The fabric woven in the minds of my ancestors’ children living in South Africa was always about Britain and “home”. We practised all the British traditions on all the traditional days – Roast Stuffed Turkey, Christmas Ham, puddings with flaming halos, bread and brandy sauces, custards, mulled wine, Father Christmas in a red woolen suit and artificial beard, trees with lights and glass baubles And this in temperatures of 100 degrees in the shade. Easter bunnies hid chocolate eggs in the garden – and, my best – we celebrated Guy Fawkes night with wondrous fireworks and burning the Guy at the Stake. We read all the Enid Blyton books (even when she fell into educational dis-favour – what do educationalist know about delight?) Arthur Ransome, Beatrix Potter and above all, every word of A.A. Milne.
We could quote reams of rhymes and asked “What IS the matter with Mary Jane?” when one of the children was truculent – or the Emperor’s Rhyme when someone didn’t know their arithmetic tables.
Winnie the Pooh wasn’t the only Winnie we followed. When Winston Churchill died we collected in little groups to listen to the subdued voice of the commentator describing the funeral procession on the wireless. He was a symbol to us of Britain’s Finest Hour – the war. And us!