Well, here they are, the Magnificent Seven all together on holiday! And all, you will notice, wearing official Diamond Jubilee tee-shirts, courtesy of Grandad (otherwise known
as Mr B.)
Mr B has wanted to capture this moment ever since we came across the picture of our own foursome taken at the time of the Queen's Silver Jubilee wearing - no prizes for guessing - Jubilee
tee-shirts. It was all about re-creating a moment in time - but thirty-five years on and with a new cast of characters.
The youngest of the Darling Daughters has reflected gloomily on the fact
that she was still wearing a Silver Jubilee tee-shirt at least five years after the event - handed down from each older sister in turn. Indeed, look through photo albums of their childhood and you can spot
the dresses, the trousers, the swimming costumes all making repeat appearances year after year. The Son-And-Only, arriving on the scene both last and first (if you know what I mean) mostly escaped the scourge of the hand-me-down.
My grown-up children never cease to criticise the clothes they wore in those far-off days of their childhood. In my defence, I tell them that those colourful trouser suits - green for Anne, brown with a bright
yellow blouse for Hilary, red for Karen plus that natty little shorts suit for Steven - were considered the height of fashion back in 1975. I still remember buying them from C & A and the enormous pleasure of seeing the four children, all
in their new finery, lined up by the car as we prepared to set off on another family holiday. They refuse to believe it today but, I promise you, they were really, REALLY proud of their new outfits at the time.
Nor is anybody listening when I point out that those smart, patterned waistcoats, knitted by hand, and with best love, were much admired by my friends and neighbours. While the mere idea of the sweet cotton dresses with matching knickers
I used to make for the girls sends them into paroxysms of mirth. "How COULD you dress us like that?!" they ask, in mock indignation. At least I am hoping it isn't the real thing...
I tell them, their own children will turn on them. They will pore over digital photographs from the year 2002 and ask how their parents could ever, ever have dressed them in such unfashionable clothing. In vain will they protest the qualities
of Next and Mini Boden. In vain will they point out that every child of the time was wearing much the same. Believe me, it will happen.
My best story about hand-me-downs comes courtesy
of Katie and Eleanor. On holiday with us some years ago and scooting along the promenade (a favourite occupation in those days) Katie came a cropper. A badly grazed knee and a tear in her jeans were the main casualties. Tending the Injured
One, I suddenly became aware that her younger sister was also in floods of tears. Hastily I reassured her that her sister was not badly hurt and would be "right as rain" in no time at all. Eleanor was not to be comforted. Between sobs,
she pointed longingly at the ruined jeans: "I LOVED those trousers!" she wailed, despairingly.
Even a hand-me-down can be coveted, you know.