Miss Garrett was someone I thought the world of. When she spoke the world stood still. This would be in the 1920s. I was about eight years old. She was very beautiful and stately, a tall woman. She was good to us all but if she was vexed you could see the other side to her.
One day she told us to fetch a bunch of wild flowers to school the next day. We would collect these from the hedgerows. I brought a bunch of dandelions – it was so strange they were her favourite flowers, not considered weeds. She told us they could be used for medication.
It often saved my bacon that her birthday was the same day as mine, 28 September. She would always give me a 2d bar of chocolate and my mother would give me an apple or an orange for her. This continued up until her death as we kept in touch and exchanged birthday gifts. She would give me stockings or handkerchiefs and I would bring her a box of chocolates.
One day, many years later when I was married and employed by Douglas Corporation as a bin man, myself and two working mates called at her house to empty the bin. She came out of the house and remarked that we had not emptied the bin properly. The other men laughed but she soon put them in their place. This was Peel Road in Douglas and I lived at Quine’s Corner.
Another thing she would say was always remove your cap in the presence of a lady and remember that every woman is a lady no matter what she looks like or how bad she might be.
I called to see her regularly and the day she passed away I had called earlier because she had been ill. She lay there on a Saturday June day and asked where I was off to when I left her. Being the good fellow I am, I was on my way to the public house down the hill which was the Railway Station. She told me to stop when I reached the top of Bank Hill and look across at something so beautiful you would wish you could have owned it.
Later I stood and looked, the voice of a friend passing said, “What are you standing there for?” The hill was covered with gorse; she had told me it was the carpet of gold I would see but never own.
I often stood at the top of Bank Hill and looked across at the gorse remembering…
There is a saying which goes: “Gorse will never go out of bloom till kissing stops. That’s the gold I love to see.’
(source: by Nelson Quilliam from ‘Old Times’ (Shenn Traaghy); photo)