We lived on the edge of a small town in the north of England and when I was five years old and my brother Godfrey was only half that age, my mum and dad tried to get us to go to church. I was, by then attending the local church school so I think they were both under pressure to attend the church, next door to it. During the services there was much sitting, kneeling and standing and Godfrey used to crawl along the pews at an amazing speed and my parents managed several times to rescue him from large ladies and gents who were about to squash him when they sat down.
It was decided, because of the difficulty of controlling Godfrey, that Mum would take me to church while Dad stayed at home and looked after my brother. There were no creches in those days.
"You will keep your eye on him, won't you?" Mum implored, as she knew only too well how absent minded my father was when he was absorbed in his music & reading and all his other hobbies that completely engrossed him.
"Of course I will," he said, closing the door behind us. I think I knew even at that age that there might be a bit of a problem looming up!
On our return home from church, Godfrey was nowhere to be seen. Dad said he could remember him playing in the garden only five minutes before we arrived home, so he couldn't be far away. Mum was very distraught and rapidly searched the house, garden and near friends and neighbours. However, he was not to be seen anywhere.
There was a duck pond down the lane and my mum thought Godfrey might have gone there on his own. We were used to going with her to feed the ducks, so he knew the way. A local man had once told us that a horse and cart had galloped into the pond out of control and had disappeared into the water without trace, so we knew it was deep.
Mum grabbed me and together we rushed down the lane towards the pond as by now we had visions of him lying face down in the water. Thankfully, when we got to the pond, there was no trace of him, but we both remembered the story of the horse and cart that was never seen again.
I remember feeling really uncomfortable & despairing when my mum collapsed into a heap on the grass verge with her hands over her face, sobbing uncontrollably. I happened to look up the lane towards the main road and I saw an old lady holding Godfrey by the hand and she was knocking on the doors of houses along the road. My mum dragged me and we raced as fast as my legs would carry me to the main road.
"What do you think you are doing with him?" she accused the old lady.
The lady looked hurt and told Mum that she had found Godfrey by himself trying to cross the main road & she had been knocking on house doors trying to find out where he lived, without success. Mum caught him up in her arms. "I've been looking for him everywhere," she said "And you've been taking him further away from home."
Although I was only five years old, I can remember thinking how unfair my mum was being with the old lady, who had obviously been only trying to help Godfrey and I felt very embarrassed by her remark.
We turned towards home.
My dad was the centre of a major row and it was years before Mum and I ever went to Church together again.