggs and whisk the white till soft peaks
- Mix all the other ingredients together and then fold in the egg whites
- Pour into a greased loaf tin and bake at 180 degrees for about 30 minutes