Plums to Persia
Plums to Persia revisits a South Worcestershire childhood almost seventy years on. The autobiographical elements cover the period during and immediately after the Second World War – the formative years in the writer’s life. To provide context, there are initial forays into local history, in particular that of Upton-upon-Severn. The account goes on to chart the time-honoured, if sometimes quirky, activities of rural existence: the focal points of infant school (where his mother was head teacher) and church, and the quotidian practices, seasonal happenings and annual rituals of life in a village. While some of this material is loosely factual and documentary, the general style is one of personal reminiscence, of memories larded with anecdotes and stories of local characters – including the author’s lovable but eccentric parents. The war exercises an uneasy if vague presence until the arrival of a few landmines and American GIs; the transition to public school offers a far more palpable and painful initiation. But at least the academy imbued the writer with a love of literature, an abiding affection which surfaces in a number of quotes and allusions from poetry. But the memoir’s primary accent is that of the countryside, a territory where the three counties of Worcestershire, Gloucestershire and Herefordshire meet, a landscape of the heart, a world of scrumpy and orchards; of the Malvern Hills, Castlemorton Common, Welland Brook and the River Severn; of pet grass snakes and crows; of stanking, bonfire night, conkers and village cricket. It is a familiar world that the country boy abandons with some trepidation.