My mother died at 96 in the full possession of her faculties. A condition we sometimes questioned when she claimed to recall personal events from before the beginning of World War I with complete clarity. She was six when the war began and none of her children could replicate the feat of recalling their own childhood at the same age, so we tended to smile and not disagree.
We are in the throes of building cubby (play) houses for our grandchildren at the moment and reducing the cost by using recycled materials. I was knocking out the dents and flattening the nail holes in some second-hand corrugated iron when a memory of startling clarity arose of my father performing the same task.
It was wartime and he was building a chook-house on a fifty-two acre property we rented at the time on the outer fringe of Melbourne and I could "see" the rusty ball-pean hammer he used, with its improvised handle made from the branch of a gum tree and the doubting look on my mother's face as she watched him work and smoked a precious cigarette.
A skilled milling machinist, working shift-work manufacturing parts for our Beaufort Bombers, he only came home during the longer change-over of shifts every second and third weeks. I could smell the the cutting compound used in machining that always clung to him and see the thin, hand-rolled cigarette drooping at one corner of his mouth.
I've tried to use logic to identify the date and the closest I can come is the Xmas school holidays of 1943, during which I turned six.
If my mother were still alive, I would have to apologize.