Being three…

Childhood memories

Perception and emotion


Technicolor images

Played on the screen of the heart


My youngest granddaughter was three at the weekend. Her parents hired a bouncy castle for the day; Imogen and her big sister dragged the Grandmasaurus and her companion into the depths of the pink inflatable to bounce, be chased and jumped upon. We still had time to sit quietly, with grass-stained feet, playing with the dinosaurs before the other children arrived. I wondered how much of the day Imogen would recall in later years. It set me off thinking… and remembering being three.

It is odd how memory works, sometimes defying logic. For well over half a century, I have remembered a TV programme, in great detail, from my very earliest years. It was one of the BBC’s ‘Watch with Mother‘ broadcasts and it was my favourite at the time. I just couldn’t remember much about it.

I started school when I was four; after that, ‘Watch with Mother‘ was no longer a part of my day, so I can date the memory fairly accurately. Occasionally, during bouts of childish illness ranging from tonsillitis to measles, I would stay with my great-grandparents, tucked up on the day bed beside the fire. Great Grandma would put on the television while she made lunch and let me watch without Mother. But I never saw that particular series again.

In after years, I described the show to my mum, hoping she would recall its name. I knew that it was about three friends… a hedgehog, a mouse and a rabbit. “Tales of the Riverbank,” she said. But I remembered that too… and it was not the same, it lacked the magic of my memories… and that in spite of the narration of Johnny Morris.  The animals in ‘my’ show were puppets.  Mother always insisted that I was remembering it wrong… that the animals were, in fact, real… that it was indeed Tales of the Riverbank… that the memories of a small child are far more likely to be wrong than those of an adult.

Because children tend to trust what their grown-ups tell them, I believed her, accepting her opinion as fact and, eventually, even allowing it to cast doubt on other very early memories. I probably was remembering things incorrectly… I was little more than a toddler, after all.

And then, today, the best part of sixty decades later, I typed ‘Watch with Mother‘ into the search bar. There they were… Rag, Tag and Bobtail, just as I remembered them… and that was the name of the series too.  What is more, in the episode I found on Youtube, Tag, the mouse, is dowsing with a hazel twig. That sparked a whole host of other memories, of learning to dowse with my grandfather… though I usually used a pendulum or homemade rods cut from wire coathangers. And that, in turn, brought back a whole host of early memories from childhood.

There is no-one left with whom I can ‘fact-check’ these memories. In mind and heart, I see them clearly…and perhaps perception is more important than accuracy. Good or bad, how we remember an event, its emotional impact, and how we grow into the memory is what will affect our lives. I hope that, if she remembers nothing else about her third birthday, Imogen will never forget that she was surrounded by love.

About Sue Vincent

Sue Vincent is a Yorkshire-born writer and one of the Directors of The Silent Eye, a modern Mystery School. She writes alone and with Stuart France, exploring ancient myths, the mysterious landscape of Albion and the inner journey of the soul. Find out more at France and Vincent. She is owned by a small dog who also blogs. Follow her at and on Twitter @SCVincent. Find her books on Goodreads and follow her on Amazon worldwide to find out about new releases and offers. Email:
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55 Responses to Being three…

  1. Sadje says:

    Sometimes children have stronger recall than adults because adults are preoccupied with other problems of life. I’m glad your granddaughter had a lovely birthday with her loved ones.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. jenanita01 says:

    Memories are precious, Sue… even those we barely remember…


  3. I remember Rag Tag and Bobtail! Bobtail was a bit scary. Tales of the Riverbank was Hammy the Hamster and Johnny Morris. There was another series on the same lines as RT&B using the same set (might even have been the same series for all I can remember) with people in it and I remember on being called the Chamberlain. Do you have any recollections of that one?


  4. Alli Templeton says:

    Those are very well-trained ‘real’ animals then, Sue! It’s true, we always think our parents are right as they’re all grown up and more experienced than us, so they know everything. It’s only in the last 15 years or so that I’ve come to discover it can often be the opposite way round. I think, in many ways, it’s a kind of rite of passage. As a result, I deliberately try to show my kids that us adults aren’t always right, and I let them teach me things too that I openly say are new to me, or accept they sometimes have the better ideas or knowledge. The most important thing, of course, is to show that are surrounded by love, and I’ve no doubt at all that Imogen’s memories will be full of it. And that’s the most priceless gift you can give a child. Happy Birthday, Imogen! 🙂


  5. joylennick says:

    Lucky Imogen…Happy Birthday! Being surrounded with love is the very best way to go… Even flawed, GOOD memories from childhood are just as precious. xx.


  6. willowdot21 says:

    What a beautiful post Sue I remember Rag, Tag and Bobtail! How lovely it was to to see this again.
    How apt two of them were out dowsing. I am sure Imogen will remember that quiet cuddle in the castle 💜💜💜


  7. Happy Birthday to Imogen. How sweet to be so surrounded by love. She’ll remember that forever in the cells of her body if not the details of the party. Memory is sooo interesting. I’ve had numerous experiences with children, siblings, and parents where we remember things completely differently. We live in our own perceptual worlds. 🙂


    • Sue Vincent says:

      We do indeed. Memory has been a central factor in Nick’s journey, and we have delved quite deeply into its workings as we have seen its vagaries manifest themselves. It is a fascinating study.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Great post! I loved the Woodentops, especially Spotty Dog.


  9. Widdershins says:

    What a wonderful Birth Day treat – for both of you. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Jennie says:

    I love your story and memories! The best part is that you will trust Imogen’s childhood memories as she grows older. I’m glad you had a delightful day at the birthday party, Grandmasaurus.


  11. dgkaye says:

    Beautiful ❤


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