One of my very oldest friends read my story of the Suffragette necklace and asked if there were any more stories connected with any more of my jewellery.
And this particular piece came into my head almost at once. Partly because it was the second piece of jewellery I’d ever possessed, the first being my engagement ring. And partly because of the significance of the day on which it was bought. It was our thirteenth wedding anniversary and the first one we had dared to celebrate. We were staying in Felpham in my mothers bungalow and my sister Carole was there with us and because we knew how well she would look after our infants – and she did – we treated ourselves to a day out and went to Chichester. The freedom of it quite went to our heads and we gave ourselves one treat after another.
In the afternoon we went to the pictures to see Ken Loach’s masterpiece ‘Kes’, which impressed us both very much and after that we strolled down South Street and browsed the shops. And during the course of our browsing I found this pendant, it was lying on a tray amongst a plethora of other items, some valuable, some not, none with any price tags attached. The shop belonged to a brother and a sister who sold their goods in this rather haphazard way. A lovely pair. Roy saw that I had found something I liked the look of and asked what it was and when I pointed it out he thought it would be a good idea to go into the shop and ask how much it would cost. The answer rather stopped me in my tracks. The pendant was made of gold and set with a peridot and seed pearls and it would cost £14, which at that time was well beyond our means. Three children are pretty costly, so we did tend to live rather hand to mouth. We thanked the brother and sister but didn’t make a purchase, which was a disappointment but not an unexpected one.
After that we strolled down to a tea shop and ordered tea. Oh we knew how to live. And half way through Roy emptied his cup and stood up. ‘Shan’t be a minute’ he said. ‘Must just go and buy my Guardian.’ And off he went, returning in a little while with a copy of the Guardian in one hand and a twist of tissue paper in the other, which he put carefully down on my saucer. I asked him what he’d got there and was it sugar. In those days I took sugar in my tea.
He had his devilish face on. ‘Open it and see,’ he said. And it was my pendant. I knew him so well by that time that I knew he had sat in that tea shop doing the maths to see whether he could afford it. He really was the dearest of men and this was one of many moments when I knew it beyond a doubt.
Years later, when the children had left home and I was earning a very comfortable salary by writing books, I found these earrings in the same shop. Once again they were set with peridots and seed pearls, so he bought those for me too.