A Spoonful of Sugar: A Nanny's Story by Brenda Ashford

By Brenda Ashford

Brenda Ashford is the necessary British nanny. Prim and correct, light and type, she turns out to have stepped directly out of Mary Poppins. For greater than six many years Nanny Brenda swaddled, diapered, dressed, performed with, sang to, cooked for, and taken care of a couple of hundred young ones. From the pampered little kids of lords ensconced of their grand estates to the kids of tricky struggle evacuees in London’s East finish, Brenda has taught numerous young ones to feel free, fit, and punctiliously good bred. during this pleasant memoir, Brenda stocks her endearing, fun, and infrequently downright extraordinary stories turning generations of youngsters into profitable adults.

From the instant Brenda first held her child brother David she was once hooked. She turned a moment mom to him, altering his nappies, interpreting him tales, and giving him the entire love her hot center contained. understanding a profession taking good care of young ones was once her calling in existence, Brenda attended London’s prestigious Norland collage, well-known for generating top-notch nannies. It was once an indication of privilege and sturdy style for the youngsters of the well-to-do to be visible being driven of their Silver go prams through Norland nannies, who have been recognizable by means of their crisp, starched black uniforms with white bib collars, and their flowing black capes coated with pink silk. And what abilities have been those trainees verified on day-by-day? Lullaby making a song, storytelling, pram shining, mattress making, all sorts of stitching, cooking basic food, and meting out first aid—including understanding tips on how to support the medication cross down.

In A Spoonful of Sugar, Brenda recollects her years at Norland and her reports through the struggle (after all, no matter if bombs are shedding, there’s no cause to enable criteria slip), and recounts in stunning element a existence dedicated to the care of different people’s children.

Sprinkled all through with pearls of knowledge (you can by no means supply teenagers an excessive amount of love, and also you should still find out how to stitch a button, for goodness’ sake), this pleasant memoir from Britain’s oldest residing nanny is essentially excellent in each approach.

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Grahame Swift has written that we read so as not to be alone. Perhaps that was why I read everything that I could get my hands on. I remember stories about highwaymen (the Captain books by Eric Leyland were a particular favorite); Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes stories and novels as well as his historical romances such as The white company and Sir Nigel; the Little grey men books by “BB” (Denis Watkyns Pitchford); tales of smugglers and pirates such as Treasure Island and its many imitators, particularly the Dr.

Westerman; Edwardian fantasies like Anstey’s Vice versa and E. Nesbit’s books about the Bastables; everything by H. G. Wells and John Buchan; historical novels by Harrison Ainsworth and Doyle (I read Dickens’ Barnaby Rudge because it belonged to that genre rather than because it is a Great Novel); Alice through the looking glass and Alice in Wonderland; sea stories by C. S. ” W. E. Johns; Kim and The jungle book by Kipling; Rider Haggard’s books, especially King Solomon’s mines and She; an oddly compelling book of verse, Fightery Dick by Derrick Lehmer; Arthur Ransome’s Swallows and Amazons books, stories by Enid Blyton, particularly those about the Famous Five (though even in those uncritical years, I thought them a bit soppy); Hugh Lofting’s Doctor Doolittle stories; the Billy Bunter books and a large number of other school stories (I still possess one of my favorites, Pepper’s crack eleven by Rowland Walker).

My mother was an increasingly remote and physically frightening figure. We lived in something approaching penury, made worse by the need to keep up the pretense that we were living a middle-class life, and it was a constant struggle to provide food and clothing to the growing family. The worst manifestations of our poverty to me were the occasions when I was sent to answer the front doorbell to tell a debt collector or bailiff that there was “no one at home” while my mother stayed quiet in a back room behind a shut door, or when I was sent to the butcher’s shop to ask for meat “on tick,” a deeply humiliating procedure.

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